Oakenden, Ten Years Before
Elizabeth Day was walking five meters in front of him, and yet Logan couldn’t bring himself to lengthen his stride in order to catch up, his nerves causing him to dawdle along behind in a way that he hoped wasn’t creepy.
They walked the same route every school day, but he’d only really noticed that, and her, the year before when Jack Wilson started paying her attention. The guy was a dick, but because Jack’s family was rich and he was good at football, he thought that he was top shit. Yet people didn’t seem to see that Jack Wilson really wasn’t everything that he claimed to be.
Elizabeth had been fooled by Jack’s self-proclaimed perfection and they’d started dating.
Logan knew that he would be the better boyfriend for Elizabeth. Jack Wilson didn’t deserve to have someone as nice and as pretty as her. However, Logan could count the times he had spoken to Elizabeth on one hand, and most of those times had been just been stupid polite stuff like hi, and thanks. They didn’t share any classes, play the same sports, or any of that shit.
The only thing that they had in common was the walk too and from school. But, he had yet to figure out a way to turn that to his advantage.
As Elizabeth reached an intersection of the road and paused to look for traffic, for a brief moment, he was just behind her. Fate was on his side because as she started to step off the curb, some idiot in a sports car blasting music shot past, going twice the speed limit, and if Logan hadn’t reacted, pulling Elizabeth back onto the sidewalk, he might have been forced to watch her pretty face get smashed all over the tarmac.
“Oh, wow!” Elizabeth gasped.
“What an arsehole,” Logan scowled after the car. “He almost killed you.”
“Thanks… Liam isn’t it?” She said as they crossed the road together.
“Logan,” he supplied.
“I’m Elizabeth. Libby,” she told him.
He didn’t tell her that he already knew that. “Hi Libby,” he said with a charming smile.
For a moment they walked in silence, the conversation exhausted between them, and he dredged through his mind for something clever to say, coming up empty handed. The silence stretched into awkwardness, with her sliding him looks from under her eyelashes, obviously wondering why they were still walking side by side.
She slowed her walk. “Well, this is where I turn off,” she lied as they neared an alley. “I’ll see you around, hey, Logan?”
“Sure thing, Libby,” he replied with a frown. He could protest, he thought, catch her in her lie, tell her that he knew that she didn’t live down that way as he’d been walking behind her for a year, but he hunched his shoulders, shoved his hands into his pockets and walked away kicking at the autumn leaves. If that was all the gratitude the bitch had for him saving her life, he thought angrily, Jack Wilson and Elizabeth Day deserved each other.
From behind, he heard the roar of an engine and the bass of music, and paused to watch, glaring, as the arsehole in the sports car screeched past him. “What a f-king arsehole,” he muttered under his breath. “Ah, what the f-k?” He added as the car pulled up out front of his house.
As he closed the distance between the car and himself, he saw Gillian hop out of the car and bend over to blow a kiss to the driver. Logan caught a glimpse of a young blond man with bright white teeth bared in a grin before she closed the door. The car took off with a squeal of wheels.
"Who’s that?” Logan demanded. “Does dad know that you’re getting in cars with idiots who drive like suicidal maniacs?”
She jumped and turned to face him. “Ah, shit,” she pulled a face. “F-k off Logan.” She spun on her heel and sashayed towards the house.
“Are you seeing him? He drives like a f-king wanker,” Logan followed behind, more than willing to redirect his ire over Elizbeth Day’s lack of gratitude onto his older sister. “Dad’s going to go nuts when I tell him.”
“You’re a f-king worm,” Gillian told him as she reached the front door. “No wonder everyone f-king hates you and you have no friends. I’m f-king eighteen. An adult. Dad can…” She said as she stepped into the hallway.
“What can Dad do?” Their father asked from the master bedroom doorway as he worked the knot of his tie loose. “Who was that in the car, Gillian?”
“Her boyfriend,” Logan replied. “He almost ran over a girl speeding down the road and did a burnout as he took off.”
“I saw,” their father’s expression darkened as he looked at Gillian.
“His name is Kyle,” she put her hand on her hip and tapped her toes on the floorboards, every inch attitude. “His family owns the restaurant. We’ve been seeing each other for a month now, dad.”
“Time to find another job,” Logan sneered.
“Get the f-k out of here, Logan. This has got nothing to do with you!” Gillian snapped.
“Your sister is right,” their father said. “Go and do your homework, Logan.”
“Sure thing,” Logan shrugged. “What do I care who she f-ks?” He added over his shoulder as he continued to his bedroom.
As he closed his door, he heard Gillian’s voice raise in angry protest and grinned knowing that their father had demanded she dump the boy. As their argument raged in the background, Logan sat at his desk and did his homework. It didn’t make him feel any better, he admitted, and sighed when he heard Gillian’s bedroom door slam. He’d better make it up to her.
He opened his bottom drawer and took out the vape that he hid under the porno-magazines, because he knew that having caught one look at breasts, his mother would close the drawer and back away without discovering the contraband hidden beneath it.
