I stood in the den, hands raised, staring into the faces of two witches and one wizard–all of whom had their wands out and pointed at me. After they stated they were going to kill me. Nnnnot exactly the best day of my life, I had to admit.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I exclaimed once I managed to find my voice again. “Is this some sort of joke? Cause, uh, ha-ha? Real funny. Don’t worry sir, I don’t mean anything bad by your daughter, I care about her–“
“This isn’t about Maisy, boy,” her father said, his voice deep and rumbling. “And this isn’t a joke.”
I breathed in and out very carefully. “Ooookay. W-well, uh, this has been uh, this has been a lovely time, AZ. I th-think I should get going now.” I took a step towards the door we had come in through but AZ’s mother moved quicker than I imagined she could, getting between me and the door. I froze up, hands higher in the air now. “I d-d-d-don’t get it. I don’t g-get it, wh-what’s–why would–this has to be a JOKE!”
“Do you remember what we’ve been talking about?” AZ asked softly, as if she were using sweet, gentle words of romance to me. “The time bubble? And you… destroyer of magic.” She reached up and tapped her cheek with her wand. “That’s what this is about.”
“Hey, hey, HEY!” I gasped out. “You told me–you t-told me that it wasn’t gonna be me but someone using me.”
“Either way, you’re involved,” her dad said. “When we found out it was you we knew we had to put a stop to this before it happened.”
I blinked then looked at AZ. She was staring studiously down at the ground now. “AZ?” I whispered, voice cracking. “You… all this time? All this time? It’s been–a… a lie? That note you left me. It was nothing to do with my stalker, was it? It was just a way to get to me, wasn’t it?” She didn’t say anything and I moved forward, hands falling. “WASN’T IT?!”
It was like an icicle in my heart. “Those kisses meant nothing?” I choked out. “All those things, all the times you said you liked me. When I–made you laugh?”
“Zaid, you’re a nice boy. You are. I’m sorry.” She raised her chin and I saw there were tears in her eyes. “But you have to understand–“
“UNDERSTAND?!” I screamed. “UNDERSTAND WHAT? That you want me dead?”
“It’s for the good of all, boy,” her dad said firmly. “With you dead, there’s no threat to magic. You wanna destroy the supernatural world? You wanna be the reason your brother dies then?”
“DON’T SAY A FUCKING WORD ABOUT MY BROTHER!” I ran forward, launching myself at him. At least I tried to. His wand glowed and something struck me in midair, sending me flying back. I hit the ground hard, stars exploding in my eyes, all my breath gone. I gasped out, trying to breathe.
AZ’s dad came over to loom above me with his wand pointed. “We kill you. The supernatural world is saved. We’re saved. Your brother is saved. Don’t you want him to live? Sacrifice yourself for the good of all? Be a hero. Not a villain.”
“I’m not a villain,” I sobbed. “I’m not gonna do anything, I don’t understand–I’m fifteen, I’M FIFTEEN! I’m not going to… to… I’m not…” I went quiet and then pushed myself up, feeling dizzy as I got on my feet. The wand was right in my face but I ignored it. “I’m not a villain. I’m not going to destroy anything.”
“You’re gonna be used to destroy it, same thing!” AZ’s mother snapped. “Carl, just kill him.”
I turned to look at her. “I’m fifteen. You–you want to kill… a teenaged boy… for what? F-for existing? I have a family.”
“Your brother will die if you live,” Carl growled. “We all will. You wanna be responsible for the death of thousands?”
I looked at him now, dizziness threatening to overwhelm me. I fought to stay upright. “I’m not gonna be responsible for it. Anyone tries to–to do that, I’ll fight them off.”
“A little girl suckered you in here,” her mother said with a derisive laugh. AZ made a face. “You think you can fight off evil people who would use you? Look, kid–“
“I have a name,” I hissed. “I’m not ‘kid’ and I’m not ‘boy’. I’m Zaid. Zaid Danevbie-Greyson. I had two fathers, a brother, and three sisters. I have a best friend. I had a girlfriend. I’m fifteen years old. And you’re just gonna murder me.”
“You’ll be a hero,” AZ put in. I shot a glare at her. “Dying here, you’ll save the supernatural world instead of destroy it. And time… the time bubble… we think it’s connected. Two hundred years ago time stopped and that’s when rumors of you began. The destroyer of magic. Maybe–maybe it won’t help the time bubble, but maybe it will. People can move on. Actually have a future. Maybe not. But this way supernaturals will have a future.” She gave me a rather desperate look. “I will have a future. Your brother will have a future.”
