So living in Moonlight Falls turned out to be really awesome since going out was so much easier than at the castle and despite the supposed ‘more safety’ we had more freedom than before. Every weekend Sam, Liles, and I would go do stuff if the weather permitted. We began going to the movies every Sunday and by the third Sunday the group grew. Sometimes Eli, Blake, and Varuna would join us. Kiley began coming every Sunday too. Once in February Eidan came with but only the once.
Mr. Hunter didn’t really teach me very often or even come see me often. I saw him maybe once every two weeks. Shoshanna and Li told me that he visited and worked with him about the same amount of time as me, and none of us were really sure why.
We stayed in Moonlight Falls over the spring break and Reeny came to visit. Arty wanted to but our spring breaks didn’t quite line up which was a shame especially since the next time I’d see her, she’d be eighteen. Still, it was great to have Reeny in for a visit. She stayed with Uncles Max and Royce but we spent most our time together.
“Do you like it here more than Dragon Valley?” she asked as we took a break from exploring.
“It’s different. I think I do like it more, we’ve got so much more freedom. I miss the big castle, and as much as I like Eli and Blake I miss it just being me and Sam in the room.”
“Noah’s very worried about you.”
I gave an impatient sigh. “You can tell Dad I’m fine.”
Reeny laughed and reached over, tousling my hair. “You’re fine, hmm?”
“St–stop messing up my hair!”
She just kept laughing and I pushed her hand away, scowling. “Okay, tell me honest, are you fine? I won’t tell Noah.”
“I am fine. We’ve not had a whiff of danger.”
I didn’t tell her, though, that I now felt a bit paranoid. Whenever it seemed like someone was following us I’d get on edge. One time this woman followed me and Sam out of a diner and began chasing us. I wanted to scream but my voice got stuck in my throat. Sam just whirled around and drew himself up, looking intimidating, but the woman just handed over the wallet I had dropped. I felt so humiliated after. At least I wasn’t the only one. Lilah and Blake both also felt that edginess whenever they thought someone might be watching a bit too closely. After all, not all of the Justificus group had been caught. The leader (who had a thirst for vengeance against me which I never told anyone) escaped. And… I kept reminding myself of what Briggs had said. A spy. A spy in Dragon Valley or a spy in the school? None of the teachers had left. Though many students had.
Could it have been a student? I wondered often. I never mentioned the spy thing to anyone. I probably should have but for all I knew the jerk could have been blowing hot air. Plus I felt scared. Yeah. I was a wuss.
Spring continued on and our classes got harder as we prepared for exams and tests. We all grew pretty tired, the same as last year, but Eli looked worse and worse. About a week before the tests would start we were sitting in our room. Sam, Blake, and I sat around the small table while Eli looked miserably out the window. He had thrown up twice that day yet kept insisting he felt fine.
“You can talk to us,” Sam urged him, “we’re your friends.”
Blake quickly added, “You’re my best friend! If something’s wrong…”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Eli swore with a shake of his head.
The vision, I thought and vaguely remembered where my old self stood. Blake asked Eli if he was sick while I looked in the general area where I remembered standing. What if I tell him right now. I’m going to.
I opened my mouth to speak, to warn my old self about the destruction of the school, about the kidnapping, the torture. But no words came out. It felt like something or someone took hold of my throat. Not–not in a strangling sense, more in a silencing sense. Eli insisted he felt fine, that we had just been through too much. Say it, say what we’ve been through!!! I tried to get the words out again. My chest felt heavy and I began to feel dizzy and soon breathless as well.
“I’m worried about you,” Blake said, going over to our friend.
This is it, the vision will be ending. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I say it?!
“I appreciate it, I really do.”
HUNTER’S IS GOING TO BE DESTROYED AND I CAN’T DO ANYTHING!
“I’m just–I’m fine, I’m just tired.”
SAY SOMETHING, ANYTHING, WARN MY OLD SELF, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!
My chest was released and I nearly fell forward, gasping for air. The vision had ended. “Shit,” I hissed. “Shit.”
“It’s not shit!” Eli snarled. “The only thing I’m sick of is you guys acting–“
“No, not that!” I got up, wiping the cold sweat from my forehead. “The vision I mentioned in the cell, where I saw us talking and Eli, you said something about us going through an ordeal? The vision I had last summer? This was it. And I just tried to warn my old self. It felt like something holding me back, cutting off my words, my breathing.”
