~ She always knew she would die for her blood ~
Duty, fate, and time.
Three elements forced upon her from before she was born.
Three elements she feared the most.
Three elements of her life she could never have escaped.
Duty, fate, and time. The mantra echoed inside her mind as she staggered into a tree, saw nothing of the malevolent evil that chased her and quaked in the silence that cloaked her senses. The full moon cast rays of light illuminating the terror on her face and her wide, panicked, turquoise eyes as they scanned the line of trees searching for whatever hell had given chase. She clutched the towering, protective tree digging her torn nails into the time warn bark hoping that he wouldn’t see her but shuddered when she felt his blood red eyes stare straight at her. Praying was long since any help but she did so, if only for her sanity, and the heavens opened. Rain cascaded upon them both. She took her chance. She ran. Running through the open field beyond the darkness of the trees she heard a scream that nearly deafened her, the rain on this powerful night was a poison to him and would strip his skin raw but she knew he wouldn’t stop until he had her blood; this was more than just another kill.
Fast becoming clogged with muddy water, her clothes became heavier, weighing her down, slowing her. New panic set in as he galloped across the field, sending waves of unsteady earth beneath her feet, threatening to throw her off balance. It was no use. Exhaustion was overwhelming, her face was pained, her muscles strained and her faith dying. Taking in small, hurried breathes of oxygen filled her tired lungs with the scent of the wet grass beneath her and a faint trace of lavender, a trace she was familiar with. She was dangerously close.
Duty, fate, and time. She could not run further; the realisation of being so close to home sparked electricity through her body as by letting him get so near would mean only a matter of time before he found her daughter. The daughter she so desperately wanted to see one last time and make sure was safe but her child’s safety came first, no matter the cost to herself.
It was to be her last stance, her truest act, defining the way in which she had always led her life. Stopping abruptly and turning around with tears rolling down her face she fiercely cried, “Come get me you-” her words were swallowed by the tremendous howl that followed. He was both monster and human, a chimera. Short dark hair pierced through his skin, covering most of his deformed shape as he grew in size, his stature overbearing. Muscle thickened around his neck, his chest, his arms. Sharp yellow talons sprouted on the end of each coarse-skinned finger, lethal. His face distorted, rippling in anger as his cheek bones became wider to allow for his slightly protruding snout like jaw. Up close, his eyes were as red as the fires of hell, their intensity soul piercing.
He leaped, landing on top of her body as she screamed, pinning her down and curling his toughened hands round her throat preventing her breath escaping. His jagged claws carved the shape of a crescent moon and a single star on her throat and then he lent in close to the woman’s head to hungrily inhale her fear. Rearing back he produced a hybrid sound between a howl and a scream so deeply harrowing the woman’s eyes wept blood. Standing up he circled round her, chanting an ancient language that didn’t belong to him.
Stumbling to her feet she clutched her face and whimpered. Despite wanting to be brave and selfless for her little girl, she was scared and wanted nothing more than to hold her in her arms again and watch her grow up. She forgot about her duty, about her fate, and clung tightly to who she was inside: a mother. Despair ran through her body as she wept for all the memories she would never have.
Duty, fate, and time.
Quietness washed over her, she realised the creature was prowling around her, watching its prey. Mouth snarling like a greedy dog with saliva hanging in ropes down his face, he outstretched his arm reaching for her chest and, staring into her eyes, holding them focused, he forced his hand into her torso. He stood still for several seconds almost supporting the woman as she slumped forward in pain. She crashed to the floor when he pulled his hand out with an object that fit in the palm of his hand, it was oval in shape and covered in blood. The woman on the ground gasped desperately like a fish out of water as she clutched her chest. Holding the lung in his left hand he pulled out a small vile of whitish liquid from within his ripped trousers. Holding the delicate object, he let two drops from the vile fall onto the lung and watched as, on contact, white smoke rose high. Putting the bloodied vile back into his trousers he thrust his arm into the air and focused his empty hand towards the woman on the floor. He half howled, half screamed again and, as if on command, two bolts of lightning appeared; one from the sky and one from the earth. Both entered the lung at the same time.
The woman’s body uncontrollably shook whilst being lifted to its feet by an unseen force; the creature drove the lung back into her body and as he did, she took in a rasping breath. She looked up into his gleaming eyes, he sneered, lips curling around sharp pinpoints. Staggering back, holding her chest, she looked at her death.
Hundreds of bats came swooping low, circling her body, blocking out the comforting light of the moon. She felt their tiny mouths nip at her assaulting her skin as they flew round then, almost as soon as they had appeared, they spiralled into the air and disappeared out of sight. Covered in blood she desperately tried to cling onto the idea of protecting her daughter, but a whisper of a thought told her that her body wouldn’t last much longer.
A gunshot alarmed her senses whilst a burning sensation spread through her stomach, glancing down she saw a bright crimson colour crawl its way across her t-shirt and looking up she saw a full man, no longer that hideous hybrid monster. The gun was loosely hanging by his side as he slid closer toward her.
Everything was blurred, unfocused, and no longer able to support her body, she fell to the ground hopelessly clutching her wound. As she struggled to breathe, she felt more pain: the pain in her eyes, the pain on her neck, her chest, her stomach and the anguish in her heart. Was her little one tucked up safe in bed, knowing what was going on, feeling her Mother’s heartache? Or was she deeply asleep, blissfully unaware of what was happening?
“Being shot in the stomach,” he said, voice resonating with authority, “I believe is one of the most painful ways for a human to die. The wound will slowly, and painfully, continue to bleed. It’s amazing that in the end it took one single bullet for death to claim your worthless life; you’ll be dead inside half an hour but I’ll be surprised if anyone found your cold, lifeless, rotting corpse in three days!” He bent close to her ear gently caressing the side of her face, “Oh my sweet child you look so scared, do not worry, it’s over now. And. I. Won.” He viciously whispered his triumph. He stood up and pitifully looked down upon her dying body.
As her breathing became more rapid, she started to shake as the cold of the night froze her. “She’s…sa…safe…from…y-y-you…she’s…pro…tected.” She stumbled, trying to sound stronger than she felt.
“That may be, but for how long? With you gone it will be easier to find her and destroy her without little annoying ‘Mummy’ always in the way. Ending her will be even easier than it was killing you.” He turned away leaving her with his taunting words and chilling smirk. The disgust in his voice hung in the air even after he vanished from sight.
She rolled her head to face the night sky as the stars lighting the black void above her became her only comfort. As she hung onto the belief that her daughter was safe, she let the process of death take over, there was no use fighting it. She always knew she would die for her blood.
