By Stash - firstname.lastname@example.org
"Once the time has come,
there will be no escape from your destiny!"
(The Green Book Of Fear)
The first rays of the morning sun were already shining brightly through my 6th floor window as I woke up the next day. Actually, I didn't feel much like heaving had any sleep at all, and my eyes refused to open to whatever there might be for them to see.
Man, that must have been SOME nightmare, keeping me off rest all night long! There were still shady images of Danny's face and voice whirling around my weary head, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't remember at least one damn detail. Not that it troubled me to have forgotten about some dream I'd had - which was something I experienced all the time, actually - but normally, I never forgot ANYthing that had to do with Danny. I had very often registered this fact as something weird about my own mind. No matter what there might have been, be it a new haircut or just some non-sense words Danny had just mumbled in his sleep... I had ALWAYS remembered every single fragment of it. Always. Until now.
"WATCH OUT!" I heard someone scream, suddenly. "THEY'RE COMIN' TER GET YA!!!"
There wasn't even enough time for me to open my eyes before a whole load of cold water suddenly hit my face. DAMN, that was COLD! Well, whoever that was, he was DEFINITELY not funny! Cold water. THAT early in the morning! Uagh! My eyes automatically sprung open to directly face Darryl's boyish grin, who was quite obviously having fun torturing me the way he just did. The only response I was awake enought to come up with, was to give him the most disapproving and enerved look my "before"-face was able to show at 7:30 am.
"Back off, Darryl!" I grunted with a rude undertone.
"Back off?" Darryl's smile was brightening even more at that response, and he slightly giggled at it. How enerving could one be? "Must be kidding, man! Classes start in almost an hour! Don't you want some breakfast?"
The meaning of the word "breakfast" hadn't really found it's way to my mind, as I already realized my clothes being tossed in my very direction.
"Oh, man." I kind of whined. "Won't you please let me sleep for ten more minutes? Please?"
Actually, I would have expected Darryl to joke around at this comment once again, but to my surprise, his face was suddenly showing a somehow serious expression instead, almost even caring in a strange way, as he sat down on the bed next to me and slowly reached out his hand to softly touch my cheek.
"I would, Justin." he almost whispered, his voice sounding cautious and attentive. "Belive me, I would."
Oh man, my whole body shrugged in surprise about Darryl's hand on my face. And even more about how good and somehow familiar it felt. So damn good! It was only then I realized that I had instinctively close my eyes, and when they opened again, I found Darryl's handsome face only very few inches away from my own. I could not only feel his touch, but also smell his warm and minty breath, warming my lips and chin. It was a moment of most surprising intimacy when his eyes finally met mine, and I almost felt like I could possibly drown in my roommate's big, hazel brown eyes, whose fingers slowly ran through my hair now. So soft. So smooth. It almost felt like just a breeze of air caressing my head. Hazel brown. This colour. It was intense. Unbelievably intense. Deep down inside, I asked myself, if I had ever really known the silent beauty of that colour until I had seen it in Darryl's eyes.
"Now, maybe we should..." I whispered, too.
"Yeah. Right, man!" Darryl shouted enthusiastically, backing away and jumping up to his feet in a flash. "Let's go! I'm STARVING!"
And by this, he took his jacket, rushed out of the door and let it slam shut behind him, leaving me alone and confused. Now, what was I supposed to make out of THAT? Had he just played one more of his 'little jokes' on me? Had he? Or, which I guessed would be even worse, was he serious after all? Could it really be that Daryll - beautiful, wild, cool and (I had to admit that one to myself) even kind of sexy Darryl - liked me? I mean... uhm... really liked me THAT much?
I still could feel the touch of his hand, not only on my cheek, but shivering all through my whole body. And, furthermore, the sound of his calm, even erotic voice still lingered relentlessly through my bones.
