My sides heaved, and I could hear my shoes slapping against the concrete, wind rushing past my face, hair streaming behind me, my eyes watering.
I glanced behind me. There didn't seem to be anyone following.
I had to run. I didn't exactly have much choice did I? They were gonna send me to the freakin' looney bin. my parents, if that's what you'd call them. They thought I was crazy, but I'm not, seriously. At least I don't think I am...
It was because of those damn visions. Ruined my life, they did. My name's Alice. Alice in wonderland. More like crazyland right now. My parents wanted a perfect kid, smart, pretty, they wanted a girl who would wear flouncy pink lacy dresses, and hair yanked back into pigtails, with pearly white teeth. Instead, they got me. Tall, with a boyish figure, prefering black jeans and boots etc, with wild unkept dirty blonde hair, and buck-teeth. They often brought me to important business meetings were they would make me dress up in the most hurl-worthy dresses you can possibly imagine. I was their trophy child. But not any more. Just to iritate them I dyed my hair jet-black, even though I prefered its natural colour. I'm thirteen, going on fourteen. Bit young for the mental home, eh?
I don't really now where I'm going to stay. This was a spur of the moment thing, but when I was going I stole some money. Yeah, I'm a sinner an' all. But my parents are loaded, so I don't just mean the sneaky five Euro every now and then. This is big money. I'm not sure where I am now. Mam and Dad really should have took me into Dublin more often, because I have no idea were I am.
Suddenly my head was hit with hammer blow force, like my forehead was being split open, and my ears were ringing with a high pitched sound, and I was blinded by a bright white light, like when you wake up in the morning and someone yanks open the curtains and the light is really strong, and it hurts your head too. Everything was blurry, and felt dazed. Though I knew what this was.
This was the usual symptoms. I needed to get somewhere confined, and fast, 'cos believe me, having a vision in public = bad, bad things. I would know.
I started running, when I tripped on an indentation in the path. I fell head-first into a girl, of about fourteen or fifteen. She had long, thick auburn hair, with a fringe, and a freckled face. And piercing mossy green eyes. That was the last thing I saw before the bright light expanded to fill every corner of my vision and the noise became deafening, almost like the roar of waves on a windy day.
* * *
A girl. With long dirty blonde hair. Me. But with my natural hair colour. And blue-grey eyes. I was smiling, and not, it seemed, at some self-deprecating joke. I shot out my left arm, aiming at a flat rock, probably from some pebble beach. I narrowed my eyes in concentration, and swung my arm in an arc, with which the rock followed. I gaped in amazement. Me now, not future me. A boy walked in. He was probably around fifteen, with a shock of black hair, sprawled across his head like a lazy black cat, or as though a toddler had got a black crayon and scribbled an undecipherable mess onto his head. Cool. He came over, and clapped me on the back. I was in some kind of green house maybe, because it was quite stuffy, i could see out the windows into a meadow behind. Pretty. Very pretty.
And then, like a fish on a hook, I was yanked back to the present.
* * *
Very green eyes. Mossy green. Practically luminesent. Then a wave of nausea swept over me, and I laughed rainbows onto someones shoes. Ya' know, puked, hurled, whatever dangles your doughnut.
I was in some kind of empty storage warehouse. Well considering it was empty, it wasn't doing much storing. It was cold, and dark, and dank. Dank. I like that word. It means unpleasently moist or humid. Like this place. And then I realised I wasn't alone. There was a girl here, The girl I'd fallen into. The girl I'd just puked onto. Great. Just great. I only noticed her, and jumped back in fright.
" Jeez, I know I'm not the best looking, but still.." She joked.
"What do you want?" I asked suspicously
" Thats not a very nice way to talk to someone you just puked on." She pointed out.
"Oh, yeah. Sorry about that." I said lamely, blushing.
She smiled, but I still didn't know who she was, and I wasn't going to be trusting anyone.
"I'm Rowan." She said.
" Like a Rowan tree. I'm Alice"
" Alice who fell down the rabbit hole." she grinned. It was then I decided I liked her. Maybe It was my physicic senses telling me or whatever.
"Why did you bring me here?" I asked
Well, you fainted, and you were actually seizing up a little, so..I figured I should probably get you in here."
"Well, thanks." I said.
"So, why did you faint?"
I laughed. "You really don't wanna know."
"Oh, but yes I do." She counteracted.