The brightest star filled her vision and her soul disappeared into the night. Her head rolled to the left, her body lay there numb, lifeless, covered in red. How long would it be before her body was found? Her face looked strangely peaceful, for so many years he had been chasing her and now she was at rest, her eyes still staring at the twinkling stars but seeing nothing.
Things happen for a reason, you may not see it, but it, sees you
10 years later…
Cate’s eyes opened wide. The realisation of being in her bedroom relaxed her. A little. Breathe in. Breathe out. Her yoga instructor’s breathing techniques helped to calm her rapid breaths until a small whine echoing through the house made her sit up in bed. The front door of her father’s house had been creaky for a while, but it was locked, she was sure her father was in bed and only a few people knew about the spare key in case of emergencies. She’d heard crime reporters say that most murder victims were killed by someone they know. ‘Don’t be ridiculous’, she thought to herself. No-one would want to hurt her, or her dad for that matter. As she repeated this in her head over and over, she succumbed to sleep and fell heavily back against the pillows.
The moment her eyes closed, a small gap between the door and the wall allowed through the silver light of the moon. All light was blocked out as a dark shadow slipped through; the door gently closing with a light thud. Shadows of the night covered most of Cate’s bedroom as she turned in her bed, hair sticking to her face and breathing erratic. The floorboards at the bottom of the bed creaked. Knowing that she wouldn’t hear, there was no cause to worry. Lips, small and thin, emerged from the darkness and in the light of the moon, smiled slyly.
Cate was curled up leaning her head against her mother’s headstone thinking about the earlier ‘disagreement’ she had with her dad. He tried his best to raise her as a single father but they always got into ludicrous arguments and this evening was no exception. She came home late, he told her off, she got angry, he got angry and then she stormed out to visit her mum and calm down. She liked to jokingly think that her mum was taking her side whenever she complained about her dad because that’s what she imagined mums did.
She sighed and glanced up from where she was sat; the cemetery was always a strange and funny place to Cate, a darkened field on the outskirts of town, surrounded by trees that stood a little into the distance. Headstones cluttered the field seemingly placed in random locations with no order, but the chaos appealed to Cate as she could relax, weird as it may seem. Looking around she noticed there were two graves over to her left that had recently been covered in fresh mud, headstones yet to be put in. She pitied their souls, being stuck so close to the town that threatened to suffocate her but she wished them peace in their new lives and thought about her mum being in the same place as them; a small pang of unfounded jealousy shooting through her heart.
Loudly exhaling the tension she felt in her throat to prevent old tears from spilling, she focused her attention on the worn photograph she clutched in her hands taken over sixteen years ago, not long after her mum found out she was having a baby. Cate loved this photograph, she looked happy and beautiful. Many people commented on the similarities between herself and her mum but it was painful to acknowledge them. Her mum’s hair was a beautiful mass of shoulder-length midnight black curls; in the photograph she wore it loose with only a thin red headband. Her eyes were her best feature as they captivated anyone, a deep turquoise colour which spiralled in towards the iris and held an entrancing quality; she had learnt to use this skill as an advantage, or so she was told by her dad. Her smile was perfect and her skin looked flawless, unlike Cate’s own which needed make-up to cover up the slowly fading signs of adolescence. The whole photo was filled with her radiant face, now showing its age with corners bent, sides torn slightly and a crease in the middle from where it was always folded.
She liked to think that she was completely different, but she wasn’t. She couldn’t bring herself to cut her long hair as she would then see an exact replica of her mum’s face looking back at her in the mirror but she did wear the same red headband, standing out from her black hair, framing her face and emphasising the unique eyes she shared with her mum. She wasn’t as tall or as feminine as her mum either, she had curves but her mum seemed to have carried them better.
She smiled at her thoughts as her mind wandered back to her dad. He really did try and let her get away with more than she should. The number of times she would come in later than agreed from seeing her boyfriend and he never got that angry. She remembered back to when she was younger and would attempt to do homework whilst her dad worked on his projects, yet it always ending up with Cate sitting on his knee and them both solving the homework together. She missed those days, when he still thought of her as his little girl. Now it just felt like two separate adults, very nearly in her case, living in the same house.
As she sat there, earphones in and eyes closed, she thought about the better times with her dad, unaware of the fresh earth over one of the new graves starting to move. The mud covered creature climbed almost silently from the grave, sallow skin creating a haunted look. What was once a young woman knelt on the disturbed earth and stared at the living girl’s body. The creature seemed confused and lifted her shaky, dirt covered hands to her face and over her mouth. As the sharp incisor teeth briefly shot down and pierced her flesh, she hissed but quickly closed her mouth as to not disturb the girl. She was hungry and a delicious scent was hanging in the air. A breeze ruffled the girl’s dark hair and the creature’s predatory nature took over. Teeth came down again and her pupils expanded turning her eyes nearly black with hunger as she crawled over the earth towards the girl, her heartbeat getting stronger the closer she got. As she neared, something flashed through her mind. Sadness? Guilt? A memory? And then the true reality of who she was set in and she was ready for her first prey. As a hunter, she was deadly, and with the innate skill passed down to her through her premature death, she gracefully crawled closer to the beating heart.
Cate realised with sudden intensity that she wasn’t alone, the feeling washed over her senses forcing any other thought away from her. She wanted, needed, to open her eyes but fear was coursing through her veins at an alarming rate. A shiver ran down her spine, adrenaline compelling her to finally open her eyes. The young woman’s face was close to her own, she was filthy and stank but what drew Cate’s attention the most were her black eyes and teeth, specifically the two incisor teeth that looked longer, pointier and lethal than they should. Cate screamed and jumped up as the woman tried to lean in, staring at Cate’s neck. She didn’t normally leap to conclusions but the other woman looked like a creature out of a supernatural movie….a vampire. She didn’t believe in such myths but she knew she was in danger.
The woman – or vampire – was crawling closer toward Cate again after falling a few paces away when Cate had sprung up. Cate looked past her to the disturbed grave and tried to reason with logic, whatever logic was left in the situation. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing, what she was thinking. Her mind went to the trees behind her. Wood. Didn’t vampires die from wooden stakes to the heart? Almost laughing at even her own twisted reasoning the creature feigned to the left causing Cate to whimper in very real fear. As she glanced at the line of trees that stood a little off in the distance beyond the edge of the cemetery, she heard a voice.
She didn’t need to argue and ran as fast as she could not wanting to look behind her to see if the woman was following. In her haste to get away she didn’t see the silver vase holding flowers, it caught her foot sending her flying. She landed heavily and rolled onto her back just as the female vampire leaped towards her. Instinct took over as she kicked her leg up into the woman’s stomach sending her crashing a little away from where Cate was lying. It was then she noticed the other new grave had been disturbed too; did this mean another one? She looked at the maybe-vampire-woman who was getting up and clutching her middle, she hissed angrily at her and Cate took this as her cue to flee.
