Cirrus accidentally kicked a ball in a Jamie’s face. “Sorry!” he ran over to Jamie, helping him get up. The kid burst in tears.
“I can’t believe you are crying after getting hit by a ball. Now get up and be a man.”
Cirrus was a sixteen years old boy, tall and thin, rather effeminate and fragile looking. But at heart, Cirrus was a tough man. He didn’t care what others said, in the process hurting other people and not listening to them. He had learned in life to keep any of his emotions at bay and to never let them out. He had a calm and calculating attitude.
“It’s not just about the ball. Nothing has been right since yesterday!”
“You can tell me what’s wrong,” Cirrus offered.
“Well,” the Jamie started “yesterday I was in the park and a boy caught fire and chased me through the park. The fire didn’t affect him at all. I can’t sleep now, and my mom thinks I am seeing things and I suffer from a disease!”
And Jamie told Cirrus all about the incident.
I have no doubts about that, Cirrus thought.
“So Jamie, tell me one thing, when you ran out of the park, didn’t Marcus follow you?” Cirrus asked. To him it seemed like the boy was a big liar and could become a good storyteller when he grew up.
Jamie got lost in thoughts “No. Strangely, Marcus fell down near the gate and started screaming like he is in pain.”
Cirrus found Jamie quite interesting as he liked horror stories and movies. Jamie’s story fascinated Cirrus. He decided that if Jamie had made this story up all by himself, he was quite a genius, a child prodigy.
“What do you think?” Jamie asked Cirrus.
“I think you are speaking the truth. Yes, I believe you Jamie.”
“If so, you will help me, won’t you?”
“Help you do what?” Cirrus asked sharply.
“I want to take Marcus home and show him to mom, so she believes me.”
“And why would you want to do that? Aren’t you scared of Marcus?” Cirrus asked, trying to be evasive.
“Yes, a lot! But I fear the doctor mom’s going to take me to even more!”
Cirrus sighed “All right, I will come to the park with you, as it is; I’ve got nothing else to do here.”
Cirrus grabbed his ball and headed to the park with Jamie. The park was probably empty.
“Hmm…I have never seen this park so dense with trees,” Cirrus said, talking to himself.
“There he is!” Jamie shouted when the two were at the heart of the park, pointing wildly towards a boy of about his own age. The boy was eating ice-cream.
“So this is the boy, huh? Let me handle him,” said Cirrus.
Cirrus ran towards Marcus but was hit by something on the.
“Oww!” Cirrus said, grabbing his head. He looked at who he had just run into.
It was a girl, about sixteen. She was tall and thin, had fair skin, brown eyes and long brown hair.
“I hope I didn’t hurt you. I am sorry,” Cirrus said immediately.
“It’s okay,” the girl said gruffly, obviously not happy with the incident “hi, I am Sasha.”
“Hi I am Cirrus.”
Sarah snorted “Cirrus. What a funny name!”
“It may be to you.”
“So…what do you do-” Sasha was cut short by sounds of a commotion.
Both Cirrus and Sasha turned back to see Jamie threateningly balling his fist and Marcus moving towards him menacingly.
“I got this, don’t worry,” Cirrus told Sasha, taking the ball in his hand and throwing it at Marcus with all the strength he had.”
The ball hit Marcus on his temple with a sickening thud. The park fell in silence. Marcus writhed on the ground in pain.
Sasha turned to Cirrus to confront him but she was cut short by a ball, which whizzed past her ear, ablaze.
Marcus had changed. The three of them watched in horror as Marcus’ hands caught fire, rapidly spreading to the rest of his body. He increased in size and a deep growl escaped his throat.
“Uh-oh,” said Cirrus and started running as fast as he could.
“Wait up!” shouted Sasha, who had grabbed Jamie and was experiencing trouble running.
“Just drop the kid and run!” Cirrus shouted back.
“ARE YOU NUTS?”
Cirrus and Sasha ran wildly, looking back most of the time for Marcus who glided effortlessly through the park, setting everything he touched on fire.
In the chaos, Cirrus made up his mind. He had to get to the bottom of this.
“Quick! Behind this!” Cirrus said breathlessly, gesturing towards a big bush.
Before Sasha could react to this, Cirrus quickened his pace and jumped behind the bush.
Two seconds later, he was joined by Sasha and Jamie. Both were breathless and Sasha was very angry, her eyes told the story but she couldn’t say anything as she was short of breath.
Some time passed. The three of them were afraid even to speak. They sat there for sometime, speechless and motionless.
Finally, Sasha gathered some courage to speak; she grabbed Cirrus by his collar and growled in his ear “Its all your fault. What was the need to provoke the boy? We were about the leave but you stopped us…why?”
“Calm down Sasha. The boy has cooled down-see! There is definitely something wrong with this guy and I want to get to the bottom of it.”
“Well…you can get to the bottom of this alone. I am out of here, I’ll call the police.”