"Ok, but you brought it upon yourself. I am a freaky girl, who ran away from her rich snobby parents who were going to send her to a mental home because I keep having these wierd visions of the future, which always come true." I said in a rush.
" I'm damaged goods." I pointed out.
Then she started laughing. She laughed so hard, she clutched at her side, and when she finally calmed down she was brushing tears away.
"What?" I demanded.
"Oooh, nothin' you're just funny. Now about these visions-" She began but I interupted her.
"No, no,no,no,no, you are not taking me to some stupid creepy old doctor, to be shoved into a mental home, force-fed pills, and talk with a frickin' therapist, because, I am not crazy!" I finished
"Um...Thats not what I was going to say. If you had given me a chance to speak, you would know that what I was going to say was that I know someone you could see."
"And would this person happen to be a doctor, hm?" I asked suspiciously
" No. To put it simply, someone like you. Someone who has visions. A Seer, or Prophetess, I believe it is called." she said, grinning at my shocked, gaping face.
I had always wondered if there had been people who had had what I did...A curse...Though I had never met any of them before. And now...well this was just...amazing..I mean this...It just changes everything...
"How? Where? Who?" I asked
" How? I cannot answer that because I do not know. Where? Well, you might just find out if you come with me...Who? The answer may await in your future."
"Wait, is that your way of asking me to go somewhere with you?" I said, a smile playing on my lips.
"It may just be..." She smiled.
" Well, I don't even know you very well...you're a stranger I mean..." I said
"So...is that a yes?" She said, a gleam in her eye
"Yep." I smirked.
Rowan stood up and I followed her outside. It was a whole lot brighter out there, with the afternoon sun shining down, very un-irish weather, but I wasn't complaining. It was hot and bright, and the city was bursting with people, bustling around, a genereal buzz of conversation in the air, but it made my head hurt, and I swayed were I stood for a second before Rowan took hold of my shoulders and steered me around a corner.
We walked in a slightly awkward silence for fifteen minutes, when Rowan stopped outside a rickety looking pub, which I assumed to be called The Toads Stool. I thought this because instead of the name at the front top of the pub, the name was scribbled all over its front. All over it. Like, every single inch. except every time it was written, it was in a different font. Kinda like this:
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
the toads stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool
The Toads Stool.
Except messier. I could see one made of symbols I couldn't decipher.
"Here we are" Said Rowan cheerfully.
"A pub?" I asked slightly confused.
"Yeah, the women we're going to see owns it."said Rowan. "C'mon."
I pushed open the big wooded door to be greeted with the smell of beer, Guinness, Warm wood, Log fires, and pool tables. It brought back pleasent memories of when I visited my Grandad, back when him and my parents were on speaking terms. He was a jolly man, who was the image of Santa Clause, always with a bit of frothy Guinness stuck in his beard. I remember, once, when he let me have a sip of his guinness, and I threw up all over the table.
Here in this pub, it was dark inside, which made my head feel a bit better, with thick red velvet curtains drawn over the windows, with comfy leather sofa-seats and sturdy wooden chairs with the seat pushed under the aged dusty wooden table. And in the center of the room was a brass bar. It was nice and warm in here, but not stuffy.
Rowan sauntered up to the bar and began talking with a women I would have guessed to be Spanish.
"Hey Lisa, we're looking for Lavender, would she be here by any chance?" Rowan asked.
The women nodded and gestured to a door behind the bar, which I guessed leaded to the back room.
"Now, before you go in, I just want you to know, Lavender is quite...critial, and...how do I put this...slightly ruthless in some aspects. So I'm just warning you." she explained quickly.
I followed Rowan through the door, to see a women in her sixties with leathery skin and chocolate brown eyes and thick brown hair, crudely tied into a bun, sipping a golden coloured drink I suspected was apple cider.
"Made it myself" Said the women, Which only confused me more because I hadn't said it out loud. She had probably seen me looking at it. I remembered her name was Lavender.
"Lavender, long time no see!" Said Rowan smiling, and going in for a small hug, which Lavender grugingly excepted.
"Yes, thats because the only time you come to see me is when you want something from me" And despite her grumblings, she invited us to sit. "Now what is it you want?"
"Oh, well, I thought your physicic senses would have told you that" Joked Rowan, somehow grinning under Lavenders icy glare, but Lavender ignored this and poured us both a drink, which I resolved not to drink because Rowan hadn't touched hers. When we were settled down Rowan began to talk.
"This girl here, Alice, I think she's like you. In fact, I'm almost sure, I just need your conformation"
Lavender eyed me suspiciosly, then: "Give me your hand girl." She said.
