George ordered the creature to be moved to his ‘Headquarters’ quickly, and Amyas had already left the premises without giving me a proper introduction, then George told me to go home and have a good sleep and all would be explained the next morning but I was not allowed to, under any circumstances, tell anyone what happened within those four walls that eventful afternoon.
Walking out of the school gates had to be one of the most unpleasant experiences so far, as if nothing had happened, my mind racing and my body shaken in fear. This feeling annoyed me, the feeling of walking back into the ‘normal’ world after all that had happened. People were getting picked up by their parents, hordes of misery ridden Goths slithered out of the back entrance of the college, cars drove by, birds were flying (real birds, and not birds that turn into shapeless creatures) and everything was, well, normal.
‘Darcy! Darcy!’ a whiney voice shouted from my right. I sighed, and then turned to see Lottie holding the hand of a younger boy standing next to her, and an older boy standing behind her, texting on his white BlackBerry.
‘Oh, hello…’ I muttered. ‘Had a good day?’
‘Not without you around,’ she replied, ‘besides, who has a good day at school anyway?’
I shrugged. This return to regularity wasn’t very uplifting. It didn’t feel right, like normality was a place I should never be in.
‘How was the referral thing?’
I opened my mouth to say everything that had happened, but then remembered George’s words, and continued: ‘Oh, it was…boring…he was busy so he just let me off…you didn’t hear anything…did you?’
‘LOTTIIIEEEE!!!!!!’ The little boy, at her side, squealed, tugging at Lottie’s sleeve. ‘I WANT TO GO HOOOOMMMEEE!!!’ He must have been from the primary school just down the road from St Georges’.
‘Come on, Lot, stop talking to your girlfriend and let’s get a move on,’ the older boy shouted.
‘Mum’s making me chip butties!’ the younger boy added.
I stifled a laugh, and inhaled deeply as my small second of happiness disappeared at the memory of Lovejoy. Lottie pinched the little boy’s neck, like a wolf scolding its pup.
‘Sorry, Darcy, these are the banes of my life: Twindledee (she gave the older one a punch in the shoulder) and Twindledum (then she pinched the little boy again).’
I gave out a full hearted laugh. Lottie only smiled, the little boy raised his eyebrows and recoiled, and the oldest just gave me a long stare, as if examining every detail of me with his eyes.
‘This is Sam, my little brother, and this is my older brother, Callum,’ she added.
Sam looked like a young Italian American gangster, in a school uniform, with his dark brown hair combed back with gel, and spiked up at the neck. Callum was identical to his younger brother, although his skin had a slighter darker Mediterranean tone. His hair was a very dark brown and greased back like a character from Grease. A cocktail stick rolled along his lips as he scanned me up and down. Was he real?
‘Oh, hello then. Oh! Lottie! I’d love to stay and chat, but I’ve got to sort some stuff out,’ I said. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?’
‘Okay…oh, wait, hang on, Darcy!’
Lottie pulled out a ruffled scrap of paper from her blazer pocket. ‘I got your email. You got ArkAngel?’
‘Course,’ I said, rolling my eyes, knowing that I must have had ArkAngel if I had sent her an email via ArkAngel. ‘Who doesn’t?’
‘You got a pen?’
I pulled a small biro from my breast pocket and handed it over.
‘Oh, good! My addy’s: SexyGurl, all one word, at ArkAngel dot co do UK.’ She informed as she wrote it on the piece of paper, then folded it into fours and handed it back. After this, she pulled Sam and Callum into the dispersing crowd.
I continued my usual walk towards home, until I heard a voice I’d been waiting to hear behind me. I turned, and smiled, but then recoiled when I found out I was staring at the zit ridden face of Lottie’s brother, Callum.
‘Oh, Callum, right?’
He nodded. ‘That’s right. I know…we’ve just met, and that, but you’re…really hot!’
‘Oh, yeah. Smoking hot!’ Ugh, now I knew he had to have some American blood running through his veins. ‘And I was…kinda wondering if you’d like to…err…go to the Casa Italia with…me?’
‘On a date?’
He looked at me like a hopeful child, wondering what he was going to get for his next Christmas, and nodded. I checked him out, from his dirty boots to his greasy hair. He wasn’t as godly as George or Amyas, but he wasn’t completely unfortunate. He looked like a poor man’s John Travolta from Grease, without the goofy voice. Despite his spot problem (unavoidable) and for someone whose fashion was way back in the fifties of American gangster fashion, I could fall in love with him sooner or later.
Maybe his dad was from America…oh please! Be true! I just couldn’t picture a family of ‘British’ mafia greaser gangsters.
I nodded, although something in the back of my head was telling me this wasn’t going to end well.