“So. You take my future away from me,” I said, trying to cautiously move towards the other door. But AZ and her dad moved with me. I stopped in my tracks. “These are stories. Rumors. How freaking t-true can they be? One person d-destroying…” I stopped because I realized it was useless to go this route. “Please. I’m fifteen. I’m only fifteen. You cannot do this, it’s murder. Please.”
“If we use magic on him something bad might happen,” the mother said. “Tie him up.”
Carl’s wand jerked and I fell to the ground again, almost like I was indeed tied up but there were no ropes or anything on me. Invisible, magical binds. I began struggling. “NO! I’M FIFTEEN! I’M FIFTEEN! YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME!” Carl pulled a long, crooked dagger from somewhere within his coat. I began screaming louder, struggling harder, trying to wiggle away. Pleading. Begging. I couldn’t die here, they couldn’t kill me, they couldn’t do this. “PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE!”
The dagger raised up. Tears blurred my vision now. I screamed even louder until there was no sound coming out. Carl knelt down closer to me and I closed my eyes tight, not wanting to see this happen, not wanting to see him kill me.
Then there was an explosion. I felt bits of something fall across my face. Plaster? Or something? AZ and her family were all shouting about something. I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was a gaping hole in the wall, rubble everywhere. I saw Carl’s shoes, the bottom of his pants. “KILL HIM!” Carl screamed which was weird since he was the one closest to me. Then he whirled around and knelt down over me, dagger flashing. “While I finish you,” he said and then blood sprayed everywhere.
I screamed. There was the end of a sword poking out of Carl’s chest, blood dripping off the tip. Then the sword slid out causing blood to gush out. I screamed again as Carl fell to the side, slumping down beside me. Above me now was a face I had seen before. I face I had seen in my bedroom window late at night.
“You,” I managed somehow to say.
He had thick black hair in a strange haircut, and in strange sideburns down the side of his face. His eyes were an unnatural shade of yellow-green, and his teeth were extremely pointy as he grinned. He leaned in very close and I thought he might say something but instead he put a hand across my forehead. Across my eyes. There was a raspy sound and then he pulled back. I blinked, no idea what happened. He moved back and I looked over, trying to yell as I saw the dead bodies of AZ and her mother. All three of them were dead, blood everywhere. The man in black stood there, one hand holding a sword, the other hand on his hip, strange eyes watching me. Waiting for something.
“Wh… what…” I struggled but then drowsiness came out of no where. And I slipped into a deep, heavy, dark sleep.
The sound of bass-filled music pulled me out of my half-awake state. I covered my ears then rolled out of bed, groaning. “TURN THAT OFF!” I yelled at the wall. When Lumie didn’t comply, I shouted in her head until she did. I groaned and decided not to bother going back to bed. Grumbling to myself I left my room to go downstairs, feeling hungry.
Pa looked up at me when I reached the bottom stair, giving me a smile. “How are you feeling?” he asked, starting to get up.
I waved my hand, motioning for him to stay seated. “Depressed out of my skull. We have any of that chocolate pie left?”
“No, Lumie ate the last piece. We have some ice cream left…”
I opened the freezer and took out the carton, grabbing a spoon but no bowl. There was a good half quart there but I was just going to eat it all. Pa didn’t bother to stop me. He pretty much let me do what I wanted ever since…
I dug the spoon in as I flopped onto the dining chair. It had been months since the ‘incident’ at AZ’s house. Five months, to be exact. It was still clear in my mind though. Every last second. Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night, screaming from the sight of Carl’s dagger coming down for me. Sometimes I woke up screaming from the fanged man’s face grinning at me. Sometimes I just woke up screaming for no reason. I had nightmares pretty much every night though.
I didn’t remember everything that happened after I was knocked out. My dads told me they heard the sound of breaking glass from my room, ran upstairs to find the window broken and me laying in my bed covered in blood. They told me I woke up, trying to scream but my voice was so hoarse I couldn’t make any sounds. They wanted to take me to a hospital but apparently I begged them not to. I just kept saying ‘they tried to kill me’. Over and over and over. I wouldn’t do anything else for hours as they got me cleaned off and changed into fresh clothes. I still don’t remember any of this but they assure me it’s what happened.