When I hestitated, she snapped " Give it here, I don't bite" And grabbed my hand into her clawlike worn hands.
"Yep." Lavender said suddenly, making me jump slightly. " Thats her. She has the second sight, though I think that's a ridiculous name for my girft. It makes us sound as though we have a second pair of eyes." She sniffed dramaticlly. " I thank you not to bore me with silly names that degrade me ability" She huffed, and whipped around. Rowan rolled her eyes.
"I saw that" Said Lavender, though her back was turned. Rowan thanked her for her help, and we entered out into the bar area once more. As we were leaving I became aware of a slight tinkling noise. I turned around and saw that the glasses on the shelf behind the counter hadd began to shake slightly, like a minor earthquake was happening. I then noticed everything else was shaking too, and people were looking alarmed and getting up out of their chairs.
Rowan turned around franticlly, an alarmed look on her face. She grabbed my arm, and started pulling me toward the door, ignoring my confused splutters, but before she could get there and wretch the door open, I heard a tremendous crash, and tendrils of shadows erupted from the floor boards, like dark flames, licking around my feet. All hell broke loose then, of course. So much for the no panic rule.
"GET DOWN!" Screamed Rowan, diving behind the bar, along with the frightened barmaid. I however, always being the odd one out, should it be being the one chosen to have a stupid physcic sense, or being a shadows favorite snack, yum yum, was not so lucky.
One of the shadows slithered over, and coiled around my ankle, lightning quick, and before I could even react, or register what was happening, ( I dought my brain would have been able to comprehend it anyway. I probably would have stood there, mouth hanging open, looking gormless) it tossed me up into the air, like stir-fry in a wok, but not really. Gee, even though I'm being hurled into the air by a living shadow, I still have time for pointless outbursts of wit.
Now, I'm not usually a screamer, its just not me, but I'll make an exception, I absaloutly screeched my head off. In the midst of the chaos, I saw Lavender hobble out of the back room, presumably to ask what all the commotion was about, but her confused expression rapidly changed to suprise to fear, to anger. I saw that she was holding a black ebony walking stick, which she started waving in the air like a mad-women.
I struggled to loosen the grip of the thing holding me by my ankle, but I couldn't even see, because my hair was in my face, as I was being held upside down. Its vice-like grip just tightened, and I screamed again, as I heard the cruch of bone, and my nerves spiked with pain, as my ankle dangled helplessly, still in the grip of the hellish being. After a minute, I became aware of the fact that I was crying. I never cried. Never. Well, apart from now. I just really couldn't understand this. It was like in maths class, when I was groggy and tired, and staring at a problem for ages, but my brain just couldn't understand it. Like a computer that froze, or your TV scrambles and keeps repeating the last three seconds. I was so confused...Since when did shadows became animate, and start grabbing innocent girls, and crushing their ankles? But most of all I was scared. I hate to admit it but I was. I'm not usually one to get scared, or more often admit it. Put on a brave face, that was my thing. But now my heart was thumping, and I felt like I couldn't breath. I was gonna die, and suddenly the whole mental home idea sounded a lot more cosy than I'd remembered...
What do I do? I wonder what it feels like to die. Please...I just want this stupid thing to let me go...I'm too young to die...yeah, cliche, but its true. And then, as quick as it had begun, it ended. It was over. Nix. Nada. Nothing. And then the wooden floor rushed up to greet me, but instead smacked me in the face. So rude.
* * *
I could feel them. The shadows. Slithering against my face. I leapt up in alarm, and then fell right back down as my ankle exploded into agony. Its probably not as bad as it seems, its just, I've never actually broken any limbs before. The worst injury I can remember was eitheir when I fell off my bike and was covered in bruises and scratches, or when I was young and miraculsly manged to open a so called child locked medicine bottle, and drained it one, and had to be brought to hospital to have my stomach pumped.
I saw the last of the shadows creeping down through the floorboards, back to wherever they came from. Some hellish painful reality I suspect.
" And stay outta my pub, ye bloody fear-monger!!!" yelled Lavender after them. Lavender. Now that I think about it, thats a really strange name for her. I've always thought of Lavender to be something that represented soft and sleepy stuff. and flowers, obviously. But she's not exactly what I'd call soft, nor sleepy, nor flowery.
"What the hell was that?!" I shouted trying not to look at my slightly mangled ankle.
