Have you ever been to a very cold place where the sun did not even bother to show itself there? Don’t ask me.
Have you ever tried running in the forest barefooted because one of your sneakers has floated along with the river and because you were so furious you threw the piece that was left? I don’t want to remember.
You see, I’ve done all of that. And trust me the experience is not worth trying for. If some gambling company would invite participants to try to survive what I’ve been, I wouldn’t sign myself in. Even if some pot money worth $ 1 million is at stake.
You think it’s easy? No, it is not. Try reading on and you would know why.
I have been running for my life for more than three days now. Some lunatic group visited my house at St. John, Vancouver and murdered my family. They say it was because we were enchanters. I don’t know what that means. Because as far as I know my father’s a P.E. teacher at St. John High School; my mother’s a real-estate agent, my older brother is in his senior years and work at nearby gasoline station for part time; and I am a junior student. I don’t see any enchantments in that.
It happened last Monday… or is Tuesday? I can’t really remember. As far as I know, my mom made that night very special because she announced that she’s having a baby over our dinner. Dad quickly gave her a kiss on a cheek – which is kind of sweet – and we had our famous family hug together.
The next thing I knew, somebody kicked the door in our living room and shouted, “Enchanters, say your prayers!”
My father herded us towards the kitchen door, “run! Save yourselves! Nick, take care of the girls,” my brother nodded and we scrambled at the back.
Just as we were about to merged with the shadows of the old oak tree I turned around and saw my Dad nailed to the wall. A lanky-looking guy with his back on me lifted a shiny silver weapon. It was a sort of a sword but smaller and narrower and had a wavy blade. The blade glinted as it reflected the lights on the kitchen.
He thrust the weapon onto my father’s chest. I heard myself screaming and the guy who killed my father turned around and saw my face.
“Sera, let’s go,” Nick grabbed my hand and we ran. So I thought we ran; but it looks more like he was dragging me. What would you expect? All of me wanted to turn around and kick the guy’s face that killed my father.
It didn’t take long before the lunatic guys who accused us of being enchanters emerged from somewhere. They were like part of the shadows, appearing and disappearing.
“You all deserve to die,” said the ninja guy. He was on an all-black-suit with his face covered with a black cloth. So definitely a ninja.
“What did we do wrong?” my mother asked.
“You married an enchanter,” he said like it clears out everything.
“No words said the master, Julius,” chastised the other ninja. “Kill them!”
We don’t need more inspiration to run. I know Nick and I can save ourselves. But we can’t simply run away leaving our pregnant mother.
We found ourselves back into our own yard. We were cornered by the killers. The guy who killed my father stared back at me. He did not wear the lame ninja suit. He’s just on his faded denim pants and light brown shirt which is now smeared with blood.
“Spare our mother,” Nick pleaded. I am so proud of him. “She’s pregnant.”
And that was a mistake. The Dad-killer guy snapped and had his full attention on my mother. “Blasphemy!” he muttered and leap towards my screeching Mom.
Have you seen the Matrix? Where the people there can defy gravity?
That’s what happened to Dad-killer guy. He simply sauntered towards my mother and landed on top of her.
This is too much. We knew we haven’t done anything. They killed my father. And now my pregnant mother?
I saw Nick kicked and punched everywhere. I slipped towards the kitchen to get my mother’s bread knife. Or anything that would be my weapon.
My dad was lying in the pool of blood and barely breathes. He’s alive!
“Dad! Oh God!” I cried with the palette knife on my hand. My Mom uses it for spreading icing on cakes. So much for the bread knife.
“G-Get o-… o-out f-from… f-from here… h-here,” he said choking with his blood.
Stubborn. That was me. “I am not leaving you.”
“T-Take g-good… t-take good… c-care… care of the… t-the… n-neck… n-neck… necklace… n-necklace. It w-will… s-show y-you every… e-everything,” he coughed and went limp.
I ran outside ready to use my weapon. But Nick was already on the ground with his body folded like a ragdoll. My mom was staring back at me. She was tied on a make-shift post. The ninja guys were kneeling in front of her while the Dad-killer guy was facing her.
My mother uttered a silent “I love you” and closed her eyes. I saw for the second time the wavy weapon held in the guy’s hand. He lifted it up, said a little chant, and plunged it to my mother’s womb.
I screamed again.
Then the rest was purely running and chasing.
I never ran this fast and this far in my entire life. I spent the entire night ducking, sliding, crouching, crawling and any possible way to hide myself from the killers.
And those guys were super fit! They would cross rivers by leaping from one side to another. Some have fallen down trees by their fist.
Maybe because of their super strength and determination to kill me that I’ve got the courage to run as fast as I could. If I have known that I could push myself this far, I would have sign up for the annual marathon. Perhaps I could stash out the trophy.
The meal that I had the following day was served by a bird. No kidding.
The bird had caught a trout-like fish in a nearby stream. The fish, I guess, is heavier than the bird so it eventually slipped off its bill. The poor fish flopped on the ground. I picked it up to put it back on the stream. But my stomach growled ferociously. So the fish swallowed the twig that I stuck on its mouth and became my breakfast or lunch… or a combination of both.
Of course I did not eat it raw. Yuck! Who among you are girl scouts here? Well, not me.
But I always watched Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls on Discovery Channel. Somehow I have a slightest idea on how to make fire without matchsticks.
