We are the Damned

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  • Published: 5 Jan 2015
  • Updated: 13 Oct 2016
  • Status: Complete
'We are the Damned, and we Damn you.'

Meet Kear: Deadly, dangerous, and damned for all eternity to live in the Mantle, a Level of the world ablaze with fire and a spark of torture. Very few are ever allowed out of Mantle to mingle with other Levels, so when Kear gets an assignment with a Human, she knows it's something different. But even Kear, with her mind reading abilities, cannot think of what might be up there.



The smell of pine trees allures me to the forest, and dry, crispy leaves crunch under my bare feet as I try desperately not to step on any holly or nettles near its edge. Can’t be too careful.


I whip my head around as I hear the voice again, eyes bright, heart on fire. The green ocean before me shimmers and sparkles, but everything is just a strange swirl of merging colours, apart from what lies straight ahead. Two Humans: Natalie, and Eliza.


"Why are you two here?" I snarl, rolling my eyes at their stupidity. Only Humans would be idiotic enough to search for someone who nearly killed them, and wanted to do it. "I told you all to leave me alone."


"Doesn't mean we had to listen," Natalie says with a laugh, jumping onto a very unstable looking rock by the rivder, which acts a bit like a border between the forest and the rest of the town. "Besides, everyone's still going crazy, so it wasn't hard to slip away unseen, into the darkness of our own silent minds."


"Stop being so poetic, Natalie," I snap. "It's irritating enough you just being here. I tried to find somewhere no one could find me."


"How'd that work out for you? Also, how did you run so fast?" I can tell Natalie doesn't actually intend for me to answer her, but I still give her a pointed look. What a stupid question.


"Forget about that," Eliza scoffs, staring at me. "What about why you even ran away in the first place?"


"I absolutely despise you and all of your petty Human race," I want to say, but think better of it, considering with slight regret the fact that Eliza should not under any circumstances find out that I'm not Human. "Um.. I was ... Ashamed," I lie, looking down at the ground. "I thought you'd all hate me for being such a ... such a b***h." I promptly burst into tears, knowing that my eyes are most likely turning a pastel pink and my cheeks a vibrant shade of red.


"Oh, Layla, please stop crying." Eliza hops from one foot to the other. "Of course we don't think you're a bitch. I don't know about Natalie, but I came to thank you for making sure I didn't get caught up in the middle of the fight."


"Yeah, and I came to say thanks for making sure everyone knows that I'm not the only person who realises what a b***h Jade is. Because she is a b***h. A really fat and ugly b***h, too. Remind me why the f**k you still hang around d her?"


"Honestly, I have no idea." It's one of the first truthful things I've said to them. Mostly everything else has just been a complete lie, and I almost feel ashamed that they want to be me friends. I make a terrible Human. Perhaps that's what happens when you don't belong to any Level, though; you end up bearing absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to any Level.


"So why don't you ditch her?"


"Don't know that either." I scuff my feet along the ground, heading towards a rickety bridge which leads over a rippling stream, part of the river that has broken away and is going in its own direction. Maybe, just maybe, there is some beauty in the sludge of brown. A tiny shaft of light revealing a spot of clean water shines down and a faint smile tugs at my lips.


"Move, Layla!" Natalie laughs, shoving me over the bridge. "You're such a slowcoach."



"Oh, I'm so sorry." I scoof, eyes hardening. "If you don't want me to be so slow, then you can just leave me be, how about that for a plan?"


"Nah, just hurry up."


"Just wait until she finds a spider in the forest or something, Layla. It'll be so hilarious, you will die of laughter." After a minute's pause, she adds, "And Natalie'll probably die of the venom," before beginning to laugh hysterically.


"How do you know I'm scared of spiders?" Natalie asks, confused. In her mind I can see an image of fear, and eight crooked lines seeming to fade out of the shadows, coated in blood, and I know that Natalie believes it to be her own.


"I don't, but I'm sure I read somewhere that one in three people is, and I'm not, so one of you is, and you just proved I'm right that it's you."


"None of that made any sense to me at all. Do you speak English?"


"Do you?"




