I fought against my heavy eyelids as I made my way towards the Pier Head. I hadn’t slept since I left the hospital; my mind too busy being tortured by the stampede of questions that were only making an even bigger hole of questions. What the hell happened to Joe? What would my parents have said to their only daughter in this situation? Who was George? What was this newfound – if it was newfound – interest he had in me? Was I special? But there was one thought on my mind that somehow defeated the others: how was my ‘rendezvous’ with George going to end? Would I be kissed? Would we..., ahem, do it?
An eerie feeling slithered up my spine as I passed the jetty; as if there were some ghostly presence I couldn’t see. I paused for a moment, stopping at the fenced point where stone met wood.
Aging wood and, not to mention, dangerous wood. Would the wood be strong enough to hold me, or was I just frightening myself with silly questions about wood?
I wedged myself through the gap between the fences and tested my weight on the wood. The wood groaned a mournful sigh but I hadn’t gone straight through and sunk into the water yet, so it was going great.
I looked at the small, house like structure – wearing away in time – in front of me. I felt as if my mind had split into two opposing sides, arguing over whether I should stop this idiocy and turn back to the path, but then something urged me to move forward.
I jumped. The wood groaned once again, yet still managed to keep itself together. I snapped my head towards the voice.
George pressed himself against the fence, looking at me in shock.
‘Get on the bloody path, you dope!’
Obediently, I did so and George’s warm hand yanked me through the fence and onto the path. George looked around.
‘You’re bloody lucky no one saw you doing that? What the hell were you thinking?’
‘I was just...I was...’
‘It’s dangerous, you know!’
George sighed and dropped his arms to the sides.
‘Promise me, you’ll never do that again, okay?’ he added.
‘You look like you’ve seen a ghost.’
His blue eyes – beautiful and sincere – looked heartfelt, as well as concerned. George was right! I looked down to see my reflection against the puddle I was standing in. I was white as a piece of paper. I shuddered at the touch of my skin as I tested it against my cheek.
‘I’m alright...I guess,’ I mumbled, fixing my eyes on the jetty before me. ‘I thought...I saw...’
‘Do you want to sit down?’ George asked, offering me a curb. I shook my head, then looked down at him as he playfully kicked at a puddle in his muddy converse, suddenly giving him the widest grin I could possibly produce. He noticed this through the reflection of the puddle and turned to me, an eyebrow raised.
‘I think I preferred you when you looked like a miserable ghost.’
‘Oh,ha-ha!Maybe I should get myself into the hospital more often; you’d probably appreciate me a bit more. Mind throwing me into the river?’
George laughed. ‘Okay, okay, I get it.’
He flashed his pearly white teeth and ruffled my hair. He looked back at the jetty.
‘So what were you doing near here...what were you going to do?’
‘I’m not suicidal!’ I retorted, but then my cheeks flushed at this sudden response. He did nothing, but shrug.
‘I didn’t say you were, I was just saying what were you doing near the jetty. It’s not safe.’
I rolled my eyes. He was beginning to sound like Joe from last night’s argument; I waited for the big speech about morality and the ways of right and wrong.
‘You should be more careful next time,’ he continued, thankfully excluding the speech. ‘Let’s go!’
He suddenly grabbed my hand, wrapping his thin fingers around mine, and we darted along the Pier Head until George came to an abrupt halt, jerking me forward, and turned to look across the Mersey to Birkenhead, inhaling the air deeply.
‘Beautiful day,’ he smiled, drumming his hands rhythmically against the railing. I stared at the sky, cupping my hands over my eyes. The sun shined in all its glory although, in the distance, I spotted a few clouds dotted across the sky.
‘I guess so...can I ask you something?’ I shuddered at this question, hoping for an honest answer. ‘I’d like to know more about you.’
‘Sure,’ he said, simply, but kept his eyes on the passing boats. ‘I’ve got all day off...if there aren’t any unexpected assignments...at the office.’
I leaned against the railing, and scanned my brain for questions, until something ticked.
‘You know when you got that phone call at the hospital, which – may I add – you should have switched off because it disrupts the equipment, you had to rush out. What happened?’
‘Why would you want to know that? Can’t a boy have his privacy?’
‘Privacy? But it involved someone else.’
‘That doesn’t matter.’
‘Come on, spill!’
George sighed. ‘Alright! Fine! My brother...had been beaten up somewhere in Croxteth; I had to get to my house quick. Is that enough?’
My shoulders dropped at this, well, boring explanation. I expected something amazing and cool, like he had been called by M15 and had to get on the first flight to Rio Janiero for a mission.
‘Well...why didn’t you come back?’
‘Darcy, it was my brother. He was really hurt.’
I sighed. ‘Alright, when were you born?’
‘I was born on the twenty first of January, 1608, right here in Liverpool. Well...before it became a city.’
I punched his shoulder. ‘Stop arsing about!’
‘Alright, Erin Brockovich, I was born on the twenty first of January in 1994,’ he corrected. ‘You?’
‘I was born on the planet Zog in the year five thousand.’
