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One of Them
Author's note: I'm writing this with my best friend, SoffyWaffles17. We started this about eight months ago, when we were writing contest entries for the Hunger Games Premiere Contest, and we put ideas together and came up with this. I put this up a couple months ago, but then took it down. Hope you guys like the new and improved version!
Lucas squinted into a pair of night vision goggles. He could see the girl, admiring herself in her mirror in her room. She was dressed in a Halloween costume, of all things. She cocks her head, obviously displeased with something. Closing her eyes, she brings her hand up to her face, bringing with it a dense bronze fog, which encircles her face. After a moment, she waves the fog away, and it fades away, and a checkered mask is left in its wake. Finally satisfied, she grabs a handbag from her bedspread, and leaves the room, shutting the door behind her. Lucas sighs. Such a trivial use of essence. Obviously, she doesn’t know what was coming her way.
Soon, her world would be much different.
Seems so simple, Lucas thinks, to kill the girl and just be done with it all.
“Are you sure it’s her?” Mr. Goodman asks, interrupting his thinking. Lucas nods. If he was wrong- he could be dead by morning. And even his father would help. Lucas knew just how much was riding on this assignment. Because it wasn’t just an assignment. It was an assignment that could finally end the Supoili- once and for all. He’d spent his entire life, hunting them, hating them. He wanted to be one of the main instruments in creating their downfall. Even if he was partly one of them. He hated them more for it. The race that made him a freak- a monster. He would never be just a human hunter, or just one of them. He was a monstrosity living in both worlds.
“Good, good. Finally, after twelve years, I can finish what I started. The girl turns seventeen in a week and a half. We need to kill her before then- before her powers strengthen.”
Lucas agreed with him- what else could he do? He was going to capture the girl, and deliver her to her death. He was finally going to get back at the people who made him different. And he didn’t feel one bit bad about it.
In fact, he didn’t feel anything at all.
Or so he thought.
He peered through the window of the living room, where the girl was now, and froze. That can’t be-
“Wow, Lizzie! You look great!” Mom proclaims as I walk into the living room in my sparkly purple dress, silver heels, and black clutch, with my long light brown-almost blonde hair curled around my midsection. I also have a recently acquired half-face mask on. I smile at her compliment, revealing my perfectly straight white teeth.
I had spent hours before picking out my outfit. I mean, just because it’s a little Halloween dance doesn’t mean I can’t dress up nice for it. I don’t know about other people, but in my little town, Shatbury Falls, what are the definitions of ‘little dance’ for some people are actually a big thing for my high school, Shatbury High.
“Thanks,” I reply, twirling.
“Whoa, Lizzie! I love your dress!” Dad exclaims, popping a grape into his mouth, coming into the living room from the kitchen.
“Yeah, Lizzies so cute. Lizzie's this. Lizzie’s that. I remember going to the Halloween dance. It sucks. It’s no fun. You walk around in a foggy gym, drink punch, and eat nasty bat-shaped cookies. And the music’s not all that great.” my older sister Sarah says, lying on the couch, her thick, white socks propped up in the air.
“Be quiet, Sarah. Your sister is going to have a great time with her friends, and maybe even with a boy.” Mom says, jutting out her hip and bumping it into mine. I giggle.
“I am going to have a great time with my friends, but I’m not sure about a boy,” I say, with a weak smile.
“Oh, yes you will honey, because you will make boys go bonkers,” she grabs a scarf off the rack and flings it around my neck. “You look beautiful.”
“Thank you, Mom.”
“You’re very welcome. Now, come on. You don’t want to be late, do you?” I shake my head. Mom kisses me on the cheek, I say goodbye, and Dad leads me outside. The stars were just starting to come out, and the air was cold and misty. It was a perfect night for Halloween.
Perfect night for monsters, too, I think to myself.
My friends show up a moment later, Macy’s stereo blaring her crazy heavy metal music, the current band of her interest, playing on loop, which, strangely, went with her car, which was decorated with fake spider webs and spiders, witch’s hats, and broomsticks.
I quickly kiss Dad’s stubbly cheek, and fled to my slightly strange friends.
I pull on my black tuxedo jacket, and get ready to leave.
“Bye, Kat,” I say to my twelve-year old sister.
“Bye, Beck! Have fun with your girlfriend! Oh, wait, you don’t have one!” she teases. I walk over and start to tickle her.
“That’s right. I don’t have a girlfriend.” I say good-naturedly. Unfortunately. I walk out the front door that I recently painted this summer, leaving Kat laughing in front of the TV watching SpongeBob. I get onto the street, going at a brisk walk, and wish for the millionth time that Mom would let me borrow her car.
“Cause, you know, it’s not like I’m almost seventeen and a half, got my license a year and a half ago, and I have a job to get to, you know, cause that would be just crazy!” I mutter sarcastically to myself.
Okay, okay, maybe Mom doesn’t know about the job, but still! I put my hands in my slack’s pockets, watching my breath as it came out my nose, fogging up the air in little white circles.
“Yo, Beck! Come ‘ere!” says a voice coming from the alley to my left.
I see bright blonde hair, blue eyes, a neon pink T-shirt, and white jeans, a gothic overcoat hanging off his shoulders.
Lucas. Great. Just what I need.
I hobbled over and let my eyes adjust to the darkness of the hidden street.
“What?” I ask impatiently.
“You know what to do, right?”
“The girl. Look, there she is.” He points to a group of fairly pretty girls driving in a crazy looking Halloween-decorated car. Instantly, I know which girl he’s talking about. Lizzie. The really, really beautiful one that I was best friends with until eighth grade, when I joined the Order. I haven’t talked to her since. She hasn’t talked to me. It was strange. I guess that I turned quieter, became a little weird. But that was also around the time she became kind of distant with everyone besides her closest friends. Lucas continues his speech, oblivious to my wandering thoughts.
“She looks so innocent with her friends, laughing, talking. But she’s guilty. I know it. And you need to bring her to us.”
“To headquarters?” I say incredulously, shifting my weight from foot to foot to keep warm. He looks at me like I had just grown a second head.
