On The Edge
The debut novel by J E Grayson
“What is your own life worth? Is it worth the end of others? And will it always be that way?” J E Grayson
I was stuck in between two feelings, scared and repulsed. Shocking ripples of disgust moved through me, so strong that I felt like I would throw up but my whole body was paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t move. I knew that I should run but I couldn’t look away from the scene beneath me. Couldn’t look away from the blood spreading on the floor – I was vaguely aware that somewhere in the back of my mind I was wondering how a person could hold that much blood couldn’t look away from the mount of lifeless bodies that seemed to grow as I watched. At that moment one of the creatures that were attacking looked up. I couldn’t see his face thanks to the light but he could see me clearly. Acting on instinct I ran back through the broken doors and into the narrow, twisting corridors. I was deluding myself that the creature would not follow when - just in time to rip up any shreds of hope I'd had - a cool rush of air swept over my head and it landed in front of me snarling wordlessly. I was surprised to see that where I had imagined a monsters face I saw a human face. I looked closer ignoring the instincts that told me to run as I knew I would die so I might as well get a good look, might as well know as much as possible about how I was going to go. The face was human. But only because I really couldn't think of a better description or anything else that it looked closer to; the mouth was more like the muzzle of a beast than the lips of a man and the eyes were wild with desire to kill. It lunged forward with its mouth open ready to kill me and I did the only thing that came naturally, I fought back. It was almost impossible to tackle this animalistic strength bearing down on me. Almost. I was going to die right there and then so I decided to do anything that might work. I kicked just one well aimed blow thanking my lucky stars that it had been a man who had followed me. It doubled back glaring at me. "Clever" it wheezed, a rough scraping sound that sent shivers down my back. “but I have an assassin who will make you pay for that" I turned and ran not wanting to be confronted by another one of those creatures. I was running so fast that I barely heard the one order that it barked out to his assassin “Oscar! I don’t care what you do to her but just make sure it hurts!” I burst out of the doors into a narrow alley way behind the warehouse praying that this new monster was not all ready there. But he was. I stopped abruptly and waited for the death that now looked up at me from his dark eyes he didn't do as I had expected, as I had seen the others do before him, which was to inflict a bodily wound and let me die. He just stood there looking like he was making a difficult decision. That annoyed me. It shouldn't. But it did. If I was going to die for no good reason then I might as well die quickly. Or was I not worth that? Did I not deserve a quick and relatively painless death? Had I been such a bad person that this this boy was going to drag it out? I was almost insulted that I wasn't worth the time of the horrid creatures to come and
get me themselves and they would send a young human to come and do it. Put it like that and I shouldn't have been scared; an un-armed teen was hardly an uneven fight against me. But I was terrified of this boy. He was tall and buff but I wouldn't have put him at much older than me. 15, 16 maybe. I had punched the odd 15 year old who had tried it on with me, after I'd made it clear that I was 2 years their junior, but I didn't think I had it in me to punch this one. I realised that I wasn't afraid but something else wouldn't let me even contemplate hurting him. Not fear. Far from it, oddly it felt closer to love. That there made me think that I was insane. A normal person would have reached that conclusion at the mass murder or the incredible speed. My imagination was doing over-time. Was this a dream? A hallucination? It felt so real. But this next part I couldn't have dreamed up. He approached me and hesitantly put his arms around me."I’m sorry," he whispered in my ear. We stood there for a minute and my brain couldn't even produce a coherent thought with his arms around me."I should kill you, but I don't think I could" he said quietly. I didn't know how to respond. In the end I settled for a sobbed "I don't understand," "You probably don't want to," he said. "You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time." "And that’s a killable offense?"I wondered "At this place, at this time it is, yes" He replied. He pulled my face up to look at his."I'm so sorry," He repeated and those words rang in my ears as I knew they were the last that I would hear. I was strangely happy. I wondered why that was as I slipped away from life.