“I’m calling Professor Summers–“
“No I feel fine now–“
I sat back down. “I’ll be okay.”
“You sure?” Eli asked.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “If you’re okay then why can’t I be okay?” He glowered and pressed his lips tight together. “Seriously, though, I–it’s fading. I’m feeling better.” I took in a few deep breaths to show them and then got back up. “I only once tried to warn my past self before. But the vision ended before I–my future self–could get the right words out. And that vision changed anyway, it never happens. I guess I can’t warn myself about what’s to come. I can see things but if I see my future self my future self can’t say what’s going on.”
“Watcher, you’re killing my head!” Blake moaned.
“Yeah, my head’s pounding too,” I mumbled. “Be right back.” I slipped out of the room and hurried to the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face. Inability to warn what’s going on would explain why that reoccurring vision I had of myself (in the rain with the fence and lightning) never involved my future self just turning around and telling me what the heck was going on.
Plus my visions tend to slip my memory. I looked at my reflection with a frown. Some supernatural power had been given to me. The ability to see random events from the future. Yet also in place seemed to be everything preventing me from doing anything about it. Not being able to remember, not being able to warn. The events could change, like the one at the cliff. I didn’t have anything to do with throwing a cog in that wheel though. It had changed through other people doing stuff. But why did I have the vision in the first place? Why didn’t whatever power I had also foresee the destruction of the school and therefor the event–the vision–not happening at all?
I turned around and rested back against the sink. Only one answer that I could think of. There was someone else, a very powerful supernatural being, that knew about my visions and could do something about it and did do something about it. Someone or something powerful enough to interfere with seemingly near-impossible-to-change visions and changing their course.
After the exams we had a few days of no classes (lovely freedom running around the town with my friends!) then the semester was over. The day before we would be leaving Mr. Hunter came to see me. We hadn’t been doing much mostly just me keeping up with my journals. This would have just gone the normal, kinda boring way, however I felt compelled to talk to him. I told him about the incident before the exams (as I hadn’t seen him till now), about trying and failing to warn my previous self.
“It makes sense,” Mr. Hunter answered. “If you had warned yourself, the events might not have happened, and it would have created a paradox.” He began rubbing his chin. “Perhaps… in an alternate dimension… you succeeded.”
“We’ve known for a long time about alternate universes, alternate realities. There used to be machines that could take us to varying realities. They used to be called ‘time machines’ until scientists learned we weren’t going into the past or future but similar worlds. We don’t know much about alternate universes, just that they exist. Maybe when you tried to warn your past self it split reality.”
“That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Mr. Hunter chuckled. “No. I apologize, this–this has been on my mind quite a lot since you asked about changing visions. I’ve been wondering if your vision changed not because of any actions in this world but actions in another. Your visions see what is to happen in this world. So if something happened and someone crossed over from another reality and changed things, your visions wouldn’t–and couldn’t–account for such a thing.”
My brain felt like might melt. I reached up to massage my temples. I told him about the thought I had, about a supernatural being causing things to change. Mr. Hunter agreed and hypothesized it might even be a mix of both our theories: a supernatural being from a different reality.
“What if…” I trailed off and held my tongue.
Mr. Hunter gave me a reassuring smile. “You can talk freely.”
“What if someone from another dimension came here a long time ago? Do you think their actions would be, uh, accounted for in my visions?”
“I have no idea, there’s no way to tell. We don’t even know whether this does involve another reality. It’s merely a theory of mine.” He tilted his head back, staring at the ceiling now. “When I was young… very young… just a little bit older than you… I lived at the research and guidance facility. We were much more of a research facility. The doctor in charge she… she spoke often of alternate dimensions. She seemed interested in creating gateways once more, as the technology once used had been long ago lost.”
I didn’t feel very interested in all of that. “Maybe she made a gateway and someone came through. Maybe someone’s come through more recently. Again I–if someone is here, would my visions take their actions into account?”
“Why do you ask?”
My gaze slid downward, focusing on my lap now. “Nothing, sir.”
