The Winter Butterfly

The traditional log cabin was in total darkness as Rachel parked in front of it. Trying to look through the thickly falling snow at the front door, she made out the numbers twenty-two and decided it was the correct one. The car headlights beamed through the dancing snowflakes and showed Rachel that the snow was fast crawling up the cabin.

With a deep sigh and flick of her mane of chestnut hair, she turned the engine off and the night gladly crept back in. Rachel reached upwards and clicked on the inside light. Outside she could hear the wind howling and whistling. The small car rocked gently. A shiver shot through her and she slipped gloved hands from the warm steering wheel.

Twisting slightly, she pulled her large blue handbag over from the passenger seat and tossed the useless map of the holiday cabins aside. She dug out her phone, woke the screen up and saw it was almost ten PM. Rachel went to her last two sets of text messages. Her reply back to Adrian glowed before her; see you then x. She scrolled up and glanced through their conventions dated today and yesterday. Most of the words had become imprinted in her mind she’d read it that many times now.

She tapped the screen, but it didn’t respond with her gloves on and she had to take the right one off with her teeth. Tapping again, she wrote; I’m here, where are you? then pressed send. The mobile beeped and your messaged can’t be sent, flashed up.  

‘Oh, what now?’ she muttered and peered closer at the screen. ‘No signal. Well that’s just great!’

Rachel shoved her phone back in her bag and whacked the steering wheel. Tingles of pain ran through both her palms. She curled her fingers around the cold plastic and threw her head back. She would’ve pressed her forehead to the wheel but her large boobs were in the way. Dragging in deep breaths of fast cooling air, she shut her eyes and took a minute.

Opening her eyes again, she gathered her handbag and the overnight bag she had stuffed in the passenger footwell. She grabbed the cabin’s key and her own keys in the other hand then went to open the door.

I could just leave, she thought, he’s clearly not here. But it’s probably too dangerous on the roads now….and a waste of money.

Rachel watched the snow falling and realised her front window was quickly being covered up. Realising, she had no choice, she got out of the car and hurried up the slippery steps to the cabin door. Juggling the keys, she fitted the right one in the door and pushed it open. The wind decided to help and the door banged loudly against the wall. Rachel walked in, snow rushing to join her.

Dumping her bags to one side, she called out, ‘hello?’

There was only the reply of the wind.

Rachel walked out again, turned the light out in her car and locked it. She went back inside the cabin, turned on the lights and looked around. A cosy open plan living room, dining space and kitchen came to life around before her. She took off her long coat, revealing a short black dress and coal tights. Also, taking off her shoes, she went towards the open fire place. Looking inside, she saw that someone had prepared the logs, kindling and newspaper balls.

She lit the fire, feeling like she deserved it. Once the flames had gotten going and a thin wave of heat had wrapped around her, Rachel settled into the deep set sofa and hugged one of the velvet cushions. She took a deep breath of burning wood, smoke and pine, whilst her thoughts turned to Adrian. She wondered about checking her phone then seeing if he was upstairs.

I’m alone and there’s no point, she thought, typical of him not to show. I’m such a fool.

Rachel pressed the side of the head into the top of the cushion and listened to the wind howling outside and the fire crackling away. She shut her eyes, feeling tried from the difficult drive and still cold.

‘Perhaps he all ready came and left?’ she spoke allowed, ‘I’m three hours late.’

She looked around hopeful to see some sign of him, but the place was as a clean as the cleaner had left it.

‘Surely the snow storm would’ve trapped him here too,’ she concluded and settled back down.

Rachel felt the last of her excitement fade away and bitter hollowness take over. Tears welled in her eyes and she felt a burning in her throat. She fought the tears back, knowing it was useless to keep crying over him. Wiping her eyes, she got up and feed some more logs into the fire. Gratefully the flames latched on to the new wood and burned brighter.

She went into the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea. Heading back to the sofa with her hands wrapped around the mug, she tried to convince herself to stop thinking and just enjoy it. Placing the mug on the coffee table, she went to her bags and dug out a scruffy paperback of Wuthering Heights. She found a fluffy blanket on the back of the matching arm chair and took that back to the sofa with her. Settling again, she tried to read, but her thoughts came darting back to Adrian.

