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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11. Wednesday, 12th January 2012

 

Wednesday, 12th January 2012

 

 

 

 

 

  I spin around to face the intruder and it’s the shadows turn to freeze. I snatch up a metal bar from the ground and raise it over my shoulder.

  I take a step forward, “Who’s there?” I know it’s a stupid question because what sort of attacker tells you their name? This one, apparently, doesn’t need to.

  “It’s me.” I recognise the voice instantly and nearly drop the bar. He takes a step forward too and I can see his face from the light inside.

  Jack.

  For a minute we just stand and stare at each other. What’s Jack doing on my balcony? After ignoring all day? How did he get here? How long has he been here?

  Jack is studying me worriedly; he has every right to be worried, because my shock quickly turns into anger. “What are you doing here?” My voice is a low angry hiss, but to my credit, I’m not shouting. Yet.

  Jack’s eyeing the bar, still raised over my shoulder, “It’s a long story.”

  “I have time.”

  “Okay, but would you please put the bar down? I don’t want to be hit over the head while I’m explaining.”

  “Well, I wouldn’t have to hit you if you weren’t spying on me.” I can hear my voice getting progressively louder. “I don’t really appreciate the fact you are sneaking around in the dark on my balcony. Maybe I should hit you.”

  Jack starts to protest, but a crashing sound from above stops us both. I look up and see Mrs Winston, leaning over her balcony so far that she’s knocked over a flower pot. Mrs Winston’s the old lady that owns the apartment above mine. This is what happens when you’ve got nosy neighbours.

  I quickly drop my bar with a conspicuous clatter and I hiss at Jack to get inside, “I’ll deal with you later.”

  I turn back to look at Mrs Winston and, as politely as I can manage, I say, “Sorry Mrs Winton, did I disturb you?”

  Even form here I can tell she’s blushing at having been caught listening in, “No, dear, not at all. I was just watering my plants.” But she can’t help adding, “That boy’s not bothering you, is he? You should call the police if he is.”

  I resist the urge to roll my eyes. “It was just a misunderstanding, Mrs Winston, I know him from school.”

  “Oh, well, in that case...” she trails off and wonders back inside.

  As soon as she’s safely inside her apartment I storm back inside my own and slam the glass doors. Jack is hovering awkwardly in the middle of the room but he looks up when I he hears the door shut.

  “Well?” I demand.

  “Well what?”

  “Well what?!” I explode, “I find you outside my window spying on me, and all you can say is ‘well what’!”

  “I wasn’t spying.” He protests weakly, like a kid who has just been caught eating the cake mixture, but still can’t admit to it even though he has it all over his hands.

  “What were you doing then? Admiring the view?”

  He shrugs weakly, “It’s not that simple.”

  “Of course it’s that simple – were you spying or not? It’s not rocket science.” I’m sick of lies and secrecy, and right now I’m taking nothing but a straight answer. Preferably the truth.

  Jack sighs deeply, “Yes, I was spying on you.”

  I knew it was coming, but it still shocks me, “After you’ve been ignoring me all day? Why have you suddenly decided to take an interest?”

  “I’m sorry I ignored you, I wasn’t sure what else to do.”

  I’m thrown for a second, but then I regain my speech, “How about not ignore me? It’s not that hard.”

  Jack runs a hand through his hair, “I just – needed to keep away from you. Yesterday at the hospital, I told you more than I’ve ever told anyone else. I shouldn’t have told you, but with you I couldn’t help it. I was trying to keep away before I said anything I’ll regret.”

  He looks up into my eyes and I’m caught by them again. I start to soften, but then I shake myself. I should be mad at him. I am mad at him.

  “So where does the spying come into it.” I demand.

  Jack scuffs his toe against the carpet and doesn’t say anything.

  I try a different tact, “How long were you there? How much did you hear?” If Jack looked uncomfortable before, now he looks like I’ve just pushed him into a tank of angry sharks. “How much did you hear?” I repeat. Dread sweeps through me, “How much Jack?”

