Red Roses

I told the others to wait and then banged out of the door and down the stairs. The noise had come from the bedroom. I ran in and there didn’t seem to be much amiss. My mother was perched on the edge of the bed as if she had just leapt there after receiving a shock. Her face was a bit whiter than her normal complexion. There were some clothes on the floor, and the closet doors were open, so I thought wildly that maybe one of the attackers had hidden in there, but it was impossible for two reasons: they had all been killed and I had closed that closet just half an hour ago. I wouldn’t have missed somebody crouched in there. But obviously there was something I had missed, as she answered my unspoken question by pointing a shaking finger at the closet. From my vantage point at the door, I couldn’t see inside it as the white slatted door of the closet blocked my view. I moved cautiously and curiously around to where I could get a look inside it, but nothing could jump out at me without warning.

All I saw were the clothes hanging from the rail, and the shoes in a rack underneath them. But propped against the rack was the only thing that might be out of place. It wasn’t exactly horrifying, though. It was just a wreath of red roses. Really! What was to be afraid of? They were just pretty, fragrant flowers. I went closer and knelt down to pick the wreath up, but my mother gasped, “No! Don’t touch it!”

I withdrew my hand slowly, looking back over my shoulder with my eyebrows drawing together. I settled for looking back at the thing. Now I could see the stems had been twisted around each other to form a ring like a kind of crown, but they had not been de-thorned. It was a good thing I hadn’t tried to pick them up. There was a note curled up and secured between the woven stems. I plucked it out by pulling on the exposed end and unrolled it. It was a piece of old-fashioned parchment with copperplate-like writing on it in an unattractive red-brown ink.

May the moon befriend you, or else may you drown in the waters of darkness.

I frowned and got up, throwing the scroll into the wastepaper bin even though my mother hadn’t read it.

“What rubbish is that? Who sent them to you?”

She shook her head, and she had bitten her lips. “I just found it. I didn’t put it there.”

“Why did it scare you so much? I mean, I know I’d be surprised if somebody had gotten into my house and left something in my closet, but, it’s just flowers. Even if there was a freaky note.”

“No, Ruby, you don’t understand,” she said, burying her face in her hands. The brightness of her hair seemed to drain her skin even more of colour. The dye was washing out now so it was a duller shade than the neon on the day I had arrived. It felt like a long time ago when I was on that train, but it was only just over a week since then.

I felt a sudden jolt as I remembered that train journey for the first time. It wasn’t the main part of it that bothered me. I was remembering the man I had hit with my suitcase, the tall impeccably dressed impossibly solid man with the oddly coloured golden eyes. That was before I had been introduced to the world of Immortals, but now I was almost completely sure that man had been one. Exactly which one couldn’t be told. I thought I could rule out centaur, for the obvious reason, and vampire, because I had seen his teeth when he smiled at me - though if he had had the sharp canines that were a dead giveaway, I might not have noticed at the time. He could be a shape shifter or a werewolf, and he was definitely not an elf because although he had been stunning to the eye, he had normal ears and didn’t have the smooth unblemished pale skin or the frosted eyes of an elf. At the back of my mind, behind the imaginary wall where I holed up things I didn’t like or want to think about, there was something nagging at my memory. Something to do with the golden eyes. I had a feeling that I’d seen them more than that one time.

The End

20 comments about this story Feed