Her mind played the daydream she often allowed it to and she fell into that for a few minutes. She pictured him walking through the door, not the mid-thirties man he now was, but the just turned nineteen boy he had been when they had meet at university. His hair was light brown, long and unkempt around his soft thin face. Dark brown, haunted eyes that had lit up when they had spotted her. His normal clothes of too tight black jeans, an old band t-shirt and lumber jack style jacket.

Rachel let her mind play on and imaged Adrian kissing her lightly on the lips. She begged for more gently then pushed harder when he refused.

‘We shouldn’t,’ daydream Adrian said.

‘Why not? One more isn’t going to hurt,’ Rachel replied in her head.

‘It might do and I don’t want that. Let’s just talk about uni instead. Who are you still in contact with?’

‘I thought we came here to…you know and now you just want to talk?’

Daydream Adrian nodded, ‘like old times.’

Rachel heard herself sigh and stopped thinking about it. She got up and went to the window, but looking out she couldn’t see anything. She went to the door, turned the handle and found it wouldn’t open. Shoving against it did nothing. Trying again, she wondered if the snow had piled up behind it or if it was just stuck.

Glancing around, she spotted a phone next to the TV and went to dial reception. A dull dial tone echoed in her ear followed by a buzzing as she was cut off. Trying again, she realised the snow storm must have knocked out the phone lines. She checked her mobile and saw there was still no signal.

‘I’m stuck here!’ she cried, ‘this is all your fault Adrian!’

Rachel flung herself back on the sofa, tears pricking her eyes again.

‘No,’ she mumbled, ‘it’s all my fault. Why did I think I could trust him again after everything? His stood me up and cancelled so many times, why did I think this would be different?’

She rubbed her head, feeling a headache coming on. Rachel picked up her mug of tea and took a few sips then a longer drink. Cradling the cup, she let herself get everything out. She ran through all the good and bad memories, not stopping to dwell on them.

Afterwards, Rachel abandoned the rest of her cold tea and checked the time. Seeing it was a few minutes to midnight, she got up and dug a small bottle of champagne from her overnight bag. She got a glass from the kitchen and placed both on the coffee table. She put some more logs on the fire before curling back on the sofa.

The numbers flash double zeros and Rachel popped open the champagne and poured a glass. Toasting she whispered, ‘happy new year,’ and drank the whole lot in one go.

She poured another and drank that one too. Then abandoning the glass, she grabbed the bottle and hugged it in between her boobs. The fire crackled merrily to itself, casting off a cheerful glow as Rachel finally give into her tears.

 

The loud continuous knocking just about woke Rachel from a drunken sleep. She rubbed her eyes and face whilst one part of her urged her back to sleep and the other pulled her awake to figure out the source of the noise. She swung her legs off the sofa and her feet hit the empty champagne bottle. Kicking it away, she got up, pulled her dress down and went to the door.

With a sharp pull, she opened the stuck door and looked blurrily out.

‘Rachel! Are you okay?’

‘Adrian?’

‘I can’t believe you risked it, you crazy thing. Sorry, but my car was too snowed in.’

Rachel yawed and peered out at him. He was still a head shorter than her and dressed in a woollen coat, hat and gloves. His famous boyish smile lit up his face and she almost melted into his arms.

‘Can I come in?’ he asked with a slight bounce.

She nodded and held the door for him.

‘I was worried about you. I really didn’t think you were going to come.’

‘Are you grateful that I did?’ she asked, closing the door.

Adrian turned at the tone of her voice, hat and gloves in his hands, ‘of course.’

‘I’m surprised you came.’

‘Why?’ he asked, putting down his things.

‘Because of all the other times you’ve not bothered,’ Rachel snapped back.

‘Aww, come on, Rach don’t be like that…’

She shook her head and stormed passed him to the sofa. She began gathering her things and tidying up.

‘What are doing? We’ve still got time,’ Adrian pointed out.

‘I don’t care,’ she called over her shoulder, ‘I’m sick and tired of this.’

‘Well, you’re the one who keeps pretending we’re together.’

She spun at his raised voice, clutching her mobile phone and book, ‘only because you make me believe it!’

‘That’s so not true!’ Adrian half shouted, ‘you’ve kept this up since uni and I’m sorry about what happened. It was my fault and I took the blame for that. I shouldn’t have let you believe I loved you. And I’ve tried, Rach, I really have, but you won’t let it drop.’

