"The race begins in ten minutes!" I hear a voice boom in the distance.
The violent growling of the engines resonates in my ears and sends chills up my body. The sounds vary. There are those that roar like lions, thunderously and ferociously. And then there are those that purr softly like sleeping cats.
The air is thick with the ascetic reek of gasoline mingled with the smell of wet pavements. I inhale the crisp sea air with my lungs and exhale in satisfaction. It helps me to calm down a bit.
Every nerve, every cell, every part of me shivers like crazy. Half of it is nothing to do with the cold. Tonight I sneaked out for the first time and I will get my head chopped off if my aunt finds out where I am.
My light jacket does little to keep me warm and I run my hands up and down my arms to stimulate some heat. My jaw is chattering violently and my cheeks are probably flushed from the cool air.
Queens Port isn't a warm place at night, nor is it a safe one. This is probably one of the most criminal and dangerous parts outside of the city, which makes me wonder what am I doing here in the first place. The port isn't used anymore, but I heard that in the past they used to have ships here and used it for exports and trade. Right now it's in rubble and the walls are grown in moss, bugs scuttle in and out of fallen rocks, the ships are rusty and chained to the pier and the water is sloshing at the sides, mourning for the past.
People tend to avoid this place, because of the amount of illegal things that are organised here like drug dealing, fights, black markets and street races. Tonight it's the street race.
I notice candles flickering in the incandescent moonlight. They border the alley wall which I am passing and they illuminate the scrawled names on the concrete. They are painted in white and underneath each, there are signatures and eulogies.
There are also half smashed helmets hanging from the railings along with roses fastened to them. The flowers have dried up and the petals flutter away, scattering in the chilly air. A pair of angel's wings are hammered to the wooden panel that reads WE REMEMBER.
I pass the miserable place. I feel like I can almost hear the cries of the dead as they took their last breath. I shudder.
A few motorcycles zoom by me to the clearing ahead and I hear a dog howls distantly, hungry for a juicy bone.
Gingerly, I step into the light coming from the streetlamps and instantly I am overwhelmed. There are too many people here, maybe around seventy or ninety. Each person cheers and claps, standing around in a circle. When I get closer to it, I see that there are two guys riding on their jet-black motorcycles and showing off. They smirk and flash their teeth, as girls almost faint nearby.
One of them hoists the bike up on one wheel and zooms around, triumphantly. The other hits the breaks and does a somersault over the front and lands perfectly on his two feet. The crowd yells and each person here bellows for the race.
I see various tattoos and piercings, along with brightly tinted hair of hot pinks, azures and emeralds. The girls hang off the boys that sit on their bikes. They laugh in a carefree way and toss their long hair. Some make out vigorously in the corners and flash their bare skin and lingerie. I look away, blushing.
Most are holding a bottle of beer or smoking a cigarette, but I can spot the ones who will race today, because they stay away from the drink. Headlights flood the open space, illuminating everyone in a yellow light.
I am the white crow tonight. People eye me and give me strange looks, mostly because I am not dressed obscenely enough, but also because everyone here knows each other more or less and they must be seeing me for the first time. I wonder if they think I am a spy for the government or something. I gulp and try to keep my eyes on the cracked concrete.
"Hugo! Stop it!" I hear a childish laugh and twirl around. This is the sort of laugh that I can't help but smile to, because it promises memories and light. I see Amitra hanging off the waist of Hugo, her new boyfriend, and he kisses her neck, tickling her. I roll my eyes.
Beside them is a group of other people that must be Hugo's friends. There is a very eye catching girl and her breasts flop out of her too tight tank top. Her legs are painfully standing on her high platforms, long and smooth and her body is swirling curiously in tattoos. Another boy, which I doubt belongs to their group, is looking around frantically and sweating. I notice he passes something small over to a boy in the corner. Drugs probably.
There are about four boys around their motorcycles and three girls, each flirting with one another and talking sluggishly, waiting for the race to be over so that they could finally waste their bodies.