She reached the trees and stumbled into the darkness, she had no idea what to do so hid behind the trunk of one of the bigger trees hoping that the vampire wouldn’t see her. She tried to calm down, calm her breathing, but her lungs were fire and as she sensed the vampire had followed her in, she froze perfectly still. It was getting closer. Silence encased her and made the scenario nearly unbearable worried that the heartbeat that flooded her own ears would become a beacon. Listening closely Cate heard the faint but unmistakable sound of sniffing, Cate knew it was the woman, searching, desperately trying to find her. She shivered and let out a shaky breath which she immediately regretted when she felt the woman’s breath hiss in her ear.
The instinct driven woman bowled her over onto the floor but not willing to go down without a fight Cate struggled furiously using all her kickboxing training when combating an opponent. The vampire was strong but so was her will to live. She got in a punch to the vampire’s face and then the woman disappeared. Cate sat up quickly, confused, and heard a struggle in front of her, minimal light allowing her to see what was going on. A dark man was fighting the vampire. Viciously fighting. The vampire was fast but then so was the man matching it. Mind trying to click together, Cate used the distraction to crawl in the opposite direction and get up to escape. She stopped short when she saw a man in the same state as the female vampire; Cate put two and two together and knew this was the second vampire. Before she had time to even scream the vampire threw her into a nearby tree, she smacked her face hard and tasted the metallic tang of blood as she slid to the ground. She tried to get up but the vampire pinned her down and was leaning in close. She vaguely registered shouting in the distance and then the vampire screamed, jumped up, and crumbled to the ground before her turning to mist. Cate stared at the spot he had been, sure she was in shock.
She saw a man approach but strangely didn’t fear him. Her vision was swimming from the knock and sure enough when she tenderly touched the back of her head, it felt sticky and wet. She winced. Remembering the strange man she looked up, squinting slightly from the pain now shooting its way across her head. He was still hidden from view by the coverage of trees but the moonlight allowed her to see his silhouette; he was staring intently at something behind her, his hands clenched into fists, short grunts of anger coming from deep within him as he recovered from the combat he had just had. Sensing the hatred rolling off this man in waves, she tried to turn her heavy head to look in the same direction. The movement made her vision blur but after blinking rapidly she slowly saw the focus of her apparent saviour’s attention. A man. He looked tall, even from Cate’s warped angle on the ground. He stood with pride, hands clasped behind his back and she knew he was not afraid. Arrogant even. His silver hair was swept back sharply, it matched his grey suit that whilst looking too big for his slender frame, also made him look intimidating. Even Cate understood this calm man was more dangerous than the feral creatures that had just attacked. She flinched when his piercing ice blue eyes darted towards her own, the evil this man had seen, this man had no doubt done, unnerved Cate. She didn’t think her senses were wrong about this.
“What do you want?” the man above her growled deeply barely containing his obvious anger. The silver haired man merely smirked as her rescuer continued, “I take it this was your doing.” He stated, not asked. “Attacking an innocent girl.” She suddenly sensed worry from her rescuer and started to wonder who the other man really was, on the side lines and certainly unable to move properly yet, all she could do was watch.
“We know.” A simple statement that hit the man in the shadows with a force. A small step back into moonlight. He looked to be no older than his thirties with coffee coloured skin, thick dark brows and bright amber eyes, he reminded Cate of an alert Cat; capable of attack but wary of a battle. His startled face recovered and hardened but the silver haired man noticed and responded, “Don’t panic, she is not our business yet. We need more.”
“What do you mean demon?”
“Tut-tut.” The tall man shook his head, “Surely you’ve learnt some patience over all this time? I’ll see you soon old friend.” He started backing away and then turned and disappeared from sight.
“You are not my friend.” The man beside of her murmured as an afterthought. They stayed like that for a few minutes, Cate not daring to move and the man staring after the silver haired suit guy who had long since gone.
“Are you ok there?” His deep but gentle voice spoke. Cate looked towards him, unsure of the change in attitude. It only took a few seconds for her to know he was calm and he was safe.
“I’m a bit….a bit lost here. What happened?” She mumbled, not realising how much that knock was affecting her.
“Vampires. Evil scum.” He looked down, almost ashamed but she didn’t know what for.
“You saved me? Thank you.”
He smiled wistfully to himself. “I’m sorry you were thrown into that tree, how is your face? I imagine it will feel bruised for a few days.” Cate blinked, her thought process coming back to her more easily.
“Wait, who are you, and who was that man? I know you saved me and all but this is all quite frankly…ridiculous. Vampires?” Cate rambled, her head banging harder now as she tried to get up, she swayed bringing her hand up to her head to try and steady it.
The man quickly caught her before she hit the ground.
“You did better than expected, definitely take after your mother.” He said quietly as he scooped her up and carried her out from the dark woodland face heavy with genuine concern.
“Cate!” A familiar male voice boomed from outside her bedroom door. Cate bolted upright trying to get her bearings. “Are you awake? School is in half an hour!” Then a quick triple rap; Cate realised that she must have made it back from the cemetery last night even though her memory felt a little foggy. “Cate! I don’t hear movement!” She cast her eyes heavenward and sighed, the doubt slowly being erased from her sleepy mind. She had been over tired, that was all. She must have walked home and gotten into bed in a sleepy state.
“Dad, if I wasn’t awake before you screamed my name, I’m awake now.” She said sarcastically, noting, as usual, last night’s argument was gone as another day began.
“Did the job though didn’t it?!” Cate could imagine the gloating grin on her Dad’s face.
“I’ll be down in a minute,” she shouted back and then whispered to herself, “One day I’m gonna wake up first and shout through his door.” She got out of bed and heard her Dad chuckling as he wandered downstairs.
She made it downstairs, dressed, and to the fridge grabbing some orange juice when her dad came in fixing his tie and picking up his briefcase from the kitchen table.
“Cate, I’m going to be home late tonight, client just called so make yourself some dinner and don’t wait up. Love you sweetie, right, got to go!” He ran out of the kitchen and she heard the door open, “Hi Jack, she’s in the kitchen.” The front door closed again and Cate took a sip of her drink as Jack casually walked in the room, went around the table, put his hand on her waist, and lent in for a kiss.
Jack turned up in her form during year seven; they had been friends from the start and when their friendship turned into something else, Cate couldn’t deny she didn’t have feelings for him. Whenever Cate saw him, even after five years, he always made her stomach flutter with his blonde hair cropped short, his dazzling electric blue eyes that seemed to always find her at the focus of his attention, and his cheeky smile that showed a bit of who he was.