****** I almost felt sad as the familiar dream I had had almost every night since I was 13 faded. The dream so real that it was almost a memory. I sighed and got out of bed to get ready for school. I looked in the mirror and gasped as, just for moment, my face was blocked by someone else’s. No, not someone else’s. But mine as it was when I was 13; Short hair that seemed constantly messed up and that still slightly plump look that hadn't yet receded from childhood. I gawped at my face, now 15, for a while but then decided that it was stupid. Had I not just been dreaming that I was that age? It was just a left-over image from my dream. I peeped at my face just to make sure it was still 15 and was half-relived half-annoyed that it was just that long-haired adult-faced self peeping back through her hair. I got dressed and put the face in the back of my mind where it stayed with the dream. The dream so real it was almost a memory. A memory.
Chapter 1 Memory loss I walked into school that day with all thoughts about dreams and faces locked away in the back of my mind. I chatted to my friends as usual before lessons and trailed off to cooking and textiles for first lesson. "J could you do me a favour and go down to reception and pick up some leaflets for me?" Asked Ms. Dennis my teacher. God, why do teachers always pick on me? Do I have a big flashing sign above my head that says "responsible person who can actually be arsed to go to the reception"? "Of course miss," I said getting up reluctantly; I had had a very bad night last night and really wanted to just sit and doze whilst she taught a method of cooking that I could do at the age of 9. I walked out of the building not really paying much attention. There was a new art teacher coming in today whilst Miss. Hanning was on maternity leave, new teachers were always a fun target and you could generally spend the first few lessons just watching the poor thing being unfairly bombarded. Still it was more interesting than actually doing art. I picked up the leaflets that she had described and decided, as I was here anyway, to change my cooking and textiles lesson for something less...simple. I started to change my time table when the headmaster came in. "Just wait here a moment while I find someone to show you around," He was saying to someone. Ahh a new student. Lots of fun today then. "Good morning Mr. Green," I said not really wanting a conversation but manners cost you nothing. "Ah, good morning J. Not feeling like cooking anymore?" Not wanting to slag off my class I decided to give him some guff that he would lap up."Yes sir. It’s just that I didn't feel I was reaching my full potential in C&T" "Ah, well fair enough. Any Ideas as to what you want to do?" "Just deciding now sir" I turned back to the receptionist and got really annoyed when Mr. Green hadn't finished. "Actually J I'm rather glad you’re here," Fantastic another favour for a teacher. "We have a new student here today and I was wondering if you could show him around?" Well I'd walked into that one. Oh well one student tagging along won't be that annoying. "Of course not sir. Um hang on a second," I turned to the receptionist” could I do economics please?" "Yes there's a slot open on Wednesday afternoon," she said. Perfect, that had to be more interesting. “You can start next week," The student who had become my ward was standing up next to Mr. Green. "Hello," He said "My name is Oscar Duel," Shit He was taller now. More like a man then a teenager. But he was exactly the same in every other aspect. I stopped breathing for a moment and had to
remind myself to start again. My heart started beating so loudly that it was a drum booming in my ears. Don’t panic I thought to myself. It’s a coincidence. Yeah right. Just a coincidence that he looked the same? That his voice was the same voice that had spoken to me from my dreams for almost two years? I realised that it had been about a second since I should have said something. “Nice to meet you,” I said. Thank God I can act! “Are you new to the area?” “Relatively,” He replied. “We’ve had a house here for a few years but we just moved last week.” Oh God that voice. No matter how many times I heard it in my sleep it had always shocked me. So pleasant and gentle, yet it hinted at something else underneath. Darkness. Secrets. Not the same voice. I thought desperately to myself. Stop thinking of it as the guy in your dreams voice. “Oscar’s mother is the new art teacher here.” Mr. Green informed me. “Ah,” was all I could manage. My capacity for keeping a composed outside was running out. “I’ll excuse you from lessons this morning so that you can show him around.” “Thank you sir,” My voice was growing smaller; I couldn’t take this much longer, I needed some sort of reassurance that I wasn’t insane. I worked up all the strength that I had to act normal as I smiled at Oscar and gestured for him to follow me, after all I had this stinking reputation to uphold. Once we were outside breathing the cold, winter air seemed to help calm me and my imagination down. Yes, that was it, my imagination. Out here I could see that. Out here was a fast-track route to normality. How normal it was to show the new kid around. I must have been grinning at my reasoning because Oscar asked me if something was funny. I ignored him and started my tour. “So you’ve seen the reception and the outside of the school, let’s start with the P.E department. You into sports?” That would be safe. All boys in my year loved sports. “Yeah I guess, you?” “I HATE sports, I’m much more of an academic.” “Thank God, me too,” Despite my worries I looked at him curiously.
