In The Darkness

What she would find that day would change the world she lived in. Ancient pages would show her things that no one would ever believe and lead her to a land beyond her home town of Lockley.
Louisa McCain discovers an old diary in her basement, that tells her of a fantasy land that she could only dream of. She slowly gets entranced by the idea of the beyond, the potential that it holds. She becomes obsessed with finding this place called Philia, frantically scrambling to put together the clues and find the portal.
If she does, will it all be what she imagined or will she be plunged into a world that she wishes she'd never found?


14. Fourteen

I awoke back in the cave the next morning, the cool silk sheets wrapped around me in a chilling embrace.

Zach stormed into my room abruptly, his eyes focused on me and clearly wanting something from me.

He grabbed me by the shirt, pulling me to him to fall onto the bed. His intentions were clear, yet I didn’t want this to happen. I couldn’t die here.

“Louisa,” he growled predatorily, narrowing his steel eyes at me.

“No!” I screamed, not wanting what he clearly did, “Not now. I don’t want to.”

“I need to though, Louisa. I can’t go another day without it.” He came right up in my face, breathing heavily into my face, leaning over me and trying to scare me.

“You don’t scare me Zachariel.” I hissed, going up onto my toes so I equalled his height. I would not let him win this. Not now, not ever. The plan was in place, I could not lose this far into the game.

“Oh, don’t worry, Louisa. That’s not my intention to scare you. Oh no, I mean to do much more than that.”

“Like what?” I spat, inching closer to his face, daring him to flinch away as he was with me.

“I mean to make you respect me. I want you to get down on your knees before me, begging for the release I know you know about.”

“What release?” I challenged.

“Oh you know what I’m talking about, Louisa. You know a lot more than you let on.”

“Really, like what?”

“You know about the feeding process and how one day you are going to die in my bed after I’ve completed the final feed that we angels have to do to survive.”

“Yes, I do but so what? I probably would have figured it out soon enough anyway.” That was my fatal mistake, admitting I knew what he was talking about. If I had just denied all knowledge, I might have been safer but I hadn’t. I had been rash and careless, caught up in the moment and the fury that was building up inside me.

“So what? Actually, it’s who told you that makes all the difference, Louisa.” Zach’s nose bumped with mine as he edged ever closer, pushing the boundaries now.

“Who says someone told me?”

“Oh, don’t act all innocent with me.” He spat infuriated by all my questions and apathy, “I could smell the dog all over you. In town, I just dismissed it, thinking you might have just passed one in the street. The other night at the ball however was a different story. There were none of them mongrels there and yet the stench of several of them came off you, stuck to your skin. I told myself not to worry, that maybe one of them had just been outside when you were, but hell I knew inside where my intuition lies that you were with them all along. You were scheming something and knew the inner workings of Philia, the darkness that I had worked so hard to conceal from you, yet you had to try and figure out for yourself.”

“Maybe I didn’t want to come with you to be drugged up and used! I could just tell there was something wrong in my gut, so I pursued that feeling and came up with the truth.”

“You didn’t want to come; you seemed happy enough to come through the portal and skipping through the fields when I first met you!” He yelled, stepping back now from my face. I had won that round when he backed off. I had marked the boundaries in preparation for the next battle in this war.

I smirked in my slight victory, scoffing at his comments and weak blows.

“It’s not happening though, Zach. I was unaware of everything back then but now I know a lot more, I know better than to stay here with you.”

“You can’t leave though, Louisa.” He snarled, a self satisfied smirk settling on his face, “I will always be able to find you.”

“I know.” I said bluntly, causing his lips to fall into a straight line of dissatisfaction. “That’s why I have a plan to overcome that minor issue and get the hell out of this world and its deceptions.”

“Fine, then. Go. But I will be back for you Louisa. When I get my hands on you again, I will painfully torture you for this. I will leave you in suspense for days, leaving you begging for the release of death until I deliver the final blow and terminate you. I don’t need this.” He swept out of the room, leaving me to dash around the room to gather my measly gathering of belongings. I stuffed everything into a backpack that sat in the corner, piling all my essentials into the bag, leaving what I wouldn’t need again. 

I walked through the main room. Zach sat on one of the chairs, his eyes following me as I left the cave for, hopefully, the final time. His stare burned two holes in the back of my scalp, searing permanent scars of remembrance as I slammed the cave door shut.

