Redemption

She died young, and was only saved through an exorcism that ended up killing her mother. Now she’s 18, three years past her expiry date and her soul is due for collection. Followed by a man named Luca (possessed by a Death), she and her best friend (demon) have to find some way of cheating Fate’s army of Deaths, and finally face Fate herself. Supernatural, thriller, horror, humour – and just a splash of romance?

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2. stalked

“Well, well, well,” an annoying voice pierced my concentration.

“Leave,” I answered, not looking up from my book.

“What have we here? The princess of learning, I see, surrounded by her forts and castle of books and do-gooders.”

I gave a little frown. “All I see are books…and an imbecile,” I gestured at him. “Where’d you get the ‘do-gooders’ from?”

He ignored me and nodded knowledgeably. “Same as high school, I see. We have Ms. Walker, all alone. As a child, she was frequently harassed for her name – Ow!”

“Shut up or leave me be!”

Call me Jake, and don’t ask what it’s short for.

“When aggravated, Ms. Walker’s face contorts to accommodate an ex –”

And this is Damon. The chair legs squealed as they were pushed back quickly, and I lunged at him.

“Knock it off!” Fat Freya bellowed from behind the serving glass as I shoved him into another table. A plate slid off the table from impact and landed face-down on the ground, spaghetti Bolognese staining the floor.

Damon shook his head disapprovingly.

I couldn’t say I blamed Fat Freya for her hatred of social interaction. If I was serving cretins 24/7, I would be ugly – not to mention single – too. For some, Fat Freya’s obesity made her easier to hate, but for other more compassionate people, it became a hurdle. It didn’t matter; at the end of the day, no one liked Fat Freya.

“Let’s get out of here,” Damon grabbed my arm.

“Can’t. I’ve got class.”

“Blowing me off for uni again? What happened to the girl who skipped half of the school year?”

I glowered at him for reminding me. I nearly had to repeat the last year of high school, despite being accepted into uni.

“Don’t get your panties in a twist, mate. I need eighty percent attendance to all of my classes if I want the scholarship.”

“Fine. I’ve got to go, anyway,” he said, turning on his heel without another glance at me. “I’ll meet you outside the Johnston Library when your class is over.”

“Uh, okay,” I said, mostly to myself, rolling my eyes. Whatever.

I gathered my books, holding a few in the crook of my elbow and putting the rest in my bag. I turned around – and swiftly walked into someone else.

“Hi there,” I smiled charmingly. “Is it absolutely necessary for you to exist in this precise direction? Can you go stand over there?” I motioned vaguely to my left.

The first thing I noticed about him was his peculiar attire – he was wearing black canvas shoes, loose black jeans, a black T-shirt and a black hooded jacket (shocker). Perhaps not entirely peculiar – I suppose he could pass off as a sort of emo character without the dyed hair, makeup and jewellery.

And also without emotion, I mused as I raised an eyebrow at his expressionless gaze. When he didn’t move, only stared down at me with blank topaz eyes, I pushed past him.

“Creep,” I muttered.

I threw a dirty glance over my shoulder. He was still staring at me; this time with a slight wicked smirk that suggested some form of cannibalism. I unintentionally squeaked and accelerated, hearing a low, cold chuckle behind me, echoing off the walls like a horror movie.

“My name is Luca,” he said in a lucid voice, and I flinched.

“Pleased to meet you,” I yelled, all attempts of keeping myself together fleeing.

“Likewise,” he answered. Almost twenty metres behind, and he still sounded like he was right next to me. I turned again; he’d vanished.

Typical.

I walked down the hallway anxiously, the anticipation of his return if he were to emerge out of nowhere (as one would when pulling the vanishing act), keeping me on edge. I heard a choked wail and jumped a little, turning left to my classroom, where a conversation between a girl and a boy was taking place in front of the door. I watched their exchange and calmed my nerves.

“So you’re just dumping me?” he said hoarsely, anguish lacing his words.

“Uh, dude, we were never together in the first place,” the girl answered, not a shred of sympathy in her irritated blue eyes.

“Arlie, babe, can we at least talk about this?” he pleaded.

“Look, honey, you were great in bed…but that’s it. Good bye, Craig.”

“Robert,” he frowned.

“Whatever,” Arlie said, waving her hand in dismissal. She made a move to side-step Robert, but he intervened, gripping her elbow firmly and glaring at her.

“You’re going to regret this,” he hissed. Arlie swallowed, her eyes widening in fear.

“Hey!” I shouted, and Robert’s head swivelled to face me, releasing the girl. “Leave her alone or…or…”

I wasn’t too sure where I was headed with the threat, but Robert seemed to get the message that there would be a problem if he remained in my scope of vision. He glared at the girl one last time before furiously striding away.