Because I was stupid enough to make a fire, my killers knew my exact location. After the brief meal and a quick drink of cold water from the nearby stream that tasted like a combination of mud and spit, I started running again.
It’s amazing how my body responded to the idea. My muscles didn’t even complain. I think I ran far enough when another stream snaked ahead. The stream had a silent murmur with big rocks on its bank.
I remembered the killers leaping from one bank to another. Maybe I could try that. So I backed away and sprinted towards the stream.
I flew… I guess. But I didn’t get through the other side. I ended up rolling on the bay of the stream with almost a handful of earth on my mouth.
Then I heard the thudding of feet… this time the sound seemed so near and heavier. It sounded like horses galloping towards me.
And so I ran again.
The forest that I ran into seemed endless. Canopies of vines hang from trees to trees. Droplets of water from somewhere in branches of the trees stung my eyes.
The ferns and shrubs that dominate the entire forest floor make it impossible to cruise to. I was too afraid that somewhere a huge bear would bare its fangs on me. Or maybe a snake would suddenly coil me to death.
I found a tree that has been lying on the ground since who knows when. I took refuge on it. The ferns were tall enough to hide my view from something or someone who’s passing.
For the first time, I noticed my feet were full of splinters and bruises. My arms have all the sort of scratch from plants and trees.
In that solitary moment, I cried. I lost everything that matters most in my life. My family is not perfect. Sometimes I heard Mom and Dad would argue over some bills due for payment. There are times, when Nick would drive me insane by being so over protective. But amidst of that, we are family.
I allowed myself a few more seconds to shed tears for my family. But I know I can’t run forever. I wiped the tears that soaked my face; my chin-length hair is sticking to it.
The galloping sound is approaching again. I crouched and wound beneath the ferns, alerting all my senses.
When I’m pretty sure that they can sense me, I broke into my now-famous fugitive run. I tried to avoid trails or running straight ahead. That would be very easy for them to track me. So, as much as I could, I ran with no particular direction away from the galloping sound.
A few yards away from me, a clearing was visible. Though the light from sun had not totally touched the ground but it was easy to spot on.
I decided to avoid it but when I was on the edge of the clearing I saw my hope.
There stood, in the midst of the giant trees that shaded the entire clearing, a marble-like house. Or mansion. Regardless, the point is it’s a grand shelter which means people. People that could somehow, help me.
I quickly ran to the front door and knocked, it’s no use if I’ll choose the garage which is nearer. At first it was just soft knocks.
“Hello…! Hello…!” I tried to hide the trembling on my voice. But nobody answered. I supposed this people had door bells. So inspect for any bell but to no avail. Nothing.
“Help…! Please, somebody… help me,” I cried while I bang the door. If you’re between life and death, mixed with fear and anxiety, you will forget about manners and stuffs. “Somebody help me…!”
Certainly, the owners wouldn’t think that I am a beggar. Ok, so maybe I look like one. With my dirty clothes, leaves sticking on my hair, barefooted… and I smelled like a beggar too. But that doesn’t mean I’m a beggar all the way. What kind of beggar who will scramble in the forest to look for alms?
“Please… somebody help me!”
It was the growl that sent my hair standing.
I was banging on the door when the most ferocious growl shook my entire being. I turned and came face to face with the lean bears. Seriously, I would say they are lean bears.
They look like wolves but bigger and furrier. If I could freeze the moment, take a wolf, and let it stand beside them… the wolf would look like a puppy compare to their size. So I would say they were bears with leaner and toner muscles.
The reddish-brownish one folded its upper lip and showed me his set of horrible teeth. The grayish one howled and looked like it drools. The black lean bear never left its gaze on me and growled again.
There were six or seven of them… I don’t know. I lost the ability to count from running and from the image of the beasts that are now forming a half-circle.
They were slowly taking their steps towards me. I saw their paws. It was huge! Forget the lean bear that I told you before. This is super. Like wolves that have been injected by steroids.
I am ashamed to tell this. But I definitely soiled myself. My bones were shaking from fear.
When the black one showed his wolfish smile and coughed, my body went into complete shutdown.
Then everything was dark.
Flashy pictures. My Dad. My Mom. Nick on his favorite shirt. Wavy sword. The woods. Running. The old mansion. The wolves.
I bolted up and for a second I forgot who I am, where am I.
The room was small with lacy curtains and yellow wallpapers. There’s a bookshelf on one corner and an old computer in a small table. The computer was manufactured during the dinosaurs’ era. It was the old but faithful white colored-CPU with matching bulky computer screen.
I was put into a small bed with lavender bed sheet. I checked myself and found out that my clothes are gone and I was using a gray shirt and white pajama.
I tried to remember the incident from yesterday and the last thing that was registered are the medically-enhanced wolves.
I carefully paced myself inside the room. It was made of wood so definitely I wasn’t housed on the marble-like mansion in the woods.
The room was very organized and clean. The alarm clock that was on the side bed showed ten o’clock in the morning. But it doesn’t look like one outside. I peered behind the lacy curtains and, not such a surprise, the sun is absent again. But it wasn’t raining.
My feet are now clean with medical plasters on the splinters. I smelled fresh and clean. Did the wolves adopt me? So what now? Am I Seraphina the wolf girl?
I smiled and felt stupid for doing so. It’s so amazing how one event can change your life forever. I tried to recall what my Dad had told me on his last breath. The necklace!