I had to get into the village to see the werewolves. They said they would be there ready, but the issue I had to face now was how to get there in the first place. Everything looked a lot different from down here and I had never walked to the village, only in Zach’s arms had I visited the quaint square. I had no idea which way to go. I had fallen at the first hurdle.

I supposed I could have tried to wander through the vast landscape, circling around the identical fields and forests that ran through all of Philia but that would just result in me being even more lost than I am now. At least if I stayed here, I would have a point of reference and have some clue as to where I was. If only I had been paying attention to where we were going on that first day, I’d have at least been able to find the portal, where I could see where the village was.

MEOW a small mew came from behind some rocks, followed by a small grey kitten walking out to circle my ankles. I had completely forgotten about Elara and how the wolves had sent her to look after me.

“Elara,” she looked up at me with knowledgeable eyes at the call of her name, “do you know the way into the village?”

Any other time, I would have felt ridiculous talking to a cat but now, I didn’t. I knew Elara could understand me to some extent as she replied with a short nod and began trotting off to the north of the cave, leading the way to the village.

We made our way through numerous fields and forests, the landscape open and identical views splaying out at every angle. If I didn’t have Elara, I would surely be completely lost by now.

When the village finally came into view, a small smile spread across my face. I was one step closer to my friends and to planning my escape.

I no longer felt guilty for all the horrid things I had done to Zach; he deserved every single thing he got off me for that final showdown that he put up. He had tried to kill me. I suppose that’s what he had to survive but still. No one wanted to die, especially during their teen years. It was too young. I could understand why they had to do what they did, but that didn’t mean I agreed with it.

I wondered what Zach would be doing now. Would he be chasing after me or just lounging in the cave as he had been when I left him? Maybe he had gone to the other arch angels to tell them of my defiance, possibly to warn them to be on high alert in case I converted their food sources to my rebellion.

Now that I thought about it, a revolution would be a great way to free all the humans from the angels that had enslaved them for the sentence of death that they did not deserve. Maybe I could set one up independently, outside of the plans for my escape. It would definitely be me going out on a high but would leave major repercussions back here in Philia for everyone to deal with.

The selfish side of me wanted to do it and prove everyone wrong in thinking that we humans were weak and unintelligent. It would be just amazing to prove them wrong and show that, when in numbers, we could be stronger than them and beat them at their own game.

MEOW Elara’s head butted my leg, bringing me back from the dark thoughts of revolution and war. How could I have even thought of putting this world in such chaos and jeopardy? I wouldn’t do it. I know I had experienced some terrible things here, but no one in this world deserved to suffer through that dark period that my scheming could bring. Not everyone in this world was evil and out to get me and kill me. There were the good people, the flames in the dark that kept this world from collapsing and that kept the balance even between the two sides.

The fountain stood before me, the water more of a steady trickle today than the ferocious splashes that had been around when I had first visited the charming square. The place was quiet, with only a few people dashing about to get the bare necessities before hurrying back home. The shops were open, yet seemed to be close to closing with their darkened windows and wary owners peering out of the windows every so often, an expression of fear etched on every one of their faces.

Something was different. Something had changed. People didn’t dare look at me and those who did only glanced for a second before averting their gaze straight after.

Was it me they feared? It couldn’t be. I had done nothing to make them be scared of me. Philians had no reason to be afraid of what they would consider a puny human with no authority or knowledge against them. I wasn’t that though. I did have intelligence that I could use against them. I could reveal them all to everyone on Earth and disclose the well kept secret of this land to humans everywhere. I was a risk, I realised, and no one wanted to associate themselves with a risk for fear of being accused of knowing about it, for fear of the authorities above them.

I guessed word had already got round about my stand against Zach. There would be no other reason for them to suspect me otherwise. It was unbelievable how quickly he had spread the word. This place clearly had an efficient gossip mill. It probably helped that Zach was one of the top angels so had the power and people to get the news out within the while me and Elara had been walking to the village.

That man never rested. He was always doing something, whether it was just hanging around with his friends or working. I had a feeling he could be up to something. I found it unexpected that he had just let me go like he did; not even attempting to stop me after my decision had been made crystal clear. The fact that the town was close to dead didn’t help me deny the idea that something was wrong and that something was going to happen. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be your everyday something happening either. This feeling had a tone of finality within that made me think that maybe the revolution wouldn’t cause that much collateral damage compared to the impending event that lingered in the still air.

