By Stash - email@example.com
"Never look back at what you leave behind --
it could haunt you someday!"
(The Blue Book Of Fear)
I turned around to look down the street where I could still see Danny standing on the sidewalk waving me goodbye. The first autumn wind was playing with his beautiful blond hair, and although our car was already too far away for me to actually see it, I knew that Danny's eyes were still filled with tears at the sight of me, his boyfriend, leaving for college without him.
Sigh... I turned around and pressed myself back into the cold and smooth leather of the backseat.
"What's wrong, Justin dear?" Mom asked calmly from in front of me. "It's about Danny, isn't it, hon?"
"Leave him alone, Marge!" Dad replied in my place. "Maybe he'll get to grips at last, now that he's not under that... BAD influence anymore."
"Really, George, you shouldn't say that!" Mom's head was shaking in disapproval. "Danny is SUCH a nice young..."
"... FAG!" he cut her off. "THAT'S what he is! Just a damn fag trying to get our son to do... do... YOU-KNOW-WHAT with him!"
I leaned back in my seat again and closed my eyes, thinking of Danny. Actually, I had stopped to take interest in those conversations several months ago. Too many times had I tried to convince my father that he was wrong, that Danny definitely had NO "bad influence" on me. And too many times I had cried myself to sleep because Dad just didn't even TRY to understand. It was all so unfair! I mean, hey, how could someone as wonderful as Danny, who was the answere to every single desperate prayer I had ever sent in my whole life, in any way be some kind of "bad influence"? Surely not Danny, who, with his beautyful, slim body, his deep blue eyes and blond hair, was even LOOKING like the perfect, almost heavenly creature that he was!
Far more often than just once, I had started to cry, just dibelievingly looking at my boyfriend's face, totally overwhelmed by all the love that this boy made me feel. I decided to just keep my eyes closed, pretending that I was fast asleep. The one thing that I certainly didn't need right now was definitely one more of Dad's "you-are-my-son-and-i-don't-produce-gay-children" monologues! Why wouldn't he just listen to me? Just for once. I was too tired and way too wrapped up in my thoughts about Danny, my dear, sweet Danny, to even realize that in fact, I REALLY fell asleep...
... It was cold, DAMN cold, and I was standing outside the big college gates. The night had already painted my sight in deep, merciless black, and the only light around was the red shimmer of the full moon. Red?!? - I looked up at the sky again, slightly confused, but there was no doubt at all - the moon really WAS red, looking as unreal as a same coloured 70ties lamp would have in the batcave.
A big and obviously very old tree that was divided in two halfs by what must have been some kind of lightning or such, was standing on the right side of the gates, it's two ends growing up to each side, broadly forming the capital letter "V".
"Don't go in there, Justin!"I heard a very familiar voice saying from right behind me.
I turned around and could't believe my own eyes as I was looking right into Danny's beautiful face that was glowing sadly in the moonlight.
"You mustn't be here, Justin!" Danny said, fleeingly. "You should run away as fast as you can! Please...?"
My boyfriend's face was carved with concerned lines, and somehow I regretted my decision to go to a college THAT far away.
"Look, Danny..." I started. "I know that you miss me, but..."
"You don't understand! THEY are waiting here, Justin! Waiting for YOU!!!"
Danny's head hung down in both disappointment and grief, and the mere sight of this almost broke my heart.
"They?" I just didn't understand what he was obviously trying to tell me. "Who are THEY? What are you talking about? Why would ANYone..."
"I can't tell you that. Really, I can't!" Tears were running down Danny's cheeks as he spoke. "All I can tell you is just to stay away from here. And from THEM!"
I started freezing all over, and a cold, ghostly shiver was running down my spine at the sound of these words. I was unable to move or speak, as I suddenly realized Danny's figure becoming more and more transparent. Just what the hell was going on here?
"Danny!" I cried out, hoping to somehow be able to hold him back. How naive. I should have known that those things NEVER work. Not in nightmares, anyway. "Danny, what's happening here?!"
"I have to go, Justin. It's not safe for me to be here... and not for you, either!"
"Now, what do you..."