He went down the hallway to Gillian’s room. She had the music blaring. He knocked twice before she yanked the door open.
“What?” She demanded.
“I’m sorry,” he showed her the vape. “I was a dickhead.”
She narrowed her eyes as she considered his apology and then stepped back, jerking her head to indicate for him to get inside, before closing and locking the door behind him. She crossed the room and opened her window. “You are a dick,” she told him as she took the vape. “What crawled up your arse today?”
He shrugged, leaning against the windowsill next to her. “I dunno. A girl.”
“Ah,” she blew out a cloud of smoke. “Sorry.”
“She wasn’t who I thought she would be,” he said. “I thought she’d be… well, different. And she wasn’t so, whatever. Is it serious? The idiot in the sports car? Kyle?”
She handed him the vape. “Yeah. He’s asked me to marry him,” she said softly.
“What the f-k?” Logan choked out his mouthful of smoke. “You’re eighteen! How old is he?”
“He’s twenty-three. He’s very together, you know? Owns his own house, his car, and stuff like that. Manages the restaurant for his parents. I love him,” she added emphatically. “I love him so much.”
“That’s great,” Logan pulled a face. “But, one month and you’re going to marry him?”
“You don’t understand,” she told him, annoyed. “What we have is special. It’s like… like Romeo and Juliet. The moment we saw each other, we just knew. He loves me and I love him, and it’s crazy how intense and strong the bond between us is.”
“Alright…” He was cautious, not wanting to piss her off again. “Congratulations. I hope you’ll be happy.”
“We will be,” she was confident, but there was something behind the confidence – a nervous energy. Perhaps, he thought, she was still hyped up about the fight. “We will be,” she repeated and gave him back the vape before closing the window.
At dinner, Gillian was silent, picking at her food, her body tense.
“Stop sulking,” their father said as he finished his meal. “I said to bring the boy to meet me, and we’ll talk about lifting your curfew. Your mother is with me on this,” he glanced at their mother who nodded. “We know nothing about the boy other than he left tyre marks out front of our house. Hardly the actions of a respectful person interested in developing a relationship with his girlfriend’s parents.”
“And the age gap,” their mother added. “You’re eighteen.”
“And he’s twenty-three. That’s only five years, mum,” Gillian replied.
“But it’s a big five years, Gilly,” their mother reached across the table and put her hand over Gillian’s. “You’re a teenager, and only just turned eighteen. He’s been an adult for five years now. So much happens during that time… He’s had time to make choices about his life that you’re only just facing. Those five years make so much of a difference.”
“You don’t understand,” Gillian tugged her hand back. “And it’s not up to you. I am eighteen.”
“You live under our roof, and you will obey our rules,” their mother replied firmly. “And, like your father says, if this boy wants to have a relationship with you, he should make the effort to meet your family and introduce himself, to make a good impression with us. We’re not stopping you from seeing him, we’re just asking for some respect.”
“No one does that anymore,” Gillian protested in frustration. “You are so old fashioned!” She pushed up from the table and stormed away. After a moment, her door slammed shut and Logan’s parents sighed heavily and exchanged a long look.
“Don’t look at me,” Logan held up his hands when his mother refocused on him. “I’m not dating anyone.”
“You’ll bring the girl to meet us, won’t you darling?” His mother smiled. “And go meet her parents?”
“Na-uh,” he laughed and shook his head as he rose from the table. “You’re not dragging me into this conversation.”
He was not surprised when, not long after he’d gone to bed, he saw the silhouette of Gillian pass by his window as she crept down the side of the house. She had crept out of her bedroom window in order to go see the dick-head with the sports car, he thought. He rolled over. He wasn’t going to get involved, he decided and yawned himself into sleep.
A noise woke him just as the sky was starting to lighten with dawn and he lay on the edge of returning to sleep wondering whether he had heard the scream, or whether he had dreamt it. A crash from the kitchen had him sitting up. He’d definitely heard that. He slipped from the bed and eased the door open before tiptoeing down the hallway, past the smiling family photos that his mother forced them to pose for every year just before Christmas.
The light through the kitchen window was beginning to yellow, and the glare caused haloes in his vision. For a moment, he stood in the doorway, not quite understanding what he was seeing.
There was blood. A lot of it. Splashed over the counter tops, dripping slowly into puddles on the ground, running into the coffee that had spilled from the shattered coffee cup on the ground. He could see a hand, the fingers curled, on the floor behind the kitchen island. His mother’s hand.
“Mum?” He whispered.
A smothered cry turned his head. His father, in his crisply ironed shirt and tie, ready for a day at the office, was held pinned by a massive monster straight from the set of a horror movie, all rippling muscle and patchy fur, it’s face with its sharp teeth vaguely wolf-ish.
There was a smothered gurgle as the monster snarled and clawed out his father’s throat, the spray of blood sticking in glossy droplets in the creature’s fur.
As his eyes locked with the monster, Logan opened his mouth to scream.