Impulse (Young Movellist of the year entry)

April is strange from top to bottom, with her dyed red hair and unnaturally coloured eyes. Not to mention she gets impulses she can’t control. When an impulse brings her science teacher to a near-death situation, she knows to keep her secrets a secret. No one needs to know that when she closes her eyes, she sees things.

After moving to the small town of Cresten, all her adoptive Aunt and Uncle want is for her to be a normal teenage girl. April wouldn’t have it any other way, but the appearance of the mysterious Zane Wolf thrusts her in a world she knows deep down she belongs to.

Caught in a tangle of lies and unforgotten pasts, the question is no longer if she’ll be able to keep a secret, but whether she’ll stay alive long enough to discover the biggest one of all…

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3. Rude

My eyes opened to a clearing, tall thick trees encroaching all around, gazing down with crooked fingers and dark gazes. I looked down, finding myself in my silk night gown, my feet bare against the undisciplined undergrowth, mud caking the sides.

                A giggle echoed through the area, high and feminine.

                “Wondering where you are?” I vaguely recognized the female’s voice, but it vanished beneath the deep throbbing in my head. “Wishing you were in bed?”

                My eyes froze as I caught a pair of green eyes in the trees, ethereal against the dark forest.

                “I don’t see why you talk to them whenever you do this,” a raspy voice hissed. “You know they have no idea what you’re saying.”

                “Shut up,” the first girl hissed. “Besides,” her voice went back to amusement, becoming lilting, “they get a vague sense, but you know what gives them the best sense?” she paused. “This.”

                Then in barely a second, something whizzed towards me. The arrow flashed, slicing through my chest, right over my heart. My frantic heart beat stilled, my blood flow slow and lethargic as my head swam.

                I gasped, clutching where the wood disappeared into my chest, blood splattering my cream night gown.

                The first voice laughed, and slowly, a figure appeared on the trees. A girl. I could barely see past the swirling green eyes to her pale skin. Her slim legs where the only other parts of her body that weren’t consumed by the darkness, dangling off a branch over fifty feet from the earth. She cocked her head, and a smile stretched over her face, displaying razor sharp teeth that glimmered strangely in the moonlight.

                “Let the hunt begin.”

                Then I was running. Leaves smacked my face, knife-sharpened thorns clawing at my arms and legs. Vines twisted from the ground, clawing at my ankles, desperately dragging me back.

                A feminine laugh echoed around me, rustling the branches.

                Another arrow whizzed by, cutting through my side. The sound of ripping flesh tore through the forest. Crying out, I fell to the ground.

                “Oh, darling,” the voice chastise, “don’t give up yet. You’ll ruin all my fun.”

                Another arrow whizzed past, missing my skull by an inch, breaking the muddy earth.

                “Come on,” the voice beckoned. “You’re making this boring.”

                Another arrow whizzed towards me, embedding into my throat. I struggled to bread, choking as a thick metallic tasting liquid rose up my throat. My eyes rolled back in my head, black dots peppering my sight.

                “Come on,” the voice whined.

                Struggling to breathe, I groped at the the arrow, my hands clawing at the pine wood. It dissolved, melting into the air.

                Slowly, everything seemed to dissolve. First the arrows, then the trees, disappearing one by one, like the remnants of a dream. I was in my garden.

                There was deathly silence.

                “What the hell is going on?” the first girl snapped, her voice like a whip. “Why is this happening?”

                “I don’t know.” The second sounded oddly scared. “Catherine, let’s get out of here. There’s something wrong with her.”

                “No,” the first voice hissed, but her voice was fading. “I can’t let it go. She needs to be punished.”

                The second voice was urgent now. “She’s waking up.”

                With a hiss, everything seemed to break, till everything was dissolving. Then I was falling, encompassed by darkness.

                I snapped up, breaths heaving out of my chest as I gazed around my room in fear. I clutched my chest, searching for the arrow I could still feel, cutting through my heart.

                Gasping for breath, I sprinted to the bathroom, vomiting in the toilet.

                Blood replaced the lavatory water.

                I blinked and it was just vomit.

                Panting, I slumped onto the bath tub, my eyes burning with fatigue. What had just happened?

 

***

 

Three weeks into school, and it had become a regular pattern. We became dailies at East brook high, though the odd person still glanced at me, taking in the eyes and the hair. After blocking out every one of my memories, it was almost as if we’d been here forever.

                “Come on, please?” Tracey begged, clutching her hands together.

                “Trace, it’s going to be loud, boring and have you seen this heat?”

                “Please?” she insisted. “I’ll get on my knees if I have to,” she threatened. I just shook my head. “I wonder what the neighbors are going to think when they see me clinging to your legs and begging,” she mused, her eyes glinting with the threat.

                I shrugged, refolding one of my favorite tops into one of the draws of my wardrobe. “I don’t care what the neighbors think.”

                Tracey frowned. “Fine, what is everyone going to think when they see your delectable cousin Tracey swimming in the nude?”