‘I’ve tried too!’ she yelled, ‘but you keep dragging me back! Well guess what? This time I’m officially over it. Goodbye, Adrian.’

Rachel shoved her things in her handbag and put on her shoes. She grabbed her coat, keeping her back to him and put it on.

‘Wait,’ Adrian spoke.

She paused. No! Don’t do it, don’t turn around and look into his sad eyes, she told herself, you’ve lived long enough chasing his shadow.

‘I’m sorry. Rachel. Please, let’s talking about this…I still want to be your friend.’

She dropped her head, bit her lip then picked up her bags.

‘I mean it this time,’ Adrian concluded.

Rachel shook her head a little and went to the door, ‘no more excuses,’ she muttered then called over her shoulder, ‘I mean it this time too.’

She opened the cabin door and stepped out. The sun was shining brightly off the iced over snow, casting the first day of the new year in a golden glow.

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The Story Of The One Horned Reindeer

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Once upon a time, in deep dark forest, lived a reindeer with only one horn. He was very lonely for his family had abandoned him and none of the other reindeer herds would accept him.

Every day he wandered through the evergreen forest, eating grass and leaves. He would go down to the river and drink the cold water before walking onwards. He experienced the changing of the seasons and all kinds of weather. In the winter, he would freeze in snow blizzards and slip on ice. In the spring, he would eat baby shoots and enjoy the sun warming his back. In summer, he basked in the heat and bathed in the river. In autumn, he watched the leaves falling and tried to find shelter from the rainfall. However, no matter the day or night or weather, he wished he had a friend.

Then one day, when the reindeer went for his drink, he saw a man standing behind a tree. Men were rare in the forest and this one was the first the reindeer had seen. He raised his head and watched the man cut down a small tree. Then the man stripped down some of the twigs and began cutting the bigger branches off. When the tree was bare, the man began chopping the trunk up.

The reindeer decided to cross the river and speak to him. Entering then getting out of the cold water on the other side, he went up to the man.

‘What are you doing?’ the reindeer asked.

The man turned to him and because the man was born and brought up in the forest and knew the ways of nature, he was not afraid of the reindeer.

‘I’m chopping wood to burn,’ the man replied.

‘Why?’ asked the reindeer.

‘Because the winter nights are cold and unlike you, my family and I don’t have fur coats.’

‘You have a family?’

‘Yes, a wife and daughter.’

‘I have no one,’ spoke the reindeer, sadly.

‘Why?’ the man cried.

‘Because of my one horn,’ the reindeer explained.

‘Well, that’s just terrible, you must be so lonely.’

The reindeer nodded, ‘I am very much.’

The man thought then said, ‘how would you like to come home with me? I could sure use your help.’

‘Oh, yes please! I’d love that,’ the reindeer cried.

‘Firstly, I must finish chopping the wood, then you can help me take it home,’ the man stated.

The reindeer stood back and watched the man chop up the rest of the tree trunk. The man then tied up some logs and branches and made a loop at the other end, so he could put it around the reindeer. Then he tried up some more and put the rope over his shoulder, then he led the reindeer through the forest.

Soon, they arrived at a little wooden cabin. The man took the rope off the reindeer and began stacking the log with some others at the side of the cabin. The reindeer shook his coat and looked around with great interest.

The door to the cabin opened and out rushed the daughter and wife. They stopped when they saw the one horned reindeer. The man came between them and patting the nervous reindeer, introduced him to his family.

‘Hello, Mr. Reindeer,’ the daughter said.

‘Hello,’ the reindeer replied.

‘Can I stroke your coat? It looks so soft.’

‘Of course,’ the reindeer said.

The man picked his daughter up and she stroked the reindeer.

‘It is soft!’ she cried.

‘I have told this reindeer he can stay with us. He has no family and is very lonely,’ the man explained.

‘Of course, you must stay,’ the wife spoke and she petted the reindeer’s muzzle.

‘Thank you. I know I’m going to be very happy from now onwards,’ the reindeer stated.

And he was.

 

-This story was created with the help of the young people at my local youth center.-

Lost In Thought

He wondered what it was like to be God looking down on everyone from the multi-coloured galaxy. He looked at the tall candle pillars on the deep church window sills and saw the flames flicking in a draft. Was God even interesting in what was going on down here? He thought, did he listen to the prayers of the world or did he just let the angels deal with those?

