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Clara's Diary - A Paranormal Romance
Author's note: I wanted to write a realistic story about a feisty teenage girl and what she would do if she found out the world we live in really does contain vampires and werewolves and other demons.
Most people are going to think I’m crazy. I mean, you never really notice these things, until you see them that first time. With your own eyes. And then the world that you thought you knew becomes this whole new world. You know?
Anyway, it happened last week. I was hanging out with a friend after school. We were just window shopping in Oxford Street… And I saw this guy. He was really hot. He was all tall and lean and sort of glowy. There was something about him. He walked so gracefully; all prowly and moody, like a tiger or a jaguar or something. Really sexy. He looked like he should be a movie star or a model or an athlete or something.
He’s buying some waffles from a vendor and talking to some brunette, and then he looks up and sees me looking. His eyes electrify me on the spot and I can’t look away. They’re clear and blue and mesmerising. I get this huge buzz and felt my face getting all hot.
But it’s kinda embarrassing that he caught me staring, so I look away. My eyes want to slide back towards him but I’m worried he’ll see me looking. It’s not often that I see a guy who is that hot. I turn away from him, and start looking at his reflection in a shop window to not make it too obvious that I was still staring at him. But in the window, his reflection is talking to nothing. Which I don’t realise until I see him take a large plastic cup from the waffle vendor and hand it into thin air. And the cup floats in the air for a second then it’s just gone. It surprises the hell out of me.
I look over my shoulder and see him still talking to the brunette. She takes a sip of the drink he just gave her, grimaces in distaste, and glares when he laughs at her expression. He can’t be much older than sixteen, and she looks older than him, in her early-twenties maybe. She’s got shiny mahogany hair, great skin, and is gorgeous (damn her!) I look back in the window and she’s not there. I can’t see her reflection. I see him still talking to nothing, to thin air.
I think it’s a trick of the light or something. It’s winter here in England so it’s already dark outside even though it’s not even six pm yet. All the store windows are lit up brightly except this one window I’m looking at, which is dark cuz the store is closed down, so I can see reflections in the glass. I see his reflection waiting for waffles but I can’t see her.
I peep over my shoulder again. He’s still talking to the brunette. When I look in the window again, she’s not there; I see me, blond and tall and – sadly – more high-street than designer; I him, still hot and electric-eyed; the waffle vendor handing him a little paper tray of waffles and ice cream; a bored guy behind them popping some gum; a bunch of kids from my school queuing for waffles behind them… Everyone is reflected in the glass except her. It freaks me out.
Just as I grab my friend to ask her about the reflections, the hot guy turns around and looks right into the window. His eyes meet mine and I feel a buzz, like an electric shock going down my body. And a tingle in my lips and fingertips and other places. My heart stops beating for a second.
I smile at him, nervously, hoping to God that he’ll come over and say hi. But his eyes snap away from mine, he says something to the brunette and they disappear into the crowd of shoppers.
I felt instantly lonely, like something awesome had just slipped out of my life and I didn’t know how to find it again. I wanted it back so badly.
After that I kept coming back to Oxford Street, to that waffle vendor, hoping to see him again. Let’s just say that was the first step to my life getting super complicated.
I sometimes wonder: if I had any idea what he was back then, would I have been so eager to find him again? And then I think, who am I kidding?
He’s no Guy-with-the-Electric-Eyes (the gorgeous guy I’d seen with Girl-With-No-Reflection) but he’s pretty special anyway.
It would be a while before I found out how special, but I’m jumping ahead of myself…
Life got busy after I met Caleb. I’d never liked a guy enough to date him more than a couple of times before. I’ll never never tell Caleb that the first time he kissed me, the Guy with the Electric Eyes popped into my head. Never. Caleb is here, and Mr Electric Eyes is not.
Caleb and I hung out nearly every day. So naturally I thought he’d be there on my birthday. Imagine my surprise when he said he couldn’t come. On My Birthday! I tried cajoling him but he wasn’t having any of it. He said we could celebrate afterwards, that he was sorry, that he would make it up to me, but he refused to explain what he was doing on that day.
It really annoyed me.
