Iris Hale: HUNTER *NaNoWriMo Draft 2016*

*NaNoWriMo 2016*/
Periliares are a crafty bunch. You might know them as 'demons'. They hate that word. The idea that all of them are evil is idiotic. The same way all humans aren't evil, not all periliares are evil. Just top of the food chain. And a lot of them have superiority complexes. That's where I come in. Most of them view themselves as gods, which is fine, whatever. But the second they think they can kill more than their fill, I have an issue.
My name is Iris Hale, and I'm a hunter.
/©Molly Looby

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7. Seven

By the time I met Erin at our lockers, I’d calmed down.

“Guess what?” she asked as she slammed her locker closed.

“What?”

“Phoebe and Beth signed me up to Chattication.”

I felt my face drop. “Oh, Erin.”

“Shut up.” She hitched her bag onto her shoulder, and we made our way towards the bus. “I didn’t say I was going to use it.”

“Why did you give in?”

“It was easier than saying no all the time.”

“That’s such a bad life lesson.”

“And you’re so wise?”

“Wiser than that.”

She raised her eyebrows at me.

“Well, let me see then.”

“Hang on.” She hugged her phone to her chest. “I’ll show you on the bus.”

“What’s it like?”

“Like any kind of messaging app. I don’t get what the big deal is.”

“Did you give yourself a stupid username?”

“Of course not. You know I use the same one for everything.”

Erin always used Ireland.Niamh. as her username. Erienne being a poetic name for Ireland and Niamh being her middle name. As usernames go, it wasn’t too bad, though no one pronounced Niamh right.

When we were settled on the bus, she handed me her phone. She’d used a picture we’d taken in the summer when we’d done each other’s hair and makeup, but it was her, and that was something. Same big ginger hair, porcelain freckled skin, and hazel-brown eyes.

I flicked through it for a while, but there was nothing of interest to report. She was right. It was just like all the other messaging apps.

“I don’t get it,” I said as I handed it back. “What’s the big deal?”

She shrugged. “I have no idea, but they’re going mad about it. You should’ve heard them in catering.”

“Glad I didn’t.”

The bus pulled out of the station, and I scanned for Corey again, but he was nowhere to be seen.

The rest of the week passed without much change. Phoebe and Beth still talked about Ben and Owen, but I didn’t see Corey again, so that was a plus.

On the bus home on Friday, Erin and I made plans for her to sleep over. Sylvie was more than compliant. Erin got off at her stop, promising to be round within the hour with the remains of the soda bread.

When I opened the front door, there was no Sylvie waiting for me, but there was loud music coming from upstairs, meaning she was in her tiny studio. Maybe her necklace was lucky, because the chances of her finding a house small enough to afford with enough room for a studio were slimmer than Phoebe marrying Ben.

Even though it was small, my house was my most favourite place in the world. Of course, my Grandma and Grandad’s house was magnificent, but there was something about my house that was more important.

I crept up the stairs and past the studio to reach my bedroom, clicking the door shut. Before I changed out of my uniform, I made sure all my hunting windows had been shut on my laptop and that there wasn’t anything strange open. No doubt Erin would want to show me something, and I didn’t want my search engine giving me away.

Demons close to me. Known demon sightings. Demons in the UK.

I would struggle to talk my way out of that.

Erin arrived sooner than I thought she would, just as I was pulling a black vest top over my head. Today was a black kind of day.

When I opened the door, she thrust the soda bread at me. “As promised.”

“Excellent.” I pulled a big grin onto my face and took it off her, scurrying into the kitchen.

Sylvie’s music stopped, and she trotted down the stairs to greet us. “Erin!” She beamed at her. “Iris, I didn’t hear you come in.”

“You were busy.”

She bit her lip and gave me this look, but then she saw the soda bread and everything was fine. I had no idea what she thought I was hiding. The only thing I was ever hiding was hunting, but I hadn’t been out of school long enough for that.

After gorging on bread, Erin and I went to sit in the living room, and Sylvie went back to her studio, promising a takeaway for dinner.

Erin perched herself on the arm of the sofa like she was so fond of doing, and I sat in the middle, waiting for her to eventually slump down. Her phone pinged, and her eyebrows came together.

“Who’s Sam?”

I just looked at her. “Excuse me?”

“Do you know anyone called Sam?”

“I know about five people called Sam. Why?”

“Someone just messaged me.”

I felt my eyes go wide. “No way. Give that here.”

What do you know, she had a message from SammySam on Chattication. Granted, it was only the word hi, but still.

“Where did he come from?” I passed her phone back.

“God knows. Should I reply?”

I chewed on my lip. “I dunno. Doesn’t this all seem suspicious to you?”

She slid down onto the sofa next to me. “It might be someone from school.”

“Fair enough. You’re right.”

“So should I message him?”

“I guess asking him if he’s from school wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”

I leant over her shoulder as she typed.

Hi. Are you one of the Sams from Rookhill?

She pressed send and looked at me. “Which Sam do you think it is?”

Before I could answer, our mystery Sam replied.

No. I don’t know where Rookhill is!

I felt my eyebrows come together, and when I glanced at Erin, she had the exact same expression.

“Ask him how he got your username.”

Erin chewed her lip. “I dunno. Shouldn’t I just leave it?”

“But how did he find you?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know, but it was probably a mistake. He might’ve been looking for someone else.”

“Well we won’t know that until we ask him, will we?”

She opened her mouth and shut it again, shaking her head. “You’re a bad influence on me.”

I didn’t admit or deny that.

How did you get my username?

The reply came within the minute, and for some reason, my heart was beating too fast and loud.

I’m Ben’s friend. He said you were friends with Phoebe. Phoebe Thompson.

“Goddamn Phoebe,” I said.

Erin didn’t respond to me, only typed another message.

Oh. Why?

I wanted someone to talk to J

A shiver ran over my body. “Something’s not right here.”

Erin didn’t seem to hear me.

Okay J I just wanted to check!

“Erin. Close the app.”

Don’t blame you. You never know what’s going on these days.

“Erin, please.”

You’re so right.

A cold wave washed through me, and I clenched my hands into fists. This didn’t seem right at all. Something was wrong.

What was your name? Ben didn’t tell me, he just gave me your username. Is it Niamh?

“Don’t answer that.”

Erin.

“Erin!”

She blinked and looked at me, a tiny smile on her lips. “What?”

“Put that away right now!”

She pressed her lips together. “Why?”

“It’s weird! This guy you don’t know just randomly starts talking to you like you’re friends. I don’t like it.”

“You said it didn’t matter that Phoebe and Beth were chatting to people, why does it matter that I am?”

“Because this doesn’t feel right.”

“Why? I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not stupid, Iris.”

A huge crash of emotion was building up inside my chest, and I had to hold onto it, biting my lip. Because she was right. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. There was nothing wrong with messaging a stranger, so long as she didn’t do anything stupid. And of course, like she said, she wasn’t stupid. She was one of the cleverest people I knew.

So if there wasn’t anything wrong with it, why did it feel so awful? Something wasn’t right. That much I was sure. I may not have been getting straight A’s, but my intuition was spot on.

I was going to find out what was going on around here, and nothing was going to stop me.

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