‘Wow, so you’re an alienanda time traveller. It all makes sense now! I’ve also wanted to know about you…’
I beamed at this. Usually it was hard trying to get universities interested in me, yet this beautiful god, who could have had any girl in the world, was like clay in my hands.
‘Well, what’s there to tell? I mean, I never properly met my parents. They died in some car accident on the Formby Bypass, when I was a baby. My parents ran their own business in Lord Street and they were called for a business meeting or something. My uncle, who lost his son when he was fifteen or something round that time, was babysitting me at the time.’
‘Ah, yeah. My parents heard about that, and about your uncle. My-my mum was devastated. I’m sorry.’
‘Hey, don’t be sorry. Blame the idiots who organised that business meeting (I laughed). No, I was really young. I mean...you don’t really miss what you never remember having...’
My voice trailed off when I caught something in the corner of my eyes. I snapped my head towards it and gasped at the sight of a person floating along the current of the Mersey. My eyes widened at the sight.
‘Oh my God! George! Look!’
But George already balanced himself on the rail and dived, like an athlete, into the water, disappearing from sight into the rippling waves that crashed against the walls. I shot to the railing, nearly toppling over it myself. My eyes darted in every direction for George or the floating man.
But it was too late. They had both gone.
A deadly silence draped over me. Eternal silence, until the only sound came from the passing buses and then the sound of bubbling water. I had to do something. I had to save his body at least. I paced quickly, trying to figure out how I would be able to do this, jumping on my feet and quietly squealing, like a baby on the verge of crying.
I turned to the railing, flexing my hands and practising on how I would be able to grip onto the metal without slipping and breaking my neck.
Suddenly, with the body locked in his arms, George launched himself from out of the water, as if he had been pulled out of the water by invisible rope, and landed on the concrete. George coughed water out of his system, and ran his fingers through his long hair. I darted to the young man’s side.
‘Oh, my God! Is he breathing? (People began to gather round) George, we have to help him!’
‘Stand back, I know cardiopulmonary resuscitation!’ George shouted, pushing me away with his hand. George placed his ear level with the man’s nose to listen in on his breath, and then grinned. ‘He’s breathing!’
The crowd cheered, sighing in relief.
‘We need to phone an ambulance!’ a woman called from the back of the crowd, and rummaged through her bag and coat pockets for her phone.
‘Do it quick!’ George replied. He obviously liked the attention.
George repeated the CPR procedure once more, and then beckoned me over to the body. I ran obediently to his side.
‘Right, I need your hoodie.’
‘He might go into shock. I need something to keep him warm.’
I wrenched my hoodie off and gently placed it over the man’s chest. ‘What now?’
George shot me a worried look, and sighed deeply. ‘Darcy, we need to…errmm…help him breathe…his breathing is too weak…’
‘Umm…go on and help him then.’
He bit his lip. ‘Well, you need to give him the kiss of life…he may have water in his lungs and you could get it out or something.’
I froze, and my mouth dropped, but then turned to the unconscious youth. It wasn’t every that you had the chance to snog a muscled, extremely handsome god in human form.
Willingly, I opened up his mouth and then pushed my mouth against him, forcing out a blast of air down his throat.
At that moment, his eyes swung open, revealing a pair of the most beautiful pair of eyes I had seen in my life. I gasped and backed away as I watched his eyes in amazement, as they gazed lifelessly at the blue sky. His eyes! They were like two blazing suns, radiating mystery and beauty. After a few seconds staring into nothingness, the young man hurled up two lungfuls of water, breathing heavily as if he desperately tried to recover every molecule of oxygen into his parched lungs.
I took me a few seconds to notice George, a beautiful smile across his face, approached me. He wrapped his arm around me, embracing me in a side hug.
‘That was amazing, Darcy! You saved his life!’
The ambulance came a few minutes later and carefully rested the golden eyed man on a stretcher. As they did, I caught the golden eyed man’s lips moving quickly, although it would have been impossible for anyone to hear over the ambulance sirens, the paramedics and the gathering crowd.
I turned to George, who hadn’t stopped fixing his eyes on the young man since I noticed his lips moving. I eyed George up, and furrowed my brow. It wasn’t possible that George was able to hear this man’s rambling and I couldn’t, was it?
Suddenly, small whisperings – I could just hear above the commotion – began to turn into loud screaming. I banged my hands against my ears to stop this noise. I looked around at the crowds. No one seemed to be affected by the ear-piercing cry. I looked back to the ambulance, and to the young man.
The screaming was coming from him!
I shivered as I listened reluctantly to him. I couldn’t understand the language he was speaking in, but the loud shrieking almost resembled some sort of satanic curse. The doors of the ambulance slammed shut, and the paramedics darted back into the ambulance, revving the engine back to life, thankfully ending the shrieking curse.
I shuddered fearfully, as a chill shot up my spine, and looked back to the jetty once again. This time, as my eyes trace over its silhouette, I felt some sort of drawing in force from the jetty. Had this chanting caused some sort of portal to open up in this dimension, and drag all the chosen people inside to drop them off in another planet in another universe?
