As we reached the outside and caught sight of Oakville, my strange hometown, the musty air was blown away from us and replaced with sweet, crisp autumn wind. It was refreshing to be out of that horrible subway and away from the creature that lurked there.
To tell the truth, this wasn't the first time something like this has happened to me. In fact, it happens all the time.
My name is Wendy Cremwell, and due to the fact that these bizarre things often occur in my presence, when I dare to talk about them, most people think that I am either crazy, or lying, or both. It has also earned me a nickname among my peers: Wendy Weird, the crackpot of Oakville Junior High.
To worsen matters, my family does not take kindly to strange happenings, nor do they ever understand what is really going on.
But, one person does. My best friend Lola Cooper. She is one of those people who accepts you for who and what you are and aims to stick by you to make sure the promise of friendship is always fulfilled.
Lola's carefree and silly attitude is enough to make anyone feel lighter and freer in a world that seems to hold you down.
At times I ponder what might have happened if we had never become friends. Perhaps I would have ended up in an asylum, driven to madness by the peculiar life I lead. But not everything is so full of dread and fear. Dealing with all of this gives one a unique view of the world and yourself, and the many amazing things that lie in and beyond it.
It also helps to appreciate the simplicity of being human.
Half the things that occur are so weird that they are never fully explained. To this day, Lola and I wonder what the truth about them might be.
This has caused me to wonder why it is that Oakville, of all places, has so many supernatural occurrences.
I am certain the source of the uncanny occurrences is Oakville itself. The people here are very bizarre. Or at least some of them are. They have to know what happens here, only don't want to acknowledge it at all for fear of their own lives becoming this way, or perhaps they avoid the true reality of this town for a different more sinister reason.
Even the police and all of the authorities never talk about what happens here. The newcomers like me don't exhibit the odd disposition that original residents do. I don't understand them at all.
A gypsy I once met, by the name of Lesley O'Reid, told me that long ago, the town was cursed by the executed witches of Fairway Street, down in the historical part of Oakville. She says they really were witches, who decided to take revenge against Oakville and its inhabitants by making it a place of supernatural happenings of every kind. Some people would think of that as a blessing, but others, a terrible curse.
I don't really know if I believe in curses, but, from what has already been occurring, I can't discount it.
Lola thinks the town sits right in the center of a powerful vortex that causes all of the oddities. She declared that Lesley O'Reid is a fraud. I wouldn't doubt it.
No matter what the reason, there is something about Oakville that some want to see and others fear, and we are in the middle of it all.
Now, out of the blue came another even larger mystery. I was still in too much shock to think about what it might be. Instead of going home I decided to go to Lola's. No matter what happens, she seems to handle the strange and frightening a lot better than I do at times.
With Sammy trotting beside me I made a turn down the leaf clustered streets, past the tall, towering nearly bare-limbed trees. It was in the middle of November, and it was a very beautiful day.
Lola lives in a charming little brick house with her mom and dad. Her mom loves to bake, and faintly I could smell the rich, inviting scent of chocolate brownies that seemed to be wafting from the tall stack of chimney smoke high above my friend's abode.
Surrounding Lola's home was a tall white picket fence, the better to keep in her frisky Siberian husky, Storm. He recognized me by the time I had come into the subdivision no doubt, and was barking excitedly and jumping up on the fence. Sammy would usually tug at his leash at the sight of other dogs, eager to romp and play, but now he walked solemnly, occasionally stopping to sniff at a tree or mailbox, only not with as much enthusiasm as before.
He seemed to be traumatized by whatever he had seen down there earlier.
As I began to walk up the steps to Lola's porch, that familiar sensation tugged at my senses.
Someone was watching me again.
Then in my mind echoed the voice of the creature in the subway: "don't run away Wendy Cremwell, I'm merely observing..."
I shuddered and took a deep breath, looking around Lola's yard and the neighbor's yards to make sure nothing was there.
Of course there wasn't anything I could see, but I scanned the trees, the cars, and bushes within my sight range to assure myself that I really was alone.
The feeling persisted.
Too unnerved to stay outside any longer, I came up to the front door and rang the bell several times.
