For some reason, Selena’s words had cut deep into Andrew’s skin. Anger clouding his mind, he stormed down the sidewalk away from her, the book and journal clutched tightly against his chest.
After he had walked far away from Selena, Andrew finally stopped and looked around. He was in the north end of the park, a part of the park he seldom ventured.
Andrew sat on the ground beneath an oak tree and tried to open Charlotte’s book. The clasp on the front wouldn’t budge. In fact, it seemed to tighten instead. Andrew cursed under his breath and threw the book to the ground beside him. A tall, slender shadow blocked his view, and he looked up. In front of him stood a girl, maybe in her late teens, with long blonde hair pulled back into a loose bun in a close-fitting blue shirt and jeans.
“Are you alright? You look as though something is bothering you,” she said in a voice slightly tinted with an unidentifiable accent.
Andrew shook his head.
The girl smiled knowingly and reached down for Charlotte’s book. “Is this book giving you problems? There’s a secret to opening it, you know.”
“What do you mean?” he asked as he looked up at her suspiciously.
She laughed, a light, musical sound. “It only opens for a female. I’m not sure why, since a male made it, but that is how it has always been.”
As if to prove her point, the clasp on Charlotte’s book fell off the cover as soon as her hand touched the binding.
“How’d you do that?”
She smiled. “I told you, the book only opens for females. Tis a vexing book. Its maker was male, yet it refuses to open for males. But it may yet be better that way.”
Andrew took the book from her as she handed it back. “Who are you?”
The girl’s eyes glimmered and she shook her head. “You already know my name, Andrew,” she said as she turned and walked away.
Andrew glanced down at Charlotte’s book for a second, then looked back up. The girl was gone. Slightly puzzled, he looked back down at the small book in his hands. The writing was still in English. He smiled. That was good. But as he tried to read it, the letters began to blur and shift, and form taunting pictures on the pages. Pictures of demons and dragons, of fearsome looking warriors battling grotesque creatures. Andrew turned the page, wanting to stop looking, yet not able to look away. He turned the page, and the picture in front of him was like a punch to the stomach, knocking his breath away. It was the same picture of Shadoe Rose from her journal, but this time, there was someone on the stone slab. It was a slender girl with black hair, bruised and bleeding from multiple tiny cuts. As he stared at the picture, the girl’s head began to move, turning to him. In his head, he could hear her crying out for help.
The girl on the slab was Selena.