The Biggest Freak in Duskwood

On the night of her eighteenth birthday, Diana Velasquez falls victim to an attack that leaves her horribly scarred and an outcast. Worse still, nobody believes the truth about what happened.

The thing that destroyed her life was no ordinary animal.

During the next five months, the threat in the forest grows worse and worse. Diana has decided she’s had enough of being a victim- she’s going to use her twelve years of boxing training, and her family’s wealth of ornamental weapons, to show these creatures they messed with the wrong schoolgirl. She’s going to be a hero.

Then, she realises there’s far more to the monsters of Duskwood Forest than she thought. Their secret is both a strength and a weakness, but it can’t be beaten by brute strength alone. The more entangled in her tormentors’ lives she becomes, the more Diana starts to doubt she’s doing the right thing. She thought she’d do anything to keep her family safe, but how far is too far?

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Author's note

Yo! This is something I wrote under the proverbial radar. Please note it contains graphic bloody violence, as is to be expected of me. Happy reading!
AA

13. The Boy on the Lawn

WHEN HE OPENS the door, I’ve already got a knife in my hand. I see his eyes widening and throw myself forwards, tackling him to the ground. I guess I’m glad my first swipe misses. I’m glad that bastard gets a chance to react before I turn him into red soup.

“Son of a bitch!” Milo says, grabbing me by both my shoulders and punching me across the jaw. I growl and punch him myself; I’m on top of him, so I can punch harder, slam his head into the grimy raw-meat-coloured carpet. I was right. I am stronger. I’m not here for an explanation. I’m here to finish a mission. I’m here to kill him.

Aren’t I?

I sit up on Milo’s stomach and pin him to the ground by his throat, raising the knife up above my head. “This is for my DAD!” I yell, but as I bring the knife down, he grabs my wrist and digs his fingertips hard into my arm. The self-importance vanishes from his face as he fights to stay alive; the assuredness, the sadism, everything that makes me hate him. Gone. He just looks frightened. But I don’t care, do I? I shouldn’t care, that’s for sure. He needs to die. It’s the only way. He hurt my Dad. He killed my best friend.

“What’s going on?” Someone calls from the other room. I freeze; it’s a woman’s voice.

I stare at Milo.

“My sister.” He murmurs.

“Oh, come on,” I say. I don’t need any more of this.

Milo looks up at me; his long brown fringe has fallen back from his face and his face is blank. He’s waiting for me to react. He’s wearing a dirty vest and tracksuit bottoms and the laces of his trainers are undone. If I strike now, I’ll kill him. But I don’t, because I’m too busy waiting for his sister to come around the corner.

I make a snap decision. Whoever she is, she doesn’t deserve to see this.

“Outside.” I say softly. “Now.”

“My- my sister…”

“Is she a werewolf?” I ask.

I resist the urge to spit on his face for daring to parade his family in front of me, after everything he’s done to mine.

Milo frowns in confusion, then shakes his head. “No. She- she’s visiting; she-”

“Then she’s safe. Get up. Move.” I get off him and haul him up by the front of his shirt. He tries to pull towards the front door, but I hold up my knife in warning and his face goes white.

“Not in the street.” I say. “Back garden. Now. Move.”

I think that’s when he realises I’m really there to kill him. He doesn’t argue. He walks through the hallway, scuffing his feet against the ground and ignoring the sound of dishes clanking in the kitchen. His house is dirty; the walls and ceiling are full of water stains and every carpet’s the colour of a different bodily fluid. It’s hotter in here than it is outside. Their living-room’s empty apart from an old burgundy velvet sofa and a table-lamp lying on its side on the floor. I stop for a second outside a white wooden door, hearing soft groaning sounds coming from inside. Milo looks over his shoulder at me.

“Mum’s room.” He says.

I stare at the door in horrified confusion as I hear the noises grow more agitated. The woman in there’s screaming.

“Drugs. She’s a drug addict.” Milo says. “Alright? Okay? Now get the hell out of my house.”

Nobody cares about this kid, my mind tells me. But I don’t pity him. No amount of hardship excuses what he’s done.

We get outside, and the heat of the sun hits me square in the face. it’s far too hot for my bloodstained combat jacket, but I don’t take it off. It makes me feel safe.

“You can stay the fuck away from my family,” Milo growls at me, “And everything.”

I stare at him.

“How…” I snarl, holding my knife up again. “Dare you.”

He raises one eyebrow. I see in his eyes that he’s barely afraid, and I think I know why. The last time he saw me, I was running away. He doesn’t think I’ve got it in me to hurt him.

I’ll show him.

“How dare you, you son of a bitch?” I say softly. “How dare you whine to me about your family? Why? S’it some sort of attempt to gain my sympathy? If what you say’s true, and they do know nothing, you don’t deserve to kiss the ground they walk on, let alone use them as a shield. If you think I feel sorry for you, take a moment to think about what you’ve done to me.”

Milo licks his lips. “You can’t hurt me, Diana.”

“And why’s that?”

