Claimed *Completed*

"I'm already living on borrowed time. When it comes to it, it will be my time to go."

500 years ago Cathy should have died, but she didn't. She was saved by the Devil.

"I agreed to something ... Something that cant have been important then, it seemed too far away.
I'd agreed, after five hundred years, to hand myself over to the Devil, to become his."

Now her time's up, but back in the city where it all started, things are far from over. Cathy finds out that there is more to the Devil than she ever thought. A new boy, a best friend and a deadly enemy, things are about to get complicated...

"No one's that good or bad, it's not that simple, nothing's that black and white. It's more grey."

*Hi, this is my first Movella, so I'd love some feedback and constructive critsism! Thanks :)

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8. Tuesday, 11th January 2012

Tuesday, 11th January 2012

 

 

 

 

 

  “Can you manage?”

  I shoot Jack an exasperated look, “Jack, I’ve sprained my wrist, not my ankle.” I wouldn’t have minded if it was my ankle because I’d have an excuse to have Jack’s arm around me, but I’m not desperate enough to fake a sudden ankle injury. Since when am I the type to swoon over boys? Even if it is a particularly good looking one.

  Instead of listening to the craziness running around my head, I look up at the hospital building. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a hospital, despite my virtual indestructibility I’ve been to hospitals quite a few times. I’ve been a nurse many a-time and I’ve taken friends and ‘family’ to the hospital a few times, but I’ve never been brought myself.

  We’re outside the A&E department and I can see several people making their way through the main doors that look a lot worse off than me. I turn to Jack, “Are you sure we need to go to A&E? It’s not an emergency.”

  “It was an accident.”

  “No it wasn’t.” I scoff, “She pushed me over the side of the railings, then laughed as I fell. Laughed.”

  Jack stares at me, and then stutters, “S-she pushed you?”

  I roll my eyes, “God, you’re slow aren’t you? ‘Course she pushed me, what did you think happened?”

  He looks confused, “Well, I don’t know... pushed you, but not to push you over the edge, or knocked you or something.”

  “Huh, you think very highly of Katrina.” But even I have to admit it is weird, the average high school bitch, even the worst ones, don’t usually try to kill people. There is something about Katrina though, she isn’t the same.

  You don’t say.

  Jack’s face burns dark and angry and he releases a string of swear words, before he can say anything else I guess what he’s thinking.

  “No.” Jack glares at me. “No, I told you; we’re not telling anyone, end of conversation.” I stride off towards the hospitals entrance leaving Jack to storm off after me, cursing some more under his breath.

  I laugh, despite myself, and I’m still smiling when we arrive at a reception desk. The woman behind the desk looks surprised to find two teenagers arriving at her desk during school hours, but she quickly recovers her professional expression.

  “How may I help?”

  Seeing as Jack is still scowling, I reply, “I’d like to check my wrist, I don’t think it’s anything serious, but I’d like to make sure. I had an accident.” Jack’s scowl deepens when I say the word ‘accident’, but thankfully the receptionist doesn’t notice.

  “Name?”

  “Cathy Jenks.” She eyes Jack with speculation, so I add, “He’s just accompanying me.”

  She nods curtly and addresses Jack, “And what’s your name?”

  “Jack Smith.” His scowl disappears and he replaces it with a polite, slightly forced smile. The woman looks taken aback by the change. “We were at school and she fell, so I drove her here to be checked up.”

  She looks doubtful, “The school nurse is responsible for thing like that.”

  Jack quickly covers up, “She wasn’t around.”

  “Hmm,” she looks at the computer screen in front of her. “Oh, ages?”

  “Seventeen.” I say it automatically, but I realise that an instant later Jack says “Eighteen”. I resist the urge to glance up at him.

  “Have your parents been informed?”

  “I don’t have any.” This time both Jack and I say it at exactly the same time. Now I can’t help but look up at him. He doesn’t have parents either? What about his dad, I thought he lived with him?

  The receptionist looks at us oddly, wondering if we might be brother or sister, but she brushes it off, obviously unsure of what to do. “Have a seat. A doctor will see you shortly.”

  We sit in the far corner of the waiting room and I turn and say bluntly, “I didn’t know about your parents. I thought your dad got a job transfer?”