  He takes a deep breath, “Everything. I was outside the whole time.”

  Something inside me snaps. Really snaps.

  “Oh, for God’s sake!” I pull a cushion off a sofa and fling it at Jack. He looks up, surprised. “I’m sick of this, all of it! Why does it all happen to me? Haven’t I got enough to cope with? No, obviously not, this had to get thrown in with everything else!” I know I sound like a child having a tantrum, but I really don’t care. I’ve run out of cushions to throw at Jack, who’s looking really worried now. He takes a hesitant step forwards.

  Then it all properly hits me, the enormity of everything comes crashing down on me. It feels like a physical weight on my shoulders. It makes me sink to the floor, leaning against the sofa. I bring my knees up to my chest and drop my head into my hands. All the energy drains out of me.

  I’ve not been here two weeks and already I’ve told Chrissie everything, I’ve been pushed down stairs, found out Katrina wants me dead... I don’t know what she and Jess know, whether to trust Jess, or what to do about it. I keep having flashbacks of some of the most emotionally painful moments in my life and hearing the Devil’s voice in my head. On top of all that I have only a week or two left until my unknown fate.

  The tears make their way down my cheeks. I feel Jack put a hand on my back, and I quickly sit up, wiping my eyes dry. “Sorry, look at me, crying. You shouldn’t have to worry about it too.” When I say it I know it’s true – I’m just giving everyone else something to worry about. It’s my life, not theirs.

  Jack, however, shakes his head, “Cathy, you have every right to cry and worry, you have far too much to deal with, you shouldn’t apologise for it. You can’t keep everything to yourself either.” He moved his hand to my shoulder and spins me around to face him, a gives me a little shake. “You’re doing so well, most people would never have lasted this long. Everyone needs to let it out – but especially you, you have to let it all out, let other people do the worrying as well.”

  “That’s just it; I can’t let other people worry.” I say, wanting to make Jack understand that the more people I pull into my life, the more it hurts. If I have to suffer, I’d rather suffer alone. The people that I drag along with me haven’t done anything to deserve wrong; they deserve better than me.

  “Cathy, you can’t do it on your own.”

  That makes me angry again, “Why can’t I Jack? I have done it on my own so far, why can’t I just protect the people I care about?”

  “Because they care about you too!” Jack seems to be pleading with me; there is a desperate edge to his voice. “They don’t want to see you hurt. And you’re hurting Cathy. They want to help, but you just won’t let them. Just let them in.” He’s shaking me harder now, but I can’t bring myself to shrug him off.

  “I can’t, I can’t.” I feel a lone tear making its way down my cheek.

  “Why, Cathy? Why not?”

  “Because everyone I care about ends up dead.” I burst, more tears following the first, “You don’t know what it feels like to watch the people you love die, over and over again. After all those people are gone I’m still here. What kind of person does that make me, Jack?

  “They didn’t deserve me then, and you don’t deserve me now. I learnt that a long time ago. I can’t let anyone in, it’s easier that way.”

  Jack’s expression changes and turns gentle. He wipes away the tears still streaming down my face with the palm of his hand, “You must have been so lonely.”

  I sniff and shrug, “Suffering alone is better than making other people suffer too.”

  “Cathy,” Jack says, seriously, “believe me, you’re not making people suffer by letting them in, you’re making them suffer by leaving them in your wake. They want to help, but you won’t let them.’

  I shake my head sadly, “Either way I’m hurting them.”

  Jack groans in frustration and falls back on to the sofa, “How can I make you see it the way I do?” he sits up quickly and takes my face in his hands, tipping it up so I have to look up into his eyes.

  “I want to help you Cathy, just tell me and maybe I can help.” He shrugs, “Okay, I might not, but I’m here if you need me. No one deserves to keep something like this to themselves, so you shouldn’t either.”

 I look right back into the blue-green. All those people I’ve hurt by caring, but now, more than ever, I need someone.

