Scarlett knotted her hands in her hair and groaned. She looked through the gap between her forearms and, after noticing the sea of people around her, remembered that she was at a Charity Function. It was easy to forget with all the noise in her ears.
"Scarlett, stop that," her mother hissed at her. The lines in her leathery face folded in, making her look much older than fifty. Frown lines were the most prominent.
"Mom," she whined over the round table. "They won't stop."
"Well, you're going to have to make them stop. You're eleven, Scarlett. It's your imagination." Her mother's fiery expression greatly contrasted her perfectly coiffed blond hair.
"But mom, they're saying someone is going to get hurt--"
"Scarlett, stop," her dad breathed. He rubbed his temples with his fingers and the muscle in his jaw flexed. "We're not doing this again. Not here."
He's at the table next to you, Scarlett. He's going to hurt you and your family if you do not eliminate him. He isn't human, Scarlett. He's a demon.
"Demon," Scarlett whimpered.
"There is no such thing as demons," her parents whispered harshly at the same time.
"Mommy, are we gonna die?" Violet, her little sister, asked.
Her mother threw her hands in the air. "See what you've done, Scarlett? Violet's scared to death!"
Scarlett looked to her sister. She didn't look scared. "Sorry," she mumbled. She didn't want to scare anybody. She just wanted it to stop.
Scarlett, now. Eliminate the demon before he can hurt you and your family. He's watching you right now.
Scarlett looked around hesitantly, licking the crowd with her eyes. Circular tables adorned the room. and in the center stood a branch with flowers wrapped around each individual spoke. Crystal glasses encircled those, each with a lit candle floating at the top. All of the guests seemed engrossed in their own conversation--all except one.
Scarlett's eyes met his. Her heart pounded at a jagged rhythm, getting steadily faster while beads of sweat formed on her forehead. His eyes transformed from brown to bright red abruptly and his mouth twisted into a smile. Scarlett tugged on her mom's dress. "He's there, Mom. The demon."
"Don't say that about people! You are in a serious need of an attitude adjustment, young la--"
Scarlett didn't hear the rest. She was too busy retching all over the table cloth as the scent of rotten eggs swam through her nose. "Scarlett!" her mother screeched, grabbing her arm to pull her away from the table.
Take the knife.
Scarlett grabbed her mother's knife off the table and stuffed it in the small handbag her mother made her bring. Her mother pulled her in the direction of the bathrooms while muttering apologies to everyone who could hear. When they were out of thereach of stranger's ears, her mother turned on her. "You are never coming to another event with us again. If you can't behave yourself, well, we'll just have to think of something... I've got half a mind to send you to boarding school."
Scarlett felt his presence before she saw him. An unmistakable feeling of dread washed over her, almost knocking her off her feet. Scarlett ripped her arm from her mother's grasp and whirled around. There he was, scorching her with his menacing stare. Each second was another flame licking her bare skin. She stuck her hand inside the bag and gripped the knife firmly.
You can't hesitate, Scarlett. Remember that.
She nodded her head absentmindedly, forgetting that she was the only one who could hear the voice. "Scarlett, what are you doing?" her mother asked, sounding vaguely worried after seeing the expression on Scarlett's face.
"He's a demon, mom. He wants to hurt us."
"No, he isn't! Stop saying things like that!"
But before her mother could seize her arm once more, the man lunged for her. Scarlett knew what to do without even thinking--almost as if someone else was doing it for her. She drove the knife into his neck just as his hands locked around her neck. The sound it made was sickening, but so was the incessant screaming coming from all directions.
It didn't register in Scarlett's mind what she'd done until she looked down to see crimson cascading down her white dress. Her breath hitched in her throat as she tried to wipe it off with her hands, only suceeding in smearing it in further.
After a moment Scarlett crawled out from under the man, shaking violently. "Mommy?" she whispered when she couldn't find her voice.
But her mother just stared at her in shock and horror. And Scarlett knew her life would never be the same.