He beamed, revealing a pair of pearly white teeth (no pointy ones this time!).
‘Here’s my ArkAngel (Godfather@ArkAngel.co.uk. Ironic!). I’ll pick you up tonight.’
‘Wait! Tonight?!’ I interjected.
‘Well, yeah…is that okay? I mean…you know, if you don’t want to, that’s fine…that’s okay…I mean, if you’ve already got something going on…that’s okay too. (He was sweating like a pig with the large eyes of a lovesick puppy) I mean, it isn’t a school night. I’m not bothered if it’s not alright for tonight.’
Hmm…doesn’t exactly try to persuade me to go out with him. I stopped him quickly, with a straight rise of my hand, to which he silenced his annoying, low self-esteem ramblings instantly.
‘Okay, okay, I’ll save you the effort, Vito. Here’s the dealio…or whatever, if it’s okay with my uncle, I’ll give you a bell, okay?’
‘That sounds…sound,’ then he chuckled nervously, then bumped into a bin as he backed away towards Lottie and Sam. I rolled my eyes, once I knew he was completely out of sight, and then walked away. I had to sympathise with him though. He tried really, really hard. Maybe I could give this a go…
‘Oh, Darcy! Wait up!’
I groaned, rolling my eyes once more, and shouted, turning:
‘I said I’ll email you now leave me –’ I stopped myself when I came face to face with a stunned George Olsen, his leather satchel hanging from his shoulder, with a face so confusingly innocent that I nearly laughed.
‘Sorry, Dars,’ he apologised. ‘Am I in trouble?’
‘No, I thought…doesn’t matter. Thanks for saving me and everything, I appreciate it. I thought I…I was going to…you know, die.’
But George only laughed. ‘To be honest, I was more worried about Dieter going all out of control than him tearing you to shreds.’
‘Thanks a lot! That big, bloody black thing has a name? I thought it was one of those weird things that tried to attack me before.’
‘Well, technically, it is, but it’s on our side.’
‘There are sides?’
George took a sharp inhale. ‘Yeaahhh, sort of. But seriously, don’t go too deep into these things.’
‘But, I’m a Searcher. You said I am, so I’m entitled to go as deep as I want. Balls deep, in fact.’
George stopped at this, creasing his forehead. ‘Please…don’t say that…ever…again. You are a freak!’
I blushed violently, like the tomato seeing the salad dressing, at my terrible, terrible…terrible choice of words.
‘But I think I got the gist of what you meant,’ he continued, ‘and you’re right. But yeah, that big bad werewolf was terribly hard to hold down. He even fought the sedation. But, that’s what you have to expect from primary werewolves.’
‘Come on, seriously? I’m still trying to get over the fact that there are giant, invisible, shape shifting monsters running about that you can only see throughsunglasses!And that Lovejoy can turn into a giant wolf.’
‘Lovejoy is a secondary werewolf. They don’t count as proper werewolves cos they have restraint and they can choose whether to change or not, and the moon doesn’t affect them.’ George quickly added.
‘- a human being that can turn into a wolf-like creature still counts as a werewolf in my books! Wait, I’m saying ‘werewolf’ like it’s a completely normal thing. No! George, please tell me Lovejoy has some…unknown condition that alters his entire body.’
‘Sorry, but they’re as real as you and me. And the whole bullet thing is a lot of crap. Believe me, I know a werewolf that has had his fair share of bullets – silver or any colour – shot at him and nothing happens. The whole bullet thing came about when a werewolf was actually seen by a human a few hundred years ago being killed by a silver bullet, but that was only because the werewolf had already been almost beaten to death. But, with a werewolf at its prime, you may as well be throwing, I don’t know, asparagus at it. It gave humans a kind of confidence boost and made them think they could kill them.’
‘Okay, I didn’t need an essay about werewolves…but…you talk about humans like you’re not one of them.’
‘Yeah, well, so do you when you refer to humans as ‘them’.’
I only shrugged. ‘Guess that makes two of us,’ I said. ‘Am I right in saying you’re going to tell me that vampires are real too? And giants and spells and trolls?’
‘Oh!’ I punched him lightly in the shoulder, but secretly, I was delighted in thinking that there was so much more about the world other than what I had been told by the media or by the government. I wondered whether there were more people like…me or George, or Amyas, or any other people like us across the world. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, shapeshifters, even pixies?
‘So…anyway, what the sudden change of heart?’ George suddenly asked. ‘I seem to recall you never wanting to see me again.’
‘Oh, yeah. It was in the heat of the moment. Everything was happening so fast, and when you told me about this whole Searcher thing. I thought you were just taking the mick…and I thought you thought that I was some stupid little girl.’