“I know, I can talk freely. It’s just you’ll be mad.”
“Mad?” His forehead wrinkled a little bit. “I can’t promise I won’t be mad however I can promise you won’t be in trouble.”
“Oh, I think I will.” Sweat began soaking my armpits. “I should have said something ages ago. It’s about the school. When I was being held and almost killed, the guy was–was monologing. And he talked about how he had been told about me being there…”
“He had a spy. At the school. Sir. I–I should have said something ages ago but…” I began shaking. “I’ve been scared. I know not all the group has been caught and put in jail and the spy’s probably still around and–I don’t want to die.”
Mr. Hunter got up and walked over to me, crouching down now so he could look me in the eye. “I will do everything in my power to keep you safe.” He put a hand against the side of my head, almost in a fatherly manner. “You should have told me sooner but that’s neither here nor there. The spy is still around.”
“You know who it is?”
“No…” He returned to his seat and began stroking his chin. “But none of the teachers are gone except Bingham and he was killed. I doubt Bingham had been a spy.”
“But it could have been a student?”
Mr. Hunter got a strange look on his face as he straightened up. “Surely not.”
“Why not, though?”
He looked acutely unhappy. “I will look into it. Thank you for telling me, Apollo. I will do my search discreetly and no one will know you said anything. Please keep me informed of anything else you might… see.”
It felt good to get out of Moonlight Falls after that. I confessed to Sam everything once we were back at my home in Storybrook and he looked kinda pissed off I didn’t tell him about the spy sooner. However he calmed down once he realized just how scared I was. If the spy hadn’t left I knew the danger level for me had risen.
“Don’t tell my dad though,” I made him promise.
Dad did seem a lot better since we had gone through a whole semester without any real problems. He knew of the little scrapes that happened, since we had talked on the phone every Sunday morning. He knew that Casimir and I had nearly come to fists whenever we crossed paths. His kidnapping and torture had driven him to a darker place and he pretty much lashed out at everyone but seemed to hold me, Sam, and Booker in a particularly nasty light. I had a very strong werewolf mad at me. Whee.
Maybe he was the spy, I wondered one afternoon. Surely not. He had been shot how many times? But he seemed to hate everyone else. Who else held such hatred? Professor Bree? She hated me but she loved all the other students. None of the teachers really made sense. Other students though… maybe. I didn’t know. I didn’t even know all the students so I couldn’t even put together a list.
About a month before my birthday I knew Romance’s birthday came around. Sweet sixteen. I wanted to send her something, anything. Yet, I did not want to hurt her. Finally after doing research on flowers I sent her a small bouquet of daisies, forget-me-nots, and sweetpeas. Daisies meant innocent love and never telling. Forget-me-nots for true love and memories. Sweetpeas meant goodbye. I wanted to let her know I loved her, would always love her, but knew we couldn’t be together.
At least I hoped she’d understand that’s what it meant. She knew plants and flowers so well, surely she’d understand… or be able to decipher… or maybe she’d misinterpret everything and assume the flowers meant I still wanted to be with her which okay yeah I did but they also meant goodbye.
I fretted about my decision all through June, hating myself, feeling stupid. Then the day before my birthday some flowers arrived. Three of the types flowers I didn’t recognize, one of them was sweetpeas. The card simply had a looping R on it. My sisters began teasing me and asking who my new girlfriend was. I swore to them honestly I had no girlfriend. Sam saw the ‘R’ and didn’t make any comment.
I looked up all the flowers and afterwards my heart ached.
Sweetpeas, of course, for goodbye. Arbutus meant a straightforward ‘I love you’. Gloxinia meant love at first site. And hyacinth meant many things but the purple one mostly meant regret and sorrow; the meaning of this particular flower doubled over as it had been named by the god Apollo for a lost love.
My sixteenth birthday came and went. Sixteen was a big thing for most people. I just felt depressed. I missed Romance, I wanted a driver’s license, and I worried about the spy finding out I had (sorta) ratted them out to Mr. Hunter. I managed to be cheery during the celebrations, especially since Dad went all out. He really wanted to make me happy after the crap year. I even got a TV and a new phone.