He grins. “I know you ain’t got it in you. You’re just a dumb schoolgirl. You’re a good girl. You don’t kill people.”

I lick my lips. “In’t it a little stupid to threaten the girl with a knife pointed at your throat.”

He laughs softly. “There’s… so much you don’t get, isn’t there?”

“Oh yeah?” I spit. “If that’s the case, you’d better start talking before I slice you to dog chow in the thin hope it’ll save your sorry life.”

Milo drops his smile, but he doesn’t look worried.

“Come on then,” he murmurs.

I take the final step to close the gap between us, grab him by the throat, and swing my knife for his chest. As fast as anything, he grabs my wrist and twists it behind my back, driving his knee up into my stomach and punching me hard across the jaw. I grunt in pain as I wrench my hand from his grip and punch him in the side of the cheek. He stumbles back, but he straightens up as I take another swing with my knife, grabs my fist, locks his arm around my shoulder and sends me flying. Suddenly, I’m on the ground, and he’s above me. He places his foot on my clenched fist and presses his full weight down on it as I scream, waiting for me to let go of the knife. I do, and watch as he kicks the knife away. It flies across the dead lawn and hits the fence, coming to rest in an empty flowerbed. My heart sinks into my stomach.

“You can’t beat me,” he says. “One thing you didn’t know about werewolves? Even in human form, we’re stronger than the average person. We’re harder to stab, too. You’ll never beat me.”

I scream in anger, twist on the ground and drive my boot up hard between his legs. As he grunts, he takes his foot off my hand, and I jump up and punch him square in the face with all my strength. He doesn’t go down. I knee him between the legs, then kick him in the stomach; he drops to his knees. He raises a fist, but I kick his arm away and then drive my foot into his ribs. WHAM. He keels sideways. Again. WHAM. Eventually, he stops crying out, gives up on fighting back, and lies there and takes it. Good. It feels good. He might be stronger than the average person, but I’m not the average person.

“You- killed- my Dad,” I pant.

“Your… mm.” Milo grunts as I kick him again. He spits blood onto the ground. “Your Dad isn’t dead.”

“How DARE you?” I yell. “How FUCKING dare you, Milo? How DARE you say that to me? If you try to defend yourself one more time I’m going to-”

“You’re going to what? You’re going to kill me?”

I push hair back from my face and start to pant. “I will.” I say. “I will.  For Poppy, I swear to Christ I’ll do it.”

“If you were going to do it, you’d have gone for your knife already.”

I stop for a second, then look over at my knife; it’s lying ten feet away from us, glinting in the morning sunlight. Milo’s hurt now. I think. If I went for the knife, I think I’d reach it in time. I stare down at the lawn, wondering whether I’m going to do it. Then, I remember my Dad in that bed, my brother’s open window, Poppy’s earphones in the ditch. I’m not ruthless, but I’m a straight shooter. I came here to kill him, and that’s all there is to it.

“Oh.” I say, looking from the knife to Milo. “Gee, thanks for reminding me.”

The smugness wavers on his face and he scrambles to his feet as I run for the flowerbed. I stoop to grab the knife, and when I’ve straightened up, he slams into me full-pelt and we both hit the fence. I pull my fist as far back as I can, behind my shoulder, and punch him in the face as hard as I can. Once he’s closed his eyes, I knee him between the legs, then grab his shoulders and shove him over with all my strength. He grunts as he hits the lawn. I drop to my knees on top of him. I was right; I am stronger. It feels good. I raise the knife.

“You were right,I spit, “About me. I am a good girl. And you know what? That’s why I am going to kill you, Milo; because I’m a good girl. I am going to kill you, and nothing’s going to stop me. I don’t want to be a killer, much - but nobody else’s gonna do it. The police won’t do it. Will they? They’re useless. I’m here to keep this town safe; I’m not here to hear your sob story. Your sister’s gonna find you dead on this lawn, but you’re still a murderer. Your m- mum’s a drug addict, but you’re still a murderer. You’re like this because your dad got you cursed, but you’re still a murderer! There’s no excuse for what you’ve done, you hear me?”

Even now he’s pinned down, Milo’s still laughing through his teeth. I grunt and bring the stub of the knife handle down right on his face; it connects with a crack, but I barely hear him whimper.

“There- and yet- and yet there’s so much I’ve got right about you, Diana.” He says. “You- you… maybe you’re not too good to spare me. Fine. But you must know you’re too weak to break the whole gang. I- I know Gretchen told you how to find me. I bet you’ll spare her, in the end. I bet you won’t kill her, because she’s your friend.”