  He shrugs, “He didn’t; you can’t listen to everything people tell you. He died.” It’s said so coldly I’m surprised by the lack of emotion in his voice. Jack sees me recoil and winces, “Sorry, I know it sounds awful, but it’s still sinking in. I’m just trying to think of it as if it’s all happening to someone else. It’s easier to deal with that way. Sometimes I half expect him to walk through the door.” He has a distant, glazed look in his eyes and I know he’s thinking about his dad.

  “What about your mum?” I ask, so softly I surprise myself.

  Jack stares at a patch of wall across the room as he answers, “I was young when she died, so I can’t really remember her. In some ways that makes it even worse than when my dad died, because I have all these memories of him, but I don’t have anything to remember my mum by, apart from a few pictures, but they don’t really mean anything if I can’t remember what she was like.”

  I can tell I’m reaching some part of Jack that he’s kept hidden before now. Why he’s chosen to let it out to me in the A&E waiting room, I don’t know. But I feel I have to give a part of myself back to him.

  “It was the same when my father died, I was only eight. I cried along with my mother because that’s what I felt I should do, but I didn’t really understand what had happened. After a while I missed the idea of a father more than I missed my actual father. My mother was too torn up to explain any of it to me; all I knew was that my father was gone and he wasn’t coming back.

  “She’d been devastated when my father died; she was left a pregnant widow. At first she’d cried solidly for weeks and couldn’t do much else. I did a lot for myself those few weeks, which was hard considering my age and the fact my father had just died too. I think that’s partly what made me who I became, I toughened up probably too much.”

  Jack is studying my carefully and I let my chin drop into my hand, leaning on the arm rest. “I never blamed my mother though, just got on with it. Then she seemed to get better, not quite herself, she was still empty, but almost normal. Elizabeth was born and I helped my mother care for her. I loved all the times we spent together as an almost-complete almost-happy family.

  “One night it all changed when I woke up one night to hear my mother crying. I’d tried to comfort her, and she’d clung to me and said over and over again, ‘Oh, Cat. Cat, I’m so sorry. I have to, there’s no other way. If there was I’d take it, but – Cat, oh I’m so sorry.’ I didn’t understand then, just hugged her tighter.

  “The next day it all made sense; she was different, colder and more distant. In her new, hard voice she introduced us to John Stewart Hall, and told us that they were going to get married in two weeks.

  “That was when John told us we were to call him ‘father’ and I saw mother wince and I could tell that she’d never really gotten over my father. It clicked then – money. John wasn’t rich, but he had a job, he earned money and we needed money. In that instant I hated her; I hated her for needing money, I hated her for marrying John, I hated her for not listening to me when I begged her to change her mind and I hated her for watching with a blank stare while I was beaten countless times by her new husband.

  “It’s the mother before John that I miss, not the one after.”

I finish and bite my lip. I’ve never told anyone anywhere near that much about my family. The words seem to come so easily with Jack.

  I see Jack’s mind whirring over, processing what I’d said. It doesn’t match up to the official version of my story.  But then again, neither does his story. I bite down harder on my lip, so hard it should draw blood, but it doesn’t.

  We look at each other until another voice calls, “Cathy Jenks?” I turn to see a young nurse holding a clipboard.

  I stand but Jack catches my hand, “I’ll wait here.” I nod and attempt to smile; he squeezes my hand and returns my smile. Something flutters inside me.

 

*

 

  The doctor does the usual checks and confirms that I do have the suspected sprained wrist. She frowns a little at the bruising and seems to think they’d only have occurred if I’d have broken my wrist, but after a lot of prodding and poking, she has to grudgingly admit that it is not broken.

  After bandaging my wrist she tells me not to put any pressure on it, when I ask her if I can still drive she has to check my forms to check my age, but she tries to do it without me noticing. Only after seeing I’m apparently seventeen she tells me driving shouldn’t be a problem.

  I get back to the waiting room and Jack and I make our way to his car. A thought strikes me, “What about my car?”

  “The red Mini, right?”

  I try to ignore his smirk, “Yeah, but I’m going to have to go back to school to pick it up.” I check my watch, “At break time, great.”

  “I’ll pick it up for you.”

  “Huh?” I say, stupidly.

  Jack smiles, “I’ll drop my car off at my house and walk to school to get your car; I don’t live far from school, ten minutes walk at the most.”