July passed by without much of interest happening. Reeny, Sam, and I went to a place outside town so she could teach him how to ride a motorcycle. I just watched and played video games. Reeny offered to teach me and I pointed out I could have a vision and wreck. She looked like she wanted to argue however she kept her mouth shut. And in other news Sam looked pretty cool zipping around on a motorcycle with his leather jacket.
August started to seem like it would be as boring as July until the end of the first week when Suzanne shouted out the back door that someone had come to the house to see me. I got out of the pool and quickly dried off wondering who could have shown up. I had a few guesses but they all turned out to be wrong when I went into the house and found Blake standing there.
“Oh good there you are!” Blake rushed over and grabbed my arms. “I need your help. Yours too, Sam!” he added as Sam followed me inside.
“Blake how–how did you get here?” I asked.
He gave me a ‘duh’ look. “I flew.”
“But… Storybrook isn’t really anti-supernatural but it’s not exactly pro-supernatural,” I said nervously. I could just imagine the reactions from Blake flying through the town.
“Oh, I know! That’s why I was just a little ball of light. Look, I need your help. Both of you. It’s Eli. He’s not coming back to the school. And I think something is seriously wrong.”
I didn’t believe him. Eli loved classes, he loved learning. Out of all the students I knew he’d be the one I’d wager money on to stay. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, we were talking last night and–“
“Did you just, maybe, not quite hear something right?” Sam asked.
Blake actually looked a bit pissed off. “No! I know what he told me. He said he doesn’t want to come back. He wouldn’t tell me why. And he sounded–he sounded really ill. I didn’t know what to do! I thought if all three of us talked to him maybe, maybe we could figure out… or convince him…”
“Where do you even live?” I asked, trying to get it through my head that Blake turned into a ball of light and flew who-knows-how-far. “Why didn’t you call? Why did you fly here?”
“We’ve long ago established I don’t make the brightest of decisions,” Blake replied with a shrug. WHAT KIND OF ANSWER WAS THAT?! “Besides. I was kinda hoping we could all go talk to him face-to-face. He lives only a few hours from here.”
“We can’t fly,” Sam pointed out. “We can’t just pick up and drive a few hours.”
Blake stuck his lower lip out. “I thought you two would want to help but fine, I’ll go by myself and–“
“We want to help, of course we do!” Sam protested. “It’s just… not easy for us to go off like that. Like you can. Where does Eli live?”
I couldn’t help but flinch a bit.
“We can’t just pick up and go to Midnight Hollow,” Sam continued. “It’s five hours away. We can’t just drive there.”
“Maybe Reeny could take us,” I said.
Blake clapped his hands while Sam folded his arms. “Why would she randomly drive us there?” he asked.
“Cause she visits there almost every year since she turned eighteen,” I said quietly. “Both her fathers are buried there. She might take us.”
“So we’re going to drive five hours to confront Eli instead of doing the logical thing of calling him?” Sam asked and Blake and I just remained silent. If something was going on with Eli then face-to-face would go better. He’d just hang up on us or get really angry. If we went, it would help show how much we cared. Which I did. Eli was one of my good friends and if something was wrong I needed to know.
What if he was the spy.
I jerked at the sudden, sickening thought. No. Not Eli. Eli–he’d never, he’d never!
It’s always one of the ones you least suspect. And he has been acting so weird. Nervous. Suspicious, even?
No. No, no way. Eli couldn’t and wouldn’t and just plain wasn’t the spy.
“I think we should go see him,” I said quickly. “I agree with Blake. We should go see him.” I tried not to sound scared. Eli couldn’t be the spy. It was just my brain struggling to find an answer, a far-reaching and illogical answer! Even though he’d been acting so… well… like he’d done something wrong and regretted it…
But if he was the spy he wouldn’t have come back in January. Unless he didn’t want to seem too suspicious. Except there were many students that didn’t come back. But everyone knew how much he enjoyed learning so it would be suspicious regardless. Still, it seemed less suspicious for him to not return in January rather than now.
No matter how crazy it seemed (and I KNEW he couldn’t be the spy) I felt like it would be best to see him. Maybe something in the conversation could reveal whether he did regret something and–well, maybe I could talk to him alone and confess to him that there had been a spy. Then I could see his shock and anger and prove that he hadn’t been the spy.
Eli had nothing to do with those events.