He tried to hear what the vicar was saying as they all bowed their heads together, but he just couldn’t concentrate. He believed that could be true, so was God creating other Earths then? And what if some of those new Earths were the same as this one? And right now, what if there was a man just like himself sit in a church pertaining to be praying when really he was wondering about the possible existence of other earths and humans?

Written In The Palm

I was too old to believe the stories now, but still going passed Old Weezie’s run-down shack I couldn’t help but pause. A dusty pathway lead across the bare ground to the unpainted single floor wooden house. Snow was falling heavily on to the tinned roof and dropping all around me. I shook my pink umbrella and looked at the broken steps leading up to the unsafe porch where an old rocking chair sit before a slightly ajar door. Two curtained, but empty large windows flanked the door, staring slightlessly out.

Glancing around the street, I saw no one else though I could hear a radio tinkling out music. All the other houses looked new with their bright red bricks and black slate roofs. A few cars were parked on driveways before gargare doors whilst a few others were parked next to the curb. Christmas lights, trees and decorations sat in windows, around them or outside. I noted a large white snowman on one roof and two fiberglass reindeers looking startled in a nearby garden.

I was torn; Should I carry on or go and see if she was okay? I didn’t know if her door was ajar like that all the time. Breathing deeply and knowing it was seasonal to be neighborly, I started walking up the path. The voices of childhood echoed around me, making me recall the stories about Old Weezie. They said she had been reading palms for a hundred years and could see every bodies future in her crystal ball. She had a third eye on her forehead and witches blood flowing in her crooked veins.

I reached the porch and went up, keeping close to the side. The old wooden boards creaked loudly under me, giving out a warning of my approach. I paused and tried to peer inside, but the door wasn’t open enough. I put down my umbrella, shaking out the snow and thought the one story that had always scared me the most. Old Weezie capturing animals and at midnight killing them and removing their insides. She would read the organs and predicate the births and deaths of people before eating them.

I shivered then knocked on the door. It swung in and I had to poke my head inside and call out. My voice echoed and shortly after a tried, old wheezy voice called out for me to enter. The word no almost forced itself out of me, but my feet had already moved inside. The hallway was dark, but there was a light coming from the door to my right. I knocked on it and the same voice asked me to enter again.

I eased the door open and entered a heavily scented crowed room. Everywhere I looked was an interesting object jammed against normal looking bric-a-brac and other weird things. My eyes focused on a small table and two chairs in the middle of the room. In one of the chairs a small woman was at propped up on a pile of cushions. Her long white hair was in a bun and her face was wrinkled so much it was hard to make out any features.

‘Sit down and I shall tell you what you wish to know,’ Old Weezie stated.

‘I just came to see if you were alright. Your front door was open and it’s freezing outside. It’s just being to snow again. I should go, I’m late for work,’ I rambled off.

She smiled and pointed at the chair, ‘I can see you wish to know so much.’

I tightened my lips together and thought about running.

‘My lowest price and fastest reading for you…let me see your palm.’

‘It won’t hurt, right?’

She laughed, a low struggling sound that was almost like a dying trumpet.

I walked over and sat down, now feeling it would be too rude just to leave. She named her price and I paid, watching her squirrel the note away. She held out her right hand and I placed left hand down into it. I felt a small wave of cold then her other fingers were tracing along the lines of my palm.

‘You’ll lead a long and good life,’ her voice rang out, ‘you’ll get married twice and have only one child. The first marriage will be short and ending in tragedy, but the second marriage will be to your soulmate.’

I looked down at our hands, my thoughts whirling, how true was any of this?

‘You will be happy, but your health will be bad for a time,’ she continued, ‘I see you getting better though and having grandchildren. You’ll work hard for a time, but then find that it’s all paid off. You are confident, but need a little bit more trust in yourself.’

She let go of my hand, that smile still fixed to her face.

‘That’s it?’ I questioned.

‘Yes. Unless you wanted a more detail reading? That’ll cost you twice as much.’

‘I’m fine, thanks.’

I looked down at the lines crisscrossing my palm, her words repeating in my ears.

‘You’ll be let for work,’ she stated.

‘Yes, yes. I should go. Thank you.’

