Chapter III: Come nightfall
Word count: 1725
Time Taken: 1h 46m
"I really don't want to cook." Lewis sighed out as we came home, with me holding CJ's with one hand and an umbrella in the other. "Want to order something to eat?" He then asked.
"Yes!" Carl shouted enthusiastically.
"What can we even order in this place?" I said, helping my little brother wiggle free from his purple colored coat.
"I saw a chinese and a pizza place while walking around yesterday."
"Alright then. Anything's fine with me." I said, walking inside of the living room, following CJ. I walked to the couch and opened my backpack, looking at the thick brick of papers of previous classes I had to go through to catch up.
After a few minutes, I felt someone else crawl onto the large beige cushion of the couch and I looked at CJ. "You want to tell me about your day?" He nodded and starting telling me about everything little thing that had happened, how people had reacted to his monster high tee. "Don't let the boys tease you about that, okay?"
He nodded and then it was his turn to ask me. "How about you?"
"Well, I've got all those things to read." I said, showing him the stack of paper, which he took the top of and let his eyes run through the page, trying to understand what was written.
"Did you make friends?"
"I guess you could say that." I said, smiling nicely, thinking about all the people who had come talk to me during the day, two thirds of which I couldn't remember either the name or the face of. I had spent a good deal of the day with Danielle, who had showed me around... She seemed rather nice, although very different from me.
After a few minutes, there was knock on the door and my Lewis answered, paying the delivery boy himself before getting into the kitchen.
"Pizza's here!" He announced, making Carl jump from the couch toward the kitchen. I walked in, grabbing a slice myself and began chomping on it.
"When will daddy be back?" My little brother asked while stuffing himself.
"In less than an hour, Carl." Lewis answered between two bites.
I chewed my own food for a moment, lost in thoughts as the two of them chatted. After maybe five minutes of zoning out and three slices, I started walking toward the stairs. "I'm going to my room, my head's killing me..." I declared, half mumbling.
I rushed up the stairs and walked inside my room, closing the door behind me and bolting it shut so CJ wouldn't walk in. I closed the drapes and began changing out of the uniform and into jeans and a tee, keeping my bra off, letting me breathe a bit. When I was done, I lied down on the bed, feeling tired. Maybe it was the lack of sunshine, the constant rain or just the atmosphere of the town, but I had felt drained ever since we had arrived.
My eyes closed, only for a moment but I felt myself slip regardless. I fell in a numbing sleep, the budding headache and dizziness fading away quietly into a dreamless rest.
It took a moment for me to notice something amidst the softness of my mattress, but it was the wind that slowly stirred me conscious. I opened my eyes and saw the window open, the drapes flowing in and the light had gone out.
"Didn't I lock the window?" I mumbled to myself, getting up and walking toward it. I approached it and looked out. The rain had died out, but the wind still howled fiercely.
The words came as if it floated on the air, like a whisper yet it came clear, unaffected by the noise of the wind engulfing itself in my room or dancing through the threes. I gazed out at the woods and saw a slender white figures, I felt it's gaze on me although I couldn't make out it's details.
"Sophia..." I could hear it call my name. "Come to us..."
The figure slowly faded back into the cover of threes, but it's words still floated inside my head, inviting, compelling me to follow. My head felt light, my sense numbed out and my heart heavy.
"I'm dreaming..." I told myself.
I walked past the nightstand where my alarm laid next to a couple of pictures, four a.m. it announced. Opened the door, the locking bolt already unengaged. I walked down the stairs, two of them lightly creaking under my weight, and reached the door. I put on my shoes and opened the front door, a small build up of pressure being released and letting a gust of wind blow inside the house.
I took a step outside, the ground was still wet, a small gravel road was on the left of the entrance door, leading to the back of the house and the woods. The rocks shifted under my steps as I made my way there.
Past a small wooden patio, there was a trail that lead into the forest, just where the figure had been standing. I approached but hesitated going forward.