“Hi there.” He said in his silky smooth voice.
“I like how you just walk into my kitchen.”
“You’re totally fine with it and your dad invited me in.” He countered, smirking slightly.
“I love how you assume these things.” But she returned the smirk as she walked over to pluck an apple from the bowl and pick up her bag before they headed out for school making plans for their date night on Friday.
They turned into the school gates and saw students standing everywhere. What was normally open ground before the school doors was covered by the black and grey uniform of her school. The old school building that had stood in the town for hundreds of years, now looked like a mismatch of building work as it grew to accommodate the growing size of the population. Normally Cate didn’t have to look too much at the worn front as she climbed the front steps and through the open set of heavy oak doors, but now those familiar doors were closed with a very clear sign asking students to wait outside. Something was happening.
Jack squeezed her hand and pulled her out of her thoughts, he pointed to a group of sixth form girls to her left who were laughing over something with one girl in particular trying to wave Cate down in a very enthusiastic manner. She had a gorgeous mane of fiery red curls and Cate knew she would see those familiar green eyes smiling at her as Ruby had been her best friend for as long as either of them could remember. Ruby broke away from her group when she saw she had Cate’s attention.
“Ruby! How are you!?” Cate asked excitedly when Ruby approached.
“Not so bad Skittle, but hey guess what, you will never believe what I just heard!” She said hurriedly using her nickname for Cate. Jack leaned down and kissed Cate on the cheek.
“I’ll see you in class.” He whispered to her and wandered off to his own group of male friends. Men, Cate thought, just can’t handle girl gossip.
“Well, have you not noticed that everyone is hanging out here? Even the little ones that like to run and hide in their classrooms as soon as possible?” She spoke with her hands to emphasise everything as Cate looked around her again to see if she could spot anything to help her, the only thing being Mr Snow, who was the deputy, standing to one side like an army general to stop anyone from entering. His eyes continued to scan the crowd until they fell on her, whether it was because she was staring first or not, when he didn’t move on she felt a strange pulling sensation in the pit of her stomach. She faced Ruby again when she nudged her.
“Yeah, strange.” She replied shaking off the weird feeling she had, she liked Mr Snow – normally.
“You’ll be proud of me, listen to this; a group of kids, or what they think is a group of kids, spray painted the school and bashed a few windows in at the same time! Isn’t this great, we may have no school today!” She clapped with gusto, Cate couldn’t but get as excited with Ruby’s keenness.
“How do you find these things out?” She asked, wondering how Ruby always knew everything.
“Oh, you know, wandered close to the gate over there where you see that young police guy cop, and used a bit of God’s gift to get some info from him.” She winked slowly at Cate.
“Firstly, it’s a policeman, not police guy cop. And second, that was clever but very unethical, just because you have the curves and the looks that would make any girl kill you for it, doesn’t mean you can flaunt it to pump information out of people.” Even as she said it, Cate was smiling, knowing full well that it was part of who Ruby was but then she saw the head teacher walk out and Mr Snow standing close behind. She usually preferred Mr Snow because he was cool and a P.E teacher whereas the head was just this ancient, out of tune with the whole century woman. But today, even without trying to look, she felt the awkward stare of Mr Snow on her. For a second she wondered if she’d done something wrong when Jack appeared and caught Cate’s hand.
“Everyone!” Mr Snow shouted, “Could you please go straight to your first lesson and you shall be registered there.” There was a loud chorus of groans and shouts to go home as everyone slowly herded inside.
“I’ll see you later Cate, I’ve got mechanics first.” Jack said before running off to catch up with a mate in his class Cate only vaguely knew.
She waited whilst Ruby went to retrieve her bag from her group of friends before walking to their first lesson: English. At least Ruby would be there. They were only slowly walking toward the classroom as everyone blocked the hallway.
“Good job I already have my English folder in my bag, would hate to have to get into my locker right now. Look, the year sevens are practically sliding along them trying not to get noticed.” Ruby pointed out, both girls laughing as they entered their room taking seats at the back, Ruby’s choice of course. The teacher wasn’t there yet, presumably helping to get everyone in. “Hey Cate, I wanted to ask you something.” Ruby said leaning on the table to face Cate.
“Well you know how I have a weird fascination with stars and the moon right?” Ruby started slowly.
“I think after all our back garden camp-outs, I would have guessed.” Cate rolled her eyes for emphasis.
“Shut-up! Anyway, there’s this fantastic moon phenomenon happening that’s meant to be amazing, it’s in a few weeks but I was hoping you would come along with me and my handy telescope and watch it too?”
“Of course I will Rubes! What are best friends for? Although I’m wearing five layers, bringing blankets this time and several flasks of hot chocolate.” She ticked the list off on her fingers as Ruby’s face lit into a smile.
“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t wait, it’s going to be incredible and I’ll provide all the chocolate you want!” As Ruby looked like an excited puppy, the teacher walked in and the class began.
The school bell rang signalling the end of the school day, kids slowly started spilling out of classrooms, grabbing bags and leaving school, meeting with mates to walk home. Cate couldn’t help but go over what happened the night before whilst she waited for Jack. The fact that the memory was foggy and she couldn’t really remember getting back home, was annoying Cate. She had been thinking about her mum in the cemetery but that was the only clear thing in Cate’s mind, she ached and had a massive bump forming on her head but again, that was it. Cate assumed she must have fallen out of bed and knocked the rest of the memory out or something but for some reason she kept thinking about her mum, more than usual.
She saw Ruby walk up with another girl from her last class and then stop when she reached Cate.
“You ok Skittle, you look a little lost?” Concern flooded her face.
“I’m good, just waiting for Jack.” This didn’t seem to convince her. “I’m ok really, just had an epically bad lesson but schools out for today so its fine.”
“Well if you need me, ring. I’ll see you later.” She hugged Cate tightly then ran to catch up with a group of people. Cate turned to look at the doors as Jack came out, he jogged down the stairs, put his arm around her and they walked out the school gates.
“So you going to tell me what’s going on in here?” He said as he kissed the top of her head. It didn’t take much for Cate to explain.
“Just my mum, I’ve been thinking about her today, more than usual you know?” Jack knew about her mother dying when she was young and could empathise as his wasn’t around either, it was something she felt brought them closer as friends to begin with.
“You should have told me, you shouldn’t keep stuff like that bottled up. Right, tell me about her again, it might help.” They walked back to Cate’s discussing the memories of her mum.