“No! Are you crazy? Bring her here. To this specific alley. Alright? Do you understand me?”
“But- but- why her? She didn’t do anything.”
“She- ugh! Don’t you ever listen? We have evidence that she might be one of them.”
“One of whom? And what evidence?”
“You’re a dumbass! She is one of the creatures who are trying to wipe out humans. Kill us. All of us. And I can’t tell you what evidence. It’s top secret. ”
“There is absolutely no way that she is one of them! She is completely innocent!”
“We’ll find that out tonight. Now go. They’re gone.” he says.
Wow.…. It took you that long to figure that out? I thought silently to myself. Lucas melts into the shadows, and I slowly walk away.
I shove my hands in my pockets. That’s… not right, on so many levels. Lizzie’s not Supoili. There is absolutely no freaking way that is possible.
And… something was off with Lucas tonight. I get the “They are trying to kill us, they aren’t safe, blah, blah, blah” speech all the time, but tonight… something’s different. He lacks… conviction. Like he isn’t as enthusiastic. Lucas is no cheerleader, don’t get me wrong, but usually he sounds more convincing. But, I mean, maybe that’s all just in my head.
I pull out my iPhone and check the time. 7:51. I pick up my pace, and soon, I’m running.
“Here we are, Liz. C’mon. You look great!” Macy yells. Sophie and Bailey pull me in through the curtains and into the gym. I laugh and we all rush to the dance floor as fast as we can in our heels.
I'm holding Macys hands and am dancing/jumping when I see a guy come in through the flimsy black curtains. I stare at him because he seems so familiar. He locks his brown eyes with my blue ones for a moment, and then he breaks our gaze, and walks away.
Macy, curiously, looks from me to him.
“Who’s that, Liz?” she asks. I then remember just who that guy was. Memories flood through me. Beck. Beck Mazly. How I could have forgotten him is beyond me. He was my best friend until eighth grade. We had done everything together. And then, I guess, we just grew apart.
Okay, that’s not true. I pushed him away. I had to. It was either that, or have him killed. I didn’t want him to die, so I separated myself. He was too close to me. He would have found out eventually, and he’s human. Humans can’t know about who I am. Whenever they do- people die.
“Just an old friend,” I tell her. She shrugs. Obviously, she doesn’t recognize him. He does look a lot different, I’ll give her that. I shake my head, and we get back to the floor, and all thoughts of seriousness and Beck and Supoili disappear as I lose myself in the intoxicating, pulsing beat of the music.
Once we all get tired, we walk over to the spider web covered snack table. I pick up a bat-shaped sugar cookie (like Sarah said there would be) and a paper cup full of blood-red fruit punch. I bite delicately into the cookie. Well, as delicately as possible when you are wearing fishnet gloves and heavy lipstick. I’m in a better mood, but I can’t shake off the feeling that something bad is going to happen. I look at Macy, and she is staring at me openly with a distinct puzzled expression on her face. Her eyes glow a little, the iris tinted gold. I point to her eyes, and she whips a pair of contacts, and she pops them in, turning her eyes violet.
“Really? Is violet much better?” I say sarcastically. She shrugs.
“That way if people ask, I can tell them they are contacts and show them. DUH.” I roll my eyes at her.
“So, who was he really, Ms. Avoiding-The-Topic?”” Macy asks while popping a piece of butter soaked popcorn into her glossy lipped mouth. I take a sip of the punch, delaying my answer for as long as possible.
“I told you. Just an old friend,”
“Just an old friend, eh? Those looks told me otherwise...” she trails off, pausing a second.
“Wait. A. Mother. Duckling. Second. Dark blonde hair, brown eyes, tall, lanky-,” she counts the factors off her fingers. “Is this a certain…. Beck Mazly?” she says. She’s finally put the pieces together. Unfortunately.
“Yes,” I sigh, leaning against a wall.
“Oh, crap, dude! Weren’t you in love with him, since, like, birth? And then the mentor-ator made you stop seeing him? Oh, tough cookies, man! I feel for you, especially now that he’s looking so fine now. He doesn’t look like a nerd anymore!” she giggles. I blush.
“Shut UP, Macy! That time is well behind me, you know that. Even if I was allowed to talk to him, that wouldn’t be the case. I haven’t talked to him in like four years. You can’t stay in love with someone when you go through that!”
“Don’t blush! He’s a-looking!” Bailey announces, which made me blush even more. I could feel a hot gaze on me, probably his. I whip my head to the side, oh so not subtle, and look over my shoulder. I see Beck staring at me again. He quickly looks away.
“Oh, yeah... He’s also in my English… and Science… and History classes.” I remember sheepishly, feeling stupid for not thinking about it.
“He is in three of your classes, and you don’t recognize him until now?” Sophie asks me, sounding surprised.
“Well, he’s quiet. Keeps to himself,” I shrug.
“Oh. Well that’s unfortunate. Anyways, changing the subject, want to dance again?” I shake my head. “Want to eat another cookie?”
“Hell to the no. They taste like cardboard dipped in tie-dyed sugar!” I shudder in disgust.
“Want to ask Beck over there if he wants to dance?” Macy suggests innocently.
“No! You know I can’t!” I say, putting my hand on Macy’s arm.
“Why not? He can’t keep his eyes off you!” Bailey says.
“You know very well why I can’t!” I tell her stiffly.
“It’s true,” Sophie adds. I shoot her my death glare, and she cowers.
“Ohhh, look who is coming over here!” Macy whispers squeakily. Macy, Sophie, and Bailey all grab something from the table, and walk away.
“Wha-” I start, seething. I can’t do this right now! The Elders on the Council would kill me if they found out I reestablished contact with Beck! Plus, my mentor would bring me back to life and strangle me to death again!
“Hi,” says a voice from behind me. I whirl around.
“Hi” I return, scratching the edge of the ruffled, old, orange table cloth, avoiding eye contact. Maybe if I show disinterest, he will leave.
“Like the dance?”
“Yeah. It’s good I guess. You?”