"Oh, ya'know, just a shadowfiend, the buggers are popping up all over the place these days, don't know whats up with them" Said Rowan cheerfully.
"But you showed him!" Said Rowan, although I never heard any of this, because at that point I had begun shouting at the top of my lungs.
"WHAT ?!?!?! POPPING UP ALL OVER THE PLACE?! WHY ARE YOU SO CASUAL AND EVER SO SLIGHTLY HAPPY ABOUT THIS?!! I ALMOST DIED, AND MY ANKLE IS CRUSHED, SO I CAN'T STAND! THAT THING HAD ME!!" I was in hysterias now. Rowan looked shocked, and slightly baffled. "AND SINCE WHEN CAN SHADOWS DO THAT?!?! I THOUGHT I WAS DEAD! WHY ARE YOU SO NONCHALANT ABOUT THIS!!!!!" I screamed, biting back a sob. I must have looked mad, my hair flying all over the place, face red, eyes wide and bloodshot, and lets not forget the slightly mangled ankle. I probably would have thrown myself at her if it weren't for the ankle. I then quickly added: "And thank you Lavender, you saved my life." Even in moments of hysteria, I will still remember my manners. I noticed a slight look of bewilderment cross her face but she quckly regained her posture.
"Look, sit down here and calm down. Lisa, get her a drink." Rowan ordered. Lavender came over and grabbed my arm with suprising strenght and seated me in a chair nearby. The place was empty apart from me, Rowan, Lavender, and the Spanish waitress Lisa. Lisa looked up from were she was sweeping up some shattered glass, and scurried over to get me some water. I calmed myself down and sipped my water patiently.
" So now that I have ceased screaming, would any one of you care to inform me of what the hell just happened?" I said, keeping my vioce level.
"Well, The shadows attacked, and you were whipped into the air, ankle crushed..." Rowan trailed off when she saw the look I was giving her.
"I'd gathered as much" I said through gritted teeth.
"Well, its ok now, because its gone, and won't be coming back any time soon, thanks to you." Rowan smiled warmly.
" Me? The only thing I did was scream, cry, and have my ankle broken" I stared down at it in dismayal.
"Yes, but what else did you do? Think...You wanted it to let you go right? And you asked it to let you go...So it did." Said Rowan
" Ok...I'm not really sure how to react to this..." I said.
" Look, to make a long story short, you have a minimal amount of mind control abilities, which are heightened at times when you are feeling strong emotions. Like fear." Lavender said bluntly, looking steadily at me waiting for my reaction.
" YEEEEAH!!!!" I punched the air in happiness. "All my life I have been cursed with such a stupid worthless power that I don't even like, but now I have mind control!!! AWESOME!!!" I screamed.
Lavender and Rowan had the most baffled and bewildered looks on their faces you can possibly imagine.
"Oi, don't get cocky. Anyway, I could have stopped it if I'de wanted, it just took me by suprise." added Rowan indignitly.
"Oh, yeah, right, of course, and don't bother with all that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit crap" I laughed. " GET DOWN!!" I imitated her screaming voice when she had dived behind the counter, sniggering all the while.
"No, really, look at this!" She said. She began to stare at the ground in a kind of creepy way, and then started moving her hands in an intricate motion, almost like a dance, and then suddenly a vine erupted out of the ground, and started to mirror her movements. She let it fall after a few seconds, and smiled smugly at my face.
"That. Is. So. COOL!" I yelled.
" Show off..." I heard Lavender mutter.
" How'd you do that?" I questioned.
In reply however, she merely tapped her finger to the side of her nose.
There was a slightly awkward silence then.
"Well...I guess I had better be off then...Ya'know, gotta find a place to stay...Unless of course..." I left the sentence hanging, and stared directly at Rowan. When she didn't respond, I said " I would be awesome if I knew someone who I could stay with" I said and coughed twice, and in between coughs I said hint hint.
" Well, you know, you could always stay with me." Said Rowan.
If I could have jumped I would have, but the ankle you know...
"Oh yes, yes, yes please!!!" I squealed, and wrapped my arms around her for a hug.
My other life was like a faded photo now. It seemed a million years ago, even though it was mere hours. And although I had been thrust into a world of freaky/cool powers, animated shadows that toss innocent girls like stirfry, and dancing vines, when I look back on today, lying on Rowans couch, which I was using as a makeshift bed, ankle in bandage after Rowans attempt at stablising it till we got a chance for hospital, I really don't recall ever being happier.
To Be Continued..