                “The nuder the better as far as I’m concerned,” I replied, searching for my cropped sweater.

                “Please April,” Tracey continued to beg.

                “Hey, do you have my pink crop sweater?” I asked. You might not have given it back when you borrowed it for that night back in June and—”

                I stopped at the smile on Tracey’s face.

                “Why do I feel like I said something really stupid?” I groaned, rubbing my forehead.

                “Come to the football game and I’ll give you the sweater.”

                I pretended to think about it. “No thanks.”

                Tracey pouted. “Please April, come on, I’m always here for you, can’t you be here for me?”

                I gazed at her for a long moment. “Fine,” I sighed, rolling my eyes.

                Tracey squealed, grabbing my hands and jumping. “Thank you April, you’re the best!”

                “Whatever,” I grunted.

                Before she could pout, the doorbell rang, jingling through our house.

                “I’ll get that,” Tracey grinned, spinning out of the room.

                I took the time to change my sweats to black jeans and switch my t-shirt for a black vest top. I smoothed out my bangs in the bathroom mirror, whipping the rest of my hair into a messy bun. Throwing on a pair of studs and sneakers, I headed to the door jogging down the stairs.

                “Who was at the door?” I called out. I paused as I reached the button, surprised to see two people.

                Tracey was laughing with a girl several inches shorter. The Korean girl had her long mahogany hair pulled up into a purposely messy bun, coinciding with a straight side fringe that stroked one of her high cheekbones. Her face was bathed in make-up, from her glossed lips to her false looking mascara dipped eyelashes. Her clothes were skin-tight, highlighting her voluptuous hourglass figure. She styled a dipping neckline, not leaving much to the imagination. Below it, she wore dark blue jeans and black boots. A irrational shiver ran up my spine at her appearance.

                “Hey, April,” Tracey grinned. “This is Danbi.” She motioned to the girl.

                Danbi’s pink glossed lips stretched into a full-lipped smile, one that didn’t match the expression on the rest of her face. She brushed long manicured nails over her straight hair, examining me with narrow dark eyes. “You’re Tracey’s cousin?” she asked. Her voice was a deep musical rasp. I froze when I heard it, recalling the memory of a blurry dream from weeks ago.

                Blinking back my composure, I nodded. “Yeah.”

                Danbi’s eyebrows raised a fraction, pushing slight lines into her cream shaded forehead. “How come you two live together? Why are you living with your aunt and uncle? What about your parents?”

                I raised my eyebrows. No one ever asked so directly. They could all sense it was private.

Tracey elbowed Danbi in the side. “Danbi!” she protested.

“What?” Danbi asked, her long dainty fingers smoothing down her tight black top, then brushing her body-sticking jeans. “It’s just a question.”

Tracey huffed, turning to me with an apologetic expression. “Sorry about her, you don’t have to answer.”

I smiled. “It’s cool.” I examined my nails as I spoke, speaking with complete nonchalance. “My Mom died when I was thirteen. My uncle and aunt adopted me so I live with Tracey’s family.”

Danbi cocked her head to the side, and I thought I saw the barest glint in her eye as she evaluated me again, this time with more attention to detail. “Are you guys really related? I mean, you look nothing alike.”

I stared at her.

“Danbi! Cut it out!” Tracey demanded. “Stop it.”

Danbi rolled her eyes. “Whatever, Trace, I don’t see why you’re getting so wound up, it’s just a question.”

Tracey made a face. “We should go now. Everyone ready?”

“Not to crash your parade, but how are we going to get there? Isn’t walking a bit far-fetched? And I doubt Uncle Matthew wants you herding around in my truck.” My truck—the one car that resided near the Kingstons’ home that wasn’t glamorous.

Danbi pulled a set of four keys from her pocket. She dangled them. “I turned sixteen last year.”

A step out of the door displayed a sleek black convertible, its glossy black paint reflecting in the sun. I raised an eyebrow. “Your parents must really love you.”

Danbi strode over to the car, unlocking it with a remote key. “My parents didn’t buy it,” she replied simply, slipping in.

Tracey jogged down the stairs, sliding into the passenger seat. Watching speculatively, I followed after her, climbing into the backseat.

Danbi pulled out of the driveway, spinning into the road and sliding down to the street.

Danbi and Tracey kept up a constant conversation as we drove, Tracey tugging me in when she could.

We parked in the student parking lot, along with the majority of student cars. We all stepped out, striding towards the field.

I was surprised to see the bleachers full, voices mangled together. Below them, the cheerleaders were gathered in one area. Some sat on benches, sipping energy drinks and chatting. Others were idling on the grass, the wind swaying their white and red miniskirts. Amongst them, I spotted Cheryl Alston, yelling at some of the freshman cheerleaders as she brandished her senior status.

Danbi led the way up the bleachers, settling on a seat next to a girl with Afro textured hair. She beamed at us as we sat down, stretching her slender face. “You guys are just on time,” she beamed, the game is starting in a couple of minutes.” She glanced at me. “Who’s this?”

