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Are you sure we should do this?” She asked, her voice shaking, making her seem even more timid. Stories never ended well, not when they started with doubt, but it was too late to turn back now.
“Trust me.” I said, smiling, “I know exactly what I am doing.” I squeezed her hand, trying to make her less jumpy. Maybe I wasn’t completely lying; maybe I knew what I was doing. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was wondering if he did.
Xavier Nightingale. Even as a guy, I could admit that he was good looking. But it was more than that. There was something inside of Xavier Nightingale that the rest of us didn’t have: a light so bright that it shone through his skin, the warmth consuming the space around him. If you didn’t have it, all you wanted to do was cling to someone who did. I never even knew that light existed. Not until Xavier Nightingale waltzed into town.
Both Jen and me, I think our lives could be divided into the time before we met him (which is a time that seems like a dream, another life that hardly mattered) and the time after, which means everything.
We did not choose to follow him, he chose us. That is what made it so hard to leave. This being, who seemed more demigod than mere mortal, could have wasted his time with any old sap off the street, but no. He picked you. And who can resist a guy with a name like that?
Now, you are thinking I am crazy. That I have some sort of love for this man. Well, maybe I do. Don’t get all high and mighty on me, you never met Xavier Nightingale. You never saw that light.
I can see it now, bright as day, as me and Jen follow him deeper into the woods. He doesn’t walk. He goddamn glides between the trees. I’m telling you, he can’t be part of this world.
I should hate Xavier Nightingale. I really should. Jen and I used to have this thing, I was crazy about her. But that ended with him entering our lives. You see, I am just an average-looking guy with a boring name. Nothing special about me. I used to think Xavier loved Jen and me the same. Then I found out that he loved Jen in a way he couldn’t love me, if you know what I am saying. Still, I couldn’t hate him. Not with the way he talks to you as if you are the most important being that the dear Lord made the time to create. Not with all that light.
My shoe steps deeper into the dirt, squishing it down. It had rained recently, you could still smell it in the air. Well, you could if you were me. Hell, you know what I mean.
"Are we almost there?" I asked. Not that I wasn't all for walking around the middle of nowhere at midnight.
"Patient." Xavier Nightingale said, not a hint of annoyance in that voice. He even smiled at me. "We are almost there."
Jen had dropped my hand once Xavier looked back, as if touching me was breaking the damn law. It isn't like I knew her for seven years or anything.
I keep following Xavier Nightingale. It's almost habit now, I am not even sure if I can stop following him. I don't even know if there is one person in the entire world who I care about more. After what seems like ten minutes, but I was never good at keeping time, Xavier Nightingale stops so suddenly I near hit his back.
"This is it. Right here." He tells me. His voice is high and exciting, like a little kid. If you heard it, I bet you would fall in love with him right there and then.
Jen and I don't answer, he explained enough for us to know to join him on a circle, asses flat against the dirt. I didn't know what would happen though. Or if anything would happen. Still, I believed. Xavier Nightindale was not the kind of person you could catch lying. Hell, if he flat out told me he lied to me, I'd think it the first fib he told in his life.
He grabs a handful of candles and starts sticking them in the dirt, connecting the spaces between us. Jen and I start lighting them. I burn my finger about two or so times, but I don't stop. Not with Xavier Nightingale depending on me.
What he told me about tonight was simple. "This isn't the only world, you know." He had said, "there is another world. One of spirits, we are going to open a door to it, peek inside." The way that he talked about this spirit world, it made it seem like he spent his whole life waiting for the door to open. Wanting to accomplish it. How could I not help him out?
I know what you are thinking. That I don't need to help any guy who got into the one girl I loved's pants in five minutes, even though I failed at it for three years. But I did have to help him. I don't know why. Every damn inch of my mind pushes me toward him. Xavier Nightingale is not just any guy.
His face lit by dancing flames, I notice that his eyes are closed and his lips are moving. Xavier Nightingale is chanting in a tongue that I don't understand. At first, I couldn't hear it, but his voice began to crescendo until it took over all my senses and the only thing I heard was him.
The temperature dropped in a heartbeat. All those fine hairs on the back of my neck snapped up. I had to actually prevent myself from shivering. The wind even seemed to pick up. It forcefully swirled around us like it wanted to make a full blown tornado. Never seen anything like it. Not in all of my life. Leaves and twigs attacked our faces, but Xavier Nightingale did not even stop for breath.
I had the feeling that something bad was going to happen. Not kinda bad, or oops-I-looked-like-a-tool-bad. Not even the-two-people-I-care-about-most-were-screwing-behind-my-back-bad. I am talking full out, s*** hitting the fan, end of humanity bad.
"We should stop." I found myself saying. "Something's wrong." It took all of my power to go against what Xavier Nightingale wanted, and he did not hear a word of it. I could barely hear myself think, the wind was so strong, his chanting so hypnotic it rang across the winds and through the air, vibrating into the dirt.
Maybe nothing was wrong with what was happening. Maybe I was the problem. I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment, trying to collect myself.
I shouldn't have opened them.
A swirling portal had opened in the ground on front of us. I'm not kidding. A goddamn black whirlpool on the ground, spinning and churning and making me feel ready to puke. This wasn't good.
"Stop!" I screamed, "STOP!" I didn't care if I was being a girl, I was damn near wetting my pants and going into cardiac arrest all at once.
Open a door to another world. Yeah, sounds fine and dandy until you realize a door is two ways.
Now comes the really damn insane part, but all of it is true. True is my love for Xavier Nightingale. True as my hate for him.
A hand reaches out of the portal, grabbing onto the dirt less that a foot from my leg, its long claws dragging into it. BAM! Up comes the other hand, and it starts pulling itself up.
I thought I might have been dreaming, or high, or just damn crazy. But it was too real. Even Xavier Nightingale stopped the chanting. The fearless Xavier Nightingale. Did he realize what he did?
I've had some pretty scary ass nightmares, but none of them could come even close to the one forming in front of me. Horns, teeth the size of steak knives, eyes that must be smaller versions of black holes.
He might have stopped chanting, but it was too damn late.
The creature grabbed Jen before I could even finish snapping up and hauling my ass farther away. Jen screams in its hand, struggling to get out. I scream for Xavier Nightingale to do something, but he looks just as helpless as I feel.
For the first time since I met him, I realized that Xavier Nightingale was no better than the rest of us.
The creature squeezed its claws around Jen, impaling them into her stomach. Blood oozed our of her mouth as she choked, a gush of it raining to the ground. I could only watch in horror, struggle to keep my lunch down. This girl, with the claws tearing through her limp body, she was my first kiss, my best friend...now she was reduced to little more than a corpse. The creature bit down on her head, tearing it off like a rag doll in one simple pull. Pieces of her neck and throat hung from its mouth as it chewed. I felt like I was choking on air, and I fell to the ground, heaving up everything that was in me.
Moving from my immense vomit puddle, I looked up long enough to see Xavier Nightingale, running. Leaving me behind to suffer a fate like Jen. He didn't even look back. Through my now broken heart, I looked up long enough to see more hands coming up from the whirlpool. I looked up long enough to see my oncoming death.
I could only think of Xavier Nightingale. His looks, his charm, his light. And how much I wanted to kill him.
If you ever come across someone who seems like they have this light in them, shining out so brightly you can't help but crave it...if you ever meet a Xavier Nightingale, you hold onto your heart tight and you goddamn run.