Chapter One: Jamie’s POV
“Not again! I can’t be late again!” Pressing my foot further down on the gas pedal, I knew that I was going to get in trouble with Vanessa for being out passed my curfew for the third time this week.
It had only been a week after my seventeenth birthday and already I had broken my promise to stay out of trouble and behave myself.
She’ll have my head on a stick this time, I thought frantically.
As I drove out my frustrations, I began to notice the headache forming like a storm could in my mind wasn’t helping much either; not that a headache ever helped anyone. The headaches have gotten worse in the passed four days since I first noticed them coming and going. I prayed that it would disappear by tomorrow’s soccer match because the team was depending on me to carry them to victory. What’s a team without its best goalie?
With eyes still focused on the road ahead and hands still placed at ten and two on the steering wheel, I carefully maneuvered my cotton sweater off without so much as swerving on the road. I wiped at my forehead and removed the beads of sweat building before I glanced down at the heat settings and saw that it was off. I inhaled a small gust of air and had a hard time breathing without finding myself wheezing. I hoped that I wasn’t getting sick, that it was just allergies, because I would miss out on too many things if I was coming down with something.
No other cars or people were around on this old dirt road as I powered through it. Hardly anyone took this route anymore because the highway was faster, and also due to the fact that this road was said to be dangerous because of all the accidents that occurred here when it was a busy road.
The lonely dirt road sat beside a forest on both sides. A few houses popped up here and there; otherwise, it was abandoned. Rushing and driving fast was a given for me. I knew no police cars would be sitting in wait. They never patrol this road anymore.
Coughing hard, I closed my eyes for a split second. When my eyes shot open, I was blinded by a big flash of fluorescent white light that shone through the forest off to my right. The car shook slightly beneath me; enough for me to notice that it wasn’t natural. Something was happening.
Startled, I panicked and found the brakes with my foot and stomped on it, putting the car into a complete stop, while I shielded my eyes with my arm from the bright illuminating light. My head felt like it would explode with pain as it pulsated against my skull. Barely seeing around my arm, I saw the light slowly faded away through the overgrown trees after a few seconds.
Removing my arm from my face, I looked at the area where the light was still fading back into the darkness of night. My eyes finally adjusted to the sudden shift in light and my ragged breathing made each wheeze hurt worse.
“What the heck was that?” I asked myself, still in shock.
When I finally calmed down to what I thought as reasonable, I put the car back into drive and pulled off to the side of the road and parked the car. The flash of light was completely gone when I got out of the car and shut the door. Looking around in the dark of night vigilantIy, I headed into the forest with quiet steps weary that I was alone. It was too silent for a location where many animals inhabited. The forest wasn’t just silent, but it was absolutely creepy. My heart pounded against my chest, telling me to get out of there. Something about the forest felt wrong, unnatural. The pit of my stomach twisted into knots and dropped into an abyss of uneasiness.
After minutes of walking, I reached the exact point where the light had originated. I leaned against a tree trunk to steady myself as my body begun to sway and my mind swarmed, losing balance. Unsuccessfully, I tried to shake the headache and the vertigo away.
The tournament must’ve taken a lot out of me.
The silence in the forest stretched on with only the sounds of my labored breathing and heart pounding loudly in my chest present as I attempted to catch my breath.
The sudden sounds of tree branches and twigs breaking or being moved made my head shot up alarmed. I listened closer to the noises in complete stillness. The noises were getting closer to where I stood shaking with fear. It sounded like the branches and twigs were being stepped on.
Someone or something was running fast in my direction.
“Hello? Is someone out there? Hello?” I yelled, trying to see if they were alright.
No one answered back.
The running kept aiming in the same direction. This time the sounds of whomever or whatever was coming became more persistent and grew louder.
Another thought dropped into my mind. One thought I should’ve thought of sooner. What if they were the ones who caused the flash of light?
A thought I should’ve had much sooner, because now it was too late to run. I could hear them too close now. I wouldn’t, couldn’t, let my fear be the death of me. My instincts and teachings consumed the fear building inside of me like a typhoon as I prepared in case the person or animal was going to attack me. Everything about its approach felt wrong. Digging my feet into the ground, leveling my arms, calming my nerves with shaky breaths, and suppressing my aches, I positioned my body into a defensive stance as I had done many times before during tournaments. I worked myself up for an encounter by praying “you can do this, you can do this” repeatedly in my head. Even though I felt like crap, my every nerve was on end prepared to fight just in case.
Once again my eyes swept over the direction where branches and bushes were beginning to tremble. I could see small pebbles and rocks and little sticks quaking on the grass and in the dirt because of some force. Squinting, trying to narrow my sight in the darkness, I saw the distinct silhouette of a man in dark clothing running towards me. A short distance behind him, three figures with flashlights were pursuing him.
As he got closer to me, one of the figures chasing him, a woman, shouted out to me catching my attention for a split second. “Run away from him, girl! Don’t let him touch you! Run now!” She yelled breathlessly.
I couldn’t make out her face though I heard the panic and anger ringing clear as day in her voice. She was right to say it. I should’ve listened but I was too stubborn and it was too late. Running wasn’t an option now. The unsettling feeling deep inside of my soul said that this man they were pursuing was a very bad guy. Shaking my headache away as best as I could, I got back into a defensive battle stance.