  “You’d do that?”

  “Sure, I’ve got no plans of going back to school; I’ll only get a lecture on the importance of bunking off school.”

  He took the words right out of my mouth, but I still point out, “You’ll only get that tomorrow.”

  “That’s tomorrow, tomorrow can wait.” Jack quotes me, and his eyes, strikingly green in the sunlight, twinkle, making me catch my breath. I duck into the car quickly and Jack slides into the driver’s seat a moment later.

  The car journey to my apartment is quiet, both me and Jack are lost in out own thoughts, but this time nothing bright pink with a trunk shares the car with us; it’s a comfortable silence.

  When we arrive I open my car door and step out into the winter sun. I turn back to Jack and he holds out his hand. I just stare at it.

  “What do you want me to do, pay the taxi fare?”

  Jack rolls his eyes and simply says “Keys.” I clutch my bag as a sudden irrational thought crosses my mind; He’s going to try to rob me. I knew he was too good to be true.

  He laughs at my reaction, “What do you think I’m going to do, hot wire your car?”

  I relax, Right, yeah. The Mini. I pull out the keys and toss them into his open hand before I can think twice. “Don’t crash it.”

  Don’t crash it? You’ve only known this boy two minutes and you’re handing over the keys to your car? And all you can say is ‘don’t crash it’? My survival instinct continues to shriek at me, but I turn the key in that door and give into the part of my brain that makes my stomach flip when Jack looks at me.

  “Me? Not crash it? Well, I’m not sure about that...” Jack teases.

  “Shut up.” I say, laughing. I slam the door shut and call my thanks over my shoulder. I can hear Jack chuckling as he drives off. I smile as I unlock the door to my apartment, dump my stuff and throw myself down on the sofa.

  I know what I should be thinking about, but I try to distract myself with thoughts of Jack. It’s been a while since I’ve let myself be free enough to have a crush on someone. The problem is that thoughts of Jack lead to thoughts of my Mini and I start to worry again. I vow never let anyone drive my car ever again.

  Instead I busy myself in the kitchen, as I much as I dislike it; it usually provides a good distraction. I usually have a lot to distract myself from, so consequently I’ve ended up being quite good. I decide to make lasagne for one and I find myself humming tunelessly. I haven’t felt this content in a long while. Is it bad to fell happy after you’ve fallen several floors down? I push away the thoughts of the last few days. I feel a world away from last night, the Devil disappearing with the appearance of my light, happy mood.

  I hear the clattering of something falling through the letter box and onto the welcome mat. I see my keys sitting there and I snatch them up. Pulling the door open I expect to see Jack standing there and I’m disappointed when I see the hallway’s empty. I walk to the window that over looks the street and see my Mini parked outside as if it had never left.

  I smile, what was I so worried about? Of course he’d get my car back safe. My smile melts away when a pessimistic voice in my head adds, Just as long has de didn’t see the CD’s. Hmm, let’s hope he’s not too nosy.

  However, as soon as I let one bad thought be heard, the rest of them come flooding in like a dam being broken.

  I walk back into my apartment, close the door behind me and cross to the balcony. The winter air makes me wrap my arms around myself, but I stay outside and lean against the rail.

  Katrina. A shiver goes down my spine, and it has nothing to do with the weather.

  Hers can’t have been the same laugh I heard all those years ago. It’s impossible. Yet, is it? I’ve lived for five centuries, so what is stopping anyone else living that long? And something deep inside me just knows; the laugh, the feel of the fingers, they are the same and no amount of mental argument is going to persuade my otherwise.

  So did Katrina get taken by the Devil as well? No, that can’t be right, ‘Devil’s Girl’ she called me. I suppose that’s what I am though, The Devils Girl.

  If Katrina’s not been Claimed by the Devil then how has she live so long? And how does she know about the Devil? Maybe she’d refused the Devil’s offer, but then she wouldn’t still be alive.

  I clutch at my hair. I’m not getting anywhere. All I know is that Katrina pushed me off the bridge in 1512 and she pushed my over the railings in 2012.

  I’m pretty sure Katrina to kill me.

  Why? - I’m not sure, but somehow I broke my arm today when I landed. It wasn’t for long, but it still broke. As far as I can tell, it means one of two things; the Devils hold on me is weakening, which is unlikely since I heard his voice yesterday for the first time since that night, or it was something Katrina did to weaken me.

