As the band finished playing their last song, another band entered the stage, and the three young men joined the others around the table. A waitress brought them well-deserved beers as payment for the gig, and they all seemed pleased with that. A couple of girls came over to the table, both dressed in black and with different colors in their hair. June caught my gaze, as they smiled flirtatiously at the band, but also at the dark and mysterious Caspian.
“You guys really got talent.” The taller one of them said. She had long black and blue hair down to her waist, and plenty of eyeliner around her chocolate brown eyes. I found the smell from their perfumes, make-up and apparently, freshly dyed hair, quite nauseating, as if I was riding a car naked.
“Thank you, girls.” Chester replied and cocked his head to the side, giving them one of his hungry stares. June deliberately looked away. It pained me, but when I saw Andrès’ look, I knew I was not the only one. Chester dragged long guitar fingers through his short black hair, messing it up slightly.
“So, do you care for a drink?” He asked them. They glanced at each other and smiled.
“Sure.” And the three of them were off towards the bar. My nausea let go of my larynx, so that I could breathe again.
“Are you feeling alright?” Caspian asked right by my ear, because the music had started up again. I turned and smiled.
“Yeah, no problem.” I said. A flash of worry could be seen in his oceanic eyes, but it soon passed and he looked away.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t care to stay here long. We could go to the house and play some Wii.” Andrè suddenly said and shifted in his seat, looking uncomfortably around the room. “The house” was of course the Sanders house, as there existed no curfew or angry parents there. Darin flicked his black bangs out of his eyes, looking eagerly towards the entrance.
“Yeah, I’m up for that. How about you guys?” His golden eyes glanced at Caspian, before they locked on me. I felt some strange tension from Caspian who was right beside me, which I couldn’t quite decipher. I on the other hand looked forwards to getting out of this crowded space with so many different smells that etched into my nostrils and wouldn’t come out for days.
“Yeah sure.” I complied. Cornelia, who was busy drooling all over the lead singer of the new band, raised her hand with her finger outstretched, as a sign that she was in as well. June nodded hesitantly and glanced over at the bar, where Chester had indulged himself quite nicely with the two Goth chicks. Hurt flickered into her warm, golden eyes as we rose to leave the bar. Darin walked over to Chester, asking him if he would tag along, but he obviously wouldn’t, as he said something funny, making the two girls almost have a fit.
“What are we going to do about the car?” Andrè asked, once we were outside the bar, and looked at the mustang as if it was a stranger. Both Darin and Andrè had been drinking, so neither could drive, and none of us girls had the certificate. Caspian looked uneasy, and stuck his hands in his pockets.
“We’ll just let it stay here, I’ll go get it in the morning.” Darin said and looked at me.
“We’ll all take Eliza’s example and walk.” He grinned broadly and casually flung an arm around my shoulders. It wasn’t uncomfortable, him being so close, what was uncomfortable was the look I was getting from Caspian. His eyes could have burned right through my flesh, at least it felt like it, therefore I looked away, trying my best to ignore him.
“I’ll just head home, I have some stuff to take care of.” Caspian said darkly, looking heavily at me. I took a few steps after him as he turned and walked the other way. Was he going to leave me unprotected? Unprotected when he had said that danger lingered in the air? I wanted to shout after him, but could feel Darins’ eyes on my back, and thought better of it.
Nothing attacked us on our way to the Sanders house though, luckily enough. We entered the play room, which basically consisted of a huge widescreen TV, a Nintendo Wii, a Playstation 3 and a two cornered sofa that could fit twelve people in all. Andrè and Darin banked themselves in the middle of the couch, switching on the TV and the Nintendo Wii, completely prepared to do some serious ass kicking. June, Cornelia and I sat down beside them, me feeling slightly uneasy, but not really knowing why. Something had been watching us while we walked back, I was certain of it.
“So, what do you girls want to play?” Andrè asked as he dragged a hand through his unruly, blonde hair. His French accent shone through again, and I could see a slight blush appear in Junes’ cheeks as his drowsy eyes landed on her. I had to really work with myself to not give a self-satisfied grin at Darin, who obviously noticed the same tension as I did.
“How about we start with something light, golf, or something?” Darin suggested giving me the self-satisfied grin I had been trying so hard to hide. I narrowed my eyes at him.
“Let’s not. What’s the hardest game you got?” I asked. Andrè looked confused from Darin to me, before he shrugged.
