My second period class sits in silence, waiting for Mr. Frap. The uncomfortable quiet of the classroom is telling since there are usually several witches in the back whispering or faeries softly chanting spells as they wrote them down. Whether it be the warlocks, the weird swamp creatures that became gross and smelly a few years into their teens, or the beautiful and mysterious vampires--there has always been some sort of chatter in the minutes before the beginning of class, but now the fearful silence sends a shiver down my back.
Something is happening to Diente.
I look around at the other students, quietly looking down at their desks or passing nervous glances amongst themselves. Not even the witches dare to look at anyone else, if anything they appear to be the most frightened of the lot. I look at where Aerie normally sits and I try not to think of all the horrible things that might be happening to her since she isn't here. From outside in the hallways, I can hear several werewolves walking past our classroom, angrily whispering to each other. One of them stops a few feet from the door and I instantly recognize Jason's voice.
"We can't let him be here," he is saying urgently. "It's dangerous and wrong."
"I know and I agree," Matt's voice rings out desperately, "but we can't do anything about it."
Footsteps sound softly as someone starts to pace nervously. "And that's all you've heard?" Jason asks.
Matt sighs. "Yes Jason, I would tell you if I knew more."
The pacing suddenly stops and a dead silence falls for a few seconds. I catch my breath and look around at the still classroom, wondering if anyone else is hearing this conversation taking place outside of our classroom.
"Everyone knows then?" Jason continues his questioning, as if there was no lapse in the conversation.
"No," Matt says uncertainly, "but I can tell that they sense that something isn't right."
Slowly, I start to put my text book and notebook into my backpack. The jingling of the zipper sounds chillingly loud and for a moment, I fear that Jason knows that I am listening to their conversation. But they simply continue talking in hushed voices, discussing what to do about this new threatening piece of information. I stop short when I hear my name.
"What about MC?" Jason asks Matt. "Does she know?"
Matt is silent for a moment and Jason asks him again, a little too loudly. One of the witches in the classroom flinches and looks at her friend with earnest fear.
"I don't know," Matt finally says, "she's not safe though."
My eyes widen at this revelation. I'm not safe from what? Unconsciously, I start biting my bottom lip. What is happening in this town? Since when have the witches, who have always presumed that they were the reigning forces in our school, been too afraid to continue their daily bullying and controlling?
Jason groans. "Don't tell me that," he whimpers. "She won't even talk to me and now you're telling me that she's in danger?"
"I'm sorry Jay," Matt says quietly, "but she knows him now, he'll be watching her."
A sharp noise of someone hitting a locker, hard, echoes in the silence and several students jump in surprise.
"What the hell?" Blaire Opal says from a desk in the far, right corner of the classroom. The purple streaks in her hair mirror her violet eyes.
Joe Limstean, one of the popular vampires, whispers, "Seems like someone's gunning for a fight."
"Joe, don't," Mischa Taylor, his girlfriend, warns him in a low voice. Her full, blond hair is a shocking contrast on her pale skin.
"Shush," Vikki Serrano, another witch in the middle of the room, says. Her doe-like blue eyes are full of the same fear that I see in everyone else. "I want to know what they're saying. This is the mutts' problem, but it could affect us so all of you shut it."
I flinch at her use of diction ('mutt' more specifically) and will myself to listen harder to the conversation. All around me, the instant silence in the classroom is proof that everyone else is doing the same.
Wait, what did Vikki mean by "This is the mutts' problem?"
"There's nothing we can do?" Jason asks, almost begs.
"We can offer her our aid, but it might put the pack at risk." Matt responds.
A loud growl is heard and some rustling of clothes in the classroom signals that some of the others have felt the anger in his voice. "The pack," he says menacingly, "is the thing that drove her away. She needed our help and she... I can't let anything happen to her."
"Then we will protect her."
The pacing begins again and I grab my bag again, bracing myself for the confrontation.
"So she doesn't know why he killed her cousin?" Jason's voice is hollow and my blood runs cold. What?
Within seconds I am running from my seat and out the door. It slams harshly against the wall and I can hear several chairs moving back from the desks as curiosity builds in the classroom. "What did you just say?" I ask angrily. "Who killed my cousin?"
Matt looks at me with surprise on his face and Jason looks oddly pale. Did they forget that I have extra-sensory hearing? Or that my classroom is right in this hallway? Jason's hair is shorter, he must have cut it over the weekend, and his face looks tired from sleepless nights.
"MC," he says quietly, taking a step towards me. "We just heard about it."
I close my eyes and shake my head. "I don't care if you just heard it, I need to know who did this."
"That's the thing though," Matt cuts in awkwardly as he tries to keep his distance from me. "The important thing isn't who killed her, it's why."
I look at him with disgust. "She was an innocent bystander and her killer is a psychopath! I'm sure you don't need a reason why he did it!"
"MC," Jason finally says as I realize that he's gotten closer. "How well did you know your cousin?"
"I...She..." I struggle with my words, taken aback by his question.
"In mythological history there was a large wolf called Fenrir, do you remember the story?" Jason asks softly.
I find no relevance to our conversation from this, but I still manage to answer. "Yes, he was the eldest son of a Norse god--an evil one."
"And do you remember what happened to him?"
"He was imprisoned by magical dwarves with Glepnir, a magical ribbon," I answer. "But this doesn't have anything to do with--"
"Did your parents ever tell you what happened to him after the story ends?" Jason asks carefully, not removing his eyes from me.
"No," I say slowly. "They just said 'the end' every time."
"What if I told you that Fenrir is now an avenging wolf, twice the size of any of us and ten times as powerful? What if I were to tell you that he somehow escaped his prison only to pass through different lives as souls of unborn children so that he can protect the world from the evils that hide in the shadows?"
"I'd say that you're insane," I answer, entranced by his response.
"Then I guess I am," Jason says quietly. "Because that's what killed your cousin. That's what has all the creatures of this school so frightened and for some reason it has gained an interest in you. We don't know who he is, but he can be anybody. He shouldn't be dangerous to the good, but given his history he's been known to deviate with each different life that he has lived."
"Then my cousin wasn't murdered?" I wonder aloud, more to myself.
"No," Jason slowly responds. "She was made an example of so that others like her can see that their deeds will not go unpunished... that they will receive no mercy."