"Keep away from THEM, Justin. They're much too powerful!" Danny's figure had already turned into only the slight shade of a shadow as I felt the first tears filling my eyes.
"I love you, Danny!" I pressed out. "Don't leave me alone!"
But he was already gone. I looked through the gates, asking myself what it might be that Danny so desperately wanted me to "keep away" from, when suddenly I sreamed out loudly in surprise and fear as I heard...
........... the car driving onto the college parking lot. We had arrived.
I hieved my two suitcases, which contained all the stuff that I considered to be needing during the first term, out of the trunk, only vaguely realizing that my parents were still continuing their little discussion inside the car. So, this was finally it! Hoverton College!
Right before my eyes, I saw a huge castle-like stone building with hundrets of windows and enormous looking wings to each side. Several little round towers were peaking up from the roof into the deep blue sky, and somehow it reminded me of the way old conducts were depicted in most of those 80ties horror movies. Now, that was kewl! Raising my head, I saw a raven that had taken it's seat on the rainwater gutter right above the main door which was headlined by big bronze letters saying: "Hoverton College". I didn't really know why, but somehow I just felt like being spied on. What was that raven looking at? Was it... no, that simply couldn't be! I pinched my eyes, and cold shivers were running up and down my back as I realized that the bird's head really followed every single move that I took.
"Leave..." said the raven, staring right into my very eyes and making me shrugg with surprise.
Actually, I felt my forehead wetting with several drops of cold sweat. No, this could definitely not be true! Hey Justin, wake up dude! It's impossible for a bird to actually TALK to you, man! But of course, that weird dream I'd had in the car was still kind of getting to me stronger than I would have admitted, so that it was almost even natural under these circumstances for me to imagine a bird talking like damn yellow Tweety.
"Now cool down, dude!" I said out loud, more to myself than to the raven, who nevertheless seemed to react to my words by spreading his wings and fiercly heading down, right towards me. From inside the car my mom screamed in surprise and shock as it became frighteningly clear to me, that the bird was speeding up without even showing the slightest intention of changing it's path. Trying to take a fast getaway to the right, I accidentally kicked against one of my suitcases and fell to the ground. The raven came nearer and nearer, almost appearing to triumphantly smile about my, his victim's, early defeat before.....
..... it stopped.
Just like that! Must have been quite some sight, the raven hanging in the air right over my head, while I was lying in the dirt underneath him, breathing heavily as though some monster or such was attacking me.
"Listen" said the raven again. "I am NOT yourr enemy! THEY arre, Justin! THEY arre!!!"
It's last words were almost completely going down with the sound of the raven vanishing in an explosion of smoke and sharp blue lightnings.
'THEY arre.' the raven's words slowly repeated in my head, making my blood freeze in fear as it's voice suddenly turned into my boyfriend's: 'THEY are, Justin, and they're waiting for YOU!'
It had taken me about 15 minutes to say goodbye to Mom and Dad... and almost a full hour of queueing until that cute 3rd grade student at the registration desk had finally handed out the schedule for the 1st Term Welcome Ceremoniy, my room number and the key to me. The room I was to share with some guy named Darryl, number 645, was in the right wing of the huge building, on the 6th floor, so I was now heading up the broad wooden stairs regarding the large paintings of former professors, classes and College celebrities, which were lined up at the walls all along the staircase. Some of the depicted persons were smiling, others obviously intended to make a most serious and powerful impression, and this "cabinet" made me think about ancient galleries in haunted houses and old spooked manors. It sure was some kind of frightning, but, most of all it was just COOL, again!
Having arrived on the 6th floor, I found that number 645 was the second room to the right, and when I finally reached it, I put down my luggage to fumble the key out of my pocket and stiffhandedly open the door. My quite annoying attempt to coordinate myself through with both suitcases at the same time failed mercilessly, so that giving up, I considered myself forced to leave one of them outside to fetch it on a second go.
The inside of the room was exactly what I had imagined it to be. There were a table, a bed and a wardrobe standing on either side and the wall opposed to me was guarded by two big windows, spending bright daylight, so that, even with my eyes pinched, I could only make out the mere figure of who obviously seemed to be my new roommate, standing with his back to me and looking outside. He had dark hair, must have been about 6 feet tall, and from what I could make out at first sight, his slim but slightly muscular body had to make male pinups faint with jealousy, even now that he was completely dressed in black jeans and a dark red shirt.
