I was still a little dizzy after my 'kickass' birthday party. My mum said it was because I'm a teenager and liked to complain. My dad called me an alcoholic, or at least a potential one (its good to know how little my parents trust me, sheesh). At least I could walk enough for the other party. Despite my protests, Cathy and Kate had managed to blackmail me into dressing up for the occasion. They said it was so I could, "start dating." Yeah, that was likely.
As my dad pulled the car up outside my school's hall, a knotted feeling twisted its way into my stomach. What was I doing here? I didn't get chance to answer my confusion, though, as two familiar high pitched voices squealed my name.
"Looks like- sounds like- your entourage has found us!" My dad exclaimed, clearly mocking my reluctance to leave the car. It was warm inside, and despite the fact that it was summer, I knew there was a chill in the air outside. I sensed it.
"Come on!"They were getting impatient, so slowly I wrapped a shawl around my shoulders and ungracefully slide out of the car's passenger seat door. I slammed it shut as soon as I was out, so that I wasn't tempted to crawl back to the comfort and familiarity.
Finally out of the car, I became aware of all the noise. Teenagers grouped together as if in little wolf packs. They cluttered the entrance to the hall, and infected the air with the stench of hormones and cigarette smoke. Litter and water covered any space in between the people, meaning the only option left was to go inside.
Inside the hall there wasn't much more space. Tables and chairs were squished to the walls and romantic couples were dancing in the middle of the room, whilst lonely people gazed longingly and enviously towards them. "Well, this is lively", Kate muttered as she took in the scene in front of us, clearly unimpressed.
"It looks as though we got all dressed up for nothing", sighed Cathy.
Then I had a thought: "wait, guys, before we give up, lets look around a bit. There's bound to be at least one fit boy, hopefully three". They giggled when I wiggled my eyebrows. Then, almost as if it was a sign from the almighty universe, two decent-looking teenage boys walked by us.
One of them was shorter than the other and had light brown hair that was flicked in a quiff away from his youthful face. He wasn't very muscular looking, but cute nonetheless. His company, however, had an angular face and jet black hair flopped over one brown eye. Something about the boy intrigued me. Maybe it was the way he walked as though he gave no care in the world, or perhaps his eyes which I discovered from closer inspection were a darker brown (almost black). Or maybe it was the fact that the mysterious eyes were looking directly at me.
The mystery boys started to walk towards us. My stomach flip flopped .
"Hey, looks like we're not the only ones dumb enough to dress up all fancy," the shorter boy said to the other as they joined us. I suddenly became aware of how much Cathy was blushing at the short one, she was obviously attracted to him. He looked her up and down as if evaluating her, judging her. I mentally restrained myself from saying any snide remarks about his appearance, whereas Cathy just blushed more.
Kate felt the tension and wandered off to get something to eat. She could eat whatever she wanted and still not gain any weight.
"Hello, miss, my name is Jeffery Noel, but you can call me Jeff," the short one (Jeff) said, taking Cathy by the arm and leading her to the dance floor. Smooth. As they were walking away I heard Cathy introduce herself and giggle at something he said. I rolled my eyes.
"Not much of a romantic, are you?"
I blinked. I'd forgotten he was there. For someone so mysterious and mesmerising, he sure could be quiet.
" Huh?", was all I could manage.
"You rolled your eyes", he simply stated then shrugged, dropping the subject. He had broad, almost manly, shoulders. " I'm Ryan .E. Evanson, you?" He gestured for me to say my name.
"Claudia Brook", I gave him a questioning glance, "its funny, I don't recognise you, yet I could have sworn that this was a high school dance for, well, this high school."
"Just moved here", he nodded towards Jeff who was transfixed with Cathy.
For the next hour we walked around the entire school grounds as I gave him the grand tour and told him which teachers he should be afraid of. He just laughed, clearly doubting that he would be afraid of any adult. As we walked, the feeling of unease that I had sensed when I'd first arrived, returned. I staggered and Ryan had to steady me and walk me back inside.
Once back inside, I found the gang (Cathy, Jeff, Kate) waiting for us. Kate raised her eyebrow at me and I stuck my tongue out at her, earning me a sort of half-smile from Ryan. That kind of smile that revealed a small flash of passion in his otherwise unreadable eyes.
It was almost 11:30pm, and my dad was coming to get me at 12:00pm. That gave me half an hour. Unfortunately, the boys had to go, and with a light kiss on the cheek, Jeff said goodbye to Cathy. She practically almost fainted.
Ryan casually waved his goodbye, but when no-one was looking he passed a piece of paper to me. After they had gone, I declared I needed the toilet, but I actually just wanted to read what, if anything, was on the paper. Of course, though, the girls also needed to go to the toilet to fix their makeup.
The girls bathroom was lit by dim lights hanging dangerously from the vandalised ceiling, (how people managed to vandalise the ceiling baffled me). I hurried into a toilet stall. I was still able to clearly hear what they were saying.
"So, are you going to date that Jeff dude?" It was Kate grilling an obviously embarrassed Cathy about tonight's romantic events. Something that was not very common in our lives, so Kate was making the most of this. Cathy murmured a response and I recoiled in surprise at Kate's sharp laugh. " How about you, huh? What's the deal with what's-his-face?", she was talking to me.
I spoke from the other side of the door, glad my face was hidden so she couldn't see me blush, "his name is Ryan E Evanson, and we're friends!"
"For now," giggled Cathy.
"What's the 'E' for?" asked Kate.
I opened up the piece of paper, "I don't know, he wouldn't tell me."
She huffed, "sounds like he's embarrassed".
I muttered something vaguely like a 'yes', but was more focussed on the note. It contained his phone number and an address. The girls started moaning that I was taking forever so I told them I'd catch up with them. When I was sure they had left, I came out and smiled into the mirror.
I needed some fresh air, so I navigated through my school's winding corridors and out the back door. For a while I just wondered around the field. Until I heard a noise like a twig snapping under my feet. That's when I realised I'd walked off into the forest a street away. In the darkness.
Reluctantly, I recognised the familiar feeling of fear, dread and unease as I realised I was in a forest at midnight. Call me superstitious, but there was something unnerving about that.
Then I felt it. I hadn't heard anyone come up behind me. But sure enough there was someone- or something- there. A gust of wind blew my hair away from my neck, and soon I felt a cold pinch, then nothing.
There was no pain, not at first. When the pain did come, I was firmly in the grasp of whatever had hold of me. No scream could escape my lips, only a pathetic whimper.
Suddenly, I felt faint and started to fall, but a cold hand hurled me back onto my feet.
"Stay awake, its no fun when you don't stay awake."
The support that was holding me up subsided and I went crashing down to the ground, the world spinning and fading to an impermeable darkness.