“It’s alright. I mean, some stuff is a little overdone.”
“Totally…Hey, do you…want to dance with me?” he says shyly. Oh, no. I can’t! Well…… and then an idea pops into my head. Maybe if I dance with him once, he will go away.
“Oh, uh, sure.” I say. He grabs my hand, and pulls me onto the dance floor. A slow song starts, and I inwardly groan. He might start to talk about what happened in the eighth grade! THIS IS NOT GOOD. I can't tell him what REALLY happened; that I was given the choice of never seeing him again, or him being killed. Hell, I shouldn't be looking at him! He was too close- he would have found out eventually what I am, and humans can't know. Whenever they do- people die. I can't encourage him into thinking that I want to reestablish contact. Please, PLEASE, let him not speak of the eighth grade.......
No. I shake my head. I can have this one night- it's not fair I had to give up my best friend in the entire world. So I WILL have tonight.
So, once again, I lose myself in the music. But I lose myself in the arms of the one I was supposed to forget.
Once we had danced for quite a bit of time, we stop and sit down at a table with a red velvet table cloth and cheap plastic flowers for a centerpiece.
“Beck, you’re in some of my classes, right?”
“Yeah, three actually…..So, um…..”
“Yeah. There isn’t really anything to talk about, is there?” Beck opens his mouth to say something, but nothing came out and he closes it.
He was looking behind me. I look over my shoulder and find Drew, a senior, practically standing over me.
“Hello, Princess.” he greets.
“It’s Lizzie, actually, and hello to you too,” I greeted back, but not as polite as he said it. What’s up with the quarterback calling me princess?
“How are things?”
“Things are good,” I glance at Beck. Drew flicks his eyes from me to him.
“So, I see, you are with Beckett,”
“It’s actually just Beck,” Becks states, running a hand through his short, dark blonde hair.
“Oh. Um, Princess, can I talk to you? Alone?"
"Um, now is not the best time. Maybe later....?"
"Um, ok. Well, I’ll see you later then, Princess?” Drew says awkwardly. I don’t bother to correct him this time. Honestly, what’s the deal with this dude?
And ending with that, Drew walks away.
“Princess?” Beck asks. I shrug. Who knows?
It’s silent until my cell phone rings. I pull it out of my clutch. Mom. I press ‘Accept’.
“Hullo?” I answer, positioning a loose dirty blonde ringlet behind my ear.
“Oh, Liz, sweetie. Glad you answered. Uh. You need to go home. Now.” Mom says urgently.
“Wh- why? What’s wrong?”
“Um, your father fell down the stairs. He- we think he might’ve broken his back. We are on the way to the hospital right now. Sarah’s at the house waiting for you,”
“Oh my God. Is he…..alright…ish?”
“Well, he’ll live. Let’s just leave it at that.” My eyes widen. “Wait- I just made it sound really bad. Didn’t I?”
“Um, just a bit?”
“He’s…….. okay-ish. Hear him?” Mom holds the phone out, and I can hear Dad groaning and moaning in the background. I wince when he cries out in pain.
“Wow. Okay. I’ll go,”
“Love you, too,” I pressed ‘End Call’. Yay. A perfect end to a perfect night.
“Okay. Sorry, Beck. But, I have to go.”
“What? Why? Is something wrong?”
“My Dad fell down the stairs. Potentially broke his back. Not good stuff,”
“Oh. Uh. I’ll take you home,”
“You have a car?” I ask hopefully.
“No…… but I can… run you home, I guess.”
“Okay…Come on then.” I pull off my high heels, and we start for the curtain, and go into the fairly full parking lot. I started to run, Beck close behind me.
Wow, I think, he must be really fast to keep up with me. No one can keep up with me.
We race down the sidewalk. Once we ran out of breath, we were only a block away from my house. We take deep breaths the fill our contracting lungs. When we did, and could fully function and talk without wheezing, I gently take Beck’s hand. I pull him behind me, down the dark, lonely street, only lightened by the flickering, yellow street lamps.
Beck and I reach my house seconds later.
“Bye,” I say.
“Bye. I hope your dad is going to be okay.”
“Thanks. And…. I had a great time tonight. Thank you.”
“No problem. Maybe we could do it again sometime.”
“Yeah. Definitely.” Breaking every rule concerning Beck since I was thirteen, I kiss him on the cheek then, quickly. “It was nice to hang out with you again.” I open the door and rush inside. I slam the door shut, and lean against it. I drop my high heels on the floor, and rub my aching soles.
“Hey! You’re late! Go get some regular clothes on!” Sarah yells at me. I leap onto the stairs. On the third step, I scream.
“Oh, yeah. I meant to clean that up. Just walk around it,” Sarah calls down from the top of the stairs. Blood. It was a big, blotchy puddle of blood on the white-carpeted staircase. I tiptoe around it carefully, and skip two stairs the rest of the way.
This would have been a problem if Sophie were here, with her…..issues.
When I get to the top, I speed to my room. I throw my scarf and my bag on my blue and grey checkered bedspread. Then, I undress and go to my closet, pulling out a magenta colored long sleeve and some dark wash skinny jeans. I slip it all on, plus some mismatched socks and black Vans. I grab my bag and pull my phone out, sliding it into my back jeans pocket. I run down the stairs, making sure to avoid the blood spot.
Sarah was already at the door waiting. I snatch a blue denim jacket from the brass hook by the door, and a navy blue, floral, thin, wispy scarf with little roses on it the color of my shirt. Sarah opens the door impatiently, and we rush out the door. Beck’s sitting on the porch, and when he see’s me, he stands up.
“Hey. I never got your number.” Beck exclaims.
“Oh, uh. Don’t you have it already have it? You know, from eighth grade?” I ask him. He shakes his head.
“I kinda…. lost it,” I shrug, and take his phone. I reluctantly enter my phone number in his, and then hand it back to him. I check my phone. Nope. His number’s still there, after four years.
“Come on, Elizabeth Tara Balea. We don’t have all night!” Sarah says.
“Bye, Beck!” I say getting into the car.