He said he couldn’t hang out for a week. A whole week! He goes to a different school from me so that meant I wouldn’t see him at all. It was so sudden that it made me suspicious.
Was he seeing another girl?
The first three days without him dragged by. It made me remember how lame things used to be before I met him, and how I used to wish that there was something more to life. I didn’t know it then but I would soon be reminded, very brutally, that there was something more to life.
I spend those first three days mooning around daydreaming about Caleb, I missed joking around with him, I missed mussing up his sleek brown hair, I missed the feel of his athletic body and strong arms when he hugged me. I realised, much as a hated to admit it, that I really really fancied him. And I was angry at him for disappearing on me.
My fifteenth birthday was a drag. Mum had arranged a party on the Saturday. I think she meant to cheer me up but she had invited all my friends from my old school and my old life. I could see them looking at our tiny new house in disbelief. Not only did it not have a reception room, or a pool, or a hot tub, but it was in grimy East London.
I was embarrassed.
The days of massive parties in our big house in South Kensington (think Notting Hill, but better) were all over since dad lost all his money in the credit crunch. And dad was too busy with his new girlfriend to come and see me even though it was my birthday. I had half hoped Caleb would turn up to surprise me, but he didn’t. It was awful.
The house was full of sloany-pony posh girls and boys, but only my new friend Nancy was speaking to me. Everyone else was clustered in their own cliquey circles, ignoring the supermarket-bought party platters mum had laid out, and whispering and giggling at each other.
“Ignore them,” Nancy whispered, giving me a sympathetic smile.
Nancy was a bit shy and quiet, the kind of girl I might have ignored in my old life. But she was kind, and had made an effort to be nice. Which was more than I could say about everybody else in my ratty new school.
Only twenty minutes into the party Alissa, who used to be my best friend in my old life, slammed her diet coke down onto the coffee table. “Kinda bored now people!” she said in really loud voice. “Who wants to hit Baroque?” Then she made an ‘oops I didn’t see you there’ face at me. “Sorry Clara,” she said, in an uber sweet voice. “It’s just that I can’t breathe in this tiny room, it’ll be much more comfortable there. You can come too?”
Baroque Bar is in West London, all the way across town, and way out of my budget. Which Alissa damn well knows.
“Thanks all the same Alissa,” I said, in the same uber sweet voice. “I’m sure you’ll all have fun at my own after-party without me.”
Alissa’s friends burst into giggles. Laughing at me, not with me.
Alissa slipped her hand through Sam’s arm – my Sam, the one guy I had almost boyfriended in my old life – and walked out the front door. Every single person, except Nancy, left with Alissa.
I slammed the door shut after them. No loss really. They had started to phase me out of their lives as soon as dad couldn’t afford to pay for private school anymore. But still, slamming that door felt like an official goodbye to my old life. I wanted to cry.
Nancy tried to cheer me up but it was no use. In the end she left. She turned up again the next afternoon to drag me out to see the new vampire movie. I was going to say no because Nancy’s lame boyfriend, Ben, was with her, and I didn’t want to be a third wheel. But then a thought popped into my head. What if Caleb was there?
You see, I had first met Caleb at the movies. Or, to be more precise, before the movies. Our favourite cinema is in the Trocadero in central London. There’s a Funland there where loads of kids hang out. And in the basement break dancers practice in gangs. That’s where I had met Caleb. He and his friends had been taking part in a dance war against some other guys. Caleb can really dance. I knew he liked me as soon as I saw him. He kept looking at me as he moved and spun and leapt. It was like he was performing just for me. I don’t know much about break dancing but his moves were so fluid and tight that I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
Maybe he would be there tonight, hanging out with his friends. Or hanging out with a girl. The thought made me mad. If he was with another girl then he could sod off. I might as well find out.
As it turned out, if we hadn’t gone to the movies that night, I might have never seen my Whole New World again.
Caleb wasn’t at the Trocadero. Nor were any of his friends. The place was almost abandoned. I was half disappointed and half relieved because him not being there is better than him being there with another girl.