When the door swung open, there stood Mrs. Cooper, smiling a friendly white-toothed grin at me. Like Lola, Mrs. Cooper has long curly golden blond hair and hazel eyes, as well as a tall, thin figure. Lola and I are about the same height, but Mrs. Cooper is as tall as her husband.
"Hello, Wendy!" she exclaimed cheerfully, "have you come to see Lola?"
"Yeah, I just wanted to tell her something." I explained, stepping inside, the backpack still in tow.
Suddenly, I remembered Sammy. He was still covered in that slime, which now dripped off the ends of this fur and onto the Cooper's living room carpet as he walked in.
"Oops." Mrs. Cooper noticed, but didn't seem too upset. "Why is your dog so wet, Wendy?"
"He, uh...fell into the lake on the way here." I lied. "Got himself all soaked."
"Poor baby." she said, noticing how Sammy shivered. "I'll go get him a towel." she started to walk towards the hallway closet to retrieve a towel.
I hated to fib like that, but I don't think Mrs. Cooper would have believed me if I told her what really may have happened to him, and what had just happened to me. The Coopers have a history of open mindedness. They believe in ghosts, miracles, and some forms of magic, but I just felt like now was not the right time to tell anyone but Lola what had happened in that dark subway.
After drying Sammy off as best as I could, we went upstairs, across the hallway that was filled with pictures of family, friends and pets, and into Lola's room. Their house was larger on the inside than it seemed to be on the outside. Mrs. Cooper had a way of furnishing and decorating that made it seem bigger than it was.
I knocked on her bedroom door loudly, before saying, "Pizza delivery!" in my best Italian accent.
"We didn't order any." I could hear her say, playing along. "And for God's sake stay away from the fire-breathing dragon in the garage."
"You mean Fluffy?"
"No, Fluffy's girlfriend."
"Then where is he?"
"Grocery shopping for her."
"What a man."
I could hear Lola laughing hysterically from behind the door. These conversations we often had were silly and humorous, and seldom made any sense at all. Maybe that was the point.
Finally I walked in, and to my surprise, she was sitting on the carpet, wearing a sky blue sweat suit, her legs crossed and her eyes closed.
She pretended not to hear me come in. the TV in her room was on mute. She looked like a fairy of the forest, tranquil and calm, her blond curls bouncing as she stretched and breathed.
"You are the only one I know who does yoga."
"It relieves stress." she said matter-of-factly, taking a deep breath and stretching languorously, like a cat that had just woken up from a nap.
She looked at me. "It's not, trust me. You really should try it. You look seriously freaked out."
"That's because I am." I replied, falling into the office chair across the room. Her gray Tabby, Yoyo, was curled up on the keyboard near me, softly snoring.
"I just had an...encounter with something in the abandoned subway on Arrow Street."
Instantly fascinated, Lola got up off the floor and sat down on her canopy bed.
Sammy walked up and jumped up on the bed beside her, and as I had anticipated, when she petted him, she grimaced and wiped the residue on her bedspread, and stared at me, puzzled. "What's with your dog?"
"Well, about that..." I told her what had just happened, what I couldn't remember, and even about the voice that I had heard. She neither stared at me funny nor laughed mockingly as anyone else would have done, but instead listened patiently.
When I was done she asked, "Anything else?"
"A lot else!" I took the backpack off my shoulders and tossed it to her. Catching it by the shoulder strap, she unzipped it and peered inside. Lola quickly found the item of obvious importance, and fished it out by the handle, being careful not to touch its sharp end.
Her hazel eyes brightened at the shiny metal of the dagger, and the symbols engraved on the sides. She smoothed her fingers over them, studying it with curiosity and perplexity, both feelings she could never rid herself of, even if she wanted to.
From the open window, a cool breeze blew in, and radiant sunlight reflected off the metal dagger, and miraculously, shining the unknown hieroglyphic symbols on the left wall of the bedroom.
We both stared at this, eyes wide with astonishment. This was impossible. It was as if the blade put off a light of its own and cast it with crystal clarity on the wall. We could make out every symbol and if we could read this strange language it would be easy to read the words it bared. It seemed to convey something very important that was just on the brink of my understanding. Something told me I had seen it before, sometime, somewhere, but its origin eluded me the more I wondered about it.