I stood up and left, closing the door behind me then trying to put the front door back into place. It wouldn’t quite fit and I was forced to leave it. I walked away and hurried to work, thinking over things till it all became stuck in my head. Deep down, I knew only time would tell if she had seen my future, but I couldn’t help but think that maybe some of those childhood stories had been right about Old Weezie.

 

Next Time

Finally, she had the house back to herself and all the madness of Christmas was over. Next time, she thought, I shall go on holiday somewhere warm and escape those last two weeks of the year. Everyone can be freezing and I’ll be sipping cocktails out of coconuts.   

Boxing Day

Casey went downstairs, tying her new dress grown closed, before she looked over her living room and saw the after Christmas mess. She stopped and sighed deeply as her migraine throbbed in her temple. She shut her eyes then opened them again, but the scene before her hadn’t changed.

Casey could hardly see the dark patterned carpet under all the brightly coloured wrapping paper. The jolly eyes of printed penguins, reindeers and snowmen bobbed before her. She looked away and to the Christmas tree in the far corner. The pine needles were already starting to drop as if the tree realised its use was over. Not even the pretty decorations could make it look happy again.

She went down and staying close to the panelled staircase, went to the kitchen door. She kicked wrapping paper out of the way with her slippered feet and smelt a mixture of bad things. She paused and looked sadly around the room, trying to figure out where the smell of old farts, leftover food and pee was coming from.

A soft crying got her attention and she walked into the kitchen and found her daughter’s Christmas present from Uncle Ron. Casey opened the crate and let the tiny puppy out. The fluffy white ball jumped at her hand and smeared it’s tongue over her hands. She picked the puppy up and went over to the back door.

Letting the new pet out, Casey searched the kitchen for some pain killers. Finding and taking them, she made herself a cup of tea whilst looking around the kitchen. Dirty pots were stacked in the sink and the tap was dripping water over them. All the surfaces, including the old buckling table were covered in the remains of Christmas food and random party items.

Casey let the puppy back in then breaking her rule from yesterday, took it upstairs with the mug of tea. She went back into her bedroom, placed the puppy and mug down, then got back into her bed next to her husband. He was snoring heavily, dead to the world. She snuggled the puppy and drink her tea.

The migraine cleared a little and she could not help but smile as she reflected on a good Christmas day. The clean-up still wasn’t going to be fun though.

Christmas Day

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Excited children rush forth after scrambling awake.

Delighted cries as discarded paper flung away to reveal gifts.

The air hangs heavy with sweet, mouth-watering smells.

Christmas Eve Flight

Kai stared through the telescope and studied the collection of stars called the big dipper. The soft sound of the door opening tickled his ear. He resisted turning and acted as if he was really busy. Light footsteps came up to him and he felt a brush of warm air.

‘Do you see him yet?’ Khloe squeaked.

Kai whipped around to his young sister, ‘no,’ he snapped, ‘now go away!’

‘But, but, but!’

‘I said no, Khloe!’ he growled and stamped his foot.

Khloe stopped bouncing on the spot and clutched her elephant teddy tighter. Her eager face fixed on her brother’s and she couldn’t help the smile on her face, though Kai was clearly anger at her.

He turned away and flipped through the pages of an open book. It was balanced on a pile of others all about space. Kai felt his sister creeping closer and looking over his shoulder. He stopped at a page about the moon and looked at her.

‘Go away.’

‘But, Kai please. I want to know! Have you seen Santa?’ Khloe gushed and began bouncing again.

Growling, he turned away and looked through the telescope. He no longer saw the big dipper, but a cluster of smaller stars next to it.

‘Look! You made the telescope move!’ Kai shouted.

‘I’m sorry, but…’ Khloe began as she pouted.

‘I don’t see anything now. Get out. Go back to bed and leave me alone!’

‘Don’t be so mean, Kai. Mummy said…’

‘I don’t care. This isn’t for babies, it’s for scientists!’

Kai shoved his sister away then put his hands on his hips.

Khloe glanced at the door over his shoulder, ‘I’ll tell!’

‘Tell away! I don’t care!’

‘I will! And Santa will know and you won’t get any presents!’

Kai puffed up, ‘he’s not real, so it doesn’t matter.’

‘What? He so is,’ Khloe cried back.

‘No, he’s not. It’s just mum and dad,’ Kai declared.

‘You’re lying!’

Kai shake his head and crossed his arms.