As I shook off this stupid idea, I looked back to George, who returned back this glance with raised eyebrows.
‘Something bugging you?’ but then he paused, turning back to the leaving ambulance, the jetty and to me.
‘What’s happening to the jetty, George? Why do I feel…drawn in?’
George looked to the jetty and his brow creased, as if a dog had excreted on his shoe.
‘Oh, dear, that looks nasty.’
I tried to see what George was seeing, but all I saw was old wood. ‘What? Where?What?’
George gave one last look at the jetty, and then turned back to me. ‘Never mind, I’ll get to it later.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘So, did you hear the chanting too?’ he said, successfully changing the subject.
‘Did I hear it? Who couldn’t hear it? Well, except for those people over there somehow! He was screaming it! Oh, why did I stay here with you? It just gives me more of a headache, trying to process all this stuff.’
George smiled, and then wrapped a cold arm around my shoulder. A bit ironic for someone who was second best to the sun in my books.
‘It’s hard to process, I know that. It’s strange, though.’
‘Strange?’ I asked, tilting my head to the side. ‘What happened? What’s going on?’
He inhaled a sharp intake of breath, tightening his grip on the railing. I hoped this wouldn’t be a repeat of the hospital.
‘People…who can hear…stuff like that; they are…more physically and…mentally evolved, if you get what I mean. They’re….they’re different from humans…’
All this information about evolving and being different from the others caused my head to overload with unanswered questions. I didn’t understand a word of this.
‘Where are your sunglasses?’ He suddenly asked, flicking his eyes to my pockets and obviously changing the subject.
‘Oh, that stupid thing…’ George looked hurt by these words. ‘My uncle took it. For safe keeping apparently.’
He groaned, and ruffled his wet hair. ‘Well, never mind.’
‘Do you need to go home and change?’ I asked. He was completely drenched from head to toe.
But George only shook his head.
‘I’ll dry off.’
I nodded slowly. ‘Well, shouldn’t we visit that…person in hospital? I mean, we did just save his life, and everything.’
George replied with a wide grin. ‘You know what your problem is? You care too much.’
‘I guess not.’
‘So, why the problem?’
‘Because, shut up. Let’s go.’ George began power walking down the path.
‘We’re not walking there, are we?’
George stopped in his tracks, and turned to me on the balls of his feet. ‘Why not?’
‘I mean, it’s quite far, and my uncle did say itisLiverpool, and abigcity.’
He only shrugged. ‘Your point being? Liverpool is meant to be the safest city in the United Kingdom, believe it or not.’
‘Well, there could be anyone out there.’
‘So? It isn’t far, Darcy, and we won’t be going down any alleyways, and if we do come across any muggers or whatever, then they’ll know that we haven’t come unprepared,’ then he darted down the path, leaving me in a confused stupor as I leaned against the railway.
‘Hey! I’m not going through with this!’
George stopped at this, and looked back again. He cupped his hands around his mouth:
‘Then, go home, Darcy. I’ve got this all covered, okay?’
A pit of disappointment sat at the bottom of my stomach at how calm and uncaring he had said this. Reluctantly, I turned away for the short walk home. After taking two steps, I stopped and looked over my shoulder to see George running further and further away from me. Once again, it was like my mind separated itself into two sides, telling me to get home and forget but then the other side were pushing for me to run back to George with the speed of a thousand gazelles.
I turned around and groaned, tortured as my mind waged its own war in my head.
Finally, I heard George’s voice in the distance. He must have been thinking on the same level as me.
‘Darcy! Come on!’
‘I’m coming!’ I replied.Screw what one side of my mind thought!
I bolted after George, giggling childishly at the thought of adventure. Hopefully, I wasn’t going to regret this. I didn’t think I would.
We arrived at the hospital faster than I thought. We even arrived before the ambulance did, which made me even more suspicious of what George was, and whether what he claimed to be was true or no. We waited at the door of the hospital, where patients, staffs and visitors were smoking and sharing cigarettes. Thanks, NHS.
‘So, what do we do now?’
‘We just wait for the ambulance. How the hell we got here quicker is beyond me.’
I had a feeling this would be some sort of gimmick he would use to convince me that he doesn’t have some form of super speed or that he had the speed record of Usain Bolt. I narrowed my eyes, but then retracted myself from my suspicions when the ear-piercing sound of the ambulance sirens, getting louder and louder until the ambulance appeared from around the corner, and pulled in at their designated area.
‘Come on.’ George said, tapping my arm.
The paramedics rushed from the ambulance and pulled open the doors before pulling out the stretcher that carried the golden eyed young man.
‘Excuse me, kids, make way, will yah?’
We were shoved out of the way. I caught a glimpse of the golden eyed young man once again before he was concealed by the bustling crowds of paramedics and doctors.
George watched angrily as the stretcher and the bustling crowd disappeared around the corner.
‘Well, I guess they don’t like to acknowledge the people who saved his lives then? How are we going to get in?’
‘Can’t we just walk in?’ I suggested, trying to be useful.
‘In this day’s society, you could only wish you could do something like that. We need to clarify our visit.’