After a while I came to my senses, and this I do remember. Telling them everything that happened. Dad went to the Briggs because of course they didn’t believe me. I pleaded with him not to go but he went and found the bloodbath. He’s the ones that called the cops. We were involved with the investigation but I barely talked to the police about it because I knew they wouldn’t care and sure enough once they found out AZ, Carl, and Lorinda were magic-users the deaths were declared a bizarre suicide pact as some sort of ritual. Nice and neat under the rug.
“Did you do your homework?” Pa asked, bringing me out of my memories. I just nodded without a word, not feeling like talking. I didn’t talk much these days, except to Lumie. I pretty much cut my ties with anyone not family.
I didn’t at first. I kept up my friendships, or tried to. Everyone was pitying me at school. Poor Zaid, his poor girlfriend and her psycho family… I just had to grit my teeth through it all. Everyone blamed Carl and Lorinda, of course. Poor AZ was just a victim as well. Sometimes I did pity her as well. I didn’t blame her. I was mad, yeah, but I didn’t blame her. She was just doing what her parents asked. What they said. She was told that killing me would fix everything and she believed it. If she had had better parents… maybe she and I could have had what I thought we had.
My stomach twisted just thinking about this. Her betrayal still hurt. The fact she lied to me, never even cared, just pretended all that time that she liked me. In the weeks that followed her death I thought about that more and more. I started being suspicious of other people. Of Clay. Of Trin. Of Trysh. Especially Trin and Trysh because they only showed up that summer, in my life. I knew Clay since we were kids but the girls? I barely knew them. And once I started feeling uneasy around them, I started feeling uneasy around Clay as well. And pretty much everyone outside my family.
When school let out for the summer, I stopped talking to anyone not related to me. I spent the summer inside with my twin, as she was avoiding the world too. Nobody knew she was pregnant by the time we finished up that semester of school and nobody knew throughout the summer since she and I stayed put. Never going out. Just having each other for company, which I didn’t mind since out of everyone in this world she was the person I could trust the absolute most. Oh I trusted my family still of course. Pa, Dad, Villy, Presea, Glados, and Grams. But Lumie… I was connected to her and she could never betray me.
We watched as our siblings got ready for college. Helped them pack. Went on a trip to the college to see the small house they were renting. None of the dorms would let Vilkas stay there but they were able to rent a house for the three of them to stay in. That was good. They’d stick together, and Lumie and I would stick together.
She was more and more dependent on me as her belly grew. I was more and more dependent on her as my paranoia grew. Together we made quite the pair, and when school started up in the fall we stayed with each other. I was left alone but Lumie was gossiped about, of course. Her friends stopped calling. Her friends stopping wanting to hang around her. As soon as Saul found out about her pregnancy he dumped her. She became as alone as I was, but at least mine was by choice. Two weeks into classes she asked our dads if she could be homeschooled. She couldn’t stand the fact her so-called best friends were now calling her a whore. I asked if I could stay at home too. I hated being around all the students, walking down the hallway all tense waiting for someone to jump out and attack.
Pa and Dad got us installed into online courses. Pa couldn’t really help us much since he was a high school dropout but he reminded us about our work, and Dad helped us out. We were inside together almost every minute of every day. When we weren’t inside was when we went to Lumie’s appointments. I was with her then too. I was with her when she met the parents that would be taking her baby in. It would be a closed adoption, to Pa’s dismay and Villy’s slight discomfort. Vilkas was supportive of the adoption thing. He knew Lumie and knew she wasn’t ready to be a mother, but the closed adoption thing did upset him a little bit since he never knew his birth family. Pa was still sore about it of course… but it was Lumie’s decision–something I was constantly reminding him of. Her baby, her decision.
He cried about it sometimes. He loved babies so much and it hurt that he couldn’t keep his first grandbaby. Dad told us at one point in the summer it was probably due to the fact he technically couldn’t have kids. That’s when Lumie and I found out about Pa’s past. He had had a miscarriage, and then for some reason was unable to carry a baby past second trimester. We never knew any of this (though it explained why Pa had been incredibly obsessive over Lumie during her second trimester) and definitely didn’t know about the reasons Pa eventually was able to have kids. And they never knew what the ‘thingiemabob’ was, either. I wondered if it had something to do with why I was this rumored unbalancer/destroyer but I didn’t ask.