Khloe’s bottom lip trembled and she clutched the soft elephant tighter.

‘It’s all fake. Like monsters under your bed and fairies,’ Kai added.

‘No,’ Khloe wobbled.

‘It’s all true. Go downstairs and ask them.’

Kai grabbed her and pulled her towards the door. Khloe tried to dig her toes into the carpet, but her older brother was too strong and she tumbled after him. Kai opened the door further, swung her out then closed it in her face.

‘You big meanie!’ Khloe shouted and banged her fist on the door.

Kai lent against it, keeping her from opening it again. He heard the muffled voice of their mum calling up the stairs. He pressed his ear to the door and listen to the patter of footsteps and his sister crying. Sighing, he went back to his telescope and sort out the moon.

He turned the wheels on the telescope till he had a clear view. He looked at the dark craters then spotted something else, a shadow crossing the moon. He zoomed in and made out the shape of a sled and reindeers in front of it.

‘No,’ he whispered.

He played with the telescopes different wheels, hoping it was nothing more than a trick of light. The shadow came into more focus and he clearly saw six reindeer, the large sled the top half of a figure sat up.

‘Mum! Khloe!’ he called, ‘it’s Santa! I’ve seen him!’

Trust (Part 36)

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Fern opened her eyes and looked up at glass ceiling above her. Through the rain drops crowding the glass, she could see the dark cloud covered sky. Moving slowly, she sat up on the red plush sofa and looked around. She was in a conservatory, on one of four two seater sofas which were gathered around a long black table. Large green tropic plants were in the four corners.

Fern got up and went to what looked like a folding door. She peered outside and saw a lawn stretching before her and some potted plants. She tried the door handle and found it locked. Turning, she looked at the opposite door and walked over. The room beyond was dark and the door also locked. She pressed her ear against the glass and thought she heard laughter.

Going back to the sofa, she studied the room, but couldn’t see anything else or of use. She sat down and watched the rain falling outside. She thought about Brook and Dacian. What were they doing right now? Did they even know she was in trouble? Fern sighed and curled up on the sofa. She turned her thoughts and tried to plan how to escape.

The turning of a key and the door opening, had Fern snapping open her eyes. She sat up and saw Raphael walking in. He was wearing the same clothes from before and had a grin on his face.

‘What do you want?’ Fern demanded as she stood up.

‘Is that any way to talk to your rescuer?’ Raphael responded, walking towards her.

‘You didn’t rescue me!’

‘Come now, we both knew it’s the truth.’

Raphael smiled and sat down on the sofa opposite her’s. He folded his long arms and legs over and glanced at the rain.

‘It’s not,’ Fern hissed, ‘he locked me up for my own safety.’

Raphael shook his head and tutted, ‘let’s not talk any more about it.’

‘I want to leave. You can’t keep me here or…you’ll be just like my maker,’ Fern declared.

‘Sit down.’

‘No.’

‘Fine,’ Raphael muttered, ‘you can’t leave. You owe me for saving you,’ he said loudly.

‘But you didn’t save me!’ Fern shouted.

She threw her arms up and began walking around the room. Even though she was no longer looking at Raphael she could still see him. The image of him sat so smugly burned before her. Fern stopped at the sofa furthest away from him and lent over the back of it.

‘It’s really not so bad here,’ Raphael broke the silence, ‘you must have felt lonely sometimes or like there was no one else to speak to but him. You don’t have to worry about that here, there are lots of others to talk to.’

‘How many?’ Fern put in.

‘There’s ten of us, you make eleven.’

‘Are you the leader?’

‘No. She’s not here at the moment,’ Raphael explained, ‘but you’ll meet her soon enough. I already asked for her permission to rescue and bring you here. You are to become my fledging.’

‘What? No, I belong to Brook,’ Fern snapped, ‘just go and find someone and turn them.’

‘We can’t.’

Fern paused at the sadness in his tone and noted his downcast face.

‘We have strict rules here and you’ll learn them, quickly,’ Raphael continued, ‘one of the rules states we can’t turn humans unless the Princess says so and then she must decide who we pass our blood too.’

‘So, you steal other vampires’ fledglings to make up for it?’ Fern growled.

Raphael didn’t reply, but pulled a small face and began plucking at the arm of the sofa.

‘That’s really wrong,’ she added.