Amitra's grey eyes widen in surprise when she sees me and she waves vigorously. Her warm, brown hair cascades down her bare shoulders. She wears a tight black dress that tugs at every curve on her body. It's ridiculously short and her cleavage is too big. Nevertheless, she's my best friend. The girl with the smoky eyes.
"Tor!" she embraces me tightly and kisses my cheek gently, "I can't believe you've made it!" she cries. I can smell the stench off beer and her famous lavender aroma. Her face is flushed in heat and her smile radiates warmth.
"Actually, I'm here to warn you" I say sternly, pulling away. I rub off the smeared red lipstick from my cheek. A groan escapes Hugo and I scowl at him, but he makes a face, "Your mom called," I avert my eyes back to Amitra. Vaguely, I can sense Hugo sticking his tongue out at me when I'm not looking.
"What did you say?" she asks, chewing her lip.
"That you are at an illegal street race with some junkies," I say sarcastically, rolling my eyes.
"Watch your lexicon, Torrance. I won't think again, even if you are a girl. I am a man of very few words," Hugo chimes in and makes his way over to us, strutting like a peacock. His cobalt hair spikes upwards like a hedgehog and his blue eyes are there to match it. I can see the twinkling look in them and the mischievous quality he always possesses.They follow Amitra everywhere intently, as if it's the last time he is seeing her.
"Undoubtedly, since your brain is malfunctioning," I hiss.
"At least I have one, unlike some people," he spits and hugs Amitra, kissing her full on the mouth.
"Nice shirt," I say with acidity. He winks at me, detaching himself from Amitra. It's plain white and has a hotdog on it with the words BITE ME.
"You can borrow it. But first you'll have to take it off me," he leans his arm on my shoulder and I know he's only messing around, but I shrug it off and focus back on our conversation.
"You told her I was at yours, right?" Amitra asks warily and I nod. She shrieks with relief. Her hair flips around and she gives me another tight squeeze. The dimples on her face show clearly.
"She'll come around at nine, so make sure you're at my house by that time," I shoot Hugo a look. He laughs and wraps his arms around me from behind.
"Come on, Tor! Stay! Have some fun!" Amitra he puts emphasis on the 'fun', drawing it out.
"Ah, sugar cube, don't be such a nun," Hugo tickles my ear, "Hang out with us and we can have pizza later. Maybe you'll get cosy with one of my guys. Guess what? I'm paying this time!" I slap his hand away and glare at him. I don't know why, but he irritates me so much. Maybe it's because he will one day get Amitra into serious trouble.
"Don't call me sugar cube," I spit through my teeth, "And I will not 'get cosy'! I would never sit at the same table as you, Hugo de Monluc and since when do you pay?" I raise an eyebrow. He flashes his white teeth at me.
"I felt like I had to boost up my manly pride and after all, I couldn't keep letting the lady pay," he pokes Amitra in the ribs and she shrieks, laughing.
"What pride?" I snort and his eyes grow vicious. I hear a loud laugh behind us and twirl around. It's a warm and melodious laugh that falls and rises like honey, creating that beautiful fluttering feeling of infinity in my heart.
I didn't expect him to be so close. The moment I turn, I see his face right in front of mine.
By "him", I mean a tall boy, with hair as dark as the shadows of twilight that falls messily in a heap and eyes are the colour of the Irish sea; a beautiful glassy green. A grin is plastered onto his face that looks mischievous and at the same time hypnotizing.
"Watch it, Hue," he chuckles and walks over to the bikes behind us, "The kid might fry your ass one day. She's got as much spark as you do. Eh, Sparky?" he lifts an eyebrow and I feel anger boiling up in my throat. Even if he is handsome and attractive, he still annoys me. I want to slap that smirk of his face. I hate overconfidence.
He strides over to a cherry red motorcycle and grabs the leather jacket from the seat. He shrugs it on and eyes me curiously.
"No one asked you, biker boy," I lift up my head bravely. Now I have to deal with two jerks. This just gets better and better. I cross my arms and lean on one hip.