“Bye!” he returns. He puts his hands in his pockets, and slowly walks away, gradually disappearing into the darkness.
“You know, Lizzie, if I wasn’t already dating Danny, that dude would be at the top of my list. He is smoking!” Sarah says as she puts her seat belt on. I stare at her in shock, and she starts to laugh. I punch her shoulder, shaking my head.
What have I done?
I walk down the street to get home.
“Dude,” Lucas says exasperatedly, suddenly falling into step with me.
Ya know, I’m probably never gonna get used to him just appearing like that, I think.
“What?” I shrug my shoulders.
“Um. What was that?”
“That-was-called-a-shrug,” I say very slowly, shrugging to emphasize my point.
“No! I mean- about the girl. You. Did. Not. Bring. Her. To. Me!” he says, slightly snarling.
“So? Her dad is in the hospital. She had to go.”
“And you took her home. You were so close to the alley, and I bet you didn’t think once about bringing her there.”
“Correctamundo,” I say in a Yoda-like voice, putting some humor in the situation. Lucas didn’t buy into it.
“Beck, I swear. You need to step up your game. You need to be better at your job, or you’re fired.”
“I am good at this job! I’m one of the Seven, and you know it! But please- put me on a different case. I’m begging you,”
“No reason to beg, Beck. Either you do this or you’re fired. Case closed. Bring her to me. You have ten minutes.”
Lucas turns and walks away angrily. I watch his shoulders bounce with every breath he takes.
After watching Lucas until he disappeared into the depths of the cool, dark night, I continue my walk home. Lucas wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t fire me. I’m pretty much his best friend! I decide not to get Lizzie. She is dealing with enough at the moment. Lucas will cool off. Eventually. He always does.
It wasn’t long of a walk until I got home, which made me realize just how close I lived to Lizzie.
I strode into the house, and I put some well worn jeans and a black Dirty Projectors T-shirt on. I walk back into the living room and find Kat snoring soundly on the leather couch. I sit down next to her, careful not to disturb Kat’s sleep, and I go channel surfing. Mom comes into the room, and sits down next to me.
“Hey, Beck. You’re back early.” Mom says coolly. Oh, Beck, great to see you!
“Am I?” Thanks! Great to see you too!
“Yeah. Was it…….okay?” How did it go? Did you have a fun time? Meet a girl?
“Yeah. I guess,” Yes, I had a fun time. Yeah, I did meet a girl. Lizzie? Remember her? We danced, and had a bunch of fun.
“Well, dinner’s in the kitchen… if you want some. You can heat it up in the microwave. And could you carry Kat up to bed for me? That would be great. Thanks.” I nod, and pick my little sister up. I carry her to her pink room and lay her down. I pull her blankets up to her chin before her eyes flutter open sleepily.
“How was it?” she asks, shifting to a comfortable position.
“It was good.”
“Tell you what?” I say, confused.
“How it went. Details, bro. I need details,” I sigh, and sit down on the edge of her bed.
“Okay. For starters, I got there. And I hung out with my friends for a while. Then, I walked over to the snack table and asked my old friend, Lizzie to dance. Remember her?” Kat suddenly shots upright, and stares at me, a little creepily. Green eyes wide, brown hair a fuzzy mess. She looked like a troll, but of course I didn’t tell her that.
“That’s what I wanted to hear!” she says. “Good pick, too. Lizzie’s pretty,” I laugh. She giggles also.
“And then we danced for quite some time. After, we sat down at a table and talked a bit. Then her mom called, and she had to go home, cause her dad fell and got hurt. Finally, I ran her home.”
“You ‘ran’ her home?”
“Yes, exactly. In the end, it all turned out great. I had a good time, she had a good time. Everyone had a good time. Except the whole ‘dad falling part’” I lay back on the pillows.
“Did you kiss her?”
“Kat!” I protest.
“What? Did you?” I sigh.
“Only on the cheek,”
“That’s all I wanted to know. Now, get out. I’m tired. Love ya, Beck.”
“Love ya, too, Kat. Goodnight.” I left the room, turning off the lamp and closing the door on the way out. I walk into the kitchen to see the ‘dinner’ Mom said would be there. There was cold mashed potatoes, cool red steak, and wilted salad. I grab it all and put into the sink. I don’t think it’s safe to eat.
Instead, I grab a bag of organic chips, and go into my blue-and-black painted room. I flip my TV on, and pull my cell phone out. I watch the TV for a while, and when it goes to commercial, I send a text to Lizzie, and check the time. It’s 11:25. My ten minutes with Lucas ended, like, an hour ago.
Me: Hey, Liz. How’s ur dad doin’?
Lizzie: Good, I gess. Cud be better.
Me: Sounds kinda bad.
Lizzie: It is. I need to get out of here. The smell is making me sick.
Me: Well, were do u wanna go?
Lizzie: How bout Denny’s?
Lizzie: See u there in bout 10 minutes.
After texting Beck, I run into the hospital room and tell Mom that I was heading out for a bit to get some air. She says sure, that it would be good to have time to ‘chill’. Her words, not mine.
I rush outside, happy to be able to finally get out of there. I still don’t know what I’m doing. Why? WHY? Why am I letting this escalate?
I took my time as I walked to Denny’s, until I got a text from Beck, saying “When r u gonna be here?” I check the time. 12:01. Past midnight by a minute. Then, to text Beck back, I look at the last text I sent him. I sent it at 11:30.
Oops. I told Beck that I’d be at Denny’s in ten minutes. And that was thirty- no; wait- thirty one minutes ago. I pick up my pace to a partial sprint, and when I finally reach Denny’s, no one was in sight.
The red lights on the window blink Open 24/7. I march inside, hands in my pockets. I read a sign that says, Please Wait to Be Seated. I wait to be seated.
While I’m waiting, I check my phone again, for any texts that I might have missed. I even poke my head outside, but the only thing I see is the lonely gray sidewalk and the occasional passing car.
Finally, after a while, when I come back inside, a heavyset older lady waitress with white hair asks me, “Table for one?”