Sasha got up to leave but Cirrus grabbed her hand and pulled her back “They will never believe us. I assure you, we’ll get to the bottom of this and no one else gets to no-not another soul.”
Sasha sighed “Well, you don’t get to see a monster on fire everyday. Let’s enjoy this.”
Jamie, who was quiet the whole time burst out “Are you guys out of your minds? Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible. He will burn us alive if we don’t leave now.”
Sasha raised herself a bit to get a peek on Marcus through the bushes.
“He is eating ice-cream!” she hissed.
Jamie rolled his eyes “When is he not?”
“Okay,” Cirrus began “here is the plan. Sasha goes and talks to Marcus and tries to find out the real truth behind him while I and Jamie hide here, any help needed, we will rescue Sasha and vamoose.”
“Why me?” asked Sasha, not willing to go.
“That’s because you are a girl. Try to look good.”
“I don’t think I will be able to seduce a six year old!”
Sasha slowly crept up to Marcus. Cirrus looked on breathlessly.
“Hi you little boy!” Sasha said, baring her teeth in an attempt to smile, making her look more threatening than usual.
“What do you want? Didn’t you go away?” Marcus asked, astonished. Maybe, his fire technique never failed to scare people to death.
“Not exactly!” Sasha grinned. “Something about you brought me back here.”
Judging where exactly the conversation was going, Cirrus slapped his forehead hard.
Marcus looked up “What was that?”
“Must be a fly dear,” Sasha said, baring her teeth “look at me here now!”
Cirrus looked on in dismay.
“Where exactly do you get your fire from?”
“Why would you want to know? What do you care?”
“You know I like fire, it turns me on!” Sasha said, tying to be sensuous.
“You play with fire, you get burnt!” Marcus growled.
“Now, now,” Sasha said, reaching to pat Marcus’ head lightly.
In agony, Jamie accidentally bit one of Cirrus’ fingers.
“Ow you stupid sea gherkin!”
Marcus got up this time “What was that!” He strained his ears to listen.
“Don’t pay attention dear!” Sasha said, smiling continuously, pausing only to swallow. She grabbed Marcus’ hand.
Jamie was perspiring profusely now, dropping a bit or two on Cirrus.
Cirrus grabbed Jamie “Wait till we get out of here.”
“Listen Marcus, why you don’t hold my hands and tell me, very honestly, that what’s different about you,” Sasha said, serious now.
Marcus sighed; he sat down back on the bench. “You will never believe me.”
“I promise I will, I will listen to everything, just tell me.”
“Well…this is long time ago…I don’t know how long. I used to come here and eat ice-cream everyday. People said that this park was haunted, the rumors didn’t affect me one bit.
“The financial condition of my family was never stable. My father was a sales clerk and my mother a normal homemaker. I was alone, I didn’t have any siblings.
“The relationship between me and my father was a bitter one. He used to beat me up nearly everyday, for his I was a burden. Mom told me he wasn’t good at work, but that I shouldn’t mention this inn front of him. One day, he lost his job and came home in a fit of rage. Fearing that he would beat me up, my mother slipped me some money for ice-cream and sent me away.
“I came here, bought my ice-cream and it was just a normal day again. The park was empty as children fearing ghosts never came here to play. After sometime though, my father attacked me from behind.
“Being obviously more powerful than me, he pinned me to the ground and said ‘your mother is gone…now is your turn and then I’ll be free!’
“I was scared ‘Where is my mother?’ I asked. ‘Don’t worry, you will meet her soon!’ he said.
“He then poured lots of oil on me and set me on fire. I was burnt and blistered alive. I cannot describe the pain. My eyes were shut in pain; I couldn’t feel my legs and arms moving in pain. At first there was total darkness and then…then…there was a blinding light.” Marcus shuddered convulsively. “But there was something wrong. There was a fire, a great fire, an endless fire, it wasn’t my body, but somewhere deep inside it. I loved my mother very much, I couldn’t let her down. I couldn’t show my face to her again. Not before I avenged her death. I found myself back in this park.”
Sasha gulped “So…this is your story.”
“Yes, and I need your help.”
“How can we-” Sasha paused “-how can I help you?”
“You know my father? His name is Martin Bell. I want you-” Marcus jerked a finger towards Sasha “-to find out where he is. And bring him to this park. Somehow…I don’t know how…but bring him here. I’ll get my revenge…and will be freed. Do you get me? This is my only chance or I’ll be stuck here forever.”
Sasha was in no mood to argue “Cool. I will find him sure. I will do it. You wait for me, this might take some time.”
Jamie got up to leave; Cirrus grabbed a handful of his shirt “Where do you think you are going?”
“Everything is cool between them.”
“Wait here until Marcus disappears. I don’t want to take chances.”
Sasha came back, her face crumpled with anger “You got me into this…you get me out of this.”
“I didn’t get you in the park, but I will get you out of here,” Cirrus said, evading the question.
He peered from behind the bushes. Marcus had gone.
“Let’s go,” he said.