the autumn rain never seized. It sieved through the bloated, gray
clouds and splattered the windows. Ruby stared out through the net
curtain, eyes fogging, mind as whirling as the wet blades of grass
flipping around in the wind. She ground her teeth over the tip of the
thermometer, glancing down her nose at the red line slowly crawling
alarm on her wrist watch pinged
, and she pulled it out, scanning the reading. 27º,
normal. She groaned and laid her pounding head down on the table,
listening to her own heartbeat as it rang through her earlobe. A
sound like screeching metal straightened her posture, and the old
door shuttered ajar. She stared at the peeling paint, then stood to
push it to. Then the door opened further, and a figure with a hood
pulled tight over their head came in. For a moment, her eyes
stretched beyond their sockets.
Lilli spit rain water off her lips, then wiped her eyes with the back
of her hand. The girl stood half in half out, a sheet of rain coming
in behind her.
took a step back, heart hammering at her chest like a bird in a cage.
did she get here? Nobody goes into Adder Woods on a day like this...
or anyday to mention it.
going to school today?” Lilli blurted, making herself at home by
grabbing one of the wonky chairs and plonking herself down.
voice came soft and distant. I
wouldn't lie to you, you know.
Ruby knocked gently on her head, as if to clear the second concious.
“Um,” She glanced at the clock. It was too late for school now,
the gates would be closed. “No. I suppose you arn't
“Nope. I want you come outside through, Sharn and
Jade wont come in. You give them the chills.”
stiffened with distain, but she took one stride to cross the room to
be by the door again, hand on the cold rusted knob. Lilli came up at
her heels, and they both took the deck stairs two at a time to get to
the worn down path.
A car was parked
on the grass, and a trail of debris marked its path through the
forest. Two faces stared anxiously out from the back seat, barely
recognisable from the previous day, when they had squinted through
the mist at her.
Ruby waited for the other girl to pass her
and open the passenger door. “Get in, we needa talk to you.”
instinct not to follow the strangers into their vehicle kicked in
somewhere deep inside of her. She stood on one leg awkwardly, and
portrayed no emotion in dumb-founded confusion. Lilli sighed and went
around to the drivers side and slipped in, jammed the key in and the
engine suddenly roared to life.
Ruby coughed as an acidic
petrol smelling cloud puffed from the exaust. One of the girls, the
smaller, thinner, of the two, gathered up the courage to speak. “Come
on, please? We wont bite, seriously.” A warm smile was on her face,
and then she said something lowly, but Ruby barely caught it. “Not
us anyway.” Or maybe it was “Not us anytime.”
The second girl,
with a stronger, tall build, pushed her headband further onto her
scalp with pale fingers. “Do the test, Lil. Do it.”
hestitated as her foot rested down on the acceleration pedal. She
stared at Ruby with hopeful eyes, and muttered “Please.” under
her breath. Ruby stayed put, and began to back towards the house, not
dragging her eyes from the crew of girls for one moment. Then
suddenly the wheels began to spin and the car reversed abruptly, then
charged towards her. She ducked and rolled, wedged her toe in the
ground to steady herself, then flipped to her feet and ran.
ran for the more dense bush, the thicker, thorny, parts, hoping that
the car couldn't get through, or the tires pierced. Feet still bare,
she staggered as the rough forest floor ripped her skin. Still the
car prowled through the undergrowth, ramming into saplings and
breaking a path through.
Suddenly, Ruby felt a sensation
bullet through her veins, right from her fingertips to her toes. The
blood pumped louder in her head, and she kept on running, feeling hot
and cold at the same time. Then she gasped, and a Thwum!
came from her body, and she rolled to the side.
All she could
see now was blackness, and she felt as if she was floating, legs
thrashing for the ground. The world had disappeared beneath her, only
leaving deep, dark space. Then she saw a light, and she watched it,
and realised she was watching herself, turning on the car in the
The body controlled by who-knows-what, ran and jumped
onto the bonnet, fingernails gouging the metal. The creature parried
at the windscreen, the car halted. Ruby felt her breath snatched
away, and she was back in her body again, feeling light-headed and
weak. She slid down across the headlights and onto the ground,
falling limp into a pile. She could smell the burning rubber.
she okay?” One voice called.
“She's fine.” Another
“Its really her.”
Ruby opened her eyes
and stared under the car at the three pairs of feet huddled together.
One in sandals, the other two in sneakers. No voice came, but Ruby
knew that Nyra was laughing quietly. She sobbed and curled tighter,
wrapping her arms around her knees and interweaving her fingers. The
sandals disappeared upwards, and she guessed the girl wearing them
had climbed into the car again. The other two remained pointing
inwards at eachother, and only hushed voices came.
get...?” The first girl whispered.
The next was Lilli, Ruby
could recognise her voice now. “No. Not now. She's only just
experienced the change. Even you haven't yet, have you?”
I don't think I'm ready yet. When I am, I know there will be one
there for me.”
Ruby had enough of being the mouse under the
floor boards, blindly listening to the world above. She grabbed onto
the bumper and rested her shoulder on it for a moment, then hoisted
herself up and onto her aching legs. She glared hard at Lilli, and at
the girl, whose fair brown hair draped over her cardigan like
what your brain is telling you to do. Your heart is an organ for
blood, not choices. And if your thinking thats evil, than you would
be using no common sence of body at all.
Nyra said in a matter-of-factly voice. Ruby had no time to argue, she
ignored the curiousity waking in her gut, and turned to walk back
through the wreckage. She heard footsteps pursuing her, then a voice
that halted it.
“No. We leave her. She has to come out