My hand strolled on my neck and found the thing still hanging there. It was not flashy or good to look at. But it was special. It was given to me by my father.
It’s a thin silver necklace with a pendant the size of a penny. The pendant itself looks like a metallic coin with the privilege of rustic color. The image engraved on it is something that will not play in your imagination.
It was just an engraved feather. On the back side was a hollow image of a sword. A sword!
I took off my necklace and studied the sword. I cried terribly. For the sword is the same as the wavy sword that Dad-killer guy used to slay my parents.
Just as I was seated on the floor and crying my soul out that I heard somebody opened the door. I turned without remembering wiping my tears away and saw a police standing there.
Chief Swan, the patch on his uniform said. He was tall and serious. He was staring at me with a distant look in his eyes.
“Are you okay?” he asked, “you can have breakfast downstairs.”
“T-thank you… Chief Swan,” I gratefully replied. At least I was in the hands of a police. He doesn’t look like a crazy police to me. He’s harmless, if I may say.
“Y-You knew me?” he looked startled, his eyes clearly spelled out his feelings.
“It’s… it’s in your patch, Chief Swan,” I said, pointing my shaky fingers on his uniform.
He looked down and half-smiled, “of course,” he said and left the room with the open door.
Chief Swan’s kitchen is tiny. There were four chairs that do not match around a square table. The cupboards are bright yellow with chips on the side.
I remembered our kitchen in Vancouver. It was not huge but not as small as this. It this could have been our kitchen, we wouldn’t fit.
The food was delicious. That was an understatement. I would say the food was one hundred and one percent perfect. Toasted bread, cream cheese, sausages, and eggs. The scented filled the kitchen mixed with the aroma of black coffee that was brewing in the corner.
“Have a sit, dear,” said the woman tending the stove. She has jet-black hair that she tied on a hurried ponytail and a nice complexion of earth-brown.
“Good morning Mrs. Swan,” I greeted sheepishly and settled on the chair near the sausages.
I heard a deep sigh from the woman, “I am not Mrs. Swan… yet,” she told me and laid the scrambled eggs. It was tempting: bell peppers, sliced ham, and melted cheese.
“The chief said he wants to talk to you after you’ve eaten,” she announces.
Of course! I should explain what had happen. Will they send me back home? I hope not. I’d rather be in custody of an institution than spend my life with our empty house.
I ate like a horrible bear. I devoured the large meaty sausage in just four trips; I’ve finished five toasted bread with cream cheese on top; I’ve almost emptied the plate that housed the scrambled eggs. Not-Mrs. Swan-yet gave me a mug of freshly brewed coffee. I drank it without milk.
“You want more?” she smiled tenderly and thought how lucky Chief Swan to have her.
“No, thank you – “ I paused thinking what to call her. It would be disrespectful if I’ll say, thank you not-Mrs. Swan-yet.
“Just call me Sue Clearwater,” she smiled.
I can see a little uneasiness in her eyes. She seems careful and distant yet she welcomed me with a feast without whacking me off my butt.
I refilled my mug for the second time with black coffee maybe either I was feeling lucky running away from death or being nervous on the idea of meeting Chief Swan for interrogation. Sue Clearwater just sat by me without another word.
Chief Swan arrived with his official car, lights of blue and red winked on top. “Please get in the car,” he said almost mutely.
I opened the door behind the driver but Chief Swan glared so I cringed and opened the passenger’s door instead. Sue Clearwater waved goodbye as we pulled away from their little house.
What sort of town is this, I mentally asked. Surely I haven’t left Canada not with my running skills. And besides, as far as I can remember, I was just circling round the forest.
I cleared my throat and dared ask the Chief, “what’s the name of the town, sir?” I peered to see his face.
Chief Swan frowned looking like my question is intriguing and pursed his lips before answering timidly, “Forks.”
I sort of understood that Chief Swan is one-question-one-answer type of person. He doesn’t have the energy to engage in a casual conversation. Or perhaps, he’s just observing my behavior and later on would declare that I’m insane and guilty of killing my family.
“Forks,” I sighed. Where is Forks in Vancouver?
Vancouver is my home but I haven’t that much of pleasure to explore the vastness of land that Vancouver has. I’ve never been to busy streets of the cities so much the more the small towns that sprouted in the outskirts of Vancouver.
I feasted on the greenish scene that we cruise to. Forks is mostly wooded. Houses were designed for cold and rainy days. I am betting that Forks sat on the northern part of Vancouver.
Out of curiosity and wanting to engage Chief Swan into a casual conversation, I asked, “Forks is northern part of Vancouver?”
I saw Chief Swan knitted his brows as if my question bothered him. “No,” he said and silent again. He didn’t even bother on sparing me some details. He just continued playing the steering wheel.
The town in Forks looks sleepier than St. John. The shops were silent and only a handful of cars drove around downtown with, I guess, pipe silencer attached.
We made a turn and I saw loomed ahead the police station. This is it! I said to myself. I have no planning on hiding the story from the cop especially if it’s Chief Swan who’ll lead the questioning.
I was so ready to unbuckle the belt but Chief Swan didn’t drive through the parking lot. He continued driving as if he forgot his office. We were already cruising ahead. I can see on my side of the mirror the image of police station getting smaller as we drive farther and farther.
“Ahm…” I cleared my throat to get Chief Swan’s attention, “Sir, you missed the station.” I tried my very best not to panic.