"Sophia..." Came the voice once again, feeling just as close. Just as if it had come from within myself.
I took a step forward and began walking the dirt trail. The wind raged around, making almost musical sound as it went in, out and around the trees. Although the voice was silent, I could feel where it wanted me to go.
I kept on walking, feeling the dreary atmosphere of the wood seeps deep into my being, chilling my bones and making shivers run down my back. After what felt like a long time, I saw a bit of light coming from an opening in the woods. From where I stood, I could see more of the figures, their features indistinguishable from the distance.
I felt some of their gaze on my and I heard their crystalline laugher, coming to me in the same way as the voices. I started walking forward, but there was a cracking noise not too far from me. In an instant, the figures vanished and I half-heard a growling sound when something tackled me.
Everything spinned as my head cleared out, the numbness leaving and the feeling disappearing. Gone was the dream-like trance state, the vertigo of spinning around felt real. My head cleared up and I heard a menacing growl coming only inches away from me.
There was a dog, a massive one, with ebon spurs of wild mangy fur and dark mirroring eyes set on me. I felt a burning sensation coming from my left arm and a warm, wet feeling oozing from it. There was an instant of understanding, followed by wild panic. Instinct took the better of me and I started running, still not understanding the situation very well.
Running inside a forest isn't as easy as it seems, the ground isn't level, roots create risk of tripping, bushes of thorn can lacerate your skin and you never know what you'll run into. After about a minute of frenzied sprinting, the dog on my tail, I hit something.
It stuck right in my chest and grasped me, it spun me around, my back hit whatever had just catched me. The dog jumped in front of us and growled but I saw the other arm of whoever had just grabbed onto me brandish some kind trinket and the dog cowered, backing off slowly while snarling menacingly.
There was a bit silence as the thing ran away, it's tail between it's legs before it suddenly occurred to me to actually try to break free. I struggled a bit before the person let go.
"Did you have to grab my chest?!" I screamed at him as I turned around, inspecting the guy.
He was rather tall, slender with unhealthily pasty skin, dark hair and light gray eyes that mirrored the moonlight. He was dressed in leather and held some kind of necklace in his hand.
"You shouldn't be out in the woods after dark, it's not safe for a girl like you." He said neutrally, looking rather unashamed. He quickly pocketed the necklace and drew out a long hunting knife. "Let's get you back home, the woods aren't safe after sundown."
He started walking in what I assumed was the direction of town, I had long ago lost track of directions, and I questioned him.
"What the hell was that?"
"Just some beast, they're common deep in the woods after sunset."
"What does it matter if it's after dusk? It's not like there's any sunlight that comes in here during the day."
"It's part of their lifecycle, the sun matters little to them, they're most active after midnight. They're not the only ones..."
"What else runs around like this?" I asked. He didn't answer. "I'm not dreaming, am I?"
"Not unless you want to pretend it's all a bad dream." He said, keeping his gaze ahead as he trailblazed.
By then, I had a sinking feeling that I wasn't going to get much if anything from the guy, so I stopped talking, focusing on watching the woods for any suspect movement or a sound that rose about the chanting of the wind.
"We're there." He announced as we arrived at a road, which I recognized as being a minute or two of walk away from our house.
"Ehm... Thank you."
"Don't mention it." He said. "Literally." He then approached me, looking at my arm, which had been lightly scratched and bled slightly.
"It's not dangerous." He declared after a quick inspection. He fumbled around in his pockets and took out a small ceramic container. He dipped two fingers inside, taking out a smelly gray paste and applied it to the scratches, which began itching like crazy.
"Don't scratch it, leave it there." He instructed. "You'll have to get rid of the shirt, burn it or bury it in the woods." With that, he turned around and started walking away back into the woods.
"Wait!" I exclaimed. "Who are you? Why are you doing this? What the hell just happened?"
"I'm just doing my job." He said before sinking into the line of trees, leaving me alone to go back home.