“Perhaps we should watch a movie instead?” He offered and rose to turn off the Wii, as both Darin and I stopped him with a united: “No!”
Darin turned to me, a gleam of mischief in his golden eyes.
“Let’s play Guitar Hero.” He said with his lopsided grin giving him dimples and narrowing his eyes, making him look like a particularly bad behaved seven-year-old punk. June sighed and shook her head, as did Andrè. Poor Cornelia had no idea what the ruckus was about, so she just sat there, looking cute.
“Okay, bring it on.” That was probably my worst mistake ever, as (of course) I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. And I had neither no idea how competitive Junes’ older brother really could be. I was about to find out.
After five songs, ongoing the sixth, I was beginning to get the hang of the plastic guitar, and the notes dancing on the screen. I had lost all my previous battles with the master in the game, also named Darin. After each song he gave me a comforting pat on the back, which frankly felt even more degrading than if he had shouted in triumph and mocked me for my terrible skills. It seemed as if he knew ever note on every song, he could even turn away from the screen and tell Andrè (who was bored to death) what he wanted on his pizza, and he could spare me a triumphant smile, but he never boasted. When he won again on our sixth song, I deliberately handed the guitar over to Cornelia, giving him a stinging glare, and sitting down beside June. Darin sighed and gave the guitar to Andrè, who practically lit up like a star.
“Eliza, I’m sorry, that was unfair of me. I know every song on that game already.” He said with a slight smug look as he sat down beside me. The leather couch creaking as I shifted and turned towards him. June sprung to her feet when the doorbell rang, and next sprinted out of the room to answer the door.
“Don’t worry about it, your skills impressed me… though I don’t see the use of them in the real world.” I commented, still feeling a little buffed by his superiority. Darins smug look faltered.
“I mean, it’s a game, what good does it do to be good at a game?” I asked, rubbing it in his face, feeling a little mean, but in my eyes he deserved to be jacked down a bit.
“Well, it’s fun.” He replied. His golden eyes looked overbearingly at me.
“Sure, I just don’t see the use of it, it’s kind of a waste of time, don’t you think?”
“Okay, now you’re just being unreasonable, when did ‘fun’ start being a waste of time?” He asked offended. Surprised I sat up straight and stared at him.
“I didn’t mean…” She started, but just then June came sprinting inside, looking flustered.
“Darin, you have to help him! It’s Chester!” She cried and pointed at the door. Darin jumped up as if he had been sitting on a fire, and ran out the door. Andrè was right on his heels. I grabbed June before she could follow them and looked into her eyes.
“Did you see something else out there?” I asked intensely. Cornelia stood just behind me, I could feel her senses rippling out of her body like sound waves. June looked terrified.
“No, nothing.” She said with her voice breaking down to a sob.
“Cornelia? Stay here with June, keep her away from the windows.” I instructed, desperate to stay on the safe side, but still protecting my friends. I leapt out of the room once Cornelia had wrapped her hands around the shivering June, and I barely touched the steps down the stairs. As I skidded to a halt at the bottom of the stairs, looking directly at a torn and bruised Chester, my blood froze in my veins. Searching through my memories, inherited from my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother and so on, I knew exactly who could have caused this kind of damage without killing the subject.
Darin and Andrè had supported him into the hallway, where he now lay slumped on the carpet. Darin was on the phone, with the ambulance I suspected, while Andrè came back from the kitchen with a wet cloth, trying to wash away most of the dirt in his wounds. Chester was awake, and completely clear, not even drowsy or in shock. His blue eyes looked up at Andrè with a kind of understanding you rarely found in someone who had been put through something as traumatic as he probably had.
“There weren’t anyone else out there?” I asked Andrè. He looked up, shaking his head.
“Just this jackass,” he said and looked at Chester again, “I’ve told you not to play around with Gothers, because they’re creepy, and they play with knives.”Chester looked confused at his friend, before he shook his head vigorously.
“Not Gothers.” He murmured. I stepped closer, because my ears couldn’t pick up his unclear words. He was bleeding all over the white carpet on the floor, and smudged the peach wall.
“Shush, you moron, of course they were Gothers, they had multicolored hair for fucks sake.” Darin suddenly snapped from beside me. He had stuffed his phone back in his pocket and glared at Chester. I held up my hand to silence them all. Chesters’ eyes moved to me.