Even after she had cooked dinner, completed work and eaten, she was still thinking about her. She opened the cabinet in the living room that held some photo albums and selected one she knew had the memories in she wanted to see. She sat on the couch and opened the book to the first page. Pictures of Cate hugging her mother, dancing while her mother laughed and eating breakfast in bed faced her, memories flooding back, never really lost. She looked towards the armchair as the memory of a three year old Cate sprung from behind it. Her mother’s laugh had Cate turning her head to the right where she stood in the doorway, clear and bright, just as her memory held her. She walked in and scooped up little Cate, kissing her on the cheek and talking to her. The words were muffled as she listened, still sat on the couch, watching the memory fade away until she was alone in the room again. Tears started to spill as she once again grieved for her. Cate lay down, stroking the face of her mum, as she closed her eyes.
I’m walking. Which is odd as the last thing I remember is looking at photos of my mum and lying down on the sofa. Maybe I’m dreaming? I have to be otherwise I’m forgetting things which is never a good omen.
I can see a field stretching out in front of me with only a few trees lining the distant view, it’s fairly dark and there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of civilisation. Not a good sign even if this is a dream. I start walking simply because I don’t like the idea of being out in the open, in the dark. I seem to be heading towards the tree line, it’s no forest but I’d feel better with some form of shelter around me.
As I walk I try to remember if I’ve been here before but this place isn’t familiar at all and if this is in my sleeping unconsciousness I’m not sure if I’m in control, it just feels…different. I walk until I reach one of the tall, wide trees; I look back as I hear whispers but all I see is the big empty expanse of field behind me. I turn my head, jump, and fall to ground startled.
“M-M-Mum?” I can’t help but stammer as I look at her clutching the tree I’d just walked to, her eyes wide, full of terror. She’s shaking violently and her face is covered in sweat, mud and blood; I look to her hands when they move and see her bruised knuckles. She stifles a sob, closes her eyes and inhales. She looks vulnerable and frightened, weak. This isn’t the mum I remember. “Mum?” I barely whisper as it catches on my own sob.
She opens her eyes suddenly and seems to look right at me, this time there’s determination in them. The rain pours straight down, no warning, and my mum is running, running back to where I’d just come from and where she’d be out in the open. I stare at her back as a blur crosses in front of me heading towards her. It’s some sort of creature, galloping faster than my mum who’s slowing down because of the rain.
Pausing with a heavy weight on her shoulders, I see her turn round, the creature roars so loudly that I instinctively put my hands over my ears, then it knocks her to the ground.
“NO! MUM!” I scream but I can’t do anything, I’m on my knees but I’m paralysed. Why can’t I move? I can see the monster put his hand through her chest, throw her to the ground like a ragdoll and then I watch as bats, out of no-where, swoop down making the sky even darker and swallow her up. I can’t see her, but I can hear her screams. I screw my eyes up, tears streaming, trying to ignore it, trying to wake up. A gunshot. I open my eyes as I struggle to breathe searching for my mum, she stands there clutching her stomach as blood spills out of her body.
“No, please no.” I can hear myself pleading but they can’t hear me, it’s like I’m watching a movie, watching that monster kill my mum. This can’t have been what happened to her, alone, scared, frightened. It just can’t be.
Still paralysed, I watch as the monster changes until he is no longer a monster, but appears a normal man. The confusion sets me free and I manage to scramble up, the invisible force keeping me to the ground, gone. I run towards her, I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get there but I need to do something, anything. As I get nearer I fumble, sucking in a hard breath when my mum collapses, I surge forward trying to get to her. As I get closer I can hear her say something so I slow down, straining to listen over the loud beating of my heart and heavy breathing.
“She’s…sa…safe…from…y-y-y you…she’s…pro…tected.” I hear her say, soft and yet that same determination I saw in her eyes from earlier still flickers.
“That may be, but for how long? With you gone it will be easier to find her and destroy her without little annoying ‘Mummy’ always in the way. Ending her will be even easier than it was killing you!” I can hear his disgust, the viciousness in his voice and I’m scared, but then the man that was a monster walks away further into the field, I can’t see what happens to him, my mind still reeling in horror of seeing my mum murdered. Who is the ‘she’ they were talking about? Why is she special? Why is my mum dying protecting her?
I look down at her.
“Mum?” I whisper cautiously, she looks at me, or through me, I can’t tell but I kneel beside her. I don’t want her to be alone, I try to touch her hand but something won’t let me. Tears fall silently as I watch her head roll to face towards me and I know she’s gone, I reach my hand towards her face; I just want to comfort her. Her face looks strangely peaceful as if she’s ok with what’s happened, as if she knows she isn’t completely alone.
I feel a wind brush my cheek and before I know what’s happening the scene in front of me starts to fade; I jump up as strange images of people and places I don’t know fly by my face, the wind getting stronger and stronger. My mum’s body is disappearing so I try to shout her but the words get stuck in my throat; it feels like I’m falling, the ground whips from beneath me and then all of a sudden everything stops moving. I wobble on the spot as I look around, what I see can only be described as a war scene.
‘What is going on?’
I wipe my tears away with the back of my sleeve to get a better look, I’m in a field again but high up above the fighting. The place feels strange and then I realise why. I look up towards the sky: there are no stars. There’s a moon, or what I perceive to be a moon, which appears to be the only source of natural light. I don’t think this is anywhere on Earth.
I look down, looming over the fighting, I see there aren’t just men and women in combat. Monsters. Different to the one that I had just seen kill my mum, but still monsters, different looking ones, killing and hurting my people.
My people? The thought flies through my mind as easily as I fell into this place.
I cling to the hope my mum didn’t die by the hand of a monster, or that there isn’t a war with monsters and humans. But it feels real. I cry, I feel a new grief for my mum and yet I’m accepting what I’ve seen, and am seeing, as truth.
A flash of red hair down below catches my eye and my first thought is that it’s Ruby. What is she doing here? In my dream? In this fight? This is confusing and dangerous. I need to wake up. Now. But I stay, I can’t avert my eyes, I’m glued to what is happening below me.
As I watch Ruby, I see a creature come up behind her, its big and claw like hands reach for her. I cry out and she turns, freezing on the spot. I don’t know if she heard me but she ducks and runs around the blue-grey creature. I try to shout out to her again to see if she responds but I feel something smooth and cold press into my palm. I bring my hand up to look and open it. There’s a stone, a translucent ivory stone. Zamaradi. The name comes as quickly and as effortlessly to my mind as the thought about the humans being ‘my people’.
I turn it over, wondering what it does and why I have it suddenly appearing in my hand. Does it mean anything?
Before I can think of what to do, light flares from it, surrounding me and filling my vision with only the brilliant bright white light. I scream.
And wake up.
Cate blinked several times, clearing the sweat that drenched her eyes. She looked up to see her dad’s worried eyes looking down at her. She was on the couch, clutching the book of photographs.
“Dad?” She asked, her throat hurting.