‘Well, duh. I know that. But we’re here to see him. Won’t they expect you to know his name and that?Clarifyhow we will do this for me, will you?’
‘I had this…weird feeling….about this man. He seemed different. It’s important that you’re here, too. He was talking about you in Bulgarian.’
‘You speak Bulgarian?’
George winced. ‘Yeah, my family…moved around a lot. We lived in…Bulgaria for a few years.’
I wanted to smack him now at these pathetic lies, but I managed to let it side. This wasn’t the time or place to get attacking someone. ‘So what did he say?’
‘I can’t remember,’ he said, scratching his head in annoyance.
‘But you just said that you knew he was talking about me…’
‘I can remember that, just…not the rest.’
‘Oh, aren’t you just bloody useful?’
He shrugged. ‘Perhaps if friendly word doesn’t let us in, we can always initiate plan B.’
‘We charge into the hospital, gun blaring with wild pit bulls, and hold everyone hostage till we get what we want.’
‘Yes, because that would work,’ I replied sarcastically.
‘What, there are loads of countries that do the same thing. Not naming any, of course, so I don’t offend any wandering ears.’
‘Well, let’s just take the democratic route, okay? Just to be on the safe side, you know? So then, if we’re not allowed access, we won’t be arrested for attempted murder and terror. Besides, I’m sure we’ll be allowed access straight away. With my innocent face, I could be let into a bank vault without having to prove my identity.’
‘I’m sorry, you’re not authorised to see the patient at the moment. He is currently undergoing very important tests. Would you like me to book an appointment for you tomorrow afternoon at around five?’
‘What?’ I groaned, holding my head against my fist. My allure wasn’t working at all, especially since this person was a woman. ‘Why can’t we wait till the tests are done? Visiting hours aren’t over yet.’
She sighed. ‘Listen, love, visiting hours aren’t over, you’re right on that. But when the patient is undergoing tests, it would be best if you leave the doctors to their work. We’d be very happy if you left your names and numbers here and call you if we get any word. And besides, only friends and family are allowed to visit. And our doctors have confirmed that this young man is of Bulgarian descent, but we’re having trouble contacting them.’
‘Oh,’ I simply replied, but then something ticked in my brain, ‘but we’re of Bulgarian descent.’
The receptionist eyed me and George up, her eyes narrowing in suspicion. ‘You don’t look Bulgarian.’
‘Yeah, but that’s the point though! (I didn’t know where I was going with this) Our family had…emigrated from…Sofia, when we were little kids, and err…we’ve lived here ever since, haven’t we, brother?’
I stood a ‘go with it’ glance at George.
‘Oh, yeah, yeah. Bulgaria, emigration, and all that.’
The receptionist took another suspicious glance at us. As she leaned forward to grab something from under her desk, like Lottie, I noticed that a new copy of Hello! Sat inside a book of infectious diseases. She came back to her seat with a clipboard with a long list of names, and pulled a biro out from a flashy pencil case next to the computer.
‘Alright then, I guess I need to know your names…what are they?’
‘Your names, dear? Those things parents give you.’
This was George’s cue. He pushed me to the side.
‘Gavril and Aleksandra Ivet,’ he confirmed flawlessly.
I watched the receptionist attempt at writing our fake names onto the clipboards, creasing her forehead as she tried to get her head around spelling George’s first Bulgarian name. Giving up and assuming her version was right, she wrote down the time of our visit and told us to wait outside Ward Six, on the second floor.
After George bought me a coke, we took the elevator to the second floor, the button signifying the second floor glowing red at my touch. Seconds after the elevator woke up, we burst into laughter.
‘Gavril and Aleksandra Ivet?!’ I questioned between laughs.
‘Old friends from Bulgaria.’
‘I nearly shit myself. Can’t believe it was that easy. It shouldn’t be, should it? What if they found out we’re not who we say we are?’
‘You just let me deal with that.’
I sighed, lowering my shoulders. ‘You know, she said he was undergoing some tests. We might we waiting for ages.’
George checked his watch. ‘Why? Do you need to be anywhere?’
‘Well…my tea. Joe told me to get back at around seven.’
‘It’s only half five. I don’t think we’ll be long. (There was a long pause) What you having for tea?’
‘Lasagne, I think.’
‘Oh, yum. I like lasagne.’
‘Ooh, haven’t thought about it really. Might just pick something up from McDonalds or Subway. Now, let me talk to this one, then you can try and sweet talk him or something.’
‘Woah, you want me to charm him?’
‘Well…just do a little…flirting…but…don’t try and look too…well, sexual.’
‘That doesn’t make any sense at all.’
‘I’ve put you through enoughphysicalcontact. Basically, I need you to interrogate him (he clicked his fingers). That’s the word! Interrogate.’
‘So, what do you want me to ask him?’
‘You know, stuff obvious…like his name, his age, or the reason why he was floating in the middle of the Mersey in the first place, his favourite type of cheese, and be creative too. Try and direct him into saying something important.’