“Who did this to you Chester?” I asked silently. At first I didn’t think he’d heard me, because he still looked at me with those same muted eyes. I couldn’t get any emotions from him, not even pain or fear. Something was very wrong here.
“A hot demon chick on a big bird.” He replied dead serious. Darin rolled his eyes.
“He clearly hit his head or something.” Andrè muttered behind his hand while he scratched the bridge of his nose thoughtfully. I glanced at Darin who didn’t seem so certain anymore. He looked at me, narrowing his eyes.
“Big bird?” He asked and looked up towards the roof. “The ambulance will be here soon, they’ll patch you up again.” He told Chester and left the hallway and went up the stairs, probably to talk to June. I could even hear her sobs from here. Why a slight beating would upset her so, especially when Chester never really paid much attention to her in the first place, was beyond my understanding. I guess that was a part of the human nature I would never understand. Reason was something very few humans possessed obviously. I shrugged.
“You believe me, don’t you?” Chester asked me suddenly. I knelt down in front of him and placed a hand on both sides of his face, staring deep into his eyes. I stretched my influence into his brain, but couldn’t really find anything of intelligence in there… at all. I drew back and let go of him.
“I think you hit your head very hard Chester. It’ll pass in a few days.” I murmured and rose as Darin, June and Cornelia descended the stairs.
When the ambulance had driven off with a dizzy and nauseated Chester, Darin called a cab for himself, Andrè and June. Cornelia and I said we weren’t close to Chester, and he probably just wanted his closest friends with him.
“I don’t want you two to walk around alone out here now.” Darin murmured when he had taken me slightly to the side, just outside the door. He glanced towards the rest of the group, sighing.
“I don’t understand all this. Chester would never talk about demons and giant birds if it wasn’t true. He’s just too…” He cut off and scratched his neck. I understood what he wanted to say though; Chester wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. When I didn’t say anything, he examined me with his golden gaze.
“This doesn’t scare you at all, does it? Do you know something about these giant birds?” He asked, placing heavy hands on my narrow shoulders, gripping them as if he was struggling to stand upright. I met his stare with my own blue eyes, wondering what I could tell him, would he panic if I told him what really existed out there? All those demonic and supernatural species he knew nothing of? Would he start wondering if the old lady on the bus really was a Firebreather, or if the people downing hamburgers at McDonalds really were Gluttons? Perhaps he’d realize what I am as well, or Cornelia, or Caspian. No, I couldn’t tell him, he would have to realize on his own, as many had done before him.
“I’m just not easily scared, that’s all. Do you think I know something about these creatures that I’m not telling?” I asked. He sighed, and stepped closer, wrapping his arms around me. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world, for him to give me a hug, to hold me as if I was his. I could feel his warmth through his black shirt, the smell of his sparse cologne and sweat from the gig earlier. I drew a deep breath, and wrapped my own arms around his waist, hugging him back.
“Get home safe, okay? I don’t want to find you like Chester on my doorstep.” He whispered into my hair. I nodded. I knew I wouldn’t, Caspian was close.
Darin released me with a sigh. He dragged his fingers through his hair again, flicking those bangs out of his eyes, making a strange face.
“I know this might seem strange, but… would you go out on a date with me? When Chester is better, or something?” He asked. I glanced at the taxi where Andrè and June had taken their seats, and Cornelia who had turned her back to us to give us some privacy. I hugged my jacket closer around me and smiled at Darin.
“Yeah, sure, but no videogames?” I asked. Darin chuckled and scratched his neck.
“No videogames.” He confirmed.
“Then it’s a date.” I said and grinned broadly. His brown eyes lit up.
“Great, I’ll give you a notice when things have calmed down. So…I’ll see you.” He said and waved as he ran to the taxi. I nodded and waved when the Taxi drove out into the street and sped off towards the hospital.
“Oh, the beautiful dryad and the hot rocker is going on a date, I wonder where this will end.” Cornelia commented once I came up to her. I shot her a glare.
“Whatever, Fishsticks.” I snapped and looked up to the moon. It wasn’t completely full yet, but would be in a few days.
“Let’s go before Enyo finds us.” I said. Cornelia looked surprised.
“The warrior goddess? Since when was she released from Lucifers’ custody?” She asked.
“How should I know? All I know is that she was locked away several millenniums ago.” I snarled, feeling uneasy out in the open. So without waiting for Cornelia, I started walking towards my apartment.
“Hey, wait.” She called and came leaping up to my side, her long, red hair bouncing on her shoulders.