I played it cool so Nancy wouldn’t know what I was thinking, and we went to see the movie. I love the vampire movies. They’re awesome. But I couldn’t concentrate. I kept wondering where he was, what he was doing. Seeing Nancy snuggling up to Ben made me feel worse. When it was over I decided to walk home.
Nancy shivered and put her arm around Ben. “It’s such a long walk. Are you sure you want to go by yourself?”
“It’s not that long. I’ll be fine.” I wrapped my scarf tightly round my neck, gave her a hug, and strode off.
I love long walks. Strolling around London after the sun sets is one of my favourite things to do with Caleb. London is more beautiful at night than in the day, especially along the river, on the South Bank. That’s where I headed. There’s a graffiti park there where all the skater kids hang out. Caleb sometimes hangs out there too. I know it’s paranoid and lame to be checking up on your boyfriend, but I couldn’t help myself. And anyway, Caleb knew I loved long walks so if I bumped into him it wouldn’t be a big deal.
Except Caleb wouldn’t be pleased that I was walking by myself. Ever since he had found out about my penchant for walks he had insisted on coming with me. In fact, he had specifically made me promise to not go walking by myself this week. It was kinda sweet of him I guess, but I’ve always been perfectly safe before. And I didn’t see why it should be any different just because my boyfriend was being overprotective.
Anyway, his motivations for asking me to stay in seemed a little suspicious now. So I strode along, with the wind whipping through my hair, feeling defiant. If he was having fun with his friends while I was miserable after my lame birthday…
The graffiti park was empty. I was deflated. I had psyched myself up to see Caleb, with or without some other girl. The empty park felt eerie without the skater kids. Where the hell were they? There was no one around, not even a passerby. It was unusually quiet. I could hear the wind whooshing under the bridge nearby, and the waves on the Thames lapping against the riverbanks. I looked over the embankment wall. The moonlight was bright. A big patch of the pebbly beach below was exposed by a low tide. I decided to go down there for a little wander. It would help me think. My head was buzzing, and I didn’t want to go home feeling this pent up frustration.
I found the nearest set of stairs, and carefully made my way down to the beach, almost slipping a couple of times because it was hard to see the slippery moss in the dark. When I got to the bottom I switched my ipod on, jammed the headphones into my ears, and watched the river for a bit. The glow of the city lights reflecting off the rippled surface of the water was beautiful. The moon was like a big round light bulb in the clear, blue-black sky. Usually it was so small, but tonight it was so large I could actually see shadows on its surface, as if there were continents on it. Eventually a patch of cloud slid over it like a curtain of gauze, and I looked away.
A huge dog with glowing red eyes was standing a few feet in front of me.
I stared at it. I yanked my headphone earbuds out of my ears. It was growling. Oh God! Its mouth was open and it was slavering; I could see sharp white teeth. I stared at those malevolent eyes and I couldn’t move. Run run run, my brain shouted but my feet wouldn’t obey.
Something came hurtling up behind me, and shoved me aside. I fell heavily, and cut my hands and on sharp, wet stones. I didn’t care. I heard a horrific keening, howling sound behind me. I scrabbled away from it on my hands and knees but the pebbles kept rolling way beneath me, making me slide back towards it.
Somebody put out a hand, and yanked me up. The hand was covered in a black leather glove. I glimpsed a guy’s face framed with wavy black hair. He didn’t look much older than me. He was fully dressed in black. He held my hand tightly and ran, pulling me after him. I could hear thuds and thwacks and howls behind us. The sound of fighting.
He stopped when we got to the embankment wall. “Run,” he said urgently, and left me there.
I could hear him running back towards the fight but I was too scared to look behind me. I half ran, half stumbled over the pebbly beach, following the wall all the way to the stairs. I slipped and fell several times on the way up, scraping my knees, and sobbing. I half expected a crowd of onlookers at the top of the embankment wall – there always are when something happens in London – but there was nobody there. I was alone. Hadn’t anyone heard that howling?
Once I was at the top, with the thick stone wall between me and the beach, and under the glow of streetlamps once more, I finally felt safe enough to look back. I saw three shadowy figures on the beach below. One was smaller than the other two. It was the boy who had helped me. All three were fighting with a massive dog. Slashing at it with swords. That’s right: swords.
