It was raining then as well, strange how so many important moments in my life happen when it’s raining. I was ten years old the first time I used magic and it changed me in more ways than you would believe. I had never heard of The Academy, magic, monsters or anything like that. I was normal, or at least I considered myself so. Now I look back at it I don't think others did. I lived in a small house outside Dublin with my parents. It wasn't a particularly fancy house, it sat in the middle of a row of houses that all looked pretty much identical. All neat lawns and spotless windows. We lived at number fourteen and you would have struggled to pick it out from amongst the many mass produced houses you find anywhere in the world.
I was an only child, in more ways than one. I had no siblings to speak of, no cousins or any real close relatives and this resulted in a lonely childhood.
My parents had gone out for the night, some work related party that sounded particularly dull but was apparently incredibly important for my dad’s career, or so my mum had told me. I was left with Abby who was a local teenager that my parents had known for years; she was studying for her degree and so would often come round when my parents were out to earn a little extra cash without having to do much work.
"Lily, it’s about to start if you want to watch it." I came into the room as Abby called, carrying a large bowl of popcorn and settling onto the sofa beside her. Abby was surrounded by a wide variety of books that lay open around her. Each was carefully marked with a range of coloured sticky tabs and she was jotting something down onto her notepad as the news headlines repeated on the television in front of her.
"...nothing further to report about the riots in London this week, police are saying that the matter is now contained..."
The reporter continued mildly in the background but I didn't really give it any further attention. There had been a string of unusual reports recently; collapsing bridges, unexplained disappearances and authorities were struggling to keep the public from panicking.
I continued to work through the bowl in front of me, happy at the prospect of staying up late and watching a movie while my parents were out. The crash broke my happy little moment, the front door rebounded off the wall in the hall and I could hear footsteps striding through it and coming closer to the living room.
"Hello?" Abby's voice wavered slightly as she called out, "Who's there?"
My parents weren't due back for another couple of hours and they would usually have called before heading home anyway. The door burst open a moment later and a tall dark figure stood in the hall. He was dressed head to toe in dark clothing, his hair lank and long as it framed his face and covered his wild, shining eyes. I saw them glittering from deep within his face, his mouth twitching up into a cruel smile as fire began to pool into the palm of his left hand. I was frozen to the spot, unable to move or even utter a single syllable. Instead I simply watched his hand start to rise, as if in slow motion the entire scene played out before me, his arm climbing ever higher. I didn't know what was happening but I felt sure that nothing good would come of it.
As the arm came up, the palm facing towards me and Abby another figure collided with the first knocking him sideways and spoiling his aim as a fireball shot towards us. Instead of crashing into the sofa it sailed over our heads and splashed onto the wall which immediately caught fire. The sound of the ball sizzling over my head snapped everything back into focus and brought me out of my immobility. I screamed, over and over again as I threw the bowl towards them and moved towards the door into the kitchen, with Abby right behind me. As I looked back over my shoulder I saw the pair rolling around on the floor, trading blows that landed with dull meaty thuds.
"Lily, keep your head down. We need to get out of here and call the police." Abby was shaken, I could tell from the high pitched tone of her voice. Already the house was filling with smoke as the fire spread out of control on the living room wall.
Abby reached out with a trembling hand to pick up the phone as we raced past, she dialled the numbers with fingers that shook violently.
"It's dead…I can't get through."
A sudden rumble shook the house from the living room as a solid object hit the wall, sending shivers of cracks across it.
"We can't stop here," Abby took my hand in hers and pulled me after her towards the kitchen and the only other door out of the house. I didn't dare to look behind me as we ran crouched low to keep out of the thickening smoke. My hand reached towards the handle as another ball of flame flew towards me from the living room, smashing through the glass upper half of the door in front of me. The shattering of glass made me flinch backwards in terror as another scream flew from my lips. I cast a fearful glance back towards the living room and in the doorway, silhouetted by the flames beyond, the figure in black was standing, blood trickled down the side of his face from a cut on his forehead and an evil glare filled his eyes with rage.
"We have to get out of here...No we can't leave them alive, they have seen us.." With each new sentence the voice seemed to change, if I wasn’t staring him in the face I would have thought it was two completely different people. He stood in the doorway, arguing with himself, as he looked at me and Abby crouching on the floor of the kitchen, half concealed behind the table.
“The girl, get the girl! Which master? There are two.” His eyes were wide, the pupils almost pinpricks in the centre. “The girl, get the girl! But master he is coming..” A look of fear crossed his face at that last statement, his eyes flicking back towards the living room.
I looked desperately behind him, hopeful to see the other figure coming to save us again but nothing appeared through the heavy smoke haze. His hand started to climb once more as he finished his self-focused argument, a pool of fire flowing from each of his fingers to fill his palm.
His eyes flicked once more towards the living room and I took the opportunity to move as swiftly as I could leaping towards the door once more, wrestling desperately with the handle.
Something began to squeeze me from all sides. Looking around I could see no sign of the force pressing against me. A relentless pressure from behind forced me forwards, towards that outstretched hand and the flame it contained.
“Who are you girl? What does my master want with a pathetic mundane like you?”
The fear left me almost as quickly as it arrived; instead I felt the dull throb of anger.
“I don’t know what you are talking about, let me-” the breath was forced from me as another wave of pressure squeezed me tightly from all directions.
“Do not lie to me girl.” His hand slowly came towards me, his grubby fingers hovering an inch from my face while his other palm flickered with flame. I tried desperately to move my arms to push him away but they were pinned to my side. I tried to wiggle anything: a hand, a foot even a toe...nothing moved.
“My master will know..” slowly, almost tentatively his fingertips touched my face and my skin crawled with the feeling. My skull throbbed as if it would burst when a sudden mad cackling erupted around me.
I don't know where it came from, my fear had climbed to levels I had never known before and I could feel it mixing with my anger deep inside my stomach, like a bowl that was slowly beginning to overflow. I focused all of that rage, fear and hatred towards the figure in black and suddenly I felt it fly from me like an invisible battering ram.
"Get out of my head!" As the words left my mouth the feeling of pressure suddenly vanished from around me and I fell backwards, a feeling of something pouring out of me and a bright, bright light behind my eyelids was followed by a resounding crash.
I felt my back meet the floor. The impact hurt, a lot. The sudden shock snapped my eyes back open and I scrambled into a sitting position and froze in shock as I took in the scene before me. I didn't know what was happening but before I could even move he turned and ran from the house, screaming loudly all of the way. The entire kitchen was a mess of broken furniture. The walls were cracked and black streaks radiated away from me and there was an acrid scent of burning filling my nostrils.
Slowly, Abby climbed to her feet, leaving me on the floor as she moved carefully towards the living room, her feet crunching on the broken glass as she did. Before she reached the doorway something stirred in the smoke and moved through it, leaving billowing waves behind him.
"Come on, this place it burning badly. We need to get out of here now." His voice was calm and smooth, he showed no shock that a man had just been throwing fire around my house and simply moved through the room and opened the kitchen door before ushering us both into the garden.