Emerging slowly from his bedroom, Tobias checked quickly to ensure that nobody had been waiting for him all this time, and mostly to check that nobody had heard him talking to the Voices. The hallway appeared clear, and after silently scoping it out for himself, he heard a small sound.
You are alone upstairs.
Fourty-eight hours ago, a sentence like that, unexplained and somewhat disturbing, would have sent Tobias running from his room, scared out of his wits, calling for his parents. Now, however, the Voices were having the complete opposite effect. They had convinced him to leave the house quickly, and get away from any area he thought his parents might look for him.
‘I’ll be coming back, won’t I?’ Tobias had asked. The Voices had not replied, as they so rarely did.
Now, Tobias was unsure over whether or not he wanted to do as they told him. Obviously he was concerned about running into his parents or Dr Andy – who he hoped had left – but that was for his own personal reasons. He was unprepared to answer the amount of questions that they were no doubt currently contemplating. However, the Voices wanted Tobias out of his house for a totally different reason. They wanted him to do something. Already, they were having him dive right in. He hoped that this would be his first and only task in what he had dubbed a quest to stop the Dark. It sounded safer that way, and a lot more exciting, like something he would read in a book.
A heroic nine-year-old battles against the odds, determined to help his allies defeat the evil force that has been trying to wipe them out. Although he is challenged by many obstacles in his adventure, he overcomes them all, eventually returning home triumphant.
Tobias kept telling himself that that was his aim, and that’s how the story would pan out. But there was a rather large part of him that knew it was not true. No matter how much he tried to do so, he could not cover the truth with his adventure story.
Tobias was now stood at the top of the stairs, trying to remember which ones creaked, and trying to think whether or not he would be spotted from the lounge. He assumed that if his parents were sat on the sofa by the window, he wouldn’t be seen, but if they were sat on the other one, they might see him. Either way, he risked being spotted; once he was outside, he would have to sneak past the huge window un-noticed.
Holding tightly onto the banister, as if it could absorb any sound he made, Tobias began the descent down the stairs, taking them one at a time, trying to be light on his feet, and gently stepping over the second, fifth and last ones, knowing that they would give him up. As the lounge came into view, Tobias noticed that he would not be spotted. The familiar voices of his parents were audible, but Tobias was too concentrated on the task in front of him to eavesdrop into their conversation.
Down into the hallway, the front door was feet away, and as Tobias slipped on his shoes, trying to make as little noise as possible, he caught the sound of his father saying: ‘Would you like more coffee?’
Tobias stuck his tongue out as he relived the first and last time he had ever tried coffee. It had made him gag, and completely put him off tea as well. He probably would have been disgusted by hot chocolate also, had he not been obsessed with it at the time. He was still partial to hot chocolate, but only in the Autumn and Winter now. Tobias did suddenly feel hungry for a slice of chocolate cake…
He stifled his tummy’s groans and focussed on the danger of the present. His dad was on his way into the hallway, in order to make some more coffee in the kitchen. He would pass right by him, unless he hid himself well…
Quickly diving toward his hiding spot, Tobias slammed his shoulder violently against the wall, trying hard not to cry out, but feeling his eyes water with the pain. He was now well-hidden. The door leading from the lounge to the hallway opened out into the hallway, and now Tobias was slyly hidden between the front door and the kitchen, trying not to breathe, in fear of giving himself away. If his father found him, he’d need a very good explanation for what he was doing. His mum always made a point of how shoes were not to be worn in the house, unless going out.
Tobias barely heard his father’s footsteps against the floorboards, due to his thick socks, despite the beautiful and quite warm weather. Tobias was strangely thankful that the Voices had not found him in the Winter, or else he would no doubt be in for a very chilly adventure.
With his shoes now velcroed tightly on, so as to avoid flying off if any running was to be done, Tobias set about creeping from his hiding spot to the front door, looking back every other step to make sure his father was still in the kitchen. He dared not poke his head around the door to check, but he listened intently, and by looking, it made Tobias feel like he could hear even the most silent of sounds.
As the cold metal of the door handle stung his hand, Tobias suddenly felt a hot wash fall over him, and he could tell his face and ears were reddening with anticipation. He had never been out by himself before. He had taken the odd walk with friends, but never totally alone like this. Slowly opening the door, only a crack, in order to just slip through, Tobias looked back, double checking once more on the position of his father. Squeezing through the tiny gap proved difficult, but once he was through, he took a deep breath, relishing the outdoor air. A slight breeze blew towards him, and he realised it would probably be felt inside the house, as well. As the wind caught the door, it swung slowly closed, hardly creating a sound, but making Tobias jump out of his skin in his nervous and guilty state.
He was now totally alone, at the mercy of his guides. Completely and utterly alone, and he knew that if he intended to be safe, he would have to trust in the mysterious Voices, and the unexplained and unknown Gifted. The Dark was beckoning, and Tobias was alone.Save for the Voices in his head.