“I guess so,” I reply.
But she leads me to a booth anyways.
White Hair walks away, and another, younger looking lady comes over, a three year old hanging on her leg.
“What would you like sweetie?” she asks in that voice that tells you that she’s nice, but too tired to really care at this point. I think for a second. Should I wait? Beck’s not here yet, obviously. I decide to just get a drink for now.
“Just a hot chocolate for now, with extra whipped cream,” I tell her. I wait a bit while she gets my drink. When she comes back ten minutes later with my hot chocolate, Beck is still a no show. Maybe it’s for the best, but…. despite myself, I still wanted to see him.
So where is he?
“I need you to explain to me. You orders were clear. Ten minutes, this alley. WHY didn’t you bring her to me, like I asked?! Damn it, Beck! Why can’t you just follow orders?” Lucas asks me angrily. I sigh. I don’t want to lose my job, but I just know that Lizzie’s innocent, that she isn’t one of them.
“She isn’t one of them, I’m telling you! She’s too kind.” I insist, and then Lucas’s face takes on an angry expression.
“I don’t care what you think!” Lucas nearly screams. “I will interrogate her, I will decide if she is one of them, and I will terminate her if she is. No questions asked!” His face is now an angry tomato color, which clashes horribly with his T-Shirt, and I’m afraid his head just might explode. He takes a menacing step closer, right up in my face, and stares me in the eye.
“If you don’t bring her to me, I will get her.” he threatens. “And if she’s not one of them, I will use the memory stick and ship her away from Oregon. So we can do this two ways. The easy way, or the hard way. If you don’t bring her to me by one, you’re fired. And then I’ll use the memory stick on you.” My face pales, and with that, Lucas disappears into the shadows. Great. I really made him mad now. And if I got fired now, they would just use Kat, and if she became an agent, she’d die in the first few days. I mean, Kat’s a tough little ten-year-old, but she is no match for, like, a werewulv, or a troll, or something. I sigh again and head to Denny’s.
As I take last my last sip of cocoa with no one sitting across from me (like Beck), I stand and go to the doors. It was for the best. I’m in way over my head. I shouldn’t be doing this, anyways.
“Sweetie! Sweetheart!” someone yells. “You forgot to pay!”
I smack my forehead and spin around. “Sorry,” I say, “I didn’t mean to. I just-“
“Mm-hum!” White Hair says.
Fine, I thought, be that way. One second she was calling me sweetheart, and the next she’s acting like I’m some snooty teen.
Well, mm-hum to you too!
I pull out some money from my pocket and hand it to White Hair. I turn and walk out the doors. I walk quickly down the sidewalk because the first chill of winter is starting to set in, and already I can see my breath in the air. When I try to turn the corner, I have to stop in mid-step, almost running into someone.
“Hey,” he says.
I look down at my feet. “Hi,”
“What’s up?” he asks.
I sigh, a deep one layered with all kinds of bored-ness and weary-ness. “I was just waiting, for, you know, like an hour and a half.”
“Sorry about that. I-“
“No. You texted me at midnight asking where I was, when I should have been asking you that. Now it’s 1:15 and I’m leaving,” I say.
“Damn it. It’s 1:15?” I hear him whisper.
“Um, yeah,” I tell him, turning back to him.
“Lizzie, I need you to do something for me,”
“So let me get this straight. You want me to act like you kidnapped me? Like, legit kidnapping?” I ask. I get a cold feeling of dread. Why did I have to do this? What good, reasonable explanation did this all have? Something like this- it can’t be good.
“ Well, yes. Technically. But, I mean, no- I don’t know. I just need you to act all scared in the beginning-“
I cut him off.
“I need a very plausible explanation for all of this. Honestly, Beck. I don’t know if this is such a good idea.”
“Please, Liz. It’s for your own safety.”
“How in the world could this be for my safety?”
“Don’t you trust me?”
“No.” I say bluntly.
He looks hurt at this, and I somewhat start to feel bad.
I sigh. “Fine. But let me call my parents first.” Beck nods, and I pull out my phone. Sarah picks up.
“Hey, Liz. Where are ya?” she asks.
I reply, “I’m gonna be a little late tonight. I have to help a friend out.”
“Oh, come on, Lizzie. You’re my sister, I know you. What are you really doing?” she says accusingly.
“I really do have to help a friend out, Sarah.” I say, trying to be convincing. After all, I am telling the truth.
“If you say so. I wasn’t born yesterday, Princess.”
And ending with that, Sarah hangs up. I feel a bit puzzled. Princess? Sarah’s called me that before, but it’s not a term of endearment for her. Usually, whenever she calls me that, she quickly corrects herself. That’s so weird. Why do people keep calling me princess? And it’s not like they call me anything else. There is no ‘sweetie’, or ‘honeybunch’, or ‘angel’. Sure, Mom and Dad call me that, but nobody else does calls me anything besides ‘princess’. Come to think of it, Macy, Sophie, and Bailey have all called me that before, but when I ask them about they just say, ‘oh, I just meant to say something else.’ But, whatever.
I put my phone in my pocket and look at Beck.
I carry Lizzie, her head tipped back, acting like she was knocked out, to the alley.
“Lucas?” I whisper.
He comes out of the shadows. “Ah. How nice of you. Bring her unconscious.” he says sarcastically. I shrug it off, and then I set her down gently on the cool ground, legs first, then her head, oh so delicately. “So what do we do now?”
“Now, we have to wait until she wakes up. Thanks to you, no less.” he says.
I sit across from Lizzie, my back against the slightly grimy alley wall. Just another normal mission on yet another normal day in the Order. “Then let’s wait,”
“I’ll be right back. I need to get some equipment for the process of interrogation,” Lucas says, turning and walking back into the darkness. Equipment?
“How much longer?”
Her whisper is so quiet I’m not even sure I hear it. But I answer. “When he comes back, gasp and wake up……..or, not, actually. Get up and run. Now. This was a bad idea. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’ll pretend that you disabled me. Go! Now! You might get hurt. Call me when you are okay, got it?” I demand.
