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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6. Six

Before physics first thing the next morning, Erin warned me that Beth had started speaking to some guy called Owen last night on Chattication, which was the last thing I wanted to hear.

I’d spent the evening online after returning home from what was one of the tastiest dinners I’d ever had. On the periliare forum I scoured every now and then, I found a suspected corpi about forty minutes away from Crowshall. Sylvie told me to go to bed as she made her way to her own, and I waved her off telling her I would. After what I thought was an hour or so at my laptop, it was three am.

So not only did I have to endure Phoebe and Beth first period without nearly enough caffeine in my system, but I had to endure a history test second period. Our worst suspicions had been confirmed by one of the other history classes.

I hadn’t even crossed the threshold into Rookhill High School, and I was already wishing I’d faked some kind of illness.

“Iris!” Phoebe squeaked as I joined them at the front bench in our physics classroom. Why they’d chosen to sit at the very front was beyond me. “Guess what?”

“Erin told me. Beth’s talking to some guy called Owen.” I wasn’t playing any games today.

Phoebe’s face dropped. “Aww. No fair.”

When I didn’t show any interest, Beth piped up. “It was so weird. I was just talking to Pheebs, and I get this message. He thought I was some other Beth but we got talking, and we didn’t really stop.”

“I told you it was worth getting. See. I have the greatest ideas.”

“I give in. It was a better idea than I thought. Owen’s so sweet. And we have so much in common.”

Phoebe only grinned like she was some kind of supreme matchmaker.

“He’s sixteen but in the year above. He’s got the most amazing smile too.”

I couldn’t help myself. “Did you use your own picture?”

Phoebe scowled at me.

Beth nodded. “Yeah. It’s one of my best ones, and it’s through a filter, but it’s still me.”

I was sure there was a joke in there somewhere, but I was too tired to find it.

“Do you think he’s boyfriend material?” Phoebe asked, raising her eyebrows.

Beth giggled. “I don’t know. I just met him.”

“I know but, do you?”

“Maybe.”

The two of them made some weird noise only girls seemed to make for some reason, and I turned my attention to the whiteboard and my book, not needing any more of whatever was going on.

After the dreaded history quiz where my brain went blanker than it ever had before, I bought an energy drink from Joseph and drank it at break, hiding it under the picnic bench Erin had her business studies book on. Forget cigarettes, energy drinks were the currency of Rookhill High. Although Joseph sold those too. Energy drinks were banned for some reason, but instead of moaning, Joseph made a profit out of it. He was in Erin’s business studies class, and though the teacher knew of his dealings, she wouldn’t turn him in based on the fact he was turning a profit. Sometimes I wondered what sort of school I went to.

“What’ve you got next?” Erin asked, not looking up at me.

I flipped through my homework diary to find I had chemistry. “As if. I have chemistry. Is there a day I only have to deal with them once?” The answer was yes. On Thursday I didn’t have science at all. Thursday was going to be my favourite day of the week.

“You took triple science, you lunatic.”

“I know, I know. And I’m paying the price.”

“Well, it’s not all doom and gloom. You can get more dirt on this Owen person.”

I ran my hand through my hair, which was down today after three attempts at a ponytail that wouldn’t go right. “Like what? She barely knows the guy.”

“I dunno. Where does he live?” She fished around in her pocket for her mirror to check her makeup. Her against the rules makeup. Out of all the school rules, why was that the one she wanted to break? “You can ask her stuff to ask him. See if he’s a real person.”

“But if I do that they’ll think I’m a bitch again.”

She tried to smooth down her wild curls, frowning. “Not if you make it seem like you’re generally interested and like you want an account or something.”

I put my head in my hands. “I just don’t give a shit.”

She snapped her mirror shut. “Pretend.”

“Why do you care so much?”

She shrugged and picked up her book the second the bell went. “I don’t.”

Before I could open my mouth, she’d trotted off to her lesson. She knew I knew she was lying. Even if she wasn’t my best friend I would’ve known. Erienne Lynch was a terrible liar.

Shuffling off to chemistry, I wondered why this would mean anything to Erin. Anything to anyone really. Phoebe was such a cliché of a teenage girl, and Beth just copied whatever she did. Why would anyone care what they were up to?

Even so, I did what Erin said. I asked Beth questions about Owen, feigning interest, which I was better at than I thought. When I ran out of things to ask, I directed my questions to Phoebe for good measure.

It was probably the most I’d ever talked in a science lesson. At one point Mr Turner asked me to be quiet with this bemused expression on his face.

And after all that, I couldn’t think of anything of interest to report back to Erin at lunch.

“They’re just Phoebe and Beth,” I said as we sat ourselves on the same picnic bench we had at break. “There’s not much more to say. They want to talk to boys, but they’re too scared to do it here, so they do it online.” I shrugged. “There’s nothing else of interest going on.”

“But do you think the boys are real?”

“Who cares? As long as they don’t try and meet up with them, there’s no harm done.”

Her eyebrows came together. “You’ve changed your tune. You wouldn’t shut up about it yesterday.”

“Well, today I’ve decided I don’t care. Anyway, you have catering last period, right? Ask them yourself then. But they’ll make you get it, I swear to God.”

“Did you get it?”

“No. But if I bring it up again, they’ll definitely kidnap my phone and sign me up.”

“I’ll watch out for that.”

After English, I headed for the PE block alone, Erin going in the opposite direction. A swarm of boys stormed out the doors next to the sports hall, jeering at each other for whatever reason they felt it necessary to do that.

I recognised them but didn’t know any of their names. The two different bands our year were separated into made us strangers with half our year group. It was the only way to organise all three hundred of us.

Averting my gaze, I ignored them. That was, until I heard one of their voices.

“Corey! Corey! Say it again!”

My head snapped up. There, behind them, was Corey. I walked slower, wanting to catch more of their conversation.

“No.” He laughed.

“Oh come on,” another one said.

“Always leave ‘em hanging.” At this point he caught me looking at him and smirked.

Something forced my feet to move towards him, and my heart to crash against my ribs.

“What are you looking at?” I hissed.

His friends all started taunting at once. I ignored them.

Corey’s round, dark-chocolate eyes stared at me, and I had to look up at him a little now I was so close.

“What?” He held his palms up.

“You keep watching me. Why?”

The boys started poking fun, but neither of us so much as blinked at them.

“I’m not.” He smiled. It was a beautiful smile, but too practised. I hated it. “It’s just a coincidence.”

“I don’t believe in coincidences. Who are you?”

“Corey Wallace. Who are you?”

“Iris Hale.”

There was some recognition in his eyes, and I wondered what sort of gossip had been flying around school about me in the past four years.

“Why are you attacking me, Iris? What have I done wrong?”

My blood felt hot, and I wanted to scream in his face, as unreasonable as that was. “Stay away from me.”

He laughed, which made me clench my hands into fists. If I’d been wearing my jacket, my hand would’ve jumped to the pocket I kept my Teneculum. “Done and done.” He nodded.

“You don’t want to mess with me.” I spun, hair flicking around me as I did, and walked away before I could say or do anything stupid.

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