“We are not going to the station,” he said without even looking at me.
Coldness crept on me, slowly turning my muscles into Jell-O. Will it be possible that Chief Swan is part of the killers that massacred my family? Could it be that the killers found me lying on the porch of the mansion and carried me somewhere else and one of the ninja guys happened to be Chief Swan?
“What do you want from me?” I cried which made Chief Swan jumped from his seat. “I can’t see any humane reason why you’ve killed my family.”
My voice is so accusing that Chief Swan had to glance sideways and cast me his bewildered look. His eyes, which speak louder than he, are as confusing as mine.
“Save your breath, lady,” he said while fixing his eyes on the road again. We were cruising the highway that overlooks a bay. “I wanted to hear your story but not on the police station. I will bring you to the people who found you in the woods. And I didn’t kill your family.”
It was not very assuring. I am still thinking that whoever Chief Swan may be or this people who found me in the porch, they are dangerous.
“And in case you were thinking,” he said which surprises me, “I will not harm you. Just tell us the truth and we’ll figure things out.”
I didn’t answer him. I am planning how to escape from him. Though he drives slow – 25 miles per hour, gosh! – I’m sure it would hurt me a lot if I’ll jump off the car.
We came into a crescent-shaped beach with pebbles and driftwoods populating the shore. White sea foam played at the bay with its sound like music to my ears lulling me to sleep.
Chief Swan’s car stopped at a wooden cottage. A man was sitting on a wheelchair greeted us on the porch. He has the features of the native Indian: black hair the rest on his shoulder, earthy skin – like Sue Clearwater which I concluded that she’s part of this group – black eyes with soggy face.
“Good day, isn’t it,” the Indian guy said and paid no attention to me.
“Yes it is, Billy,” Chief Swan said and rolled him inside. “Follow me,” he said coldly without making sure that I was really following him.
Now is my chance of escaping. I thought of running away again. But a part of me wants to trust the chief. Reasoning out, that if he indeed is as dangerous as I thought, he could have put me to death when I was snoring at his house.
Besides, there is something the way Chief Swan flicker his eyes that suggest longing and loneliness. If Sue Clearwater is not-Mrs. Swan-yet then perhaps the chief had experienced some moments of loss in the past.
Maybe, I thought, if I am going to tell him the truth about the sudden death of my family he would sympathize with me. He knew how it felt to be alone.
I settled on the sofa that almost swallowed me. It was cushiony that when I took my sit I was buried deep. The house is cozy and natural. The curtains were tied in the corner with a flowery fabric to allow the natural air to ventilate the room.
On the opposite corner, a small kitchen is on work. A girl is arranging muffins on a platter and some plastic cups and a pitcher of cold drinks on another. She set the snack on a large tray and left the wooden counter.
The girl didn’t look up to greet me. She just put her tray on the center table and walked away. I know I am not welcome because I am neither a guess to Chief Swan. But a little smile would do especially if you’re offering somebody a food.
Chief Swan and the crippled guy named Billy claimed the wooden counter in the kitchen not too far away from me. They were like talking to each other but at the same time gawking at my presence.
Frustrations, sadness, aloneness and other non-happy thoughts are slowly seeping through my body. Where else should I go? I don’t know my own family tree. My parents never talked about them with us.
“Where are the guys?” I heard the chief asked and Billy mumbled his answer that I didn’t get.
A few moments later, without me touching the muffins and the cold drinks, a group of lads came laughing at the porch. They burst inside with big grins on their faces.
The guys were workout fanatics. All of them had muscles everywhere. They wore short khaki pants and shirt that hugs every curve of their body. They have the common color of the earth on their skin, black hair and black wild eyes.
Their grins faded slowly as they saw me sitting like a wet duck. I nervously fiddled with my fingers as I try to ignore their stares. I sensed they all had settled on every available space. When I timidly swept my eyes on them they started their rapid interrogation.
“What were you doing in the woods?” said the lanky guy, furrowing his head like an old man.
Few of his mates darted a quick dagger-stare on him for some reason that I can’t explain. “Running,” I answered. But I was quick to think and backfired a simple question that left his mouth half-opened. “How did you know I was in the woods?”
Somebody made a deep clearing of his throat. It was the beefiest of them all. He seemed to be not part of the group since he was a little older than the rest. “Why are you running the in the forest?”
“How did you know that I was indeed running the in forest?” I know that I should be giving them answers instead of throwing them my question. But it nags on my mind the idea of them knowing that I am in the woods. If they knew that I was running then certainly they might be the ninja guys that were tracking me.
“Because we saw you leaping in the stream, running in the forest like somebody’s chasing you,” another guy abruptly said with something dangerous growing in his eyes.
“Paul!” the beefiest guy shot him a look.
“Y-You saw m-me?” coldness again is visiting my body. Quick calculations would say that these guys have monitored my marathon in the forest. “For how many days?”
“Look lady – “
“My name’s Seraphina, stop calling me lady!” I turned to the lanky guy. I was also surprised by my own reaction. My voice went a little higher and it’s too late to take back my name.
“Keep it cool, children,” Chief Swan mediated.
“How did you find me? The very last time I remembered is that I was standing in the porch of a white house in the middle of the forest when some oversized wolves attack me. After that I lost my consciousness. When I woke up, I was in Chief Swan’s house,” I prattled on the recent memory in my mind.