I decided to sorta step up to the plate. I had to, I had to do something. After Dad told us all this I spent a day thinking then I went to Pa. I told him we knew about everything, and that I understood why he was upset about Lumie giving the baby up for adoption. “But Pa, it is her choice,” I had said. “I know you want to take care of your grandbaby but look at it through her eyes. She’s fifteen, she lost all her friends because of this, she’s lost her douchebag boyfriend because of this. Even with your help and Dad’s help, the baby is her responsibility. How many teenaged mothers finish high school? College? It’s not impossible, but not everyone is cut out for that. You have five kids, you’re gonna have plenty of grandbabies. But Lumie’s not ready for that, and forcing her to deal with this–how’s that gonna do any good?”
Pa just stared at me for a good long time then reached out, taking my face carefully in his hands. “When did you get so grownup?” he asked, pulling me close to kiss my forehead. After that he was still upset about the adoption, but not as bad as he was before.
I had been thinking about that a lot since. When did I become grownup? Was I grownup? Did the attempt on my life do that? Or was it when Lumie became pregnant? Did it even matter, really? I wasn’t purposely trying to be grownup, hell I didn’t even really want to be. I wanted to be a little kid again, curl up under the covers, be able to pretend everything was gonna be okay. Because everything was not gonna be okay.
It was only a matter of time before someone found me, who wanted to kill me. I couldn’t protect myself. I had no way to defend myself. What if they tried to hurt Lumie? What could I do in that situation? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Even the thought of my stalker slaughtering the Briggs family didn’t make me feel better because part of me suspected my stalker wanted me alive for a bad reason. Maybe wait till I was old enough, and then use me to destroy things. Maybe my stalker was good. But I had no sure way to find out because even if he was nice, why the heck hadn’t he come forward sooner? Why didn’t he just come to me if he was nice and wanted to protect me? What, exactly, was he hiding…?
I woke up screaming, drenched in sweat, flinging my hands up to stop the dagger from going into my chest. But there was no dagger, just darkness. A glint of moonlight coming through the window. My screaming had woke Lumie up and she was asking me mentally if I was okay. >Yeah, I’m okay, another nightmare–go back to sleep,< I replied, sliding out of bed. I grabbed a washcloth and dipped it into the pitcher of water sitting on the little table. I had been keeping these nearby for a while now cause most nights I needed it.
I wiped my face down as I slowly breathed in and out, trying my hardest to calm down. To forget the dagger (as if that would ever happen). Once my face was wiped clean I picked up a towel to dry the bit of water and sweat off. As I did I looked out my window. I wasn’t even surprised to see him standing there. Because sometimes he was there. I knew he was always there, of course, but on occasion he wouldn’t even be hiding.
He stood there, arms folded, face upturned to my window. I pressed my face against the window and studied him, though by now I had his features memorized. He always looked pretty much the same. The only difference was sometimes he had the sword he used to stab Carl, and sometimes he didn’t. Tonight he didn’t. I wondered what he’d do if someone attacked me but then recalled how he put me to sleep just like that. Magic-user? Was that what he was? There hadn’t been a wand, not that I saw.
I shut my curtains and climbed back into bed, clinging to my pillow as I tried to get the shaking to stop. Go away, I begged silently after I put the barriers up to prevent Lumie from accidentally over’hearing’. Go away. Please. But I knew he never would.
Ever since the ‘incident’ I had stopped caring what I looked like. At one point I had even chopped off most my hair because the long hair just made me think of AZ. Now it was growing out again, and it didn’t look too bad. I just didn’t think I’d ever let it get too long again. My clothes were just random thing I found in the back of my dresser. I didn’t care. I really didn’t.
When everyone realized I stopped ‘going through phases’ they thought maybe I’d be getting better but I just sunk into a deep depression. It got to the point where my dads did send me to a therapist. I sat in the big cushy armchair for an hour, feet pulled up, arms folded, eyes glaring. The therapist occasionally asked me things. ‘How do you feel?’ and ‘Are you mad at anyone?’ and the worst one: ‘Do you miss her?’. Of course I fucking missed her, but I never told my therapist that. I never told anyone but Lumie and that wasn’t even on purpose.
I went to four appointments with the therapist, and the only things I said to him were ‘hey’ and ‘see ya’. After the fourth, I asked my dads not to bother anymore. I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone because how could I? How could I tell them what really happened? Nobody would believe me. My family said they did, but I didn’t think they really did. Except Lumie. The only person I could ever really trust. She knew, she knew everything. She may not have understood, but at least she knew. The only person…
Except my stalker, he knew. And the bolder he got the worst I felt. I saw him almost every night now. He stopped hiding completely. He’d be leaning against the tree, or sharpening his sword, or just sitting there cross-legged. Always watching. Until one night I couldn’t take it anymore. I just couldn’t.