"Oooh," he looks at me, making a twinkling look in his eyes appear, "I am afraid. Really afraid," He circles me and comes so close that I can smell the coffee beans and engine oil off him. He leans in and whispers to my ear, "Sparky..." I shiver and pull away, glaring at him.
"Come on Torrance! Loosen up!" Hugo whines and pulls me by the hand over to the bikes. I shrug it off, making him groan loudly, "Honey, you need to loose the Bible one day and I think that today would be perfect!" he wriggles his eyebrows and shoots looks between me and the boy.
"No," I say coldly and definitely, "I don't hang around with idiots,"
He looks over to the boy ever so slowly, his eyes narrowing and a smirk appearing on his face. The other boy nods, but his expression doesn't give anything away. He purses his lips and turns his gaze back to me.
"Suit yourself, Sparky," he voice is distant. He's up to something. I can feel it.
"I'm going to leave now. Am, be back or I will get killed and then I will have to kill you," I give a sigh and the smile on her face sinks.
"I told you she wouldn't stay," she breathes and a part of me wants to stay just to prove her wrong, but getting on the bad side of my aunt is not the most pleasant thing in the world. She is a kind and loving woman, but if you cross her dark half, she will give you stink-eyes for the rest of your life.
"Little goody-two-shoes," Hugo pouts his face and mocks me in a shrill voice.
"Asshat!" I snap back and furiously turn around. I begin to stomp away, when suddenly, the wind from behind me makes my jacket flutter and my hair is in my face. An engine growls loudly and a force surges me forwards. I feel the silk scarf I was wearing being yanked off my neck, creating a painful burn. I yelp and jump, looking livid and ready to kill.
I see Hugo still standing with Amitra, his face glorious and hers is worried. I thought it was him playing a trick, but now I see that it is the mysterious boy. What's his problem?
He is on the red motorcycle with my blue scarf in his hand and a cigarette propped up between his lips. He dangles my scarf like an accessory and winks at me, his dark hair falling in between the eyes. I scowl at him, but he doesn't loose the smirk.
"Hue, I really like this kid. Where'd you find her? She's got some spunk!" he hoots and Hugo laughs with him, "Look at that priceless face!" I feel red rising in my cheeks. I knew I shouldn't have come here. Now I am getting made fun of by two older guys. Why does this always happen to me? I am like a magnet for trouble.
"I guess I have that effect on women," Hugo shrugs playfully and I make a disgusted face.
"See, I don't like boring. Do you Hugo?" the boy averts his eyes to Amitra and Hugo. Hugo's face is full of hunger for some fun. Fun that can get a few of my bones broken.
"Alright," I exhale and throw my hands up in the air, hoping I'm not too late, "I give up! I'm sorry for insulting you and your....friend. Now, can I please have my scarf back?" I say impatiently.
"No," he shrugs simply, lighting the cigarette.
"No? What do you mean, no?This is not funny. Give it back," I try to sound stern, but I come out sounding irritated and angry. Solving conflicts is never a quality I could acquire. I usually ended up in a fight or an argument. I'm not the negotiating type.
"That wouldn't be any fun, now would it?" he glides the motorcycle smoothly beside Hugo and hands him the scarf. Hugo ties is around his wrist and gets on his own black motorcycle, making the engine roar to life, "I was thinking along the lines of a bet,"
"What is it, biker boy?" I say with nonchalance. He laughs warmly.
"You want the scarf? Come and get it," Hugo shrugs as if it's a simple thing. I don't dare to budge. I know that the moment I run at him, he will ride off into the night, howling in laughter and I will look stupid again. I dash my eyes from Hugo to Amitra, hoping she'd get the sign to grab it off him, but she stands there like a statue.
"Race and you get it back," the boy says.
Suddenly, I realise something, "Who the hell are you, anyway?" I sound like a child.
He pauses and then his voice comes deep and husky, "Didn't mommy ever tell you not to talk to strangers? I'm biker boy. You said so yourself,"