Forever Young

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  • Published: 22 Dec 2015
  • Updated: 27 Jul 2016
  • Status: Complete
Darla is most definitely not a human.

She's one of the Ashki, an immortal race who have lived alongside humans from the very beginning. But friendships don't survive that long, and her contacts with her fellow Ashkine people are practically non existent, humans just tiny little pieces in the jigsaw of time. And an old enemy is back, proposing changes to the way their society has run and developed, and destroying the Ashki in the process.

Now Darla must gather her friends together to save themselves and their souls. But after so many millennia, is time finally running out for the Ashki?

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1. Demons

I don't like Thursdays. Everybody is always getting excited for the weekend, whooping and cheering because they'll have a few days of freedom soon, and freedom includes driving children to clubs, shopping for hours on end and staying up so late you tell yourself you'll do it differently the next weekend, even though nobody ever does. People seem to think weekends are brilliant, though I disagree. They're really just a waste of time, in my opinion, an excuse to be lazy and have 'just one drink tonight' . Then that one drink suddenly turns into ten and you're stumbling aroun d on the pavement, chucking up into a discarded box from the chippy down the road.

 

But anyway, I'm, getting a bit side tracked here. My point is, Thursdays and completely and utterly crap, and Thursday the fourth of August was absolutely no different. Of course, it started out the same as most Thursdays: wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth and head out to meet my boyfriend, James, at the park.

 

As always, the park was mostly empty, but for the elderly couple who sometimes helped out at the post office, a few mums pushing little children in squeaking buggies, and a man sitting on a brown bench under a tree. That was James.

 

 

"Hey beautiful," he says by way of greeting, holding me close and twirling his fingers in my auburn locks. "You're late."

 

I giggled like a little girl, though I felt stupid for doing so. "I'm ever so sorry," I lied. "How about I make up for it with a kiss."

 

James pulled me closer, and I could feel his smirk, just as his lips touched mine. I could feel his dark mop of hair falling onto my head, we were that close to each other, so close there was barely a millimetre between us, yet I felt just as distant as I always did, no love stretching from me to him, nothing binding us together. I could tell he felt something, by the way he touched me and kissed me and murmured sugary sweet sentiments into my ear. But for me, he was just a man, just a silly, mortal man whose life could be gone in an unfortunate second. Of course, I did care for him, but I couldn't feel truly close, not in a romantic sense, at least. I never did.

 

 

"I need to show you something," I said as we pulled away, and I looked up into his warm brown eyes. "It's quite amazing, really. Especially at this time."

 

 

He chuckled. "I expect it will be beautiful." I tilted my head. "Although, Darla..." he looked away from me, at the old bridge crossing the river. "I don't think it will be nearly as beautiful as you." His hand was suddenly in mine, and he squeezed it in that annoying way of his that I suppose I should have said I loved him for.

 

"I'm not beautiful," I said,  though I hated the words. James seemed to love my modesty, though.

 

"Yes, you are." He turned to stare into my eyes in the exact way the do in cliché films, which I suspected was a result of him thinking he was the boy of my dreams. "Darla, don't ever think that you aren't because you are. You're the most beautifully beautiful woman in the world, and never think that there is a day that can go by without me repeating that to myself." He took a step closer. "You are beautiful, and I love you."

 

 

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. "I love you, too. Now come on. I still have something to show you."

 

We walked side by side down the stark black path, the gravel crunching under our feet. James held me tightly, and ever so often he was glance down at me from his precarious height to smile softly, and tighten his grip on my hand. When we reached the main road to cross over, he pulled me to him, and whispered once more of his love for me, of the way he lay awake dreaming of me every night. I reciprocated his words in the sweet, flirtatious way I would be expected to, and rested me head on his shoulder, waiting for the cars to pass.

 

The lights changed and James laughed, pulling me over the road, spinning me around like I was a princess (pathetic, I know). We ran over the bridge and down the sloping hills, our voices dancing over the light summer breeze. I guided him to a group of trees near the old stone steps, and we slipped behind their wall, to where nobody could see us.

 

That was my first mistake.

 

 

A cold smile came over James' face, and he slipped a gleaming silver knife from the shadows. "Little girl," someone else's voice crooned, his mouth moving like a poorly created puppet. "Do you remember me?"

 

I shook out my hair. "Of course," I replied haughtily. "Though I must admit, I was never made aware of the fact that you were still alive."

 

The shadow laughed softly. "I expected as much from you, Darla. You never were one to pay attention to anyone else." I could feel her eyes on me, looking me up and down like a hawk eyes up its prey. "Then again, I suppose that must be my fault. I apologise."

 

"Please, I would appreciate it if you did not blame my best qualities on your own self. We all know you could never leave others alone. Especially not if they hated you."

 

She laughed again. "You speak nothing but the truth, I'll grant you that. But the truth isn't what I want from you."