But then, on the other hand, there was Danny. Sweet, lovely, angel-like Danny. Waves of guilt suddenly splashed the shores of my mind. Was I betraying him by letting Darryl touch me like this? Or maybe by the way my body and mind were reacting to it? I really loved Danny, GOD knew I did, and the last thing I intended to do was disappoint him or even run things with any other guy behind his back. Danny was SO lovely. SO cute. And, what was worth even more than ANYthing else - he was all I wanted. Ever. Well then... looks like you finally got everything worked out all right again, Justin! DANNY's you boyfriend. Not Darryl. Not anyone else. Just Danny. Forever.
The great Hall was filled with hundrets of voices, chatting about the day, rushing by on their way to the library, laughing about silly jokes or just whatever there was to begin the first day of the term with. Best thing was that nobody seemed to pay much attention to me coming down the stairs, which meant that, obviously, the "V-thing" hadn't left as much of an impression as I had already feared when I left my room that morning.
"Hey Justin!" a girl with long, curled brown hair said with abright and honest looking smile. "Great to see you! How's it going?"
I must have looked some kind of puzzled as she instantly blushed and bit her lower lip.
"Sorry, Justin, maybe I should... uhm..." She more than obviously lost it there, and it took her several - to me quite amusing - seconds to get herself back into place again.
"Hi!" she tried again. "I'm Tiff... uhm... Tiffany, I mean... uhm... Tiffany Sanders. But... uhm... just call me Tiff. 'K?"
I just couldn't help but smile myself, now.
"Hi... uuuuhhhm..." I started to imitate her obvious confusion with the most boyish smile I had to show. "Name's Justin... uuuuhhhm... Justin Malloy... uuuuhhhm..."
For a brief moment, she looked at me as though she would just slap my face and turn her back at my nastiness, but when she realized my innocent grin, we both burst into laughter at the very same time.
"Wanna go have some breakfast?" she finally asked me, still giggling, actually.
We walked to the dining room together, talking about our High Schools, our families and all the stuff you just talk about when you meet someone new. Well, it sure looked as if it wasn't THAT hard to make friends at Hoverton.
The first classes went by in absolutely no time. In fact, I really enjoyed getting kind of familiar with all those new faces around me. It really is like people say - you easily get into contact when everybody is new where you are. We were handed out our schedules, received our books for the first term... and that already was about it! Mrs. Goyle, our Maths teacher, proudly announced that, during the first week at Hoverton, there would not be any of the teaching stuff at all. We were just supposed to get to know each other in order to "develop a certain kind of group feeling", as she put it.
Actually, Tiff and me had already figured out that one for ourselves. She was really great to talk to, and we spent most of the morning together, enthusiastically making fun of each and everything around us. I guess, there was no way that we could have been the first students to detect a certain similarity between Mrs. Goyle and her obviously very close relatives - the Gar-Goyles - , but that did definitely not spoil our excitement about it.
It was at lunchbreak, though, that my body showed first signs of dumbness. A much too short night full of nightmares and uneasily rolling from side to side was claiming its tribute, but I bravely managed to stay awake... well, sort of, at least!
"HEY JUS! WANT SOME WATER???"
Someone was shouting right into my ear, making me burst out of my soft slumber in an instant, and I didn't even have to open my eyes to know who had approached from behind.
"Hi Darryl!" I answered without the politeness of turning around to face him, my voice sounding enerved and bored by this weak repitition of his good-morning-joke. "Tiff, this is Darryl. My roommate. Darryl - Tiffany."
"Hey there, lady!" Darryl replied with a sweet smirk, wickedly lifting his right brow. "Like to get some..."
"DARRYL!" I nearly barked. I just couldn't believe him trying his 'bedroom talk' at Tiff, whom he had just met for the first time.
"... DESERT!" he said, innocently raising his hands to show, that he definitely hadn't thought of anything fishy. Needless to say, that the wildly amused glance in his eyes spoke a completely different language...
It was only then that I realized, that his look, that deeply tempting and in a way even promising look, was not addressed to Tiffany at all. He was trying ME, testing out MY reactions to what he said and did! I slightly blushed as I remembered our strange encounter earlier that morning and nervously tried to press my body back into my chair as he quickly bent over to playfully kiss my cheek.
"See you, Jus!" he halfly whispered.