‘We give them a better life,’ Raphael came back, ‘we teach them how to use their abilities, how to hunt correctly, we look after them. Their makers don’t care.’

‘Well, mine does and I’d like to go back to him, so…’

Fern went to the door and turned the handle. It was locked. She turned to Raphael, who had his eyes fixed on the table. Her hands balled into fists and she felt a little shaky.

‘Did you hear me?’

‘Yes, but I can’t let you go. She won’t like it,’ Raphael pointed out.

‘I don’t care! Give me the key!’ Fern shouted.

Raphael snapped his head up and stared hard at her. Fern felt her legs began to shake harder and tiredness sinking into her limbs. She tried to fight it off, but the effort was too much.

‘You will stay here. Sit,’ Raphael commanded.

Fern obeyed. She sat down opposite him, hands on her knees and looking him straight in the eyes.

‘Now, repeat after me. You have no maker. I am your now guardian now.’

‘I have no maker,’ Fern said quietly, ‘you are my guardian now.’

‘Very good. Now, we must get you prepared to meet the Princess, come with me.’

Raphael stood and Fern followed him as he went to the door.

 

Trust will be back in the New Year, thanks for reading.

Trust (Part 35)

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Fern wasn’t sure how much time she had left, but as she jogged away her mind began picking holes in the plan. The second Brook knew she was gone, he’d start tracking her and being in the middle of countryside, there was nowhere to hide. Her thoughts fell to another question, why was she running away?

I’m not, she stated to herself, I just want a bit of freedom. I’ve been stuck with Brook for days now and I just want some time alone.

She reflected and a part of her didn’t buy that line of thought. Shaking her head, she stopped thinking and just enjoyed the fresh air hitting her face. She ran on, not mapping the area in her head and not knowing where she was going. Empty fields stretched around her, lone trees stood stark against the night time sky and sometimes the glint of a light flashed by.

Fern’s feet hit a road, but she didn’t stop, she carried on heading away from Brook’s house. Her shoes slapped loudly on the tarmac and the rustle of her clothes sounded like bugs against her ears. The wind snatched her breath and pushed against her chest, but it also seemed to be screaming her name.

She risked stopping and turned to look behind. The twisting road and surrounding fields were empty and yet, she could hear Brook’s voice. Her heart and breathing pounded and she had to quieten them both in order to hear.

‘Fern!’ his distant voice shouted.

She ignored it and got back to running.

Where are you going? Brook’s voice broke into her thoughts.

Nowhere, she answered back before she could stop herself.

It’s not safe for you out there. You’re going to get lost again, Brook pointed out.

I’ll be fine.

Another voice inside of her head piped up that maybe she wouldn’t be. Fern ran on, expecting Brook’s voice to call out to her again. She spotted something in the distance and ran to it. A for sale sign stuck out onto the road. She paused and read that a farmhouse was for sale.

She wondered how far away she was and called out Brook’s name in her mind. When she didn’t get a reply she called it aloud, but only the wind answered her.

‘I should go back,’ she muttered.

Looking around, she saw nothing that marked the way, just the road leading backwards. Fern waited a few minutes, calling Brook every now and then. Surely, he was following her by now? Smiling, she pictured him appearing around the bend in the road and jogging up to her. He would tell her off and they’d head home.

Too much time was passing and she began to get edgy. Pulling a face, she started walking down the road, hoping to meet him. She trailed her fingers over the rough evergreen leaves of a hedge row and sniffed at the country air. A sense of liberation wrapped around her and the vampire voice questioned why she was going back so soon, wasn’t the night still new? And wasn’t she getting hungry again?

‘Perhaps, I am…but I should find Brook first,’ she muttered aloud.

Why? We can handle it now.

Fern paused at the voice and looked around, even though she knew it was inside of her head.

‘Because it’s the right thing to do…I’ve already killed two people and this time there’s no Dacian around to save me….Dacian,’ she whispered.

Hugging herself as she thought about him and wondered what he was up to right now. It’s not fair I had to leave without saying goodbye! Would the blood link let him track me this far?

She tore a leave off a bush and crushed it between her fingers.

But there could be others, the vampire voice whispered.

‘Others? All the way out here? Away from the towns and cities?’

Sure, why not? Maybe we could find someone else to talk to? Isn’t Brook boring you? And he didn’t give us what we wanted last night, the voice sounded sulky.