He came into complete view and I watched horrified as he growled at me, gritting his teeth like a feral animal. The inhuman growl that yelped from him threw me off guard, yet not scaring me enough to get me out of my stance. I didn’t move an inch. I was too afraid to. He came charging at me at full speed with his arms outstretched and tackled me to the ground before I could make a move to defend myself. His attack blew the wind right out of my body.
He was so fast that I barely saw his attack.
A few labored breaths later, I gazed him dead in the eyes. An unusual feature of his stood out immediately. Strange dark red rings around the irises of his clearly amber eyes caught my curiosity. It was weirder than his pale skin, drained of most color.
Another menacing growl, in my face this time, rippled through his mouth as he struggled with me and he attempted to stand back up. He was stupid to think that I would just give up and surrender. I used all the body strength that I could muster to wrap my legs around his and disabled him from getting to his feet. Doing that only frustrated him more.
The dark rings around his eyes grew larger and slowly overtook the amber parts remaining, consuming them completely. My mouth dropped open. No way was is that possible! It can’t be real! Human eyes could never do that. It just wasn’t physically possible.
Laying my rounded eyes on him, reality cracked inside of me at the reality of the existence of other worldly creatures. I was still in shock, yet I knew that my eyes weren’t deceiving me. This was really happening. He was real.
The three figures that were previously chasing him halted to a stop nearby. I glanced at them briefly, but not long enough to see them and who they were. He caught me off guard in that split second and took advantage of it. Before I could turn back to him, he had already unwrapped my legs and hold on him. I turned back around in time to see him hiss inches from my face like a snake ready to strike.
Trembling, I shut my eyes tight over my eyelids and waited for the death I knew was coming for me.
With little effort, he got a good grip on my arm with his hand and flung me in the air. The impact of colliding with a tree trunk ended my flight. The fall and plop on the hard ground of dewy grass was agonizing. It was hard enough that I felt beaten and bruised on impact. Ten times worse than the sickness I already felt beginning to brew inside of me. My glassy eyes of tears blinded my sight. I blinked my eyelids rapidly in order to see through the haze of tears.
Only a few seconds since I was immobilized had passed, still I had missed a lot. The man was standing up facing the three individuals with flashlights in a feral crouch. Watching the man with an intense unblinking stare, I stood back up, leaning against a tree for support, and shook my head. I set my view on the scene playing out before me when the dizziness begun to fade.
He was too focused on the others to pay much attention to me at this moment It’s now or never, I thought to myself as I worked up the confidence to outweigh the warring terror in my body. Releasing my jagged breath, I slowly drifted away from the tree and over toward him without making any sounds. In close proximity to him, I started running at him now with my arms outstretched. Clashing with him, I used the full force of my body to take him down. It was like hitting an immoveable object ,but somehow I managed to get him off his feet.
We fell onto the ground hard with a loud plap. My attack had caught him completely off guard. He immediately tried to untangle me with his hands. Unlike before, it wasn’t going to be so easy with me focused. Whether he was a delusion or real didn’t matter to me in this moment. I wrapped my legs tighter around his waist and maneuvered my right arm around his right arm and neck, then I squeezed hard. I couldn’t let him get away from here and hurt anyone else.
I squeezed and squeezed until my entire body was engulfed in a burning pain. His groans made my skin crawl. He wiggled around trying to break free of the sleeper hold I had him trapped in. His teeth chomped were mere inches from my face, with only my arm keeping him from turning in my direction and biting me.
After a few minutes of struggling, his body finally became completely lax as he drifted into unconsciousness. Exhausted as he entered submission, my heart rate slowed and sweat clung onto my forehead. I released my hold and dropped him to the ground. Staring down at him, I stood up brushing dirt and leaves off my clothes and out of my now tangled dark golden blonde hair. The brain splitting headache and dizziness rushed back into me. It was a thousand times worse than before.
Now the pain was almost intolerable.
The three formerly pursuing the man stared at me with their eyes practically bulged out from their sockets. Then they dropped their gazes down to the unconscious man–well I wasn’t sure what he was, but I knew he most certainly wasn’t human.
The wheezing cut at my throat, making it harder for me to breathe right. A searing pain slithered up my spine and spread throughout the rest of my body. My bones and joints kept cracking like they were going to shatter to bits. They were much worse than growing pains. An agony close to how death would feel, I imagined.
The woman stepped forward, so I looked her over closely through burning blurry eyes. Her face was familiar to me. That long curly black hair, those yellowish-green eyes, and her beige skin set tiny alarms off in my mind. I stood as still as stone, taken aback a moment. She was too familiar and I knew exactly who she was. I had seen her many times before with Vanessa. What is she doing out here at this time of night chasing that awful creature?
“Rena? Is that you?” My voice sounded hoarse as I called out to her.
She didn’t reply back to me. All she did was watch me. Her lips parted, yet nothing slipped from in between.
Just as I got ready to ask her again ,I broke out into a harsh coughing fit.
She took a slow step forward, moving out of her stone state. Recognition flying through her.
“Kathleen? Kathleen McKenna? What are you-” She started.
Her voice cut out and disappeared into the wind as the dizziness finally won and I fainted, barely seeing the other two with flashlights running to catch me as I slipped into unconsciousness.