The creature was massive, bigger than I had thought, and taller than the men. But it wasn’t a dog.
The word beast seemed more fitting. Not all of it was covered in fur. And it looked kinda human. Like a cross between a massive dog and a ginormous, muscly, man-beast.
Its movement was so fast that its head and paws seemed to be everywhere at once. I suddenly didn’t feel so safe. If it ran from the men, it could get to where I was standing within a few seconds. I knew I should move, but I was too mesmerised by the fight to leave.
Impossibly, the men seemed to move as fast as the beast. Their movements were graceful. They worked in coordination like a well practiced team. Two of them slashed at the beast with the swords to draw its attention while the other guy leapt at it from behind and jabbed it with something. There was a quick flash of blue electric light. The beast howled and turned, snapping viciously at the guy behind it. The guy retreated rapidly, jabbing at it with the thing in his hand, causing more flashes of blue light.
Suddenly the beast jerked backwards. The two other men had thrown some sort of net over it, and were trying to contain the beast which was rolling and writhing madly. The net held, but I was worried for the men; especially for the boy who had helped me. The thing was still snapping around inside the net, how were they going to get it under control? What were they going to do with it?
Then a freaky thing happened soon afterwards. All of this was freaky to me, but it was nothing compared to what happened next.
The net snapped. I heard it. A metallic twang that rang loudly in the air. First one twang, and then several more. I saw the guy nearest to the beast try to leap back, but the beast already had him. It leapt on top of him, its body covered the man entirely. I heard this horrible scream cut short. I am sure I would have seen a spray of blood if the night hadn’t washed away all colour and detail from my vision.
Then there were two gun shots; they rang out clearly in the silent night. The beast stopped moving. And it shrank.
Yes, it shrank.
It shrank until it was not much larger than the guy it was lying on top of. The other two guys pulled out the third man from under the beast. I was relieved to see he was still moving. He stumbled but was able to stand on his own two feet. Then he sat down on the beach, holding his (bleeding?) shoulder, with his head bowed. Like he was more upset than injured.
The other two guys said something to him, and then picked up the beast. I saw its silhouette as they carried it. Except it wasn’t a beast anymore. It was a man.
They carried it up the stairs, and put it into the back of a black van that I hadn’t noticed before.
I strode up to them. I felt wobbly and breathless but I wanted answers.
They slammed the back doors of the van shut as I got there.
I walked up to the young guy who had helped me. “What was that?” I said. “It was a giant dog-thing! And it turned into a man!”
The young guy held up his hands helplessly. He looked like he didn’t know what to say. He looked at me, and then looked at his companion, who looked like he was in his late twenties.
The older man moved to the front of the van and took out a pad and pen. “You’re confused miss. It was a feral dog.” His face was expressionless.
I turned back to the younger guy. “I’m not confused. I saw you fight with a huge dog thing. It was a beast. It turned into a man after you shot it. I saw you carry a man’s body and put it in that van.”
The older man uncapped his pen. “You have been disorientated by the incident. You are obviously in shock. We need your details to file a police report. What’s your name and address?”
I tried arguing my point, and insisted on seeing the body. But the older man wasn’t having any of it. In the end I gave up and just gave them my details. They even insisted on checking my student card as if they thought I was lying.
A black car pulled up behind the van. The third guy came up from the beach. His shoulder was bloody, his eyes were glassy, and he didn’t say a word as he got into the black car.
Even the driver of the car was dressed all in black. Who the hell were these people? Why hadn’t they called an ambulance for the injured guy?
Finally a police car arrived, and the police drove me home. I told them what I had seen. The hefty policeman scoffed, and shot an amused look to the skinny policewoman driver. “You’re not on drugs are you little lady?” he said, and went back to munching his crisps. It made me fume.
I know all of this happened in the darkness. I know that the shores of the Thames aren’t as well lit as the roads and pavements above. But there was still enough light there, both from the street lamps above, and from that big bright full moon for me to be certain of what I saw. It’s true no matter how much anyone scoffs.
I saw a werewolf.