Fern shook head and carried on walking back. She heard the soft growls and more words coming from the voice that had taken up residence in her head as well as her own, but she fought it away. She turned her thoughts to Dacian, now that he had popped back into her mind and focused on them as she walked.

A good five minutes later, she came to a stop and looked around, in the distance she could make out the shape of a barn across a field to her left. Ahead the road carried on cutting its’ way through fields which was all she could see to her right. She listened and heard the calling of an owl and the movement of sheep.

Brook? she shouted in her head.

No reply.

‘I couldn’t have taken a wrong turn…could I?’ Fern whispered.

She sniffed the air and thought she smelt a hint of the ocean. She set off again only for the sounds of running footsteps coming towards her to halt her legs. Her heart leapt and she smiled, it had to be Brook. A dark shadow took form in front of her and she waited. The footsteps slowed and a caped figure walked down the road towards her.

Fern frowned, Brook didn’t have a cape? Did he? And he’d never seemed that tall before….too late she realised it wasn’t him. Fern darted off the road and used the shadows surrounding the hedge row to mask herself.

‘I won’t hurt you,’ a soft male voice with a twinge of an Italian accent spoke, ‘we heard you calling out last night.’

Fern clamped her mouth shut and tried not to let the words dancing on her tongue and in her head out. She focused on staying hidden and wrapped more shadows around herself.

‘We had debating coming to save you, but it seems there was no need,’ the voice added.

Fern looked up and saw him standing before her, watching her. She gasped and couldn’t help but take in his tanned skin and dark brown eyes. His black hair was short and thick, styled to give the impression of being longer. He was clean shaven and his sculpted face was just a little too handsome. He looked to be in his mid-twenties, but it was clearer he was alot older then that.

‘There’s no point hiding. I can see you. What’s your name?’

Fern dropped the shadows, but stayed where she was. Her eyes fell to look at the cape wrapped around him; the wind was moving the edges that hung just above the floor.

‘Don’t be shy,’ he said gently.

She looked up at him and opened her mouth, ‘fur,’ tumbled out.

‘Fur?’ he repeated, his face breaking into a laugh and soft breathy chuckle following.

‘What’s your name and what are doing here?’ Fern snapped.

‘I’m Raphael and my brood doesn’t live far from here.’

‘Brood?’

‘A family of vampires. We try to live together,’ Raphael laughed.

Fern bit her lip and stayed quiet.

‘Am I the first vampire beside your maker who you’ve met, Fur?’

‘No,’ she growled, ‘and it’s Fern.’

He grinned and offered his right hand. She looked at his open palm and saw a brown beaded bracelet with a small metal charm dangling from his wrist.

‘I won’t hurt you. I promise,’ Raphael purred.

Fern took his hand and felt it oddly warm around her’s. She let him pull her out of the small ditch and back onto the road. She looked around expecting at any second to see Brook rushing over to them.

‘I don’t think he’s coming,’ Raphael’s voice brushed her ear.

‘What? who?’

‘Whoever you’re looking for. Your maker, maybe?’

Fern looked at him and slid her hand out of his.

‘You’ve not been around long have you?’ Raphael asked.

‘We only got here last night,’ Fern shot back.

‘That’s not what I meant…’

‘Look, I’ve to go. It was nice meeting you.’

‘Are you going to go back and let him lock you up again?’

‘That wasn’t what it seemed and anyway it’s none of your business!’ Fern shouted and tried to shove past him.

Raphael grabbed her and spun them both around. He held her arm tightly, his cape flying out to show off the pure white shirt, black trousers and posh leather shoes he wore. Fern paused, her eyes caught on his bare throat and chest nicely framed by the line of open buttons. She swallowed and looked up at him again.

‘Are you sure you don’t want to come with me?’ Raphael asked sweetly, ‘we’d take care of you, teach you how to be a real vampire. Wouldn’t you like that?’

‘I’m fine, honest,’ Fern stated and tried to get her arm back.

‘No, I really don’t think you are,’ Raphael spoke smoothly, with a flash of his fangs.

Fern stopped her struggle and looked at the white sharp points poking out from behind his wide smile. Her eyes flickered up to his and she felt a wave of tiredness. Her eyelids fluttered closed before she could stop them and she felt her body sinking down.

 

To Be Continued…