“So what if I do?” I spit. This is getting too drawn-out; I’m scared if I leave it too long, I really will lose my nerve. My hand’s shaking. “You don’t know shit about having real friends, because all your friends are frightened lackeys. You’ll never know what it feels like to lose a friend; someone who was your world. Poppy was my world. She was my everything; the kindest, sweetest, most genuine person you could meet. Nobody deserved to live the rest of her life safe and happy more than she did, and you MURDERED her! All because of this fucking GAME you think you’re playing!” I growl at the back of my throat. I want him dead. “I want you dead,” I growl, “for everyone’s sake. I didn’t come here to monologue, because firstly, it’s a waste of time, and secondly, my words are too good for your ears. I could stand over you and sing the alphabet song and you still wouldn’t be good enough to hear it. I didn’t come here to preach. I came here to get you out of the way. I’m bringing this down, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“They’ll tear you apart, Diana,” Milo says, “With or without me.”

I stare at him. Does he really not care I’m about to kill him?

“I’ll deal with that if I have to,” I say. “Maybe I am wrong, or maybe I’m not. One thing I do know is that you rely on those lackeys. However strong you think you are, you’re nothing by yourself.”

“They- they’ll still kill you.”

“They’re not really your friends,” I growl. “You forced them into this. Without you, they’ll leave.”

“N- no… No.” He says. “They all wanted it.”

“Bullshit! Who the hell WANTS to become a MURDERER?”

“The son of a murderer and a drug-pusher, that’s who!”

CHOKE on your SOB STORY!” I scream. “Think of POPPY! My DAD, you BASTARD! My Mum and my sisters and my BROTHER are DESTROYED because of you!” I turn the knife over in my hand, choking on sobs. I can’t tell if I’m stalling or not. Whether I’m going to do it.

“I didn’t… touch your Dad,” Milo chokes.

“Bullshit!” I scream; his voice’s grinding on me till I feel like I can’t take it any more. I want to kill him. No; more than that, right now, I want to hurt him. So I punch him hard, across the jaw, watch his head snap sideways. He curses, so I punch him again. “You- DESERVE- this!I scream, panting as I keep punching. I am. I am stronger than him. And I will make him suffer. He keeps trying to fight back, grasping at my arms, but I hold him down, and when I pause, there’s blood dripping from both his nostrils and his nose’s bent askew like a broken twig. I want to do it again. How dare he deny what he’s done? How dare he? I want to do it again. Do it again. He deserves it. Kill him. Kill him.

“I know you hurt my Dad,” I say when I’m done. “I know it. There was blood on your face in the clearing.”

“I didn’t. It was…” He trails off and smiles; somehow, even though I’m pressing a blade to his chest, he’s still smiling. “I’ll leave you to figure it out.”

“I don’t care,” I say, but I sit back on my heels. All of a sudden, Milo’s hand is free and he’s hit me so hard in the jaw I’m knocked sideways. Boom. My head hits the grass and he’s above me, his boot about to come down on my head. I roll sideways and he stomps on my arm right at the elbow. I scream. I’m still clinging to the knife. He’s a child, for God’s sake; what’s wrong with me all of a sudden? I struggle to my feet, and Milo grabs me by the front of my shirt and raises his fist. That’s when I drive the knife hilt-deep into his stomach.

Milo freezes, his fist in the air, and looks down at the huge patch of red spreading across his white shirt. He gasps a couple of times, his eyes wide, and then, when I pull the knife out, he drops to his knees. I watch him blankly, trying to figure out how I feel. I swore I’d do it. I dreamed I’d do it. I knew there was no other way.

But this isn’t a film. This is the real world, and broad daylight. I’ve stabbed someone; he’s lying right there on the lawn, not quite dead, his blood all over the grass. No turning back now.

I swallow, hard, my heart thudding in my chest and cold sick fear bleeding through my blood. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God oh God.

“It-” I choke out. “Yeah. I’m saving lives. You deserved that. Bastard.”

I think about running for it; there’s blood all over my hands, my shirt, my knife, everything. I don’t regret it. But I’m guilty all the same. As Milo’s breaths start to shake, I kneel down beside him. I see him open his eyes.

“Tell me everything.” I say. “You’ve got nothing left to lose.”

I think about everything he knows; the truth about the guilt of the gang members, which ones wanted it and which ones were forced. So I know which ones to kill and which to spare. Who killed Poppy, and who hurt my Dad? How long has this been going on? Are there more? Do they know where I live? They knew I had a brother. They might’ve known to attack my Dad, too

“Why…” Milo says to me. “Should I tell you anything?”

“Because…” I press the blade to his throat. “I could kill you quick, or- or leave you to bleed out. Slowly. Painfully.”

He swallows.

“You want to know where your sword is, don’t you?”

I can tell his time’s running out, and he knows it, too. He’s not going to tell me anything.

“Yes,” I spit. “In a pinch, that’d be nice.”

“It’s in my room,” he says with a leer. “In my underwear drawer.”

My face twists with disgust and he laughs another one of his nasty little laughs, even though it’s shaking as he bleeds out.

“Fuck you, freak.” He says.

I want to punch him again, but I hold back. I’ve done enough. I wonder how long he’s going to take to die. I look up at the back gate, and when I look back down at the boy on the lawn, he’s gone limp.

“Milo.” I say.

No answer.

I swallow hard, then get up to leave.

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