“Tamara, meet my cousin April. April, meet Tamara.”

Tamara held her hand out, “Hi April.”

I shook her hand. “Hey.”

“Where’s Tanya?” Tracey asked when we let go. She searched the field, grazing it with her eyes.

“She’s with the cheerleaders,” Tamara explained, pointing out a girl with a mass of curly hair black.

“She has her first performance today, doesn’t she?” Tracey mused.

I glanced at Danbi as the girls talked. There was a sense that came off Tamara, almost hostility in the way she glanced at Danbi. Danbi was silent, her eyes half-open as she gazed down at her glinting blackberry. A quarter of an hour later, the floodlights came on, a voice ringing over the mic.

“To welcome our guests, we have East Brook Cheerleaders!” His boom was followed by applause and whistles of excitement.

This was going to be bad.

Half-way in, I spotted Cali on the field, sporting a cheer-leading uniform. I snorted. She’d probably retold to the cheer leading captain how she’d led the cheer leading team of our old school to victory countless times. Chances were, by the next game, she’d be the captain.

It was as half-time hit that I decided I didn’t want to stay any longer.

“I’m going to wait outside,” I told Tracey as I jogged down the stairs.

She nodded, a hint of disappointment in her eyes. As much as I hated disappointing her, I didn’t do well in excitement. I could already feel sweat gathering behind my neck, and when I blinked, the colors were there.

Outside, devoid of warm bodies, the wind was glacial, whipping at me like sharpened claws. I wrapped my arms around myself, heading towards   the car park.

As I stepped closer, voices grew louder. My skin quivered as I moved closer, and I hoped these weren’t warning signs.

“You can’t do this, Zane.”

Catherine.

“Just come back OK? Lionel will welcome you with open arms, all you have to do is come back.”

As I stepped around the building, I could see Zane and Catherine standing on the asphalt.

“What happened to that girl…it wasn’t your fault. It was no one’s fault.”  She clenched her fists. “Zane, please…” Catherine stepped closer. Her hands reached out, weaving into his hair. He didn’t move, deathly still.

                In one move, she tugged him down to her height, standing on the toes of her polished black boots as she pressed her lips to his.

                I choked back a gasp.

                Catherine moved her lips against his, but he stood still, emotions silent.

                “Dammit,” she snarled, breaking their kiss. She slapped Zane, the sound of her hand against his cheek echoing off the stone walls. “I hate you,” she screeched, spinning on her heel and stomping towards a silver Mercedes. She jumped in, spinning out of the lot, barely swerving by Zane’s body.

                Then Zane’s eyes snapped to mine, almost as if he’d already known I was there.

                Gulping, I stepped out, trying to ignore the fact that I’d overheard an incredibly humiliating break up. I leaned against a wall, trying to relax despite my reaction to his presence. His eyes shifted, landing on something else. I gazed up at the sky, noticing a fresh sweep of dark clouds. They’d struck when we hadn’t been looking, dissolving the sun like salt in water.

                I begged the universe not to release rain. Not while I was outside in just a vest top and jeans.

                And of course it did. At the first rain drop I could have cried.

                “Here.”

                Zane stood next to me, holding an umbrella over my head. I stared at him blinking.

                “Thanks.” I tried for a smile.

                I hugged my arms around myself, ignoring the impulse to throw myself at him. My skin was vibrating, fizzes of electricity running up and down my arms.

                “It wasn’t what it looked like,” Zane said suddenly.

                I blinked. “It’s none of my business.”

                “It’s not,” he insisted. “It’s complicated.

                I nodded. “I get it.”

                Zane stared at me a curious look in his eye. “April Kingston,” he murmured suddenly.

                Attempting to regain my breath, I stepped back. “How do you know my name?” I asked.

                He averted his eyes. “It’s a small town.”

                “Oh.” An awkward silence descended. Zane didn’t look affected, gazing away at the gate, his expression blank, yet clenched.

                I suddenly noticed several scratches on his face from where Catherine’s nails had dug in when she’d slapped him.

                “Oh, you have a scratch.” Instinctively, I reached up, touching his cheek. A shock flitted through my hand, burning down my veins in a quick sensation. My fingers tingled in the aftermath.

                Zane flinched away. “Don’t,” he ground out.

                I flinched from his tone, blinking rapidly. “Sorry. You have scratches from Catherine slapping you.” I hugged my arms around myself again. “What could you have done that she’s so angry at you?”

                “You don’t understand,” he snapped.

                I flinched. “I’m not claiming to, I was just thinking aloud.”

                “It doesn’t matter, it’s none of your business.”

                “I never said it was!”

                “You know what? This was stupid.” Zane threw the umbrella at me, sauntering off, leaving me to fume in my anger.

                It only made it worse knowing he still looked hot as he strode through the pounding rain.

                What the heck was wrong with him?

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