And by this, he went off without paying any further attention to both Tiffany and my confusion.
"Well... enter Darryl!" I gave Tiffany an uncertain and obviously not very convincing smile.
"What a jerk!" she said.
"No, he's not!" I quickly replied. "Guess, he's okay."
The mere possibility of any human being to not instantly fall for Darryl's ambiguous, boyish charm hadn't even entered my mind.
"Don't know..." Tiffany pinched her eyes to give me that certain, disapproving look that only women know how to cast. "Your roommate's kind of... scary!"
I turned my head and looked out of the cantine window, where I saw the raven, cautiously watching me with an almost human expression of deep concern on his bird face. And I yould have SWORN that, only for a second, the bright sunlight reflected in a single tear that silently fell from his black eye. Merely this, and nothing more.
The rest of our first day went by quite fast. After lunch, there had been some of those stupid "get-to-know-each-other" rounds in the big common room, which we pretty soon found out to be called "library" most of the time. Not that getting to know the others was getting us bored or anything, but Tiff and me preferred taking down our own personal pictures of our fellow students by inventing new (and most amusing) "knock, knock" jokes.
(Me: Knock, knock!
Tiff: Who's there?
Tiff: Neil who?
Me: Well, kneel down and suck it, baby!)
Finally, at about 10 pm, I was more than glad to be climbing up the heavy wooden stairs up to the 6th floor of the right wing building to go to bed. The dimly glowing lamps at the ceilling, which was much too high above for this kind of stairway anyway, filled the air with the gloomy touch of pathetic and highly exaggerated "I-know-you're-next" movie scenes, and in this atmosphere, the faces at all those large paintings didn't look quite as "cool" to me as they had the other day. In fact, those depicted people, they were almost looking like some kind of... rulers. Yeah, right, fierce but nevertheless cautious rulers over Hoverton College, who were watching each and every single movement taken in their own private kingdom. The staircase. The only way in... and, of course, the only way OUT of the building, too. No elevator. No fire escape. Just the staircase they guarded with all the power and determination that dead men could possibly come up with.
"IT'S THEM, JUSTIN! IT'S THEM!!!"
My head swung up in an instant as I heard the hectically yelling sound of a voice which was just too familiar to me. Was I dreaming again? One more of those surreal and most scary nightmares? I pinched the back of my left hand as hard as I could, but the sudden pain left no doubt that I definitely was awake. Could that really be... no, that was just impossible! 'Now, get a grip, Justin, will ya?! You definitely KNOW that it just CAN'T be Danny! He's not here, remember?! Here. Hoverton! NOT home!'
But yet, as I raised my eyes, there he was. My sweet, beloved Danny, looking down at me from about two floors above. His longish blond hair was beautifully dangling around that cute boyish face of his, which I realised was showing deep lines of fear. His whole face was covered with sweat, and from what I could tell, he must have run like hell, as he was still heavily breathing.
"HELP ME, JUSTIN!" he cried, exhaustedly. "PLEASE HELP ME!"
"DANNY!" My own voice was hardly more than a loud and confused squeak to the accoustic of the wide staircase. "WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?"
Tears were falling from his eyes, and although he was at least 20 steps away from me, I could clearly see that his whole body was wildly shaking with fear.
"THEY'RE AFTER ME, JUSTIN! PLEASE DO SOMETHING!"
And then, everything went much too fast for me to react.
I heard the sound. That threatening, ever nearer coming sound of deep, heavy blows. The breathtaking noise of what must have been enormous, monstrous wings striking their way into our very direction. I heald my breath. Suddenly, the whole staircase lit up in a deep, purple glow, and it took me several seconds to locate its derivation. THE PICTURES! All the paintings were set aglow in this cold, ghoulish light, getting brighter and brighter with the ever nearer coming sound.
Soon, it was already loud (and close) enoug to make the heavy wooden stairs tremble under my feet.