The elevator came to an abrupt halt, feeling claustrophobic as I waited in hope for the doors to open up. When they finally did, the smell of hand sanitizer and latex gloves blasted into my face, invading my nostrils.
I followed George through the wards, noticing the patients in every ward we passed were getting younger and younger, until George stopped at what seemed to be rightfully named the ‘Teen’ Ward, or Ward Six. The room had the same smell as the other wards before it: hand sanitizer and latex gloves, although the ‘Teen’ ward managed to carry a few extra hints of body odour and aftershave (for those young men who yearned to become men as soon as they could). Each bed had small electronic gadgets that I never assumed would be appropriate for use in a hospital: PS3s, Blackberrys, IPods, you make an excessively used gadget; this ward’s patients probably had use of it. Our eyes trailed along the beds until we approached the last bed in the corner of the ward, concealed from sight by a large green curtain. Incoherent chatter could be hear from inside.
‘Maybe we should wait. I think somebody’s in there with him.’
But George only shook his head. ‘No. He’s just talking to himself.’
George disappeared into the curtained enclosure, dragging me in after him. George gave the man a long stare, and then turned to me before walking out.
‘I’m just going to grab something.’ He walked through the curtains.
‘What possibly could you have to ‘grab’ that’s so important?’
He poked his head back inside. ‘Just remember what I told you and if he tries anything funny, just get me quick. I’ll only be down the hall.’
‘Why? What’s down the hall?’
‘Bye!’ His head retreated out of the curtains. Once again, silence dropped on me and the man after George left to ‘grab something’, with the only sound I could just about here being the increasing beat of my heart, and this man’s low, haunting voice. I got a good look at the man, whose head was moving from side to side on his pillow, as if he was having a nightmare with his eyes open…or something like that.
He had closely shaven brown hair, with a set of majestic golden brown eyes, placed around a pale, yet attractive complexion. He looked sturdy, with the muscles of an indomitable bodybuilder.
The man stopped shaking his head, and looked at me in confusion, then at the world around him, as if he had stepped into someplace completely strange and alien. He curled his lips over his front teeth and gave out a light growl.
Okay, that was random.
I recoiled, and took a deep breath.
‘Err…hello?’ were the only words I managed to get out. I twiddled my thumbs ecstatically, waiting for an answer. He only watched me intensely.
I cleared my throat awkwardly. ‘I’m Darcy…Darcy Ward. What’s your name?’
The man groaned and sat upright. I couldn’t help fixing my eyes on his perfect muscles as they moved this man’s body to an upright position. I swooned, but tried not to make it too obvious, and coughed.
‘I’m Radko...Domev,’ he said in a very heavy foreign accent. He groaned and stroked the back of his head.
‘Headache?’ I enquired, trying to start up a conversation.
He threw his head back into his pillow. ‘Is this the first of your questions?’
That was creepy! How did he know I would be asking him questions? This week was getting weirder by the second. Radko grinned at my panic.
‘Well…(my cheeks flushed red) what the hell were you doing in the river anyway? You know it’s safe!’
I stopped myself but I turned into a hypocrite. My ‘sweet talking’ had failed, nagging about the jetty and everything.
‘I can’t…remember why….but I think I remember something?’
I leaned forward, smiling. ‘Oh, really?
‘Yes…I remember the foghorn…April…nineteen-twelve,’ he answered, but then my smile turned into a straight line.
‘Did you just say…foghorn and April, nineteen-twelve?’
His eyes turned away from me as the memory took him back. ‘I remember it like it was yesterday…unfortunately.’ He sighed, shooting me a grimacing, golden eyed glance at me. ‘Would you like to hear this?’
I nodded quickly, my mind trying to find some logic in this until I heard something from outside the curtains. I shot from my seat, and walked over towards the curtain. I gasped. At the other of the curtain was the terrible receptionist, accompanied by two police officers. Wait, police? Why the hell were the police here? George, what the hell have you got me into? I had a festering thought in my mind that George was some sort of drug smuggler.
‘I’m sorry, Radko, I have to go and find my friend.’
Reluctantly, he nodded and closed his eyes to rest. I turned to the police officers who were now interrogating the nurses and doctors, and sprinted across towards another bed and knelt down behind it to plan my escape.
‘George, where the bloody hell are you?’ I growled under my breath. I craned my head over the edge of the bed to see whether George would walk back in and save the day.
‘Excuse me!’ a loud voice shouted. I turned around to find a chubby police man standing behind me, his arms folded and his beady eyes glaring. He grabbed me by my shoulder and led me through the ward. ‘We’ve been looking for you, young lady! Faking an identity is a serious offence! We’re currently looking for your accomplice, right now.’
Accomplice? Bit much, wasn’t it?
I looked around at the other patients; each and every one of them was staring at me, some even throwing in words of praise for my resistance against the authority. Despite the angry eyes of the receptionist and the police officers, I would say that I was becoming somewhat of a teenage hero.
‘I’m sorry. I was –’
‘I don’t want to hear your excuses!’ the officer interrupted. ‘I’ve heard them all. The dog ate it –’
‘Well I wasn’t going to say –’
‘Don’t be cheeky! We’re taking you to the station!’