“These young guys found you sleeping in the forest… Se-… Ser, er… what’s your name again?” asked the chief while scratching the back of his head.
“I’m Seraphina… Seraphina Forbes,” I whispered. There you go. I might as well come out clean. Tell them the whole story. They might help me. “The wolves… bears… wolf-bear,” I said totally frustrated how to describe the animals that I saw. “There were so many of them… five, six, seven… I can’t really remember.”
“Why were you in the forest, Seraphina?” the crippled guy asked me. His eyes is as cold and hard as a stone. Though his words didn’t hint any harshness in them but his facial says otherwise.
So I told them what had happened to me two three days ago, I can’t say. I tried not to cry on the part where the killer lunge the blade on my father and mother or the unusual position of Nick when he was left in the ground.
“Did you see the faces of the killers?” Chief Swan knitted his brows like a detective.
“Just the guy who has the blade,” I said. I sank back on my seat while trying to hold back my tears.
“Did you report it to the police?” Billy asked, now his voice sounded clipped.
“No… I told you my first instinct is to run away.”
“Where’s your house?” the beefiest guy asked whose name, I’ve learned later on, is Sam.
I told them the exact address. But they all seemed confuse about it.
“Where’s St. John?”
“I-In V-Vancouver…” I was a little confused with their question.
“Vancouver!” Chief Swan gasped in surprise. He massaged his temple as if it pained him terribly. Billy looked shaken but managed to compose himself again.
“You mean Vancouver in Canada?” Sam verified which really irritated me.
“Yes! Why? What is this place by the way?”
“This is La Push… in – “ Sam answered but I interrupted him, “I thought this is Forks?” I asked creasing my forehead.
“Chief Swan’s place is Forks,” said Sam surprisingly in low tone, “this is La Push.”
“In Vancouver?” now it’s my time to play geography quiz.
“No, honey,” said the lanky guy, “in America.”
“Which part of America?” I felt terribly cold about this.
“United States of America!” the lanky guy almost growl.
My eyes grew rounder and I almost grab the muffin to stuff it in my wide-open mouth. US of A? “You’re kidding me…” I whispered.
“So, you said you’re from Vancouver?” Chief Swan’s voice is like a distant bell ring to me now. I can’t believe I’m in United States of America. This is so impossible.
“And you have just been running, eh?” he said again.
“For I guess three days,” I confirmed but totally doubting. It can’t be. I can’t run that far. And for three days? This is insane.
“Please, tell me again the story,” Billy said, wheeling his chair nearer to me this time.
I told them again the story with more details now. I tried to picture out the forest that I ran into. It seems so near. I would still believe it’s in Vancouver.
For some reason that I don’t know, and they won’t tell me either, Sue Clearwater adopted me and housed me in her small cottage with a small patch of garden on its front yard. Her place is nice and warm.
The house is built for a small family. The kitchen is smaller than what Chief Swan has and the living room doesn’t have television on it. My room, which later I knew that it was Seth’s room (Sue’s son) – is clean. And when I say clean it means nothing is in there. No bed, cupboard, dresser or chair. It was empty and solemn. The only good thing on it is its window that has a view of the distant beach.
“Sorry for letting you sleep on the floor,” Sue Clearwater said with a hard face. “I’ll get some quilts for you to sleep in.”
She hurriedly went to her room and came back with a woven fabric and a couple of pillows covered with white pillowcases. The pillowcases were made from the cloth sack of the flour.
She left me in my room to unpack. Per see, there’s nothing to unpack since what I have is a few pairs of jeans and cardigans handed by Chief Swan. The clothes were stuffed in a tote paper bag. Sue Clearwater gave me some new underwear that she brought from the town’s store on her way home.
“Why can’t she stay somewhere else?” I heard Embry’s voice from the kitchen. He was the lanky guy who yelled “United States of America” on me. I stood at the door to eavesdrop.
“Because that’s what Billy wants,” Sue Clearwater said flatly. There’s no sense of compassion or protectiveness on her voice.
“Then she should stay at Billy’s then,” Embry insisted. I don’t know what his problem with this kind of arrangement is. To think this is not his house. The nerve!
“Stop it, Embry,” Sue said, “you know very well that the girl has lost her family.”
“What did the police said?” it was Seth, the kind young guy who abandoned his room for me. “What did Chief Swan said about the girl’s house in Vancouver? What really happened?”
“Charlie – I mean, Chief Swan said he called the town’s police about the murder,” Sue began and I pressed even more on the door so I could hear her, “and the police confirmed it. They said, they were looking for the daughter. She should explain to them everything, “suddenly Sue mellowed down her voice to a whisper but I could still hear her, “the police said the daughter is their primary suspect.”
Few gasps were audible among the audience but the louder was mine behind the door. How could they point me as the killer?
“Why?” Leah whispered back, she was Sue’s daughter.
“Because she ran away,” answered Sue, “it would have been better if she surrendered herself to the police.”
“Do you think she’s the killer?” Seth’s voice had a hint of concern. I just knew this guy for hours but I can say that he’s good-natured. He’s the only one who welcomed me well, so far.
“I can’t tell,” Sue said it like she had her doubts. If she does doubted me, then why’d she let me stay in her house?
I backed away and curled on one corner of the tiny room. My family’s been murdered and I am the suspected killer. So much the more, I can’t go home without the police running with shackles for me.