"Hi!" I finally said. "You must be..."
"Darryl Barnett, exactly!" the shadowy figure at the window answered without even turning around to face me. "And YOU are Justin Malloy!"
"You are 5.97 feet tall, and you have brown hair and blue eyes." Darryl continued. "Your father is working for an international bank, your mother's a secretary and YOU were born on September 15th in 1984!"
He flung around, showing me a bright boyish grin on a stunningly beautiful face. Obviously, he was more than curious to see, if what he had just said had got him the expected effect. And, of course, it had! In fact, I was far too surprised by this most unconventional analysis of myself to react right away. How could Darryl know all those things about me when I had only managed to figure out his first name? Who could have told him?
"How do you... uhm... I mean..."
"How I know all that?" Darryl's grin became even bigger now.
"Y-yeah...?" I stuttered, still confused.
"Oh, THAT wasn't too hard. My elder brother's working at the 1st years' registration desk down in the hall..."
"Ah... uhm... okay..."
I tried hard to shake off the bewildered expression my face must have shown and even managed a bright smile as we finally shook hands.
"So." Darryl suddenly asked. "Which one?"
"What...?" Man, there goes my puzzled look again!
"Oh... I meant the beds!" Darryl replied cheeringly. "Which one do you want, man? Left or right?"
Sigh... I decided to move into the right half of the room and only a few moments later threw my suitcase on my new bed as we began to chat about how our first term at Hoverton would be, about Mariah Carey's artificial body parts and, of course, about the Welcome Ceremony we were to attend in only 10 minutes time. After a little while, I came to the conclusion that my new roommate was not only cute but also absolutely cool to talk to. It was just then that I suddenly remembered the second suitcase which I had left outside the room. I quickly headed towards the door, opened it up and...
... my suitcase was gone!
The Ceremony was taking place in Hoverton's Great Hall which was tastefully styled up for this occasion with as many candles as definitely the last freak on earth couldn't possibly have counted in "Bram Stoker's Dracula".
All freshmen and teachers had gathered to listen to the sound of Hoverton Chamber Orchestra and, of course, the neverending, monotone welcome speech of the college's headmaster, Mr. Drabmore, a man in his early fourties with deep black hair and some sort of thirties style dinner jacket. Every now and then, the crowd was cheering or clapping their hands to what Mr. Drabmore said, but myself, I was too concerned about the sudden disappearence of my luggage to really pay attention to any of that. I only hoped that someone had just brought it to the housekeeper's office because it had been standing ownerless in the hall, and decided to drop by there first thing the next morning. After all, my favourite sweater and discman were inside the suitcase and, above all, I wasn't THAT keen on causing any more trouble than necessary on my very first day at Hoverton!
"Cool thing, isn't it?"
Darryl had come up from behind, enthousiastically pointing his finger at the large stone plate that was just being let down on a rope in the middle of the stage.
"So, what is it?" I replied with what even a fool with the best intentions couldn't possibly have taken for interest by mistake.
"Well, how does it look, dude?" Darryl asked me in his most teacherous way. "It's our new college seal!"
"Ah..." was all that I could think of in reply.
"Man, doesn't it make you feel like bein' part of something REALLY big?!?"
Darryl had turned into an unstoppable enthusiast about the new seal, so that I knew no better way to handle this than to have a closer look at it myself. The seal was made all out of stone and encarved at the top, there was a picture of the college headlined by it's name - HOVERTON - which was enclosed by two raven heads. I paused, thinking. Only this afternoon a TALKING raven had warned me about this whole place and now I realized that the raven was part of the official college seal. My instincts told me to make out some connection between these two facts, but, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't see one. But then, maybe it was just some strange coincidence! The REALLY strange thing about the new emblem were the "V"s!
Three of them! The first and biggest one displayed in the very center of the emblem more or less dividing it into three parts, while the other two, which were a lot smaller and more decent than the first one, were placed in both bottom corners. The orchestra was playing Mozart's "Little Night Music" as I questioningly turned to Darryl again.