‘Jeez, I couldn’t handle all that, I’d explode. Yeah, I guess it was a little too much, wasn’t it? But I just wanted you to know what I do…the real me. Of course, the whole thing with the Fiend, and that, was merely coincidental, but it showed up what my, shall we say, job is.’
‘Darcy?’ a familiar voice barked. ‘What are you doing withhim?’
Joe stormed over towards me from his car, like a man on a mission, and grabbed George by his tie. ‘YOU-YOU-YOU JUST STAY AWAY FROM HER, YOU LITTLE GIT! (He pushed George against the wall) YOU’RE A BRAVE LAD, AREN’T YAH? (He prodded George in the shoulder) COMING UP TO INNOCENT GIRLS AND PROMISING THEM ALL THESE MAGICAL THINGS AND TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO WITH THEIR LIVES! I BET YOU’RE TELLING HER LOADS OF THINGS, AREN’T YAH, YOU CHEEKY LITTLE –’
‘HEY!’ George shouted, with authority. ‘WILL YOU PLEASE REFRAIN YOURSELF FROM ATTACKING AN INNOCENT BYSTANDER?!’
‘I’LL GIVE YOU ‘INNOCENT BYSTANDER’, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!’ He raised an almighty fist, his knuckles white as he clenched them tighter and tighter for a colossal blow.
‘JOE!’ I screamed, trying to push his large hand off George’s tie. He growled in defeat, as if we were fighting over a piece of meat. ‘WILL YOU STOP IT PLEASE?!’
‘GET IN THE CAR, DARCY!’
‘But Joe –’
‘DON’T ARGUE WITH ME, DARCY! GET IN THE BLOODY CAR NOW!’
Out of fear, and because we were attracting a crowd of students, teachers and community support officers, I backed away towards the car, watching carefully to make sure Joe would deliver a K.O punch into George’s skull. A quick glance from Joe was enough to get me into the car.
‘I can’t believe you broke our promise!’ Joe boomed. ‘I thought you were a trustworthy, smart young lady capable of doing the simple task of keeping a promise. I’m very disappointed in you, Darcy.’
‘It was simple at first, but…’
‘But what?’ he bellowed, raising one shaking hand off the wheel.
‘But…but one thing led to another…then it got complicated.’
Joe laughed sarcastically. ‘And how did it getcomplicated?’
‘Well…it’s hard to explain. You probably won’t believe me if I told you anyway.’
A mental war convulsed in my head. One side told me that I should keep my shape shifting powers a secret, even from the remaining members of my family, and then the other side told me to just tell Joe about everything, and be straightforward about it. I mean, it’s going to be a bit awkward when I turn into a rabbit or whatever, if Joe decides to make rabbit stew. (Ugh! This is the jetty all over again.)
‘Well? Are you going to tell me? Or are you just going to stare into space like a bloody lemon?’
‘Oh, sorry. Mental clash,’ I replied, ‘anyway, like I said before: you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.’
‘Oh, and I suppose with me beingdullandold, you think I lack on the imagination side, is that it? Of course, it is! You don’t realise the crap I’ve been through to make sure that you and your parents stayed breathing!’
‘Well, you did a shit job with my parents then, didn’t you?’ I suddenly burst out. I covered my mouth with my hands in shock. I couldn’t believe I said that.
‘How dare you! You ungrateful little…-’
‘Joe, I did not mean that, I’m so –’
‘You know, I don’t want to hear another word from your mouth till we get home!’
An awkward silence followed, as I fiddled with my hair and looked out of the window to distract myself from the argument, but then something clicked on my head.
‘WHAT DID I SAY?’
‘Joe, I’m sorry! Please, just listen! I met another boy…at school! He’s called Callum!’
‘Darcy, I- what? A boy?’
‘Yeah! If you just listen to me. I met this lad called Callum. He’s Lottie’s brother. He sort of asked me out.’
Suddenly, a surprising smile crept onto Joe’s face. I could actually feel the mood brightening up. ‘A date? Adatedate?’
‘I know, I know,
Yeah, I know that Callum. He’s a good boy…little bit out of date, but he means well, I guess. Where’s he taking you?’
‘The Casa Italia?’ I asked.
‘Do you want me to drop you off?’
I couldn’t believe this. Ten minutes ago, Joe had been screaming to the top of his lungs that he was going to punch a seventeen year old boy, or whatever George was, and then half a minute ago, he was telling me that I wasn’t allowed to speak again, now he was smiling like a child at Christmas.
It was true to say that Joe’s mood were very unpredictable.
‘No, I think he’s going to pick me up. I’ll email Callum later on.’