I allowed myself some solitary moments of despair. When will this nightmare end? What will be the future for me? I know I can’t stay with Sue’s family forever nor I can count on Chief Swan for protection.
I was crying in one moment and then I fell asleep after a few more minutes in the corner. I knew I was sleeping because I saw myself curled in one corner and snoring in the middle of the afternoon light.
So in this moment, I was having a very bad and strange dream. First, it kind of look like there’s two of me. One is sleeping and the other one is standing in the middle of the room, astonished.
The next thing that happened, I was swept away by a strong wind. I saw Sue’s cottage from the air; I heard the distant hum of the sea slapping the stones on the beach; I can taste the saltiness of the acrid wind that whisked me from Seth’s bedroom.
The wind swirled around and gripped me so I may not end up crashed on the ground. I don’t know how far it went, but suddenly it lay me gently in the middle of nowhere. This nowhere is a small island of rocks and stones. I knew it’s an island because I can see from shore to shore. Seagulls hovered above squeaking like it’s about to dive for its meal.
The wind solidified and it became my father. Now, if you knew you’re father is dead and all of a sudden you’ll see him materializing from wind, what will you do? Me? I scrambled back and picked up a stone as small as my palm and threatened him.
“Don’t go near me or you’ll see what I can do with this rock,” I said with my voice shaking.
“Guard the necklace,” he said. My father looks ghostly and his image flickered as the wind picked up from the sea. “Know your origin, my daughter.”
Then he simply faded away, leaving me in the middle of nowhere. “Dad!” I cried but his ghostly image blended with the wind. “Dad!”
“Sera! Wake up!” it was Leah shaking me vigorously.
I bolted from my sleep and found that I was still in the corner where I had been crying. “I’m okay… I’m okay,” I said, still panting.
“You’re having a nightmare at noon time,” she said with a half-smile. I didn’t get her joke so she went for the door. “we’re going to the beach, you can come if you like.”
It was an invitation but I can feel it was not heartedly spoken. But I don’t know what to do in this small cottage for the rest of the day. “Okay, I’m going.”
The beach was a mixture of sand and pebbles… but mostly it was pebbles. Bleached driftwoods danced in the shore as the wave rock them. The forest stretched its kingdom at the bay while the waters from the sea make shallow pool on its fringes. It was a haunting scene for me.
The La Push guys were showing off their muscular body. They were half-naked, wearing only khaki shorts and nothing else. They were playing at the water; their laughter echo from the dim forest that taunts me.
“Sera!” Seth called and waved his hand. “Join us… the water is unbelievable.”
I waved back and said, “later,” though I haven’t got the slightest plan on soaking myself.
I know it was mid-afternoon but the sun finds a solitary place behind the clouds. The wind blew a salty cold temperature and I can’t help but shiver with it; whereas these Indian natives enjoyed the water with their exposed body.
“You’re cold,” said Leah while stripping off her clothes. “You can light these driftwoods and warm yourself,” she said tossing a small cigarette lighter. Leah’s body is muscular too but formed in a very nice way. Her brown skin goes very well with her golden bikini and top.
I picked up the faded blue lighter and stared at the driftwoods. It was pale and flaky. I’m sure the flame would turn it into ashes immediately. I wondered what it looked like when it was part of a tree.
I reached out and touched the driftwood. It was cold as me. I closed my eyes and felt the wood’s soft bark. I was trying to imagine its life before it drifted to the sea. Ah! It was a spruce. A giant spruce, to be exact. It was one of the old trees in the forest.
I smiled when I slowly opened my eyes. Surely I have gone mad. Why would I care so much of this driftwood?
I stifled a scream. For in front of me the driftwoods have changed. It was not soft and flaky and pale anymore. The bleached color brought by the sea can no longer be seen on it.
The driftwoods are no longer driftwoods in my hand. They were fresh woods! They looked like they were newly cut from the tree trunks. The cut part was still damp from the wood sap. Small branches were slowly growing from its side with green leaves sprouting on it.
The driftwoods are alive!
I didn’t sleep that night. The hum of the distant beach sounded like a mocking laugh for me. The winds are howling like hungry wolves.
The image of the living driftwood did not left my imagination. I can still feel the bark of the wood slowly hardening in my hand; the leaves that sprouted dramatically on its thin branch.
I left the beach that afternoon with my knees shaking in fear. It was a mystery how I’ve found my way back into Sue Clearwater’s cottage. Good thing the woman is not there. Or else she could have seen me bewildered and shaken.
I didn’t enjoy the dinner. The food was delicious, no doubt about it. Sue Clearwater prepared clam soup, grilled prawns and vegetables. But the fact that the driftwoods were resurrected to its former life didn’t stir my appetite.
My day went from bad to worse when Embry arrived and started acting like he was the head of the family. He kept on blathering about my escape in the beach without saying a word to them.
“You’re just new here. Don’t go around like you knew this place,” he said while flipping the page of an old magazine.
I have to bite my tongue so I may not burst into a rapid mouth fight. This guy doesn’t know what I am going through. He looked at me like I am a burden to his friends.
I didn’t ask for this situation. I didn’t ask that my family would suddenly be just a painful memory for me. It never came into my wishful thoughts that someday I would be running for my life; crossing boundary from one country to another.
I didn’t plan my life to be a fugitive; accused of murdering her own family. No. Those were not on my wishlist. I wanted to be doctor. I’ve been saving for my college fund so I can go to the Ivy League and study what I love the most.