Then suddenly, there was nothing but fire. Bright, purple fire that stung my eyes. With seemingly all the thunderous bolts of armageddon, the pictures exploded all at the same time, almost bursting out into a fierce firework of flames and lightning. For what must have been almost a full minute, my eyes were gleaming with shock, at first unable to realize all those flickering sparks that centered in the air right between me and my now almost whining boyfriend in one enormous fireball and finally reveilled the brightly shining figure of an overwhelmingly huge raven.
Finally, i managed to concentrate, managed to at least partly get hold of what was happening and where I was again. This whole spectacle of noise and fire was almost torn apart by Danny's desperate cries, which clenched my heart tight enough to rip it out and made my knees get weak.
"WHY DO YOU LET THEM DO THIS TO ME, JUSTIN? WHY DO YOU?!?"
Those words from his sweet lips, which I had kissed goodbye only yesterday, stabbed my already thunderously beating heart like a dagger. What the hell was he talking about? Did he REALLY think that whatever had happened to him or whoever was after him right now had something to do with me?!? I SO very much wanted to to ask him, wanted to cry out with all my might how much I loved him and that I would never let anything bad get even close to him, when, with a sudden scream of panic, he backed away from the staircase and my eyes lost him. The next thing I heard was the door to the 8th floor dormitories slam shut.
My legs were shaking like crazy as I hurried, no, panically jumped up the wooden panels of the stairs. I hardly even realised flames aruond the big, shiny raven fiercely increasing their brightness, before the frightening figure itself quickly streched in the air and, the next second, shot straight into the direction Danny had disappeared, brutally ripping the heavy ebony door out of its angles.
"DAAANNNNNYYYY!!!" I yelled, supposingly loud enough to make every single student in this whole building burst out of sleep.
I took the last three steps to the 8zh floor with one nervous jump and quickly ran through where a door had seperated the staircase from the dormitories only one moment ago. Small, purple flames were still hissing up and down the wooden door frame, but that was about the last thing that troubled me as I finally came to a sudden stunned stop in the middle of the hallway.
At first, I saw nothing but flames. Strong glowing, purple flames everywhere, creeping up the walls, the doors and even the ceilling, but, strange as it seemed, they didn't really seem to burn. I mean, sure, they were covering every single inch of the hallway, but after all, they didn't... well... DESTROY anything. It took me several seconds of fascinatedly staring down the corridor, until I realised the widely opened window at the very end of it, and waves of cold fear and desperation clenched my throat so tight, that I could hardly breathe anymore.
He was standing on the ledge, ready to jump down into the black night, and his hands shakily clinged to both sides of the window frame as he slowly turned his head in my direction.
"It's... too late... Justin!" he sobbed weakly. "...too late!"
"I LOVE YOU, DANNY!" I was now out of my mind. "DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE!"
"I love you, too, Justin." he almost whispered. "Forever."
And as he slowly torned around to face the night again, the flames crept up his and legs, quickly taking over his whole figure to set him aglow until he almost shone like a phoenix being reborn. My final cry echoed from the purplishly flickering corridor as he slowly spread his arms widely like wings before his feet left the safe ground of the ledge. And as he fell, I felt a dumb, black storm fiercely taking over both my body and soul, making my knees give in and, finally, defeating me the moment that I hit the floor.
"Fuck!" he said unbelievingly. "Heís dead, Jus. Drop dead!"
I wildly nodded my head yes, still forcefully crying and shaking with shock. Danny was dead! He had jumped out of that 8th floor windows about half an hour ago, all scared and petrified of some strange enemy who was after him.
Me, I had been unconscious for about 5 minutes or so, and when I had woken up, the corridor had looked just like it always did. No fire. No strangely flickering light. Just nothing more than a simple hallway with dormitory doors to both sides.
Thank God, I had still been clear enough to wake up Darryl and ask for his help. At first, he had only tried to calm me down, but when I had finished telling him what had happened, he had fumbled out his pocket lamp as fast as he could and joined me to the great park, that lay outside the corridor windows, Actually, it had hardly taken us one single minute to find Dannyís dead body lying there, surrounded by the roses he had fallen on.