The officer pulled out a small pair of handcuffs from his belt and cuffed me, wrapping my arms behind my back then leading me out of the hospital and into a small police car. Realising that some of the boys from college saw me coming out of the hospital in handcuffs, I was thankful that they wouldn’t give me any more grief.
What the hell, George? Where the hell did you swan off to?
The police station bustled with the undergrowth of Liverpudlian society: gangsters were sitting together, trading cigarettes and stories that showed off their manhood and their displays of rebellious activities. If it wasn’t for the occasional police man and woman passing through the waves of skinheads and gang lords, this would look like an underground fighting arena.
I sat at the reception, waiting for a full hour until a large, plump officer approached me with a clipboard and pen. He daubed his forehead with a withered handkerchief, maybe worrying if I was going to shank him at any given second.
‘We’ve contacted your uncle. He’s on his way. I hope you have disposed of any contraband at the entrance, or we will…take action.’
I raised my eyebrows. Contraband? Who did he think I was? The Godfather’s daughter. I mean sure, I faked my identity but it wasn’t as if I had killed a man, or placed a hit on someone.
An embarrassing silence between us followed, which made the police officer gasp more and pat his sweaty forehead more vigorously. ‘I’m afraid I have to…f-frisk you.’
I hoped this would be normal procedure, or that this man was a real police officer. If so, he was quite believable. I raised my eyebrows, creasing my forehead. But like a good girl, I stood up and stretched my legs and arms apart; trying to ignore the sexual suggestions I kept getting from my inmates.
I cringed as I felt his hands stroke along my arms and legs, and into my pockets. But when he checked the breast pockets (and the suspiciously long amount of time he seemed to take on them) of my jacket, I had to mentally stop myself from slapping him.
‘Well…you’re clean,’ he finally confirmed, trembling. My eyes narrowed. This police officer was definitely afraid of me. I chuckled quickly to myself, until my moment of enjoyment soon changed for the worse:
Great!The one person I was dreading to meet, and with Rafe too…for some reason. Joe seemed to be getting good luck getting his dog into places I never thought would allow dogs. I sympathised for poor Rafeat the pace Joe was going at. The poor thing had to run to prevent asphyxiation from his collar. The police officer darted his eyes to Rafe and threw the handkerchief over his nose.
‘Good Lord, sir! My allergies!’ Then he stormed out of the reception room.
Joe’s face flushed red. ‘You don’t realise how much trouble you’re in. Do you realise how embarrassed it is to get a phone call from the police on the first day on the job?’
He snatched my arm and dragged me through the hallway, out of the station and pushed me into the back seat of the car.
‘Do you realise how embarrassing it is for me to pick you up at a police station? I have half a bloody mind to just turn back and have you locked up for the night next to some meth addict or something. At least, they might have more responsibility than you.’
I shook my head. ‘How?’
‘I knew that thatGeorge Olsen…would be a bad influence. I shouldn’t have let you go out in the first place. And anyway, where is yourgallant knight in shining armourthen? Probably scoring some more drugs!’
‘Oh, don’t be so ridiculous!’ I looked out of the window for something to look at to take me away from the argument, but this failed. ‘I don’t see why you have this prejudice towards him! If this is some pathetic example of a protective parent, then you can stop that altogether! You don’t even know George!’
‘Iknowthe Olsen family. They think they’re a bunch of bloody do-gooders, but when they come into any bloody contact with the normal world, they always bloody cause trouble! And I don’t want him causing you any more trouble than he already has! I don’t want to see you going off with him anymore!’
‘George is…really nice. Why should you blame him for whatever his family did?’
Joe tightened his grip on the wheel, and then stopped at a red light. He turned around to face me, his face full of anger. I thought he was going to hit me, so I tried to keep my distance from his hand.
‘Because I can! Now, be quiet before I change my mind and take you back to the police station!’
After being confined to the sanctities of my room, I passed the time doing homework. A three-page English essay on the theme of Desire from the play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Nothing at all interested, or hard for that matter. But then my phone vibrated against the surface of my desk, I looked at the caller ID:
My eyes narrowed. I hated unknown numbers. Expecting some Indian call centre, I picked up my small brick of a phone, pushed the green answer button and placed it to my ear.
‘Hola?’ I answered, in a terrible Spanish accent. ‘I no speak English.’
‘Hola to you as well.’
I almost jumped at George’s sudden reply.
‘George, what the –’
‘So you can speak English now?’ He said between laughs.
‘Listen, I’m in enough trouble as it is. Let’s make it short!’
‘Yes!’ I jumped. Joe stood at my door, his arms folded. ‘Give me that phone!’
He snatched the phone from me, and placed it to his ear.
‘Listen, you! I don’t want you around with her. If I see you around her again, I’ll show you the true meaning of my fist…what? Don’t start off on necessary actions!’
I tried to snatch the phone, but Joe walked out of the room, indulging himself in his own threatening conversation in the landing. What did George’s family do to my family? I tried to turn my attention back to my essay, but Joe’s rant at George was all too hard for me to ignore, and also I wanted my phone back.