“Shouldn’t you go back to the emperor?” I asked without slowing.
“Nope, didn’t I tell you? Oh well, I’m supposed to help that sexy diabolo watch over you.”
“What good can a water breathing fish like you do? You’re no good up on land. Here you’re a mere human.”
“You’ll never know.” She replied lightly and danced alongside me in her tight leather dress.
We came only halfway to my apartment, turning into one of the darker streets which I usually took a longer route around, but now I was desperate to get home. The steep walls curled over us like faltering card houses, and the lines of garbage by the bricks seemed to be the only thing keeping the houses from crashing down over us. There were no doors, no windows, not a single place to hide, besides the countless garbage dumpsters. There was nowhere to escape to.
My heart quickened its pace, as did my legs. The alleyway wasn’t long, perhaps fifty meters long, but it was obviously long enough. I stopped, and Cornelia barely managed to stop before she bumped into me. A figure was leaning against the bricked wall, smug as smug can be, and I knew her face.
Her powerful frame was wrapped in armor, as if she had been sculpted into the metal. A red cloak flowed down from her broad shoulders, looking like a pool of blood around her feet. At her hip, hung a heavy sword, a sword I knew for a fact she had killed well over a thousand humans and supernatural beings with. She had killed many of my own species, and of Cornelia’s.
“What’s the rush, little meatballs?” Her voice was like a battle song, strong and mighty, with adrenalin pulsating throughout every word. I shivered involuntarily.
“What is your mission here, Enyo?” I asked, steadying my voice. Her yellow, beast-like eyes glistened with joy, and she smoothed her short raven hair back, revealing two pointed ears.
“To bring the nuisance to the king is my mission. Those are my orders.” She answered, cocking her head to one side.
“I believe that’s you, meatball.” She grinned. Sharp canines gleamed behind her lips. The king was obviously Lucifer, but why she was to bring me to him, and not kill me, was a mystery to me. She shoved herself off the wall, and started walking towards me, her palm resting on the shaft of her sword. She walked like the battle was already won, self satisfied, victorious. I crouched, hissing. She stopped, amused, her yellow eyes widening just a tad bit. Cornelia followed my example, but knew she would do no good in her original form on land. Neither would I much, but I wouldn’t go without a fight, no matter if Enyo was the goddess of war. I summoned my energy, but hesitated in releasing it. This was an open street, anyone could come down here. Enyo looked human, kind of like a cosplayer, but I would fool no one. I was shocked at myself for worrying about such trifles at a time like this.
“Are you going to fight me?” She asked with surprise soaking her voice. My lip curled back in a vicious snarl, but I was uncertain. Where was Caspian?
“It won’t do you any good to hold back up against me, Meatball. Show me what you got.” Enyo urged, sliding her sword out of its sheath. It glimmered in the dim light, like precious stones in a cave. I braced myself and released my energy, feeling my transformation set speed, and a few seconds later I stood tall with my green hue, and lengthened fingers. I was open for attack, completely naked. I had no armor, no weapon, nothing. I was the apple upon the head, which gets shot down by the arrow, where Enyo obviously was the arrow. Meeting a warrior goddess in my dryad form was probably not the best idea I had ever had, but it was better than staying as a fragile human.
I saw her tense her muscles as she kicked off, racing towards me. I leapt up into the air, and saw her run straight by my feet. Luckily I was one of the faster dryads, or I bet I would have been meatloaf already. I spun around as I landed softly on the asphalt, facing an enraged Enyo, despite the glorious grin on her face.
This maneuver repeated itself a few times, until Enyo suddenly caught a hold of my ankle and swung me into the wall. The air got slammed right out of my lungs, and my arm bent dangerously far back before I tumbled down to the ground. I hadn’t broken anything, luckily. I gaped after air, desperately trying to fill my lungs again, but they wouldn’t fulfill my wish. Strong fingers grabbed my neck, lifting me off the ground.
Finally I managed to draw a ragged breath, just before Enyo slammed me into the wall again. My head hit a brick that stuck slightly more out of the wall than the others, and I could feel my skin split open and warm blood gush out, staining my already dirty, white dress. A growl emitted from Enyos’ curled lips as stars danced merrily in front of my vision.
“Sleep tight, little Meatball.” She whispered dangerously, just as my eyes rolled back and I wandered into unconsciousness.
Why didn’t he come for me?
Why didn’t he save me this time?