"Then I just speak a more elegant, sophisticated and cleverly worded version, as well as being considerably smarter than you and showing it."


"You are not smarter than me."


"What's twelve to the power of two?"




"Try again."


As the sounds of their voices fade into the background, I hop over a boulder and a stream, stumbling slightly over a tree root and debating silently whether or not to warn the two who have now fallen behind me. I decide against it - if one of them breaks something, it will be easier for me to ditch them - and carry on, stifling a laugh as Natalie curses directly after a thumping sound.


"Didn't care to warn me, did you?" she calls to me.


"Didn't want to interrupt anything," I call back, laughing.


"Thank you for caring so very, very much."


"You're welcome." I can imagine the smirk spreading across Natalie's face as I speak, the way she is probably biting her tongue and tilting her head back slightly as though to embrace the sun, but really to embrace a laugh she won't let come. I wonder why she never does, but it is not of my concern at the moment.


There's a figure behind a tree.


"Let's find somewhere to sit down," I bark at them, turning around and kneeling, knees grazing slightly as the speed carries me to a slight slide. "My legs are sore."


"Then why did you even lead us this far into the forest in the forest in the first place? Surely you knew hiking would hurt?"


"Why did you follow me so far and not inform me of the situation?" I ask back, feeling really rather proud of myself for pointing out this severe loophole in whatever kind of master plan Eliza is orchestrating by questioning me.


"I just wanted to see how long it would take you to get tired and realise we have no food, water, and we are probably kinda lost, too."


"We are not 'kinda lost'," I retort. "I know perfectly well where I'm going. It's you two who don't."


"You're ditching us?"


"No, I just haven't told you where we're going. You really should pay more attention, Eliza."


"Well where are we going, then?"


"There's this place. Called a house. I live there." I say this all very slowly, in order to annoy the two girls, and it seems to work, Natalie being the first to snap at me.


"Just shut up and stop treating us like f*****g idiots, Layla! Where's the house?"


"It's not so much of a house as a sort-of mansion, just to warn you, and usually I would have my chauffeur take me there, but I can't be botheredtrying to find reception here. Beside I can let him hang around awkwardly for a while." Not one bit of that was true, but the two seem to, miraculously , believe my lies. "And it's old, and sort of haunted looking, so please don't freak out." I do want them to 'freak out', actually, which is why I used such language and have decided that I definitely need something scary to get them to leave me so I don't wound their emotions.


"Cool. Where is it?"


"There's a path through this forest that I can pick up fairly easily when it's light, so we should probably just rest for something like five minutes, or you two could just go back, which would make a lot more sense, because you'll have to go back anyway. My parents aren't really big fans of visitors."


Now, Eliza staying to look 'brave' I would understand, given she knows nothing of who I am, but Natalie knows, so why is she still here? Maybe it's because she can see through the lies, and wants to know why - or rather, knows why and wants to know I'm trying to get rid of them. Most likely, though, she just wants to hang around and be annoying.


"They must be canker blossoms," Eliza decides firmly.


"That doesn't sound very Edgar-Allan-POe-ish," Natalie says, and I have to agree with her.


"It's Shakespearian. Something Hermia says in a 'Midsummer's Night's Dream'."


"That's the one with the fairy, isn't it? Duck or something?"






A silence follows, and I fiddle with a few twigs, not really doing anything of much importance, until Natalie yelps and shouts that she thinks there is a lion near us, and I have to remind her that lions do not live in this area and if it was here it would have already killed us. Well, them, really, as I am immortal, but I don't see the point in mentioning that to them.


"Okay, if you're that afraid of lion s living in a Scottish forest, go. I'm heading home, and I suggest you two go to your homes too. But you're too stupid to do something sensible like that, so come on, I suppose."

"We're going on a house hunt," Natalie begins to sing softly, under her breath, for reasons I'm not sure I even want to know.


"We're going on a house hunt," Eliza echoes with a giggle.


They're definitely just here to be annoying.


"We're going to find Layla's one."


"We're going to find Layla's one."


"Her parents are stupid."


"Her parents are stupid."


"Is she?"


