The Following Events Occurred
Between 0:00 Monday And 0:00 Sunday
Becoming a shapeshifter, and a Searcher, was like waking up for the first time in my boring, dull life. This morning, I shot out of bed, flinging my hair dramatically, like the women off the Elvive adverts, and, with anticipation, threw my curtains apart of the new windows Joe had built in for me, revealing the pink sun hovering over the Mersey’s surface that shined beautifully like diamonds, and the workers – crane workers and paper round boys – walking, driving and cycling to and from the City.
I drew the other curtains looking into Mrs Zhang’s bedroom, seeing Zhang sitting in her usual position in front of the television, and watching some Chinese film. Her beady eyes caught me, and she smiled widely.
‘Ni hao, Zhang taitai!’ I greeted in my best Mandarin. Zhang had now driven her total attention from the television to me, her eyes full of surprise, but then replied ten times faster in Mandarin. I nodded, and then retreated back to my room awkwardly.
A full British breakfast for me and Joe with two piping hot cups of tea, and a bowlful of freshly cooked sausages for Rafe. Joe dragged himself into the kitchen, half asleep, and his black, his sideburns greying with age, tousled hair spiked up in all directions.
‘Morning, Joe!’ I greeted happily. ‘I made breakfast!’
‘Oh, good,’ he mumbled, ‘thanks, honey.’
But then his eyes jumped into life. ‘YOU MADE THE BREAKFAST?’
He jumped to his feet, and grabbed me by my shoulders, as if my answer had resulted in the coming of the Apocalypse. ‘Are you okay? Are you burnt? Has the food been cooked to the right temperature? You haven’t left the gas on, have you?’
I laughed as he inspected the kitchen frantically, trying to find some fault in my cooking, since I had been known to set fire to a kitchen when trying to even make a sandwich. I assumed that one day I would be the first person to burn liquid. I kissed him by the cheek, and smiled.
‘Joe, I’m fine, the kitchen’s fine. Actually, I feel amazing!’
Joe eyed me suspiciously.
‘Darcy, you’re not…on something, are you?’ he asked. ‘Been inhaling the fumes in the Science lab?’
I shook his head. ‘Sit down, chill out and eat your breakfast! You as well Rafey-Wafey!’ I ordered, pushing Joe into the chair, and noticing that Rafey-Wafey already had his face buried in the bowl of sausages.
“Rafey-Wafey?” Tyson enquired, stabbing his fork into a rasher of bacon, and shoved it into his mouth. ‘Are you sure you’re alright?’
‘Evaluation?’ I asked; after watching Tyson’s several test chews.
‘It’s alright, but you can’t even make a sandwich without hurting yourself, you said so yourself, and here you are making British breakfasts.’
‘I don’t know, Joe, I just feel like a whole different person.’
‘Since when?’ Joe asked, between chews.
‘Oh! So that date went well, I’m guessing?’ Joe asked, shovelling a forkful of beans into his mouth.
‘Oh yeah,’ I lied, rolling my eyes. ‘Callum is dead nice. We had…spaghetti and we did that whole Lady and the Tramp thing where we ate the same noodle and kissed.’
‘You kissed?’ Joe exclaimed, then choked on his beans as he laughed, dropping his fork.
‘Oh yeah, it was…passionate, although I think Callum suffers a little from…err…washing machine syndrome.’
‘Washing machine syndrome?’
‘It’s something I heard from the girls at college, they were talking about boys around school and rated how they kiss. Washing machine syndrome is what it says on the tin.’
Joe paused for a moment, thinking. ‘I hope I don’t have it.’
‘Well, I’m not going to be the one to found out, you creep!’ I replied, smiling. ‘Anyway, what time is it?’
‘Ten past eight,’ Joe answered, showing me his watch.
‘Oh…I’m going to be late if I miss the bus!’
‘Don’t bother! Eat up, I’ll drop you off,’ Joe asked.
‘What? In that piece of crap you call a car?’
‘Hey, that car is the latest model.’
‘If camp is the latest model, then yeah.’
‘Oy, you! You don’t see a lot of car with lightning bolts along the side.’
‘There’s a reason for that.’
Joe made a quick two finger gesture, as I finished off my breakfast, scooping the yolk remains with a piece of toast.
‘I’m going to get changed.’
‘I’ll pick you up after college, honey bear!’ Joe shouted out of the window, as a group of Katie Price wannabes walked by, chortling stridently, yet this time, they didn’t seem to bother me or make me feel comfortable.
‘I don’t know you!’