"What's the "V"s for?" I asked out loudly.
In only an instant, but already too late, I realized that asking this kind of question had obviously been a bad mistake. The music stopped immediately and all the people in the great hall were holding their breath, staring at me with the highest amount of disbelieve that I had ever seen.
"He doesn't KNOW?" a girl from the other side of the hall stunningly asked the boy next to her.
From the corner of my eye, I could see Darryl's older brother slowly shaking his head as Mr. Drabmore stepped out into the tense and static atmosphere.
"Well, Ladies! Gentlemen!" he started in the disapproving tone of a caring father. "Of COURSE Mr. Malloy doesn't know! Or do you, Justin?"
Drabmore was looking right into my stunned face, and although the situation had eased up a bit, I was still suffering from overwhelming uneasiness.
"No Sir, I don't." I quickly answered, earning a bright, knowing smile.
"I ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen!" Drabmore suddenly turned to the crowd again. "What should be so wrong about a student admitting that he doesn't know something? After all, WE are here to teach him! THAT'S Hoverton College!"
With those words he had finally broken the ice. Each and everybody was cheerfully clapping their hands at Drabmore's pathetic statement, and the orchestra started to play Mozart again.
Having decided that my embarassement level for the first day at college had already poked clearly over the peak, I left the ceremony about five minutes after that "V-thing", how I prefered to call it from that moment on.
I dropped into bed almost instantly after I had undressed, only having a few seconds time to think about why STILL nobody had told me what the "V"s in the seal were for. And then I fell asleep....
... I didn't know where I was as all I could see, or should I say NOT see, was some sort of black nothing surrounding me. It was almost some kind of 70s science fiction black-hole-nothing which wasn't at all calm and quiet but, on the contrairy, hectically swirling around itself. I pinched my eyes, hoping to somehow find Danny between those shades of nothing.
"DANNY!" I shouted. "Danny, are you there? DAAANNNNNNNNNYYYYYYYY!"
A cloud of greyish mist appeared right before my eyes, forming Danny's face in what looked like a fierce struggle.
"Help me, Justin!" Danny's voice echoed to my ears from seemingly far away. "Please... Justin..."
"But how?" I asked. "How can I help you when I don't even know what's wrong?!"
I felt so helpless that I almost had to force myself to breathe frequently at the sight of my boyfrind's face, struggling himself to tears against some kind of hidden enemy from somewhere inside the nothing.
"YOU are wrong, Justin! It's YOU!" Danny seemed to be really crying now as little tear shaped flakes fell from the foggy image of his beautiful face.
"It's ME?!? What about me? What is it?!?" I didn't understand. What was he talking about? I was wrong? Why me? Had I done something wrong?
"Please, Justin, DON'T listen to THEM! Keep away from THEM"
Suddenly a strong and loudly whirling storm came up, tearing at my eyes and clothes and ripping apart the clouds of Danny's face into shapes of fear and desperation.
"WELL, THEN WHO ARE THEY, DANNY? WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT??? TELL ME!!!" I amost screamed through the amost unbearable noise.
But before he could answere my question, thare was loud thunder, a big blue lightning stroke right before my face - and it all was gone... even Danny had disappeared.
Sadly, I realized that there was no sound at all to be heard anymore, except for my own exhausted breath. What had happened here? And, most of all, where and WHY had Danny gone?
"Please tell me, Danny. Who are THEY?" I sobbingly whispered to myself, not expecting Danny to still hear me, so that I was, again, both surprised and shocked as I heard his voice answering loud and clear from deep down inside of my own head.
>Do you REALLY wanna know that, Justin?! Do you REALLY???<
"Yes, Danny, I do. Who are THEY?"
There was a pause of several long, pregnant seconds before Danny's voice filled my head, each single little organ with words that hurt deeper than I could ever have felt.
>Justin... THEY - are those who will make you kill me!<....
..... >KILL ME!<
Outside Justin's and Darryl's bedroom, deep in the nighty shadows, one single raven took his flight over black trees, black clouds and the huge black college building. He was afraid. Afraid and worried. Much more than any human being could ever understand. And after all, there weren't so many of them left these days, anyway.