"Amazing." Lola whispered, standing up and walking into a direct ray of sunshine, causing the dagger to light up much brighter than before.
Finally she put it down on her dresser, and turned toward me again. "So, you don't remember how you got in there, or how this got in that bag?"
I shook my head.
"Are you sure the thing you saw just wasn't a big heap of cobwebs?"
"Made to shape like an insect?"
"Spiders don't make things like that, Lola."
"And they don't call out your name either."
"Maybe you breathed some kind of chemical fuel, that made you hallucinate."
"In a subway?" I raised an eyebrow.
"Probably not." Lola stole a glance at the dagger sitting on her dresser as if expecting it to come to life and slash away at us like a ghostly pirate's sword at any given moment.
"Do you think jerk-face Dustin was playing tricks on you?" she suggested.
"That was not Dustin." I admonished. "And I didn't tell you the scariest part. I kept hearing wing beats, and these really weird vocals too. Trilling, like some animal...but not any animal we know of. This thing was having a great time scaring me, I'm sure of that."
"Maybe it wasn't." Lola speculated. "Maybe it was like Samelio."
Lola's street and the location where her house is was built on the property where an enormous Opera house once stood. In all its musical glory, there was also a tragedy. 200 years ago a talented Opera singer named Samelio Pavinnico fell to his death off a balcony, when his jealous brother pushed him. Soon after, his brother went on to fame and fortune with no one to stand in his way.
Samelio's ghost haunts Lola's home, tethered to this world by sadness and horror at his life ending so tragically by someone he thought cared about him. She often is woken up by his mournful singing in the depths of her cellar. She has seen Samelio many times, and doesn't fear him. Lola's mom and dad have seen and heard him too and find his songs to be haunting and beautiful. He is actually a sweet and gentle soul, but fears what would happen if he moves on.
"At first I thought he was terrifying, because, you know, there was a dead guy in my cellar." Lola explained about Samelio. "But then I saw how sad he was. He doesn't want to hurt anybody, but now that I understand him he isn't so scary. Maybe what you saw is like that. Maybe the creature is just misunderstood."
"It sucked the blood out of a poor defenseless rat." I said, not believing that the thing I heard in the subway was benevolent in the least.
Lola grimaced, but said, “well, I thought you didn't like rats.”
"It was like an insect. A huge insect, but it was only the skin, the exoskeleton that I saw. I'm pretty sure it left it behind." I looked over at the dagger again, wondering why that it was now in my possession.
"So we are being invaded by giant bugs." she giggled. "So what? We should just call the FBI or something. Where are Mulder and Skully when you need them?"
I laughed too, because it was ironic that my life sometimes seemed like a big X file. "Whatever it was, it liked playing games, and I'm pretty sure it is still watching."
Lola rolled her eyes, a hint of fear spreading over them which I noticed she struggled to conceal. "Well, now you've led it to my house."
"You could be right about it. It could still be like Samelio."
"Now you say that?"
"No, I'm just hoping."
Her grin faded slightly. "Me too."
After a short pause, her smile faded entirely, and she pointed at my right hand, which was folded in my lap. "Wendy? Please tell me that is a cat scratch."
I looked where she was gesturing, just remembering the painless wound that I had only briefly paid attention to upon awakening in the subway. It still looked nasty, colored a pale pinkish red, slightly swollen from its exposure to the cold weather. I poked it and still felt not even the slightest pain. "Oh...yeah...." I murmured. "That."
Lola stood up from the bed and walked towards me to get a better look at the scar. "It kind of looks like a cat scratch, but more like a burn wound. I saw this picture once of someone who got burned by acid, and it resembles this a little."
Disturbed even further, I rasped, "Acid? How could I have touched acid? That just doesn't make any sense."
"What does anymore?" Lola said with a shrug, her eyes still focused on the scar with increasing intensity. "Maybe the bug touched you or something."
"Great." I moaned, "Just wonderful."
"Are you sure it doesn't hurt?"
"Yeah, not at all. It just looks terrible. I don't like it at all."