“I came in and you were asleep but you were crying and screaming. What was it sweetie?” He asked, his face full of worry.
“I-I…nothing. Just a bad dream.” She couldn’t hurt him by telling him about what she’d seen, the loss of her mum was hard on her dad and she didn’t want him knowing what she thought she had witnessed. “I think I’m going to go to bed Dad, sorry for worrying you. Dinner is in the oven.” Cate walked up the stairs knowing she wouldn’t be sleeping much that night.
It was break the next day when Cate ran to catch Ruby as she left her classroom.
“Ruby, wait!” She shouted and Ruby spun around surprise on her face.
“Hey, I didn’t see you before school. You feeling better?”
“I was late this morning, sorry. I…erm…wanted to talk to you in private?” Cate fiddled with the strap of her shoulder bag waiting for an answer.
“Course Skittle. Is this about yesterday? You didn’t seem quite right.”
“Sort of. Can we walk? We’ve both got a free now anyway.”
“Sure. But let me dump this folder, it’s really heavy and its totally going to ruin my posture.” Cate smiled at Ruby’s attempt to cheer her up as they went to her locker and left school. “So. What’s bugging you?” Cate explained everything that had happened since the night at the cemetery.
“I think I’m going crazy Ruby. Please persuade my dad to send me to a nice mental institute?”
“Oh honey. I don’t think you’re crazy, well sometimes I do but then we all are. I don’t know what to think but I know this is eating you up inside so it’s got to mean something. Are you sure you can’t remember what definitely happened the night you went to see your mum?” Ruby asked.
“No I really can’t. It’s just so blurry, like I know what happened and its there in my brain but I just can’t access it. It’s weird.”
“Uh-huh…” They lapsed into silence on the way back to school, Ruby pensive. “Look, go to your next lesson while I think this over ok? I’ll text you in a bit.”
“Ok.” Cate said wearily. She was worried about what Ruby really thought and tried to carry on as normal until she got a text during class.
Skittle, think I remember something. Library after school? Love u x
“So are you going to tell me what it is?” Cate asked when she met Ruby outside school forty minutes later. She was worried, Ruby was known to have an active imagination, particularly for the supernatural which in this scenario certainly seemed to fit the bill.
“Well you know how the library has some really, like really, old books in it? Well I’ve been there a few times as some of it’s on myth and legend type stuff, total bore to you I know, but what you said kept going round and round in my head as if something sounded familiar…and I think I figured it out. I need to find a particular book and then we’ll see if I’m right.”
“What kind of book? Is it about weird dreams?” Cate asked carefully.
“No it’s not Skittle. Just wait will you? I could be wrong myself here.” They walked into the library, swiping their cards to get through the turnstiles and found the section that Ruby was referring to. It was at the very end of the library; they were standing in the middle of two nearly floor to ceiling columns full of books in which they would need assistance if the book they needed was near the top shelf. Luckily Cate watched as Ruby knelt on the floor squinting at the titles.
“I think this may be it.” She pulled out a thick grey book, the front cover a material that had started to fray; the pages stained yellow with age.
“Looks like an interesting book Rubes. I’m still rather confused though.”
“Something you said to me earlier kept bugging me, you described those creature things that were trying to attack…dream me right?” Ruby questioned.
“Um, yes I did, why-” Cate started before Ruby interrupted her impatiently.
“Just listen, this book talks about these ‘Clipper’ creatures that I think match what you describe…‘The Clipper creatures are incredibly dangerous and viscous beasts. Their hunting skills are second to none with their heightened sense of smell and quick movements. These creatures do not exist in this world as myth dictates they belong to another universe similar to the one we humans inhabit now. Their skin is a volatile combination of scales and tough leather and they have long necks to reach out and kill their prey. Their arms extend into claw like hands; the ‘clipping’ sound in which they communicate and motion of the claws seem to give them their name. In distress or in calling a warning for others these creatures produce a high pitched wailing sound. They have a deep bluish complexion to allow stealthy movement in the dark, their eyes black. Myth describes these creatures as having razor sharp teeth perfect for ripping and shredding their heavy meat diet. They are hard to destroy’…it goes on but doesn’t that sound like the creature you saw?” Ruby looked at Cate expectantly, a small wave of excitement radiating off her. All Cate could do was stare at her. Ruby must have taken this to mean something. “Well maybe you’ve read this before?” Ruby asked innocently.
“No I haven’t.” Cate replied as she shook her head. “How did I dream up those creatures that already exist but yet I’ve never heard or read anything about them?”
“Well, Cate, first of all they’re still creatures of myth so they don’t actually exist.”
“But they felt and looked real in my dream.”
“They’re gonna Skittle, we all have vivid dreams now and again.”
“Is there a picture?” Cate asked and Ruby looked down at the book.
“Yes, there’s a drawing here.” She turned the book to face Cate. She stared at the page for a long time and then raised her hand as if she were going to place it over the drawing of the creature.
“Ruby, it looks exactly how I saw it in my dream and I have honestly never heard about them or read about them, I didn’t even know the name of these creatures so how could I have dreamed about them? I know you’re into all this supernatural psychic stuff so tell me.” Cate looked pleadingly at her, a slight panic edging her tone.
“I can’t really explain it Cate. Maybe you’re just dreaming up creatures that are actually real, or real in the sense of a myth anyway. Just see how you go tonight and any weirder, more forgetful episodes or disturbing dreams let me know, we’ll figure it out Skittle I’m sure. Anyway, let’s get going back to yours and gossip on the way back yeah?” She put the book away and led Cate out of the building arm in arm. Cate was still distracted by the clipper myth when Ruby started chatting about boys.
They were nearly at Cates when she realised Ruby had distracted her successfully.
“How do you do that!?” Cate asked.
“Magic, and, of course, many years of knowing your sorry ass!” Ruby squealed as Cate mock shoved her into the road. “Hey!” They both giggled and laughed, forgetting all they’d found out about the creatures.
Cate was now outside her front door, searching for the keys in her bag when Ruby turned round at the bottom of the path and called back.
“Hey Skittle, you still on for our moon outing?”
“Yep! When is it again?” Cate shouted as she found her keys.
“About six weeks, I’ll give you the exact date later, I just wanted to make sure you were still coming.”
“For you I’d do anything.” Cate swung her arm out and posed for her.
“Why thank you Skittle!” Ruby performed an over exaggerated bow. They both blew kisses to each other before Cate went inside and Ruby disappeared round the corner.
Cate dumped her bag on the staircase before gliding into the kitchen where her dad was sitting at the table, papers everywhere and vegetable peelings littering the worktop counter behind him. She rolled her eyes at the typical scene.
“Hey Dad.” She said as she walked round to stir the pot on the stove: vegetable casserole, one of her dad’s few culinary talents.