"Is she?"




"I agree."


"Don't," I call over my shoulder to the idiotic pair of them. "Or did you not see what I managed to do this morning?"


"Oh, yes, we saw it!"


"Oh, yes we saw it."


"Now we're on a house hunt."


"Now we're on a house hunt."


"And we're going to find Layla's one."

"And we're going to find Layla's one."


"And her parents are stupid."


"And her parents are stupid."


"Is she?"


"Is she?"


"Shut up, or I'll rip your tongues out so you'll have to," I hiss, my senses suddenly sharpening. A voice enters my mind, but I can't find an image at the end of its endless, endless string of thoughts.


"Should I attack?" the voice asks itself. "Or should I stay here? Or maybe just talk to them? No, they won't like that. They'll attack me first. But what if they don't? What if it's best to just ask and be nice? They seem friendly. Apart from tongue-girl. She looks familiar, too. I don't think I like her very much. The others look nice. Especially the one with the Englsih voice. She looks really nice. Hot even. God, I shouldn't think 'bout that, I just need to frigging talk to them. God, this'll be hard. I hope they don't hit me with a frying pan too much. God, Ellie's got me watching too many of her Disney movies. These girls are hardly Rapunzel; more like the wolves that attack all the bad guys, or the bear from Merida. God, I've really got to stop being nice to my sister."


A figure edges out of the shadows, his eyes dark like death, and his hands pale like that of a ghost. "Who the hell are you?" Natalie asks quickly, too quickly. She's scared.




"And why are you here?"


"I don't know." He shifts nervously from one foot to another, and I catch sight of his nervous finger movements, shaking them about discreetly like a lion's mane. "I just remember crossing a road and then going into the forest, 'cause I was doing this orienteering thing, and then I sort of ... lost the map."


"Well, that wasn't very clever, was it?" I say, attempting humour. I think Robert only laughs so I don't make him.


"I think I know who you are! It was on the news! This dude thought he ran over a boy, but they couldn't find a body, and then a boy went missing, which is clearly you. was on yesterday, didn't you two see t?"


"The news is boring."


"Tea party. With my cousin's teddies."


I really do think of brilliant excuses, don't I? The boy registers Eliza's information in his mind, and he nods. "Yeah, there was a car. Do you know how to get home? You better, because I've only got half a litre of water left, and I'm keeping it for myself."


"We know the way, but we've got to go to Layla's house first. Unless, of course, we could just go and take you home..." I can tell Eliza has taken a sort of liking of this boy, from the way that she mimics the way Jade tends to look at most of the seemingly popular boys at school.


"It's fine; you two go, if you know the way. I'll see you around, maybe at school?"


"Maybe." Definitely not.


"Well, um, bye then," I say, and wave them off, smiling as they disappear into the greenery. I bend down to pick up the bottle of water Robert was waving around and dropped in his haste to leave, considering whether or not to throw it after them. With any luck, it will hit him on the head and knock some sense into him - really, talking about your lack of supplies and then carelessly dropping your supplies is not a good thing to do. Stupid Humans. Eliza and Natalie probably don't even know the way home, so the water will be much needed. Oh, well; it's their problem, not mine.



"Did you like my distraction?" Andre's voice asks, and I turn around, startled.


"Distraction?" I ask, hands on hips.


"I assumed that you wanted privacy to do whatever you wanted to do, and those two didn't appear to understand. You're not the only one with powers over the mind."




"That boy doesn't exist. The second that they get out of the forest, poof, there will beno recollection of what happened and the boy will be gone. You'll be on your own, and with any luck the girls will hopefully just go home. You're welcome."


And he goes just as quick as he came, leaving me to puzzle over how powerful I really am, if I didn't see through Robert. If he doesn't exist, why did his thoughts feel so Human, so real? It doesn't make sense.


But if I'm to succeed in my plans, I will need to keep my mind focused on one thing and one thing only: How to destroy the Levellers, and save them at the same time.


Impossibilities really should be a lot easier, for efficiency reasons. Now, how to turn this ruin of a castle in a clearing into a trap of eternity? Step one: find it.

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