I help Lizzie up quickly and she runs. Hard. She almost has inhuman speed. I fall to the floor and clutch my stomach, pretending that she had just decked me after I see that she has made it around the corner. I groan to give a little more effect to my charade. I am a pretty good actor, if I do say so myself.
“Beck Mazly!” Lucas yells. I cringe a little, but still lay on the ground in mock pain.
“Yes?” I wheeze.
“Where is the Princess?” he booms, striding towards me.
“I don’t know. She suddenly just jumped up and punched me a good one in the stomach, and ran away.” I lie. He gets extremely close to me and points at me with a shaking finger at me.
“You better not lie to me right now. And I know you’re faking that you’re hurt,” he says quietly. “You do know that I can kill her anytime that I want, whether she is one of them or not?”
I blink at him. With what? How? “You’re just gonna walk up to her and commit homicide? That’d be nice in the newspaper. ‘Eighteen year old boy kills innocent high schooler’. I can see it in the papers now.”
“No. Not that way.”
At the blink of an eye, Lucas is gone. I wonder if he’s is going after her. I get up from the ground quickly, and then I hear her scream. I run immediately.
“Let me go,” I hear her scream at Lucas.
“Lucas, leave her alone,” I yell around the corner.
I can see her flail wildly against Lucas’s arms. Lucas looks down at her, sharp teeth that I never noticed before bared close to her neck.
“I’ll let you go this time, Princess,” He throws her to the ground.
I grab her and move her away quickly, shielding her with my body.
“Are you okay?” I ask. She nods. I check her neck to make sure that she really is okay. I look up to face Lucas and his strangely sharp teeth, but he is gone, to who knows where. I’m not sure where he went, but I am sure I just saw Lucas as something I thought he dedicated his life to ridding the world of, primarily killing them.
“Okay. ‘Fessing time! WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT!?” I scream at Beck.
He winces, like the words were a physical threat. “Um….a really good costume?” he offers. I give him a dark look. I know what’s happening; I just don’t want it to be true. And I have to keep up appearances, so I look like I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve lived with my secret for almost six years; why did it take them the Order this long? Wait. Is…….. Beck part of the Order?
“Okay, okay. So maybe that’s not it, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you,” he says. My blood runs cold. I remember what he said to that vampire in the alley. He……. he must be part of the Order. But why is a vamp working with the Order, anyways? And why is BECK working with the Order? Oh, God and hell, both DAMNIT! This explains everything! I can’t trust Beck. Not anymore. But I’m pretty sure he hasn’t figured out my secret yet. Why else would he have let me go? He thinks I’m human. So I have an advantage there. I feel a twinge of sadness. We were best friends! But we came from entirely different worlds. I need to harden my heart. The past is behind us. I can’t change the fact that the Order got their claws in Beck. But, tonight……… I don’t know what it was………… but despite me having to get away from Beck, and leaving him behind……. I think I’m falling back in love with the person charged with the task of killing me.
Once I bring Lizzie back to her house, I double check that she locks all the doors. I leave her house and hurry back to my own home. Then I think, Oh Shi– I’ve invited Lucas into my house before.
I hurry to my bedroom, but then see a light on in Kat’s room. I don’t think anything of it until I see a figure move besides her sleeping form. I carefully creep in under the cover of darkness. Her bed is bathed in shadows and I can't see much. Could I just have imagined the figure I saw next to her bed? I slink over to Kat's bed in a quick burst of motion. Hmmmmmmmm. No one. Maybe I'm just finally going crazy. I shrug my shoulders, and stroke Kat's hair for a second. She looks so happy, and peaceful.
I'm about to exit the room when I sense someone behind me. With a lightning fast motion, I snatch a pencil off of Kat's nightstand and whirl, stabbing my opponent, hoping to dear God that it's not Grandpa or Mom. Or, at least, try to stab. Lucas stands right in front of me, holding my pencil fast. Briskly, he twists my arm around and pulls upward behind my back, pinning my arm, using one of the Ten Maneuvers- Maneuver 3. I counter with Maneuver 6, thrusting my head back, hitting his. I jam my foot up and back to hit him in the sweet spot. He doesn't even falter. Letting me go and not looking at me, he clips me a good one in the face. I stagger slightly back, and wipe blood from my mouth.
“It's gonna take a lot more than a pencil to hurt me, Beck,” Lucas says.
“We are not going to fight right here, right now. I have my questions, and I have a really big impulse that's compelling me to kick your ass, but we do not endanger my sister, and if you or anyone else gives Kat so much as a scrape, I'll kill them.”
Lucas gives a dry chuckle. “Honestly? Do you really think that if I harm Kat, and you come after me, you will succeed in avenging her? You think you can hurt me? I've always beaten you in Training on the mats. And that was when I wasn't using my extra ability's. Now that you know what I am, do you think you can even succeed in touching me?” he says softly.
“Honestly, Lucas. You've known me all my life. How did you not tell me what you were? There is nothing wrong with being a half-breed.” I tell him. His expression darkens.
“Nothing wrong with me? Nothing wrong with me? Just listen to the name even! Half-breed. It even sounds pathetic. I'm a freak! I would never have been Head of the Order if not for this assignment! I didn’t get my father's position because I'm not just a Hunter. I'm not good enough to lead,” he mutters darkly. And then he smiles. “But I won't be just a freak. Not anymore. This girl, Elizabeth Balea- she's my ticket to being respected. I won't be just a lowly half-breed anymore. I will be good enough to take over the position that is rightfully mine, by birthright. Head Official. I need to assume this role, or generations of my family's ruling will be for nothing. If I don't complete this assignment, my father will hand off the right to lead to some lowly Hunter,” he scoffs.
“How is she going to save your position? She’s normal,” I argue. Again, Lucas laughs.
“Really, Beck? She’s normal? How did you figure that?” Struggling to think of an answer, I stutter. I mean, I don’t believe that she is Supoili. That would be....... impossible. No. I've known her too long; she isn't it. Lucas just believes this, I reassure myself.