I was never great at spying on people, or eavesdropping on conversations, and Joe was no exception. I would always get caught hiding behind the settee, or Rafe would blow my cover by barking at me, as if telling that he found me after a long game of hide and seek. Then, after that, I would get bollocked by Joe for being nosy.
I poked my head out of the door, and waited for Joe to clear the landing.
‘And another thing, Olsen, I don’t want her to be joining any of your murderous cults…I know it’s murderous…don’t tell me it’s for the good of Humanity, and all that Doctor Who crap! Don’t ever call this number again!’
Joe hung up, pressing the end call button so hard that I feared he would break the phone into pieces. He stormed into his bedroom, and the next thing I heard was the sound of my phone clunking into a drawer, slamming shut with a loud BANG! Looks like retrieving my phone wasn’t going to be a possibility at the moment.
‘Darcy, dinner will be ready in half an hour!’ Tyson called, before walking down the stairs.
‘And I’ve confiscated your phone. You’re not having it back until I’m sure I can completely trust you.’
I hated having an uncle who was an expert in technology. I wish I had a normal parent who didn’t even know how to programme a video recorder. I felt ashamed, knowing that I should have been the teenager who knew everything from Gameboys to plasma televisions, like most of the kids in college. I darted to the top of the stairs:
‘Joe! How am I going to talk to my friends, like Lottie or something?’
‘You got her number? That was quick.’ Joe shouted from downstairs.
‘Yeah, I thought that too.’
‘Well, you’re going to have to learn how to email! You kids these days should know how to do that!’
I groaned, rushing back to my room like a spoilt, little brat, sat down at my computer, pushing my essay to the side, and opened up Archangel.net on the screen.
If ur wondering why I’m not using my mob 2 contact u. It is because my stupid uncle has confiscated it to stop that George Olsen from calling me, but I doubt it will stop him. I thought about Liverpool 1 yesterday n I think Joe would prolly appreciate me going out with proper mates and that. Tell me whenever ur up 4 it, and we can just hang out.
I sent the email, and then switched off the computer. I grunted and shot out of my room in a flash and ran downstairs into the kitchen. Joe stood solemnly over the hobs, slowly turning the pot of spaghetti around in the boiling water with a metal spoon. Rafe maintained his usual position at Joe’s feet, waiting for any food to drop on the floor.
‘I need you to take Rafe out for a bit. He’ll make sure you don’t see that George lad as well!’
‘Ofcoursehe will! Listen, I think you’ve taken way too many blows to the head, Joe. Even if I was intending to meet up with George…Rafe couldn’t try and stop me.’
Joe shrugged, and then made a face. ‘You completely misunderstand Rafe; he’s smarter than any other dog…ever!’
‘For God’s sake, that’s what everyone says about their dogs, it doesn’t make it true!’
Joe only laughed, and then went back to making the dinner.
Rafe’s ears shot up at the mention of ‘walkies’. He started to jump up at me; butting my arms with his nose, and licking my palms, frantically barking at me to get his lead and go.
‘Rafe’s excited, already!’ Joe pointed out, fixing his eyes on the bubbling mixture in the pot. The steam rose from the mixture, making him sweat and allowing a bead of sweat to drop into the food. I wasn’t really hungry after that.
Rafe shot out of the house, like a bullet from a gun, dragging me behind, and began sniffing trees, and letting nature take its course. I paced my steps as I walked down the road. A: so that Rafe could have a chance to sniff around. B: so I could observe the city. The view was spectacular, with the backdrop of the Three Graces stained pink and orange by the sunset. I turned away from this beautiful sight for a moment to see an old woman pulling out her bin for collection.
At the sound of my name, I turned my head but there was nothing close by but the old woman walking back from her bin. A silence followed, until Rafe started to growl, baring his dangerously sharp fangs, and crouched in attack mode.
‘Rafe? What are you – ?’
Then something flung at me from nowhere, I stood up to find the object to be a pair of old sunglasses. I bent down to pick them up and examined them closely. They were the exact same as the ones George had given me back at the hospital.
‘Put them on!’ a voice echoed from nowhere.
Immediately, I pushed the glasses on and, at that moment, the world seem to crumble all around me, as the walls of the world were stripped down from a pleasant stained pink and orange to a blood red, with the inhabitants of the world repopulated with black, shapeless creatures in the distance. My heart was in my mouth, as I tried to wrench the sunglasses off my face! I screamed, as the harder I pulled, the more pain I got myself in, as if I was trying to pull off my own skin.
‘DARCY!’ George ran into my arms. I wrapped my arms around him, like a lifeline. He pulled me away from me. Looking to my left, I saw that he was carrying a gun in his hand, and then looked back at his face. Beads of sweat dripped down his temples and his eyes brazened in fear. But he wasn’t there before! What the hell is going on?
‘George! What the hell is going on?’
At the corner of my eye, something moved. I turned to see another young man – a little older than me – running towards George, dressed in a long grey navy coat, with blonde, dishevelled hair that spiked in all directions like pineapple leaves although this only enhanced his exterior beauty in my eyes. He stopped at George’s side, with the same level of worry as George.