Her dad looked up in response and smiled at her, he pulled off his glasses leaving a mark on the bridge of his nose.
“Hey sweetheart, how was school today?”
“It was…ok, Rubes and I went to the library after school. Nothing really new happened.” She was determined to keep her dad out of the picture as she didn’t want to worry him. He designed buildings and internal spaces and so worked for a corporate company outside town, it didn’t bring in a huge amount and he had to travel a lot to find clients. She knew he was already stressed, he didn’t need her crazy visions adding to the pressure. She studied him as he continued to shuffle papers together, trying to make sensible piles. He was looking older than usual, his hair greying, and he was definitely looking thinner too.
“Hey Cate?” He asked whilst rifling through one tower of papers.
“I’m going to be away for the next few days, some big client deal. It’ll hopefully bring in some more money if I can get him on board.” He smiled thinly at her.
“That’s ok, I’ve got work to be getting on with, and Dad? I don’t have to take yoga or kickboxing lessons for a while, I can still practise at home.” She liked her classes but she’d had them for most of her life and knew that if she gave one or both of them up, then that would allow a bit of extra cash flow into the house.
“No Cate.” He snapped, “You need them ok?”
“But Dad, I just want to help and I feel like those classes are an extra luxury that I don’t really need. I can practice at home! It’s not a big deal.” She replied, confused at his outburst.
“Cate. I said no. It was one of the requests from your mother, this isn’t up for further discussion.” His head was down, focusing on one piece of paper very intently.
“What do you mean, ‘it was one of Mum’s requests’?” She waited a while for him to answer and when he finally sighed, his voice was a lot gentler.
“It wasn’t really a request, just, when you were little your mum would get all excited about taking you with her to yoga and looked forward to when you could kickbox together. Your mum loved them and I liked seeing you happy, you used to love practising with your mum on the mat even if you were terrible at it to begin with. I think she just wanted to share her passion for those with you. When she…when she died, I promised I would always make sure you could have those things no matter what so that you could be happy and be close to her. It’s silly I know.” Cate felt overly emotionally, her mum loved the two things that she now enjoyed and treasured herself. All she could do was smile and nod, unable to trust her voice. Her dad leant around his chair and put his hand on Cate’s arm. “Sorry for snapping at you. I just…I just wanted you to have your classes and I know how much you love them. We’re not doing badly for money it’s just hopefully this new client will make things a little easier for us, and who knows? Maybe we can go away on a proper holiday for once. I appreciate your offer though, I’m glad I raised you right”
“You did Dad.” She smiled, she meant what she said.
Everything was playing through Cate’s mind and it wouldn’t turn off long enough for her to relax, and as if she wasn’t already trying to sleep, her phone beeped twice. It had to be either Ruby or Jack or both at this time of night so she searched around for her phone which was somewhere on the opposite side of the bed. The first message was from Jack.
Night Cate, hope you get some rest tonight. xxx
She smiled and replied, he had a habit of texting her good night when she wasn’t feeling well or, like on this occasion, she hadn’t been herself for a few days. Cate then scrolled to the next text:
Skittle! Just wanna c how u r nd wish u gd luck 4 tonite. Hopefully no bad dream ey?! Love u loads x
Cate told Ruby that she couldn’t sleep and was getting frustrated; she read the almost instant reply:
Skittle, do wat I do – put music in nd try to do maths. Sends me right off! ;) X
She smiled at Ruby’s talk of maths and turned her light on to get her iPod. Thirty minutes later, she was asleep.
I look around but I have no clue as to where I am, it’s dark and foggy, mist seems to hover around my feet and snake out so I can’t see the ground. I can hear whispers, seemingly coming from all directions, surrounding me as I start to feel ill and woozy. Holding my stomach I pray I don’t throw up.
I suddenly hear a much louder whisper than the others.
“Hello.” I startle at the man’s voice behind me, I turn around and notice that the other whispers have stopped. There’s something about his voice that’s making me feel as though I should know him from somewhere but I still can’t see the person behind the voice. “It’s ok; I had to make you forget our meeting the other night, just for a few days anyway.” He answered her thoughts.
“Who are you? Have I met you before?” I look around but I don’t see anywhere to go, or hide.
“Yes we have Cate, the first was a very long time ago, you were a baby then, the next time we met was only two nights ago, near the cemetery.” My memories came flooding back to me, images of the girl who attacked me, then a man who killed her and a strange silver haired guy. I don’t want to believe it but the word that was haunting me and had been on the edge of my mind since that night is ‘vampire’; this is the man that killed the vampires who attacked me.
“W-w-why were you there? And who a-a-are you?” I’m scared and I’m stuttering but I can’t help it. “Is this even a dream?” I ask again but stronger, I don’t want him to see how scared I am.
“I’ve come to you in your dream so yes, it is a dream of sorts.” His voice is deep but gentle as he emerges from the mist, his kind amber eyes look at me and despite everything he makes me feel at ease. “I knew your mother and she asked me to help you-”
“Wait. You knew my mother?” My mind explodes into a thousand questions.
“Yes, before she died she was my closest and most trusted friend.”
“Then how come I don’t know you, if you knew my mum why didn’t you stay around after she died.” I look at him intently as he sighs sounding sad.
“Because there are people who didn’t trust me the way your mother did. She believed in me when no-one else did but that still didn’t count for anything. Shortly before she died she asked me to leave so that I couldn’t be blamed for what happened next, she told me to be obvious about what I do for a few weeks. It was three weeks after that when I heard the news of her death.” Tears start falling as hearing this reminds me of the dream I had where my mum was murdered. Something big surrounds the death of my mum and no-one is telling me about it.
“Why did no-one trust you?” I ask, but quietly. I didn’t mean for my voice to sound so small.
“I’ll tell you some other time, it’s a long story, one we don’t have time for. Your mum asked me to come back and help you discover who you are and what you stand for.”
I’m confused, I don’t understand what he’s going on about. “What do you mean? Why don’t you just come see me in person, and not when I’m being attacked?” It wasn’t going to help the situation but I could feel the anger and frustration bubbling out.
“I wasn’t meant to meet you then but I saw you were in trouble and helped. And I can’t meet you in public yet, there’s too much danger.”
“What do you mean danger?” I ask. I’d never thought of being in any sort of danger. He looks to his left and frowns as if hearing something I can’t.
“Cate, I haven’t got much time left. You must listen to me,” he looked around again and this time I can hear the urgency in his voice, “You are an Aphora Guardian…” I can’t hear the rest of what he says, a wind has picked up and it’s howling in my ears, roaring so loudly I cover them with my hands. Everything starts to fade, images fly by my face just like my other dream and the sensation of the ground being taken from beneath me washes over as I fall and then land. I look around and I see I’m in some sort of grass clearing overlooking part of the town.