Elara led me away from the deserted square, towards the maze of streets that Xander had taken me down. We meandered through the narrow alleys, sticking to the back streets, Elara’s ears perked up and listening for any signs of danger that could be lurking around the next corner. The houses hung over the alleys, bathing them in shadow, giving them more dark spaces than they needed. I was constantly on edge, ready and expecting something or someone to jump out in front of me and attack me. I had expected some kind of retaliation from Zach and the other angels by now, but all was quiet; maybe a little too quiet.

The door to the dilapidated house stood before me once again. Elara cocked her head towards it, motioning me to go inside. Tentatively, I knocked on the rotting wood, prising the door open on its squeaky hinges. There were murmurs from another room in the house. The quiet talk that would normally have been inaudible echoed around the deserted rooms, filling the empty space with their sound.

I couldn’t tell where the voices came from because of the eerie echo that filled the house. One minute, they came from the back, the next upstairs. Elara nudged me to the left, pointing me towards a doorway that led downstairs.

My mind flickered back to the time I had gone down into the basement of my house and the fear that had taken over. Pitch blackness flickered before my eyes. The slow, rhythmic sound of feet hitting concrete with heavy thuds echoed through my mind.

I couldn’t back down though. I hadn’t that day when I discovered the diary and I wouldn’t now. I took a deep breath, blowing it out from my cheeks in a long puff.

The concrete steps wound downwards in a spiral, like they did in a church tower. I placed my foot on the first step, telling myself that I could do this and there was no reason to be afraid. I gripped the splintering rail that twisted down with the steps with a white knuckled grip, a few of the protruding pieces of wood digging into my palm and fingers.

The next step came a little easier, as did the one after that. Elara bounded down the stairs with ease, her tail swishing as she leapt from step to step. She soon was swallowed by the midnight below, disappearing completely from sight. I was alone now.

I swallowed the clump of fear in my throat, suppressing the feelings and concentrating on why I had to do this. I had to get to the wolves to free myself from this world. I had to sever all possible ties with this deceptive world and get back to Earth where all my friends and family were.

It was the first time I had thought about my mum, Saff and Aaron since I had arrived here. I wondered what they would be doing, whether they would be searching for me or just continuing with life as if I was still there, as if I had never been there in the first place. I felt guilty for not thinking about them earlier, not considering that they could be sat in their homes worrying about me, toiling through endless clues to find out where I had been for goodness knows how long now. My heart squeezed painfully at these thoughts of the trouble and pain that I was causing the people I loved. If only I hadn’t followed that bewitching angel through the lake in the park, I never would have caused so much damage.

But I had. There was nothing I could do now except try my hardest to escape and get back to them. It was the least I could do to repay them for all the worrying and searching they had most likely been doing for weeks, if not months.

The whispers got closer now, more audible than before. I still couldn’t make out what they were saying, but the wolves were definitely down here.

I called out “Hello?” into the darkness. The voices stopped. I could see nothing. I could hear nothing. The light behind me had shrunk into nothing and there was no light ahead. I could smell damp and faint smoke from what was probably a fire.

I heard a faint mew from the base of the stairs, calling up to me. I took another step down the stairs, slowly descending into the unknown. The banister was still in my iron grip, my palm and fingers stinging with the splinters that had embedded themselves into my skin.

A small light appeared at the bottom of the stairwell, a glow so insignificant, that it barely lit the room that it was in the centre of. I had reached the bottom of the stairs and in front of me, were the werewolves and Elara, all gathered around the lantern that had been placed upon a crate in the centre of the square room.

The walls were bricked with rusty red rock that was crumbling in places. On the back wall, a hole, that would allow an average sized person entry, gaped open, warping the bricks around it and made of compacted soil. I didn’t know where it led, but it looked even darker than the stairwell, even more menacing and fearful.

Shadows covered the walls, swaying in the candle light among the fiery orange glow. They stretched across the earth floor, and then rose up the walls, creating human figures with no faces or discernable features. The people who cast these shadows stood in a circle around the flame, their faces washed with an orange light that half covered their faces, leaving the other half in complete shadow.

“You managed to get away ok, Louisa?” Xander asked, clearing his throat in the silence.

“I suppose. He knows that I know what’s going on though and in town everyone was avoiding me like the plague.” I replied. I guessed it was going to be awkward between us since that heated moment back on the night of the official’s ball.