‘I’ll pick you up, my little sweetheart! My sweetie-pie!’
‘I’m not related to you!’ I called back, running briskly towards the school entrance, until Joe’s voice had been blocked out by the mutterings of teenage angst, where many students sheltering under the arch. To my annoyance, amongst them were Lottie, little Sam and still spotty Callum. He looked different than the previous night. He looked tired, with bags hanging from lack of sleep, and his ashen face grew a shade paler when his eyes connected with mine.
‘Lottie!’ I called, waving.
Lottie gave me a quick glance, and then snapped her head back. She whispered something into Sam’s ear, and then the infant ran over to me.
‘My sister told me to tell you that she doesn’t want to talk to you ever!’ Sam said; his hands shoved in his pockets.
‘Well, tell Lottie that she doesn’t need to use her little brother to talk to me, and shouldn’t you be in your own school?’
‘Not for another 30 minutes,’ Sam replied shyly. ‘It’s rainy, and I didn’t want to get wet walking to school.’
I only nodded at this. ‘Well, in that case, run back to your sister and tell her she’s old enough to discuss the situation – whatever it may be – herself,’ then I gave daggers to Callum and Lottie, who were watching the scene with interest.
Sam’s brow creased, trying to mouth the words into something he would understand. I knelt down to his height.
‘You tell her to come over here,’ I translated for him. He grinned, and disappeared into the crowd towards his older siblings.
I sighed, rubbing my forehead, and then looked down at my watch. It was eight thirty-eight, plenty of time for a full confrontation. A few seconds later, Lottie stormed out from the crowd, looking down at her feet as if one glance from me would turn her into stone.
‘What’s the matter with you, Lot? Why are you acting like such a knark?’
‘And what if I don’t tell you what the matter with me? Are you going to rip my organs out?’ She burst out, her arms waving dramatically, which I assumed to mean to demonstrate organs being ripped out.
I groaned, and then shot a piercing look at Callum.
‘Let me guess, Mr Smooth told you what happened last night!’
‘Don’t call my brother names! You ran out on him for no reason!’ Lottie shouted, pointing her polished, manicured finger at me.
‘Reason? I could give you fifty! The idiot was feeling me up under the bloody table. He wanted to have sex with me on thefirst date! I mean, who does that? Well, probably 80% of the country, but it’s still a stupid thing to do! He tried to seduce me.’
‘That’s only three!’ Lottie pointed out.
I rolled my eyes now. ‘At least I know your maths is up-to-scratch. I’m only seventeen, you know! And he’s bloody feeling me up as if we’ve been going out for ten years! And I don’t suppose he’s grateful that I saved his life!’
Lottie pursed her lips, and then pouted like a spoilt little girl. Beat.
‘Let me guess,’ I continued, ‘he forgot that bit!’
‘Actually, he said that…that…you tried to…kill him. I didn’t believe it at first, but then I noticed his wallet was empty and the marks on his neck –’
‘They robbed his money, and they put a knife to his neck,’ I noticed Callum amongst the crowd, laughing with a friend. ‘Hang on.’
I darted into the crowd, dodging or pushing students who had made the mistake of getting in the way of my line of fire, towards Callum and little Sam, who were surrounded by a sea of skinheads.
‘Hey Cal, here’s ya murderer!’ the ugliest of the skinheads yelled, then took a long drag of his cigarette. I sympathised with Sam, who – as if he could sense it – looked at the group fearfully and backed away towards his sister. Callum shot a look at me, but then laughed along with his friends.
‘Do you think this is funny?’ I grabbed Callum by his neck and flung him against the column. ‘What did you tell your sister that I did it? How many people have you lied to, after I clearly told you what would happen if you said anything!’
Callum spilt out a nervous laugh, telling the skin headed friends that he had control of the situation.
‘Come on, Cal! Tell that slapper to get lost so we can have a smoke before the bell goes!’ Another skinhead jeered, taking a drag. I turned to the thug, who grinned now that their play thing had turned on him. It was as if some evil plan was calculating in his head, as a long wide grin spread across his face.
‘Listen, you mong! Do yourself a favour and get lost or I’ll make you rue the head you were born!’
The boys whooped at my threat, which only added gallons more fuel on my fire. ‘You better button it, and get lost!’
They laughed again. The one, that I had threatened, jabbed his finger into my shoulder, pushing me back and, with help from his friends, pinned me against the wall. I only smiled, although fear burnt at the bottom of my stomach.