 

 

"Let me guess, you want me to tell you that you are the most fantastically divine and complex person in this entire universe, too wonderful to have be worshipped by anyone, your ego is even smaller than your waist, and you'll fly away in a swirl of sunshine happiness and daisies as soon as I finish a grandiose speech about how wonderful you are? Again?" I laughed at her. "That definitely isn't the truth."

 

"That is not what I want from you," she said through gritted teeth. "You see, your little playmate here, well I find him quite attractive." I watched as a hand snaked over him, its poison tipped nails seeming to  scrape open his shirt. "I was wondering if maybe you wouldn't mind ... letting me have him. Just a little act of kindness for an old friend, nothing too important. Deal?"

 

"What are you planning?" I asked with a repressed sigh.

 

"Me? I'm not planning anything. I just like this boy here. Is that really such a terrible thing?"

 

"It is if it's you who likes him. Your idea of 'liking' someone is killing them with more excitement."

 

"Exactly. Can't I have him? You know how caring I am to my friends." I could hear the venom in her voice, even if it was coated in sugar.

 

I rolled my eyes. "Fine. Take him. He's just a human, anyway. Probably not even that interesting to you."

 

She laughed, and her hooded face caught the light streaming through the leaves. "He's a teacher, Darla. He's very interesting to me."

 

There was a moment of silence, as arms wrapped around James, who still looked like he was in a trance. I heard the sound of a kiss planted on a cheek, and then a scream of my name from James' mouth, urging me to stop. I held back a strangling whimper, and turned my back on the pair, catching only a glint of silver as I started to run.


My feet pounded on the ground and the nursery children stared at me, but the only thought in my head was what I'd just done to James. Sure, I didn't love him, or wasn't as close to him as others were, but he was still a person. And I'd just given him over to his murder.


I unlocked my door as quickly as I could once I got home and slammed it shut, locking it again with my keys held tightly in my hand. Taking deep, gentle breaths, I made my way to the cupboard, and pushed open the old door. The walls were just as I had remembered them.


Their names were all scrawled there, some larger and brighter than others, the names of all the men and women I had made give themselves to me. All my so called 'lovers', their names on a wall in a cottage in a small town in Britain, hidden from anyone I didn't want to see them. I found James' name and smiled wryly, closing my eyes and thinking back to the kiss in the park. Orange. I opened my eyes and took a pen from shelf, going over his name in the shocking colour, which glared out at me from the plaster. 


The time on my watch said it was just after twelve o'clock. The news was on the TV, and the reporter was saying something about the USA and tax, which could have been sort of interesting but wasn't. 


There was a knock at the door. Sighing, I got up to answer it, fairly certain I knew who it was. "Darla Hughes, I am arresting you on suspicion of murder."

 I punched him in the nose and bent down next to him. "Not today, officer. If you want to arrest anyone, it is a woman by the name of Keda Phelps. There is highly sufficient evidence, which will be sitting on your desk when you return. Have a nice day."


The officer got to his feet, seeming to breath in my scent like a wolf smells its prey. I saw it in his eyes, they way he suddenly broke, just like all the humans. They can never resist us. "Sorry, miss. I shall be on my way." 


He turned and strode out the door.


"Humans," I snarled, returning to my sitting room. 


"I know, right? They're so annoying. Listen to anyone, don't even care when that person's wrong." 


I turned to glare in the direction of the voice, clenching my fists. "Why are you in my house?" I asked heavily, watching Keda's steely grey eyes. "I never invited you."


"Shame." Keda jumped onto the back of the sofa, and flashed a wicked smile at me. "But I suppose I can't really leave now, can I? At least not while I'm a wanted woman. Again."


"Well you are the one who killed him, Keda." I turned off the TV. "All I did was tell the truth." 


Keda smirked, that evil smirk only she has, the one that never failed to send shivers up my spine. I knew something was coming, and I suppose right there I should have just stopped her, stopped her from saying whatever it was she was about to say, but her expression stopped me. It always did.


"Perhaps it's my turn to tell the truth now." She seemed to glide over to me, like an angel without its wings. "Now you are to blame for the brutal final murder of twenty five thousand immortals. That is almost our entire race, is it not?" 


"See, the problem is, they haven't died, so your accusation is false. Shame." 


Keda clicked her fingers, and in a sharp snap I heard the screams of thousands of my friends. "Shame. You're wrong now." 


In an instant she was gone, but her wicked grin still lingered in the air like smoke. My throat seemed to close up, and my breathing started to race. My fists clenched and uncle chef repeatedly. I fell onto the sofa, curling up into a ball, tucking my knees under my chin, screams echoing in my head. 


The doors were slamming over and over again, the walls were shaking, growling, demons breaking free of their bonds. 


"SHUT UP!" I roared, gasping for air, choking on unshed tears.  "Shut up, shut up, shut up!"

 

The walls crumbled around me, and a figure stumbled out of the wreckage. "They know who we are now," he said, voice urgent. "We have to run."

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