  I scan Jack again and again, but all that I can see it the full force of the concern he feels for me, and the sincerity of what he’s said. All other feelings have vanished. I take a deep breath.

  I want, more than anything, to let it all out, but it’s been buried in me so long I’m not sure if it will come out. Maybe it won’t come; maybe I’ve kept it silent for so long it refuses to speak out.

  The tears are back and roll thicker and faster than before.

  “I’m so sorry Cathy; I don’t want to make you cry. I just wanted to make it easier for you.” Jack’s hands are still cupping my face, he I so sincere I can’t help it; everything comes pouring out, everything that’s been cooped up so long. I pour my heart out to Jack. While I’m talking he pulls me up to sit next to him on the sofa and wraps his arms around me, trying to calm me.

  “Oh God, Jack, what am I going to do?”

  “It’ll be fine Cathy, I promise, it’ll all work out.” Jack pulls my hands away from my face and takes them in his. He looks at me and says, “I promise, we will stop the Devil. You will still be here in a few weeks time. So will I and so will Chrissie. Everyone will still be here; you just have to believe me.”

  Somehow, I calm down and my sobs grow less frequent, until they stop altogether. Irrationally I believe Jack. We will all be here. We have to be.

  I wipe the last few tears from my cheeks and lean into Jack, for the first time, I relish his closeness.

  He starts talking softly, almost to himself, “I heard you in the first aid room. I was sent by Mr Lawson to see how you were doing, but when I heard what you told Chrissie, about explaining everything, well, I had to know.”

  “I probably would have told you eventually anyway.” I say, drawing small circles on the sofa with my finger.

  “You would?” Jack sound surprised.

  I manage a weak laugh, “Like you said; these things just seem to come out around you.”

  “I’m so sorry Cathy.” There is so much guilt layering his voice that I pull away to study him.

  “Well, I forgive you.” Jack looks pained, but I continue, “That doesn’t mean I’m not mad at you, because I am really mad at you, but I’m not going to let it get to me. Right now, I have worse to deal with. Unless of course...” I eye Jack suspiciously, “You’re not going to tell anyone are you?”

  “No, who’s going to believe me? It took me a while to get used to the idea; it’s not sunk in yet. It feels a bit like a dream.”

  I lean back on a pile of cushions and rest my head on another, “That’s okay then.” He tries to smile, but the guilt in his eyes is still there, even more than before. I sigh and close my eyes, too tired to think about it.

  Eventually I say, faintly, “I can’t believe how well you and Chrissie have taken all this.”

  “Pardon?” Jack jerks out of his thoughts.

  A little louder I say, “I said, I can’t believe how well you and Chrissie have taken all this.”

  He snorts, “On the outside.” But when he says my expression he says, “We’re not in the Middle Ages any more, people are a bit more open to new ideas. Not everyone, of course, but most people are open minded, although this one is definitely hard to get my head round.”

  I think about that, “I never thought it’d be this easy though.” We’re quiet for a minute.

  I decide it’s time for a change of subject, “I didn’t live in the Middle Ages.”

  “You didn’t?”

  I narrow my eyes, “I’m not that old.”

  He does the maths, then blushes, “Oh right, yeah.” I cock my head to one side and smile to see him blush, “So you’re...?”

  Jack trails off, but I know what he wants to say, “516 next week.”

  He gaps at me, “Wow.”

  “Yeah, I’m a lot older than I look; don’t judge a book by its cover. I’m no ordinary nearly-sixteen year old.”

  I lean back again, a wave of tiredness washing over me, but this time I realise what’s wrong.

  “I don’t sleep.” I mutter, trying to keep my eyes open, but they’re closing all the same.

  “You don’t sleep?”

  “Not since I fell off the bridge.” I pause to stifle a yawn, “So then, why am I so tired?”

  I can feel the darkness catching up with me, and finally let the dark envelop me, taking me into sleep.

 

*

 

  At first it’s a dreamless sleep and for a while there is nothing, just the blackness around me, where space and time mean nothing. Then-

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