But in a single twist of fate, everything changed. My family is gone, killed by people who can’t even explain our wrong doings. The crime was pointed on me because I ran away.
I was housed in a small cottage with people who didn’t applaud my presence. I have to adjust; accept what they can offer.
But to be treated like a burden, like what Embry is trying to tell me, is not a good consolation at all. This guy doesn’t have a heart. He can’t feel the emptiness and loneliness of those around him.
Though he may be lanky to look at but Embry projected something powerful within him. The way he bore his eyes on me with disgust; the way his lips twitched with a scornful smile.
“Embry,” Seth said, perhaps sensing my uneasiness. “Sera might have thought of something that upsets her.”
Embry snorted that sounded like a pig. He dropped his magazine at the table and looked at Sue Clearwater who’s cleaning the kitchen.
“I’ll be around,” he said, clenching his fists. His jaw tightened like he was just suppressing his anger on me. “Call me if you need me. Seth, are you coming?”
The young boy nodded and kissed his mother on the check. They left without a word. But Embry slammed the door shut that the cottage trembled at the force.
The Clearwaters’ cottage is on the edge of the forest. It didn’t help my sleeping. The woods are calling my name. I shut my eyes tightly but the image of the driftwoods kept appearing. I rolled on the floor hoping that the dizziness would send me to slumber. But it didn’t help.
Instead, when I opened my eyes, I was in the forest. I screamed but my voice only echoed among the trees. I scrambled to my feet and started running away. But the forest is an endless dais. I was panting and sweats trickled from my forehead to my body. I hope I was having a nightmare.
I was back again on the clearing of the marbled mansion in the midst of the forest. The house was dark. I ran to the porch and was tempted to knock. Since I wasn’t answered the first time I did then maybe this time my call will be useless. Besides, it looks perfectly still, no movement within and without.
I just observed that interlinked steel covered the windows. Definitely this mansion is abandoned.
I checked the back yard and found a narrow stream that splashes with the submerged rocks. I leap and landed perfectly on the other side. I remembered the killers who did the same. But they do it with great perfection.
I ran again in the columns of trees that crowded the area. It was not windy but the trees seemed to sway with the rhythm of my body. Their branches sounded like they were clapping together fueling more my intention to leave this place.
Now that I am in the forest again – though clearly it was just one of the endless nightmares I had – I can’t helped but play with the idea of going back to St. John. I wanted to see our house. See if there’s anything there that would help me find the answer.
I was gaining speed and hoped that I was going on the right direction towards Vancouver.
Then from the darkest corner a beast lunged at me. At least I thought it was a beast. I scratched aimlessly until I heard it cried. It was a human being. But not so normal human being.
I managed to bury my fingernails on his face. It went through, marking his face with a three-lined wound. He backed away and growled in the dark.
My fear doubled. I turned to start my running escapade again. But the guy leapt and landed on my back. He gripped my neck and started to drool over me.
The fear that wrapped me is now slowly dissolving away and was replaced by rage. Nobody drools over Seraphina Forbes, my mind said.
I don’t know where my strength had came from but I reached out and grabbed the guy on my back. He twisted and wiggled to free himself but my grip is stronger and firmer. I saw his face and he was handsome to look at. Just don’t concentrate on his blood-red eyes.
He made a sound from his chest that sounded like a growl from a hungry lion. I know I should be afraid. A little part of me keeps telling to run away. But the bigger part said I can fight.
He lunged again and this time his mouth found my neck. He buried his razor-sharp teeth, “y-you’re a vampire?!” I gasped with a shock as he feasted on my blood. My vision dimmed and a high-pitch buzz rang on my ears. I thought it was over.
Fortunately, it was not.
Suddenly the vampire was hanging in the air. Coiled around him are the vines and canopies in the forest. He screamed and the sound was horrible. But the trees’ branches slapped him everywhere. The vines wrapped him like a mummy until his scream was no longer but a muffled cry.
The struggle between the vampire and the flora was nerve-breaking. Though all the vampire could do is hiss, but beneath the strangling, his nails are slicing the canopies. The plants, however, kept on crawling and squeezing leaving him breathless – if he needs breathe to survive.
I can see the vines and canopies of poison ivy covered the red-eyed creature… if he is indeed a pigment of my nightmare and not a real vampire. And from the movement of the thick threads of plants, they were choking the guy to death. The cocoon trembled for the last time until I passed out again. The only thing that I can remember is the pain and heat that spreads from my neck to my entire body.
I woke up with the sun streaming on my face. My body is sore like I’ve just survived a thousand beatings from a baseball bat. The window that overlooked the beach is wide open with curtains swaying with the breeze.
I stood up and moaned in pain. I stretched out and let my hands roam my body for a possible cure on self-massaging. My hand stopped on my neck. I remember my dream last night. The vampire!
I ran for the pea-sized mirror that was screwed on the wall near the door. I checked the right side of my neck. I almost scream. Nestled on my cream-pale neck a mark that obviously made by some teeth.
It was already healing; no sign of bruise or stain-blood or whatsoever. But I can actually feel the wound. It was like embossed on my skin.
So the dream last night was real? I can’t believe it. Because I can’t remember a moment that I left Seth’s room.
Supposed it was a real vampire, shouldn’t their bite marks appear like two dots like those of the snakes? How come the wound on my neck showed a complete set of teeth?