“Thank you,” the girl said, holding out her hand. “I’m Arlene, or Arlie.”

“Hi,” I said awkwardly. With a name as embarrassing as mine, you don’t really blame me, do you?

“What’s your name?” she prompted.

“Just call me Jake.”

I walked past her, and she held the door open for the professor who stumbled in after.

“Oh, uh, hi. My name is Professor Cresson, and I will be teaching you Ancient History,” the woman wheezed rather hesitantly. She was quite stout, and had a magenta tint to her freckled skin. Sweat patches flourished around her armpits, a detail that could be attributed to her black shirt which hung from her shapeless, potato-inspired figure. She reeked of agitation and incompetency, and, to the horror of those sitting in the front row, appeared to be lacking a certain apparatus that all females who have passed through puberty should be in possession of. Her greasy, greying hair was shorn just below her earlobes and parted in the middle where a strand lingered on some form of a wart on her nose. A multitude of blemishes blended almost flawlessly with her pink skin and surrounded her brown eyes framed with crows’ feet.

She bravely attempted and predictably failed class participation, and instead busied herself with the stack of papers on her desk while we looked on, a little intrigued by her clumsiness but mostly disinterested and bored.

“Ancient Greece,” she said apprehensively. “Sparta – uh, Ancient Greece.”

Booklets were handed out, the phrase “Ancient Greece” was repeated over and over again – always somewhat nervously – and agitation in the form of clicky pens and yawns increased as the seventy-five minutes passed.

“Read up to page 34 and do the questions by Wednesday,” she finished and the forty-or-so students filed out of the lecture hall, murmuring distastefully to each other and questioning the cleansing habits of Professor Cresson, and if she posed any health hazards with her alarming stench.

“I bet she doesn’t even have a degree in Ancient History,” Arlie muttered quietly as we plodded behind Professor Cresson. I agreed and Arlie said a small goodbye accompanied with a wave that was awkward on many levels and we parted.

I took my time getting to the library I was meeting Damon at, lingering around the hallway where large, framed portraits of Deans and teachers hung. I was staring at one in a particularly thoughtless fashion when I noticed someone standing beside me, arms folded, expression stony and blank.

“What…?” I began. “Are you following me?”

The same peculiar smirk spread over his face. “Yes.”

I could make out the outline of the library through the tinted glass doors; I started walking briskly toward the end of the corridor.  Luca kept up, his long, graceful strides matching my own effortlessly.

“Can you leave me alone?” I snapped, shoving the door open. It snapped closed immediately, Luca’s fingers pulling it back. “What is your problem?” I asked exasperatedly.

“What I want to know,” he said quietly, in a very calm, very low voice, “is how you escaped notice for three whole years.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I retorted, pushing on the door again. Luca followed, a small line etching his otherwise unflawed face.

“You’re not shielding on purpose?”

“What the hell does that mean?” I asked defiantly, stopping a few metres away from Damon, who was giving me a questioning stare.

His eyes snapped to Damon, and he growled suddenly, clenching his jaw before smoothing out his features calmly. “Damon," he said.

Damon gaped, his eyes widening to significant proportions. “D…D…” his eyes shot over to me and he closed his mouth.

“It’s Luca, now,” he corrected silkily.

I rolled my eyes. “You two have a fantastic time bonding, okay?”

“Bonding,” Damon deadpanned, not for a second removing his eyes from Luca. I took a step to leave, but then remembered Damon had the car. Damn.

“She doesn’t know?” Luca grinned. “You know what they say about unsuspecting victims…”

“She won’t be one,” Damon spat.

“Three years, Damon. She should have been at peace three years ago,” Luca’s voice became quieter, gentler and his arrogant persona faded, a serious quality in his eyes as he looked at Damon.

“Her mother was an exorcist.”

What?

I voiced the thought aloud, gawking at the both of them.

“Take the car and go home,” Damon tossed the keys to me – which I missed and had to pick up from the ground in a rather undignifying fashion.

And just when things were getting interesting!

I took the keys submissively, knowing not to argue with Damon; no matter how docile and light-hearted he was usually, an angry Damon was like an enraged bull racing through the fiery pits of hell.

“Fine,” I huffed, and slid into the dark-blue car parked beside the library. I glanced up to see them engaged in a vicious staring contest. Whatever. If Damon wanted to be all buddy-buddy with my stalker, then fine. I would do without him.

Besides, I pondered as I turned the engine on and watched a girl with platinum blonde hair hurry out of the building next to me, it’s time for some new friends to be made.

“Arlie?” I pulled up beside her. “Do you need a lift?” And as the sun blazed down on the Earth’s occupants, the blonde girl smiled hesitantly as she got into the car, completely unaware that the girl beside her should have been dead.

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