  If I’m right, then Katrina is dangerous. Very dangerous. And she might just get what she wants.

  Me. Dead.

 

*

 

Wednesday, 12th January 2012

 

 

  After asking me if I’m alright, Chrissie launches into her tirade about Jack.

I’d told her not to come over yesterday because I needed some space, so Chrissie quickly gets the lecture out of the way;

  “I can’t believe you just went off like that – I’ve got no objection to skiving, but not without me! Usually I wouldn’t say no to a lift from a boy – especially one with a BMW, but Jack... I don’t know Cathy, I’ve told you before, there’s something not right about him.”

  I’m glad I decided to miss out the part where Jack drove my car home.

  Chrissie takes Jack’s view on Katrina, though. “There is no way you can just let her get away with it. She could have killed you.”

  “Yeah, yeah, I should be dead and all that, but Chrissie, I’m not. I’m alive, no harm done.” Chrissie glances down at my bandaged wrist, “Okay, almost no harm done.”

  She turns pleading, “Oh, come on, pretty, pretty please! With sprinkles, cream and sauce! This is my – our – best chance at getting back at Katrina. Don’t tell me you don’t want revenge?”

  I give her the same reason I gave Jack. “Look at me Chrissie; nobody’s going to believe that I fell unless they were there and I bet even if they were there, they think their dreaming.”

  Chrissie’s expression turns sulky and she narrows her eyes at me, but I know defeat when I see it.

  I change the subject, “So, what happened after I left?”

  A look of glee enters Chrissie’s face and she bounces on the balls of the feet, “You and Katrina are, naturally, the hot gossip of the school. By break there wasn’t anyone that didn’t know about what happened, I think even the teachers know, you disappearance didn’t go unnoticed, and it certainly didn’t help things.” I was right - I’m so glad I didn’t have to come back for my car.

  “You know how nearly all high school rumours are really exaggerated?” I nod and Chrissie smiles, “Well this is one of those exceptions. Kristina pushed you: you fell two stories: you got up and walked away. Now everyone thinks you are superwoman, or something.

  “It’s taken Facebook by storm, everyone is either Team Cathy or Team Katrina. Also know as Cat v. Kat. You’d be surprised by the amount of people going Team Cathy, but sorry to say, it’s got less to do with you and more to do with going against Katrina. She seems to have upset and awful lot of people over the years. The teachers would have to be blind and deaf not to have noticed, but there is not much they can do.”

  Sure enough, when I get to IT, Mr Greene is studying me carefully. When I notice he coughs awkwardly and says, “Nice of you to join us today, Cathy.”

  “I’m sorry, sir. There was -”

  “An emergency, yes, yes, I heard.” He seems to want to divert the conversation away from me. I turn to sit down, only to see every pair of the eyes in the room on me, staring wide eyed at the bandage on my wrist; everyone but one.

  Jack’s deliberately avoiding my eye and I feel a sudden flash of embarrassment. I blush and sit down, feeling all the eyes burning holes in my back. One set of eyes burns more fiercely than the rest. I see Jess quickly turn her head away when I look in her direction.

  I spend the rest of the lesson like that; with the heat of eyes almost setting my blazer alight and whispers’ filling my ears, despite Mr Greene’s continued calls for silence. I sigh with relief when the bell finally rings, but then I realise that I’m going to have to get used to it, because I’ve still got the rest of the day to get through, maybe even the next week until the rumours die down.

  I tug my bag onto my shoulder and call for Jack to wait for me. Through the heads of the rest of the class I see Jack’s eyes flash to mine, and then he quickly averts his gaze, but not before I catch his regret in his eyes. He pushes his way to the door, and disappears down the corridor.

  Annoyance sears through me. Was he regretting talking to me? Having met me? I’ve no idea what I’ve done; I don’t remember doing anything to upset him. He seemed fine yesterday.  Maybe I did something but I didn’t notice? But surely I’d have been able to tell?

  Then my stubborn streak shines though: so Jack is going to ignore me, well two can play at that game.

  “Cathy.” A hand on my shoulder makes me spin around. I scowl as I see Jess standing there with the blue-eyed Hair Gel Boy, Will, standing just behind her.