‘You must be a right coward to be picking fights with girls!’ I said. ‘No wonder you have no hair and you smoke.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean, eh?’ he bellowed, flicking away his cigarette and crushing it under his large shoes. Somehow, this made me even more nervous; assuming that the shoe was him and the shattered remains of the cigarettes was me in hospital.
‘Ok, I’ll dumb it down for you, then! You. Have. A. Stupid. Skinhead. And. You. Smoke! You got that?’
Suddenly, he struck me, leaving a red mark on my cheek. I couldn’t believe he actually did that, and in front of all these people too.
‘Zip it, smart arse! I’m gunna hit you so hard, your grandkids will feel it,’ he growled.
I closed my eyes, and waited for the KO punch and to wake up in a hospital bed again, until a voice thundered from my right. I felt the boys, who pinned me to the wall, letting go of my lapelles.
A wide smile spread across my face. George and Amyas stood before the boys, their brows furrowed and their arms folded, as if they were teachers.
‘Kieran Oak!’ George began. ‘Would you care to tell us why you were about to beat up a girl?’
‘Would you care to tell me why you’re speaking like a pillock?’ Kieran replied, squaring up to them bravely, taking a long inhale of his cigarette and blowing into Amyas’s face.
Amyas stepped forward, with his hands starting to shot out small sparks of fire until George pushed him back.
‘That’s right, mop head, step away!’ Kieran shouted, waving Amyas away from his hand, as his friends chortled loudly with their friend.
‘Now, tell me before I tell Mr Singh who has been stealing all the Snickers and Zoo magazines from his shop.’
Kieran laughed, but then stopped abruptly. ‘You… (He laughed nervously)…you wouldn’t…would you? I…I…my…my mum needs it!’
‘Your mum needs porn magazines? For what? Discharge?’ Amyas added. A chorus of laughter followed, as Kieran threw away his cigarette and crushed it underneath his boot.
‘And- and—she called me a s-stupid skinhead!’ he said in the most pathetic, child-like voice, as if we were in a playground. Amyas held back a laugh, closing his eyes.
‘Kieran, to be honest, you have…a…closely shaven head and you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, are you?’
The crowd laughed again, while Kieran blushed, and ran out of sight; his friends, excluding Callum, followed him loyally.
‘Are you okay, Darcy?’ George asked, patting me on the back.
Amyas grabbed Callum by his lapelle, and launched him into the wall, ready to kill if George gave the order.
‘What should we do with this one?’ Amyas asked. ‘Do you want me to take him out?’
Lottie seized Amyas by the arm and tore his hand from Callum’s jacket. Amyas growled ferociously, like an angered Rottweiler, and sparks of flames shot quietly out of his hands, but they managed to disappear before Lottie, luckily, took any notice.
‘No one is hurting anyone!’ she shouted.
Amyas scowled, but George nudged Amyas gently in his shoulder blade. He growled again, and sighed, looking away at the Liver Buildings in the distance.
‘Apologises, sir.’ Amyas grumbled.
‘It’s alright. Sorry, Callum, my work partner has anger management issues,’ George apologised, dusting Callum off quickly, and placing him at his sister’s side, as if he was a toy soldier. Lottie scoffed, and then stormed off towards the building, pulling Callum with her.
‘So, Amyas, why do you have to call George, sir –?’
But Amyas was already gone.
‘Hmm…who died and made him King of the Ignorant?’ I added.
‘He’s not a talkative person obviously, and I guess you could say he’s a smartly dressed Goth kid. He’s never been happy ever since he discovered he won the lottery a few months ago, then found out his sister didn’t even give in the numbers –’
The bell interrupted our conversation, signalling the next lesson. I turned to George who watched Amyas walked briskly out of the college gates.
‘Well, I better get going. See you!’
‘Wait!’ he said, abruptly, grabbing my arm. ‘I was…wondering –’
‘Yes, I will be your girlfriend.’ I replied mentally.
‘-if you weren’t too busy…and, I thought cos you’ve just found out you’re a Searcher and that, that means you’re part of the club so-to-speak, maybe after college, we can drop by HQ?’
The fact he used the word ‘HQ’ made me cringe from sheer corniness, but we carried on the conversation whenever we had classes together. George told me that I should make up something to tell Joe, since I knew he wouldn’t let me go anywhere with George, so I settled with a little white lie. George told me to tell him that Lottie and I had a little fall out, but we decided to settle out our differences and have a massive sleepover party over the weekend. Although, I knew deep inside that he would be taking me to a place that would change my life forever.