The sound resembling metal smashing against metal reverberated across this new world, and Rafe came darting through…what seemed to be an electric blue portal. My eyes widened at the shock of this. Rafe landed on his four feet and stood before me protectively, growling ferociously at George and his companion.
‘Don’t worry, Darcy!’Rafe suddenly snarled.‘I’ll protect you.’ I gasped, throwing my head against my mouth in sheer horror, as I watched Rafe try to take a bite at George. Joe was right!
‘Rafe, you can-’
A giant, amorphous monster appeared before our whole group, screaming a war cry, resembling a sound that could be best described as a cross between the bellow of a trumpet and a lion’s roar. Its’ eyes were like two pieces of blood-red rubies.
I froze to the spot, being the only one in this group who had burst into some form of action against this. I didn’t know what to do! Rafe yanked at his lead, barking desperately, either to defend me from the monster or to keep George away from me.
‘AMYAS!’ George yelled. ‘NOW!’
The young man – Amyas – muttered something under his breath followed by bright sparks of flame spitting between the gaps of his fingers.
The spitting flames amalgamated into two balls of fire, one for each hand, and then combined them into one large fireball – the size of a football. With the grace and posture of a cricket bowler, he launched the fireball at the creature, knocking it yards back upon impact.
‘What the hell’s that? What the hell is going on?’
Finally, the sunglasses somehow loosened their grip on my skin. Ripping them off, the safe and normal world returned, with no trace of George, or Amyas, or the monster, with Rafe were he was before, barking at me recklessly and jumping up and down at me.
‘DARCY! PUT THEM BACK ON!’ George’s voice echoed in my head.
‘Are you crazy?’
‘JUST DO IT!’
I whined, and then pushed them to the bridge of my nose. As I transported myself to the other world, Rafe’s heedless barking turned into frantic…human shouting.
‘Bark…Bark…Dar-ark! Darcy! Let’s get out of here! Take those glasses off!’
I pursed my lips, wondering whether I’d sound crazy talking to my own dog, then again, there were more things revealed in these past few days that could be described in better words than crazy. I looked back at the shapeless monster, as it began to take some sort of shape, as it groaned agonisingly against the pavement. Fur sprouted around the creature’s head and a cat-like face started to form from the nebulous creature’s face. It had taken form as a demonic lion, with deep, empty eye sockets with flaming coals where the eyes should have been. Its’ mane was a midnight black, with its fur a dark grey. Its paws were as big as my face and his thick black claws were like serrated knives.
Amyas darted towards me, like an athlete, and rugby tackled me, launching us to the hard concrete.
‘Keep your head down!’ he snarled, under his breath, pressing my head down with his hand against the hard floor. ‘Don’t look up! Don’t look at it!’
‘But my dog…!’
‘Forget your dog for a minute, okay! Just shut the hell up!’
I waited anxiously, my mind buzzing at the crashes, barking and shouting that was happening around me. I felt as though I was in the middle of a war zone! Amyas clamped his hands over my ears, suddenly; the ground below me shook vigorously and, despite Amyas’s hand over my ears, I could still hear the horrific hellish cries around me, followed by the most voluminous cry I had ever heard.
After the terrifying death cry screamed out then ceased, Amyas took his hands away from my ears and pulled himself from me. The monster, devolved to its shapeless form, lay dead on the floor before me and Amyas then exploded into atoms that floated into the sky, disappearing into nothingness.
Rafe bolted over towards me, and seized the sleeve of my jacket with his jaws, pulling me away from Amyas. Still growling and snarling, I managed to shove him off.
Rage growled at Amyas heatedly, who responded with a low snarl. The two stared at each other for a few seconds, as if having a mental conversation between them.
‘What the hell was all that?’ I bellowed. ‘Will someone explain all this to be, because my head is going to explode! I’d also like to know why my dog wastalkingto me!’
‘Take your glasses off!’ George ordered.
Amyas and I did so.
‘You’d best keep that,’ Amyas whispered, wrapping my fingers around my sunglasses. ‘For your own safety.’
George took my hand and looked at me with innocent eyes. I noticed the object he used to kill the monster thingy with on the floor next to him, in the corner of my eye. I shivered fearfully.
‘If you want me to be honest-’
‘No, George!’ Amyas interrupted, his face stricken with fear.
‘No, it’s time she knew. She has to know, Amyas,’ Amyas sighed in defeat, and looked away, shoving his own pair of glasses into his deep pocket. ‘Darcy, I’m the leader of an organisation called the Searchers that…that well…well…that protects the Human race against the darkness.’
I almost laughed at this, waiting for one of them to burst out laughing, but their faces looked completely straight and serious, their eyes both sharing their solemnity.
‘Right, do I look like I was born yesterday? You must think I’m really stupid.’
‘Darcy! I would never-’
‘Save it!’ I shouted. ‘You know what? My uncle was right about you! Well, you can forget about having me as a friend!’
‘Darcy, I –’ but I was already gone.