  Jess’ deep, brown eyes beg for leniency and I frown instead, “What do you want?” I instantly feel bad for sounding so unwelcoming.

  “Please, just here me out.” There is an overwhelming sense of remorse coming from her and I remind myself of how she’d wanted to stop Katrina yesterday.

  But she didn’t, did she, a mean little voice in my head points out, she stood back and watched along with everyone else.

  At least she tried to do something.

  Honestly, sometimes it’s like having a cartoon devil and angel floating around my head, arguing with each other.

  I focus back on Jess and nod as best I can. I don’t trust myself to speak.

  Jess takes this as a good sign, “I wanted to apologise for yesterday, and what Katrina did.” She takes a deep breath and I see Will take her hand encouragingly, “I know I should have done something to stop her and I just didn’t know what to do.”

  “You couldn’t have-”

  Jess cuts me off, “I’m not here to try and make excuses for Katrina, I’m not following her anymore, but she’s bound to follow the way I was bound to follow her. Similar to the way you are bound. She believes she is Saved as you are Damned.” She runs a hand through her dark waves, “Ergh, this is so hard. I’m not making much sense. Maybe I’ll be able to explain properly one day, but I can’t yet; not here, not now.” She laughs, “Wow, I sound so stupid. I just wanted to say sorry, that’s all, you don’t need to forgive me or anything, but I just had to say it.”

  She presses something into my hand and before I can say anything in reply she’s out of the door with Will in tow, giving me an apologetic smile through his dusty blond hair.

  I stand frozen on the spot until Mr Greene says, “Move along now, Cathy, you don’t want to be late for your next lesson.” He’s obviously been listening to our conversation, but has a little a clue as I have to what Jess said.

  I move sluggishly to art. ‘She is bound to follow’? What did that mean? ‘Similar to the way you are bound’, she’d said, how am I bound? ‘She believes she is saved as you are damned’ Am I damned? Maybe I am, but how does she know? How do they know so much about me?

  I open my hand to see what Jess had given me; it’s a piece of paper, on it is a quickly scrawled mobile phone number. Underneath, in the same scrawl, it says,

 

If you have any questions, please ring this number.

 

  The hell I have questions.

  There is a lot more to them than they’re letting on.

 

*

 

  “Whose side is Jess on?”

  “Huh?” I’m sitting next to Chrissie in History studying Jess out of the corner of my eye.

  “Is Jess Team Cathy or Katrina?”

  “Well, obviously Team Katrina.” All the same, she frowns as she sees Jess and Will sitting apart from the rest of their group, “Actually, come to think of it, I haven’t heard anything from Jess, or Will for that matter.”

  I consider this for a while before I see Katrina stick her hand up, “The 16th century, sir? Isn’t that when they used to burn people for being witches?” She flashes me a nasty smile. I hadn’t been paying any attention to Mr Lawson, but now he has my full attention, and Katrina knows it.

  “Indeed, Katrina, the 16th century was a time where a lot of women were accused of witchcraft. Although burning witches was the most form of popular punishment, witches would also be hung and often tortured with common torture instruments of the time.” I’m beginning to feel a bit woozy - I sense another vision coming on.

  “Sometimes women would be proven to have practiced witchcraft so they would be immediately killed, but usually the accused would be tested to see if they are indeed a witch. To do this people would put them in a barrel and throw them into a river or lake; if they survived they were a witch and were killed, if they didn’t survive then they were innocent, but they ended up dying either way.”

  No, no! The memory is coming on faster...

  “Did anyone ever survive the barrel test, sir?”

  “It happened surprisingly a lot, considering, although it usually had more to do with the weight of the ‘witch’ and how watertight the barrel is.

  “There is an interesting case, though, where somebody was said to survive a burning.” No, no, no, no! Not again! Not here, not now! “It was in a little village called Brady-on-Tyme around 1560. Several people were said to witness a girl called Louise Darnley come out unscathed from a burning, villagers were so frightened they ran for fear she would kill them all, as she was obviously a very powerful witch, but she fled from the village and was never seen again. Whether she was real or not, maybe she was even a witch, but we will never know. There was a later account from a woman called Emily Roberts who claimed to have seen the attempted burning. She took a different view of the event...”

  Mr Lawson’s voice gets more distant by the second and the more I try to resist the memory, the quicker I’m getting pulled under, until finally...

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