“The plague?” Sam asked, looking confused.

“Yeah. You probably don’t get the reference. It’s a really bad human disease.” I explained, forgetting that they weren’t human like me.

“Oh, I see now.” Sam said.

“Well, it’s not good that Zachariel knows, is it?” Xander said, sending me accusatory look.

“I’m sorry!” I said defensively, “He said he already had his suspicions but I just confirmed them last night when I went back into the ball smelling of you guys.”

Xander cursed then mumbled “I forgot about the scent issue.”

“You should have been more careful.” Sam boomed, looking at Xander along with all the other wolves.

“What’s done is done.” Alex shrugged, “It can’t be reversed now.”

“This could cause full blown war though!” Xander barked, frustrated by his mistake, “You’ve caused us nothing but problems since I met you, Louisa!”

“You’re accusing me for all this?” I was shocked that he was putting all the blame on me. It wasn’t my entire fault. “You didn’t have to help me now, did you?”

“She has a point, Xander.” Justin said, giving Xander a scathing look.

“Ok, ok. I know I didn’t have to help you.” He said, looking me straight in the eye, “It’s just...I didn’t know doing this would come with so much trouble. I thought that it would be simple, just dispose of Zachariel and send you off home but clearly I was wrong.”

“This place’s politics seem pretty messed up and all with the angels acting as some kind of group of dictators who think they’re better than everyone else. Once I knew they were on top, I knew there would be huge risks doing this but I have to for my friends and family back home.” I said.

“The angels didn’t just decide they were top you know.” Sam put in.

“Didn’t they?” I was confused. From what I knew, the angels had just somehow barged their way to the top of the political pyramid.

“Oh no.” Sam said, “In the beginning there were the seven archangels plus the king, five werewolves, three fairies and two merfolk. Clearly, the angels would become top as they had the larger population of the lot. So, all the other creatures arranged themselves in population size order, knowing that they would never be able to better the larger species above them but they could keep the species below them at bay and that they weren’t a threat.”

“That makes sense.” I pondered the topic, the pieces now falling into place as to why most of the people I had seen on my outings were angels. “Why has it never changed?” I asked, curious.

“The population numbers of each species have stayed in roughly the same ratio since the beginning so there has been no reason to change the political order.” Alex said. They all just seemed to accept this political structure, not even thinking of the other more democratic ways that they could structure themselves.

“On Earth, where I’m from, we have a system where everyone votes for the leader they want and the one with the most votes gets into power. Well, that’s putting it simply, there are more details to it than that, but that’s the basis of the system.” I put the idea out there, into the shadowed basement, watching all the werewolves’ faces change to thoughtful expressions as they heard my input.

“It would still turn out the same.” Xander said strongly, “There are more angels so therefore there would be more votes for the angels.”

“Not necessarily. What if you’re an angel and you disagree with the ideas of the other angels, huh? You would then have the option to vote for someone with the views you agree with. It could change the structure.” I reasoned.

“It’s unlikely though.” Xander muttered.

“Didn’t we come here to discuss the plan?” Justin asked, annoyed with our discussion on politics.

“Yes, we did.” Xander sent me a look that showed he was annoyed with me for diverting the topic.

“Sorry!” I said, shrinking back out of the light, my hands held palms up in my defence.

“So,” Sam said bluntly, “how are we going to do this then?”

“Well, we need to kill Zachariel somehow and then distract everyone before sending Louisa through the portal and back to Earth.” Xander said, making it sound a simple and everyday task.

“It’s easier said than done though, Xander.” Alex said philosophically. The pack broke out into separate murmured conversations, discussing tactics and possible options for killing Zach.

“First things first,” I shouted above the murmurs. They all looked up at me, annoyed at being interrupted from their plotting, “where is the portal?”

“You don’t know where the portal is?” Justin asked, shocked that I didn’t know.

“” I blushed, feeling uncomfortable under their stares that clearly thought I was stupid for not knowing.

“But you would have had to go through the portal to get here, how could you not know its location?” Sam asked.

“I was...distracted.” I told them. They all just stood there in silence for a moment, just staring at me. Then they all broke out into raucous laughter, eyes watering at my admission whilst my cheeks just got pinker and pinker. I felt like I was on fire as my cheeks blazed a violent red in the orange glow.

“Ok, guys, I think that’s enough laughing for one day. We need to show Louisa where the portal is.” Alex said through small chuckles of his own.







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