"You are SO naive. But you can believe what you want. I will at least let you have that." he says. He turns to leave. "But know this. If you don't fulfill your duties as a Hunter, I will have to take care of you. You will be stripped of your title, and drained of your blood. And then we will recruit Kat. But, Beck, I don't want to do that. So, please, complete your mission."
Then, he is gone. Out Kat's open window.
"Jeez, he's gonna be a new problemo in my life." I whisper under my breath.
Before I can even begin to consider doing anything, I call Macy. While the phone rings, I fret, unsure whether or not it’s safe to let my guard down and sleep. Macy’s phone sends me to voicemail, and I groan. Pacing in my room, I try to figure out what to do. Unsure of pretty much everything, I weigh the option of going completely hardcore protection for the house. I mean, I don’t want to use a ton of essence, but I don’t feel safe. I decide to not set the spell around the house that kills anyone who comes near the front door, and instead settle for a little bit of warding around the house.
When I come back from going around the house, I call Macy again. There are times when you just need your best friend. And now is definitely one of those times. I dial the number again, and after five more rings, Macy finally picks up. Thank God.
“Yo, Lizzie, what’s up? Little early for a coffee run, don’t you think?” Macy says, sounding only slightly groggy for someone at 2:30 in the morning.
I forget to say anything while the truth of what I’m about to say to her sets in. No ones come close to discovering us since that one time with this dude Preston at the high school during freshman year and some bad nachos (It’s a really long story- let’s just say it involved him spilling nachos all over Sophie, and her, uh, dangerous side kind of popped out for a second, but it was dealt with easily. He wasn’t killed, though- and might I say, it came pretty darn close- and he had his memory wiped, and it was all fixed.) He wasn’t even a major threat- he just happened to be clumsy and Sophie happened to have broken up with her boyfriend that day so she was really angry and accidentally just took it out on him. But Beck and whatever he is involved in, it’s something entirely different. They know what they’re doing. They know all about us, and what we do. They know how to get to us.
They know how to kill us.
The only people who know how to fight us are the Order.
“Liz? You there?” Macy says, breaking the silence. “I feel like I’m facing impending doom.” she says, only half joking.
I can almost see Macy running a million different scenarios through her head right now. She might not know what I’m talking about, exactly. But then she realizes.
“Are you absolutely positive?” she says quietly. “Them? Why now? What are we going to do?” she says distraughtly. I don’t say anything, at a loss for words. How was I supposed to be the bringer of the news that our lives were about to be completely uprooted?
“Great. UGH! Why? Why do they always have to ruin our lives! Why?! It’s not fair!” she yells. I can hear her start to cry, and I feel horrible.
“I’ll explain everything in a bit. Don’t worry. I’ll be over in about five minutes. Mom, Dad, and Sarah are all at the hospital. They won’t know if I’m gone, seeing as they don’t come back home until later tonight.”
“Okay,” she sniffs. I hang up, and get dressed. I throw a box of tissues in my bag, and a bar of chocolate. Chocolate always makes Macy feel better, regardless of how bad our situation is. I smile, thinking fondly of the time when all we had to worry about was not finding chocolate for Macy during one of her mood swings. I shoulder my bag, and leave the house, shutting the door carefully and making sure all wards are in place.
I jog towards Macy’s house across the street, and throw a tennis ball I find in the front yard at her second story bedroom window. Macy opens her window, and motions for me to come up. I climb into the tree next to the house, and when at the top, jump from the tree to her window sill. Macy catches me, and pulls me to the floor. We happen to do this often, so we have a definite way for us to enter and leave certain rooms in the wee hours of the morning.
“Hey,” Macy sniffs. “Can you start explaining now? I’m not sure what’s going on, and that scares me.” I take a deep breath.
“What I’m about to tell you is very concerning, so I’m going to give you this right now.” I say firmly. I rummage through my bag and pull out the bar of chocolate. Macy’s eyes light up. “Now, suck it up, girl, and eat the freaking chocolate.”
“Is that Godiva?” she asks. I nod my head, and she makes a slight squealing sound. She holds out her hand slowly, and I place the chocolate in her outstretched hand. She quickly unwraps the top and takes a big bite. She groans in pleasure.
“This is just what I needed. I feel much calmer now. Now that I’m not on the verge of sobbing, everything needs to be explained.”
I nod slowly.
“Yeah, yeah they do. Last night, I… I was kidnapped. Sorta. By the Order. Beck… Beck’s in it. He was sent to abduct me and bring me to another Hunter, but he couldn’t do it once he saw the other guy, so he made me go with him but then let me go home and-” I start to say all in one breath. Macy holds up a trembling hand.
“Beck’s in the Order?” she whisper yells. I nod grimly. She mutters a swear under her breath. She looks at me gravely. “I don’t want you going near him again, do you hear me? It’s too dangerous for someone like y-” she trails off. “Just- stay away from him. He could kill you in a second- no, an instant.” she says firmly. I frown.
“No, I know how to protect myself. He couldn’t harm me that fast. I’d probably win, in fact!” I protest. Macy chuckles darkly.
“Lizzie, the fact that they ambushed you leads me to believe that they weren’t regular Hunters. I bet you they are two of the Seven. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have dared try to capture you.” And then she sits up straight, suddenly alarmed. “Wait- what did the other Hunter look like?” she asks.
“Short, blonde hair, super tall, built like Beck- and he had fangs. He was a half-breed.”
Macy hisses, her eyes slit and change to gold, her own fangs come out, and she jumps up, crouching on the bed.
“Lucas.” she seethes, lisping around her fangs, venom dripping off of his name. “He’s the Head of the Seven. He is extremely lethal. You are lucky you made it out with your life. “
“Well, actually… he kind of let me go.” I admit. Macy’s eyes narrow even further, and she cocks her head.
“What? Why would he let you go? He obviously has orders to kill you- why didn’t he?”
“I have no idea. Maybe he felt a tiny bit of remorse?”