“It’s about to happen Skittle, look!” I hear Ruby tell me and I turn to see her looking into the telescope, my eyes follow the direction and I see the moon. It’s big and bright, seeming to take up most of the night sky, I shiver as the cold gets to me, something doesn’t feel quite right.
Looking up I see the moon start to turn yellow, it feels like an eye, watching over me and I feel a sense of dread. My stomach starts to hurt and I know I’m sweating, I wipe my forehead and look towards Ruby who’s still looking into the telescope, I try taking a step toward her but my legs are shaking so badly I can’t move. I’m about to shout to her when I hear a low, deep grumble. It vibrates through my entire body as I look up. I feel my mouth drop, I’m unable to move or scream. There, in the yellow moon, is the face of the monster that I saw kill my mum. His wicked smile sends violent shivers across my body and his piercing red eyes gleam as he holds my own eyes, unable to turn away.
“Ruby.” I can only whisper her name, she seems not to have noticed the monster.
My head shatters, stars and bright lights dancing in front of my eyes, I double over as the pain in my stomach gets worse and then collapse to my knees not being able to hold my own weight. I breathe fast as panic and fear sets in. I don’t know what’s happening to me. The monster continues to stare and chuckle, revelling in my pain. I look to Ruby, still focused on the moon, not seeing or feeling what I am, I try to get her attention but I can’t move, I can’t speak. The pain forbids me.
I look at him again and see blood dripping from his mouth, his eyes excited as he whispers, “You’re next.” I shake uncontrollably as my vision fades, blackness blocking the sight of the monster. The last thing I hear is his terrifying roar.
Cate gulped in air as she looked around her room. Her room. Not some strange place in a dream. She was drenched in sweat, her pyjamas and hair sticking to her body. She brushed the hair from her eyes, tied it back and quietly searched for her sketch pad and a pencil. Cate sat back in bed still trying to breathe properly, dispersing the last few dregs of panic, and tried to remain calm as she sketched the monster. It was etched into her mind but she had to show Ruby, they had to find out what was going on.
Falling asleep again, pad still in hand, a phrase fleetingly passed through her mind. She wrote it down before exhaustion ran its course; written underneath the sketch of the monster was ‘Aphora Guardian’.
Alarm bells rang in her head slowly teasing her out of sleep and bringing Cate’s consciousness back to life; a hand snaked out from beneath the covers fumbling around the bed side table before hitting the plastic box promptly returning the room to silence. Cate threw the covers away from her face and sighed. Closing her eyes she prayed – something she hadn’t done for a while.
After rolling out of bed she chose a simple outfit of dark skinny jeans, a long sleeved V-neck blue jumper and black pumps. She looked into her mirror, turquoise coloured eyes staring back at her, the colours spiralling in towards the pupils. The longer she watched the more her eyes looked like they were moving, swirling. She leaned closer as if unaware of her own movement, staring harder at her own reflection. Her breath misted the mirror and through the mist something flashed in the turquoise eyes, a hidden secret taunting its beholder.
“Who are you?” She whispered slowly, the only answer continuing to stare back at her. Trance broken she shook her head slightly, a frown forming between her brows, she closed her eyes and when she opened them, she saw only herself; whatever it was had gone. Putting it to one side in her mind Cate pulled her hair back into a ponytail with her headband still in place and applied some make-up before school.
She became aware of Ruby’s shouting as she walked along the school corridor, turning around she saw the puzzled expression and waving arms meaning she had been trying to get Cate’s attention for a while. She stopped, waiting for her.
“What happened there?! I was pretty much shouting at the top of my voice. Everyone was looking at me and on this occasion it wasn’t in a good way.” Ruby panted as she caught her breath.
“Sorry Ruby I’m just tired and wasn’t paying attention to anything.” She said, hoping Ruby would miss the way Cate was feeling and knew when a certain look entered her eye that it hadn’t worked. Ruby had guessed something was up.
“Ok then, well I just wanted to see how you are. I’ll see you at lunch yeah?” Cate smiled, Ruby knew Cate didn’t want to talk about what was bothering her yet.
“Yep. See you in the hall.” Cate watched as Ruby walked into her classroom. She may always want to investigate news and gossip but for all her faults Ruby understood Cate and knew that she would most likely explain when she was ready.
The bell rang and Cate became aware of the empty hallway, students had already piled into classrooms as their first lessons began and if Cate didn’t hurry up she’d be really late to hers, she’d get a detention and then have to spend her lunchtime, or worse, in the maths room with Ms Warner. She was not the friendliest of people and Cate certainly didn’t want to spend any extra time with her.
She started to walk forward when a loud metallic bang echoed around her. She spun quickly, heart racing and exhaled loudly when she saw a locker door open, smacking against the next one. As she walked over to close it Cate thought how paranoid she was getting. Thinking it was ridiculous, she chuckled and shook her head, mocking herself. She closed the door and went to turn back when she heard another noise to her left that sent chills racing over her body: the sound of claws raking along metal, slow, deliberate, high pitched. Turning her head slowly she saw it. The monster that was plaguing her dreams, it stood not too far away with a hand against the lockers. It looked over six feet tall, hair sprouted from its almost human figure, claws replaced fingers and were viscously sharp as the grooves along the lockers could prove; ruptured metal striking out behind it demonstrated where the chilling sound had come from. Trousers hung around its waist, ripped and shredded as if the monster had burst through them. It bent his head to the side and sniffed the air though his protruding snout like nose, eyes closed. When they opened Cate saw yellow eyes full with the intent to kill. Cate was its prey.
It crouched to the floor on all fours and ran at Cate, its lips curled upwards as it growled,
“No, no, no, NO!” Cate screamed; the monster leaped, saliva stretched from jaw to jaw as sharp teeth were exposed, as it was almost upon her she threw her arms over her face and fell backwards…
Cate is your average, insecure sixteen year old until she discovers she is Guardian of her world: Aphora. She is last in her bloodline, thrust into time-bound supernatural war with Ziamen – a parasitic, demonic realm that threatens to destroy mankind. Struggling with her new reality, Cate meets Alex, her Guardian Protector, who becomes hostile as he struggles to balance his feelings towards Cate and the lingering guilt over her mother’s death. As they search for a powerful object to connect with her powers so she can destroy the portal that links her world to Ziamen, monsters and demons she once thought myth seek to crush her at every turn. In a horrifying twist of fate, the pair uncover the heart-stabbing truth of their entwined destiny, one that threatens their humanity. In time Cate must choose; will she fulfil her prophesised Guardian duty? Or will revenge consume her?