I got dressed, quietly went downstairs, and out onto the porch. He was there, several feet away. I went over and leaned against the railing, feeling weird that he was so close. “Hey,” I said, expecting him to disappear.
But he didn’t. He just got this guilty look on his face. “Hey,” he replied.
I jumped. This was the first time I heard him talking. I expected him to sound, oh I dunno, like some sort of monster or creepy creeper. But he sounded… normal. “What’s your name?” I asked once I regained composure.
“You’ve been following me for over a year now,” I pointed out, moving down the stairs and into the yard. I didn’t get any nearer to him though. I was rather afraid. “Don’t I deserve to know your name?”
That guilty look again. “I can’t tell you. It’s bad enough you’ve seen me.”
He rubbed his neck, giving a slight sigh I barely heard. “My mistress will be mad if she knew you knew about me. I–I was supposed to be completely in hiding.”
“You haven’t been hiding for a while, I see you out here every night.” I leaned back against the porch, arms tight over my chest. My heart was pounding heavily. If he attacked me… he’d easily kill me. But if he wanted me dead already, he coulda done it at the Briggs house. “What do you want from me?”
Watcher, he sounded like a pouty little schoolkid. He even looked like one. He was pouting. My psychopathic stalker who sworded three people to death was pouting. “Obviously you want something. You murdered AZ and her family–“
“They woulda killed you!” he snapped, head jerking up. His unusual eyes were blazing now, his hands curling into fists. “They almost did. I almost didn’t make it. A few seconds and–and–and you would have been dead.”
My mouth felt dry as I knew this was logical, except I was definitely not in a logical mood right now. “She was fifteen. What you did to her was no better than what they would’ve done to me. You’re a murderer.”
“You’d rather have died?” he demanded hotly.
I shook my head, feeling bitterness and sadness rising up. “No! But, you could have done something else. You seem capable–“
“Why, thank you.”
“–and–what?” I stopped, pulling away in confusion. “You what?”
“You complimented me, I thanked you for the compliment,” he replied in a smug, satisfied tone. “I am capable. Er, capable of what?”
“Watcher, you’re an idiot,” I hissed which brought back the pout. “Capable of stopping them without killing them!”
Now he was frowning, eyes squinting so much they were nearly closed. “That would have solved nothing. Pulling you out of there with them alive… it would have been very risky. I could have done it, of course, I am awesome. But they would have just come after you again with more people, and you’re not ready to fight them.”
He held out his hands, palms towards the sky. “You’re not ready, Zaidy boy. I don’t know if you ever will be. That’s why I’m here.”
“I don’t understand–“
“I know, and we should keep it that way.”
I gulped, trying to make sense of this. There really was only one thought that could make this make any sort of sense. “Are you s-some sort of crazed bodyguard then?” I asked.
He opened his mouth to speak but then the sound of a car approaching caused me to turn around in surprise, as we were more or less end-of-the-line here, 90 percent of the cars that came out here were for us. Sure enough a car was slowing down until it stopped, facing our house. I turned back to say something to the crazy dude but he was gone. Swearing loudly, I climbed up over the porch and dove back inside since I was having a sick feeling about whoever was in that car.
I got the door shut and locked as the car headlights went off. I backed up to the stairs then hurried up them. Just when I reached the top–the doorbell rang. It was nearly midnight. Who the heck would be here? Unless it was someone trying to hurt me? Oh crap, what if it was? What if they hurt my family?
“No!” I said when my dads’ door opened. Dad came out of the bedroom looking extra grouchy. “No, don’t answer it!”
“Zaid?” He flicked on the hall light and stared me, all hunched up and quivering. “What’s going on? Do you know who that is?”
“Someone bad, please don’t answer it,” I whispered.
Dad eyed me then went down the stairs, ignoring my pleas. He went around the stairs and towards the fireplace–and returned with a poker in one hand. “Who’s there?” he called at the door.
Silence. Then a voice I could hardly hear: “I need to speak to Vilkas Danevbie-Greyson.”
Dad looked back up at me and I shrugged. “Who is this?” Dad asked again. “It’s the middle of the night!”
“Oh. It is. I’m sorry. I forget, sometimes.” There was a scuffling sound. “Should I come back in the morning? It’s an emergency.”
Dad shifted a bit then lowered the poker. “What’s this about?”
Silence. Then, “His grandfather.”
Dad opened the door revealing a young blonde. “He doesn’t have a grandfather.”
“His biological grandfather. Please. I need to speak to Vilkas.”