I almost jump when somebody knocked on my door. “Seraphina?” it was Sue Clearwater’s voice.
I opened the door for her and found Chief Swan standing behind Sue. Chief Swan has his signature pursed-lips and always-frowning brows. He folded his arms on his chest like he was totally bored on seeing me again.
“Good morning,” I greeted. I got a nod from Chief Swan and a soft “good morning to you too,” from Sue who looks pretty on a white lacy dress.
“Chief Swan here wants you to do something,” she announced as we tried to settle in her small kitchen. Sue laid out her porcelain-white square plates and offered us some stir-fried mushrooms, hash browns, and beans.
“What is it?” I asked glancing at the chief who scowl on his plate.
“I was thinking…” he said and drew a deep breath, “I was thinking… you can’t stay in this house forever,” he sighed while a lump was starting to form on my throat. I knew this day would come but I still can’t see my life living alone not being able to come home.
“But you can’t go on with your life alone… not with what happened,” he continued, “you’re not yet on the right age to work. So I am thinking, while you’re still here, you have to go to the Reservation High School same with all the kids in here,” he ended his speech gawking.
The lump that almost choked me is now melting and I can breathe normal again. Chief Swan just wanted me to go to school. Any father would.
“The Reservation High School,” I repeated with relief. I think I can handle that. At least, Chief Swan didn’t turn me in at St. John Police or else I would end up either in cold and damp cell or in psychotic asylum with people who have gone crazy.
“Sue’s going to arrange your school schedule today,” Chief Swan added.
“And if anybody asks where I live?” if I would be starting a new life, at least I have to make sure that the story is straight.
“You live with Sue Clearwater,” the chief answered nonchalantly. “Don’t worry. Nobody’s going to ask you why and where and who and how,” he said when he saw my doubts. “This is temporary while we are thinking on what to do next.”
Of course, this is temporary. I am not expecting them to carry my burden. We don’t have any blood relation so they would act in conscience for my sake. For as long as this supposed new life be, I don’t have the idea. So far, I am grateful that Chief Swan and Sue Clearwater sheltered me for a moment.
I was wearing a tight jeans and cotton tee under a very huge fury jacket with a tattered sling bag hanging on my body boringly. I felt the folded paper that was resting on my pocket.
This is it! I said to myself while I made a few quick steps towards the Reservation High School. The school nestled on top of a slightly sloping hill with lots and lots of conifers on its fringes. The parking lot was located at its foot so all students have to climb the concrete steps that look like bricks stuck on the hill’s face.
The school overlooks the beach which kind of tempting. As if inviting the students to stay in the peaceful shoreline and be lazy than be in a room with quizzes, homeworks and recitations.
After visiting the administration office, I passed through a very long hallway with full of students yelling and laughing and throwing stuffs around. I have to duck or else the stuff – which I found out was a fake plastic poop – would end up on my face.
“GIVE WAY!” somebody yelled but I was too slow to comprehend. Suddenly a group of male students came running down the hallway, crushing everyone that stand in their way.
I was literally shoved off to the wall. Laughter and howling rang as the gang showed off.
“Sorry about that,” somebody said and I look up to see a Hispanic-looking guy with the typical black curly hair, dark brown almond-shaped eyes, and gorgeous tan skin. “Those guys are jerks.”
“Oh,” I said, a very appealable reply for idiots like me. I don’t have any plan on dragging on my idiocracy so I added, “Um… I’m fine. Thank you,” and walked away.
My first class is Life Science which gave me a chill. After what had happened in the beach yesterday, I don’t know if I can stand listening about plants or animals with relations to life.
There’s a vacant spot near the teacher’s table where nobody claimed so I settled there. The desk is clean so I guessed no one is crazy enough to pick that lot. I wonder how’s Ms… I unfolded the paper from my pocket and read… Ms. Dermot with her students.
I was half-reading my book – just out of boredom than being smarty pants – when somebody cleared a throat and sit beside me.
“This is my place,” the voice said and I fully recognized who owned that tone.
It was Embry! He leaned on the table with his hands clasped together looking a total saint. He was staring at me like I am a criminal – which according to St. John Police Station I am one – with his orb-black eyes.
“This is my place,” he repeated, his jaw is set. “Nobody sits here but me.”
I was holding my patience very carefully. I owe everything to Chief Swan and Sue Clearwater. And since this Embry-who-acted-like-God is their friend then I will not say anything that would hurt them. Instead I said, “okay, I will look for another place then.”
I started standing and hiked my sling bag on my shoulder when he grabbed my hand and pulled me down, “too late, Missy. These kids would think that I kicked you out. So stay here but I cannot assure you that you will have a good time.”
“I don’t have a plan to have a good time, Embry,” I said through my clenched teeth.
“Good,” he replied with a very annoying grin, “then in that case, I will see to it that you’re not having a good time.”
“Thank you,” I smiled weakly and agreed to myself to totally ignore him.
“This is your first day of school and you are already flirting with Rodriguez,” he spoke after a moment of peace.
I turned to him with a frown on my face, “who’s this Rodriguez?”
“What a total cliché!” he arched his brows, “don’t play like an actress.”
“I don’t really know what you’re talking about,” I hissed. Beyond, I could see the teacher coming in with her noisy shoes pounding the floor. Her face is as tiny as her mouth.
“Pop quiz everyone!” she yelled and I almost fell from my sit.
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