Even now, in this position, he still looked absolutely beautiful in his tight blue jeans and black shirt, and, strange as it seemed, there was not one single visible evidence for his deep and deadly fall. In fact, even at second sight, the smooth and silky skin of his face showed nothing more than some small scratches.
"Now, just lemme get this straight for once." Darryl obviously still didnít understand what had happened. But then, neither did I. ďWho the fuck is this guy anyway, Jus?!"
"Itís D-Danny... m-my.... my... b-boyfriend..." It took me all the strength I could gather to even speak.
"Sure." Darryl replied, sounding almost as confused as I felt myself. "But... uhm... well, what does he do here, at Hoverton?"
"I already told you, I DONíT KNOW!" All my shock and grif had creepily turned to fierce anger, which was now uncontrollably forcing its way outside.
"Hey Jus!" Darryl tried to calm me down. "I..."
But I didnít care.
"All I know is, that heís my boyfriend, and that I love him more than anything else, Darryl! He was just... THERE, you know. Running away from... from... somebody... or some THING... and then, he stood on that ledge, and... and..."
I got caught up in tears again, and Darryl took me in his arms, softly padding the back of my head in silent comfort and understanding. With all my might, I clinged to his slim but strong body, unable to stop both my tears and this unspeakable pain deep inside my chest.
Finally, after what must have been at least 15 minutes, Darryl loosened his hold on me and looked me deep in the eyes, his face as serious as I had never believed it could be.
"Justin, you have to be strong now. You understand?"
I sobbingly nodded my head yes.
"Iím gonna ask you something really important now." he continued, his voice hardly more than a slight whisper, "and you definitely HAVE to be sure about your answere!"
"Uh-huh..." I mumbled, nodding again.
He took a deep breath, obviously trying to find the right words for what he wanted to ask me and then, there were several seconds of complete silence, before he cautiously took my face in his hands and slowly raised his eyes to meet mine.
"Justin," he asked, "do you want your boyfriend back?"
My eyes widened with both surprise and disbelief, and I instinctively backed away from my roommate. Hundrets of thoughts started whirling through my head, always accompanied by Tiffís words: ĎHeís kind of... scary!í
"But Darryl, you..."
"NO, Justin!" he answered, calm but nevertheless with enough determination to make me freeze. "DO you want him back? YES - or NO?!?"
"Yes." I slowly whispered, defeatedly giving up the fight against those voices inside my head. "I DO want him back."
Darryl let out a deep sigh, and it seemed to me, that the seriousness on his face even increased.
"Okay." He said. "Now listen... just go upstairs and get some sleep!"
"But... what about Danny?!"
"Leave him to me, Justin! Iíll take care of everything. Promise!"
I donít know why, but suddenly, I had the very strong feeling, that Darryl knew exactly what he was talking about. Well, maybe it was just because I so very badly WANTED to believe that he could give me back my boyfriend somehow. But anyway, something about all this scared me to death, and a cold shiver was running up and down my spine as I helplessly turned to go.
"Thereís just one more thing." Darryl said, grabbing my arm to hold me back.
"What is it?" I whispered.
"You mustnít tell ANYone about what has happened today! Not a single soul, you hear me?!"
"Yeah, right." I answered, nodding once more. "I Promise!"
"Okay then, Justin." He replied with what I took for slight signs of relief in his voice. "Now go! But, no matter what you might hear or how curious you might get... Do not, under absolutely NO circumstances, turn around until youíve closed the door behind you!"
I slowly went through the grass of the park, my whole body feeling much too dumb abd exhausted to even take notice of the darkness around me, and I had almost reached the side door of the building when, all of the sudden, I heard a deep and fierce growl sounding through the night from somewhere way behind me. Followed by what almost sounded like breaking bones and human flesh being ripped apart, it instantly had my heart beating so fast that I almost couldnít stand it anymore. All that I heard slowly took over my every thoughts until my head was completely caught up in an all upwinding storm of curiousity, fear and pure panic, which made me speed up and finally run towards the safety of the door, madly pressing both hands on my ears while I still felt the bitter stream of my own tears wetting my face.
ĎOH GOD, DANNY, WHAT HAVE I DONE?????í