“Liz, Lucas would never show any Supoili any type of mercy. Ever. He obviously has some plan for you. Or maybe he was influenced by something- or someone. But either way- you of all people should know that the Order doesn’t show mercy.”
I fall back on the bed, and look up at the ceiling.
“You’re right.” I admit. Macy snorts.
“Aren’t I always?” She teases, trying to lighten the mood. She changes the topic then.
“Okay, I’m pretty sure I was serious earlier when I called. I’m in desperate need of a coffee run…”
She leaned over and smiled sweetly at me. I put my arms around her and hugged her.
“Isn’t the sunset so pretty?” she said softly. I nodded my agreement. She sighed contently, as she rested her head on my shoulder, her brown hair twisted into a long braid down the back of her blouse.
We watched as the sun set, the sky ranging in a variety of different colors, the clouds like fat puffs of cotton candy and the sky like a piñata almost; colors striping from blue to pink to purple to blood orange. It was beautiful.
Almost as beautiful as her.
I remember that day do clearly. We sat in the top of the biggest oak in the forest outside of town, nestled in a gigantic branch near the middle, and I had cleared away all the pokey parts, so she wouldn’t hurt herself when she sat down.
I knew she could fend for herself, but it made me feel like a hero of some sorts, protecting her.
It made me feel like a better person than I really was.
She never knew, really, about all the deep, dark thoughts I had sometimes, about the annihilation of the Supoili race.
I mean, because she IS one of them, anyways.
I tried so hard to change, to get rid of that little evil seed that threatened to grow, but it seemed impossible. Where one sprout died, another popped right back up.
What’s wrong with me? Why- just WHY can’t I change myself to become the man she deserved? Be the man that she used to know, that she sees in me? Bu what if I can’t be like those old Lucas’s that she remembers? She argues that since I don’t remember those Lucas’s, it doesn’t count.
But it does. It really does. Shouldn’t those lives have left a spark in me, led me to be a better Lucas?
I don’t know.
She hasn’t said it yet, but we both know it.
In this lifetime, something’s different.
Something that made me different- has left this soul of evil.
Some things might be the same, but in this lifetime, Sarah and I both know that somehow the story is going to be different.
I cringe away from the phone, wincing.
“WHERE ARE YOU?!” Sarah yells into the receiver. “I CAME HOME LAST NIGHTTO CHECK ON YOU AND YOU WERE GONE, AND YOU DIDN’T LEAVE ANY MESSAGES OR ANYTHING!” She fumes.
“Um, Sarah? Check your messages. I sent you a text around 3:00 AM saying I was spending the whole day at Macys.” I say, gazing out the frost-paned window as winter set in, delicate white angels falling from heaven. I breathe out hot air and the freezing glass fogs up ever so lightly, clouding in ways of fragile, reaching tendrils. There is silence for a long moment while Sarah checks her phone.
“Oh…” she says faintly. “There IS a message… I didn’t… see that.” she admits.
“Obviously….” I say. I can almost see her scowl through the phone.
“No need to be a smart ass! So shut up, stupid!” Sarah yells. I hear Mom in the background.
“Sarah, give me the phone. You’re eighteen, not seven!” I hear a bunch of crackling as the phone is ripped away from Sarah.
“Hey, sweetie. We just got worried after you didn’t get back to the hospital last night. So you are going to be with Macy all day? Okay. Be safe.”
“I will. So how’s Dad?” I wonder, suddenly feeling bad about not checking in on him. I think that I haven’t been exactly the best daughter I the world considering he has, you know, a broken back.
“Oh, well, he’s as fine as you can expect him to be. The doctor said it’s not broken, just fractured. It should be healed in twelve weeks. But after that he should be perfectly fine. I’m just glad nothing worse happened to him, you know? We’re lucky- he could have landed on his neck.”
“Well, it’s good that he didn’t.” I say awkwardly.
There’s a beat of silence.
“So, where were you most of last night? Because Sarah dropped by the house, but when you weren’t there, she came back here.”
“Huh. What time? Because I went straight from the hospital to Denny’s for a cup of hot chocolate, and then I went to Macy’s. I’m there now, like I said.”
“Mmm. Hot chocolate. Sounds good right about now. Well, we’re getting ready to come home, so be back by four or five, okay? Thanks, bye.”
“Wait, what time-”
But she’s already hung up the phone. I turn to Macy as she sips her still steaming coffee.
“You know, sometimes, I really, REALLY hate our world…” I tell her, sighing. She absently stirred her drink with a straw and didn’t meet my eyes as she spoke.
“We all hate this world.”
She stood up and walked to the window where I was earlier, observing the falling snow blanketing her backyard.
“Do you ever think about just leaving?” she asks quietly.
I’m shocked into silence. She laughs bitterly, and draws her finger across the frosted pane of glass.
“No, you probably don’t. I don’t blame you. But we should at least consider it. It doesn’t seem safe anymore.”
“But our life is here. Everything we’ve ever done, what we’ve built, it’s here. Plus, what would my Mentor do if we skipped town? What about your parents, my parents, our siblings, all of our friends? And remember, because of whom your mom is, they’d send people after us. I’m nothing special, but with you, they’d catch us, because they need you. Or at least, they will.”
“You’re right. It was a stupid idea.” she mutters. I look at the clock on her bedside table as I stand up off the bed and walk to her. I put my arm around her and hug her tightly.
“It’s okay. Well, I have to get going. It’s already noon and I know I have till five but with the way it’s snowing, I don’t want to walk through it later. Plus, the tree will be covered in snow soon, and I could slip.” I say regretfully.
“No, I understand. It’s probably a good idea.” she answers dismissively.
“Well, alright then. I’ll text you tomorrow, okay?” She nods in response. I open the window, and I crawl out, heading home in a whispering rush of movement, hoping to seek refuge from the misguided notions that we are to escape from this hell- that isn’t a hell.
As I reach the front door, my phone buzzes and I draw it out of my pocket, my breath freezing in the air.
From Beck, the screen says, and I slide to unlock it.
I freeze as I scan the little black letters.
You’d better watch your back. They’re coming for you.