“I always say that I like sports so that people won’t think I’m weird,” He ended with a laugh so lovely it had me laughing too. “Well don’t think your normal just ‘cause you’re like me.” I joked. “Ah screw being normal,” He said. “Different is so much more… interesting,” “You’ll fit right in with my friends then,” I said. “We’re the biggest bunch misfits in Wales,” “You don’t get much weirder than me,” His smile vanished suddenly. “Trust me,” Ok, I doubted there was anything I could say to that so I drew the attention to the tennis courts. The tour around the school passed with a few small conversations, favourite subjects and such, laughing at the things we had in common. I was just about to take him back to get his time-table from reception when I slipped on the ice and Oscar reached down to catch me and when his arms caught me I remembered what my dreams had been trying to tell me for years. The bodies, the creatures they were all real. And I was still in the hands of one of them. I started to scream. He clasped his hand around my mouth I bit down hard. Hard enough to draw blood. But he didn’t let go; his face screwed up in a pained grimace. I realised that biting was doing no good so I stopped. “Look, I realise what you must think but please don’t scream, it’ll only attract unwanted attention,” He still had his arm locked around my waist but I didn’t struggle, despite everything I had just realised I had to admit that it felt kind of nice. “If I take my hand away will you scream again?” He asked looking unsure. I shook my head furiously. “Good,” He took his hand away as promised and helped me to my feet. “What’s going on?” I demanded. “Why were you there in that warehouse? What were they?” I worked hard to keep my voice from shattering the window panes. “Look, do you mind if we do this somewhere less public? My mother would probably let us use a free art room. All I could do was nod. He looked at me as if to question my stability; After all I had just agreed to walk into an empty room with a murderer. We walked in silence across the courtyard. My head felt light. I hardly heard Oscars rushed explanation to the women I took to be his mother. She was shorter than me
and him but she had an aura that said “I’m powerful but I won’t order you around as long as you do as I say”. She nodded looking distracted. Oscar led me into one of the high-ceilinged, dark rooms and closed the door behind him. “We can have about an hour here,” He mumbled, not meeting my eyes. I couldn’t speak, and anyway what would I say? I just moved my arms out from my sides and let them drop. I found my voice then so I added “What the hell?” Oscar half smiled and said “What the hell indeed,” I wasn’t sure if I could speak again but he saved me from trying.”Why don’t you tell me what you think?” “Umm… you were there that night,” He nodded and said “yes” “You’ve killed people?” “Yes,” “You are one of them,” He shook his head. “No, they’re what we call hunters. They kill excess amounts of people searching for the best taste.” “Taste!?” “For want of a better word. You see we, my kind, have a short life span,” I interrupted him “Your kind?” “I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not human.” “O.K. I’m waiting for the ‘December fools’.” “No jokes. I mean, you saw in the warehouse. That man with the muzzle? Did he look human?” “I guess not. Why are you telling me this? And what are you anyway?” I asked. “Ah… Do you mind if I answer your second question first? The other one’s kind of a sensistive subject.” “Sure, heaven forbid that I should feel awkward.” I said pleased that I could joke when on the inside I didn’t even know what feel. I was a cocktail of emotions; all scared and excited and anxous and… EVERYTHING. He smiled and I almost forgot all of those emotions for a heartbeat.
“We have a short life span and the only way to prolong it is to suck the energy of a human life out and use it as our own.We don’t really have a name on acount of never revealing ourselves to the human population. A few hundred years back we were known largely as ‘Demons’. But that was before the system.” “What system?” As he spoke we had sat down on desks facing opposite each other our legs only an inch apart. “This is coming on to your first question now. Every one hundred years a new generation of Demons emerge from the human ranks. A select number of powerful young teens turning Demon over the space of 15 years. The system stops these young ones from destroying themselves by electing a family to go and teach them the dos and don’ts of Demon secrecy.” “So your family is looking after this generation. A generation coming of age here. And you’re telling me this because…” I gulped. “Because I’m one of you?” “Yes, you see there’s always one new Demon who’s more powerful than the rest. The leader. My mother can see the leaders of all groups in the world. Their face, names and such. So imagine my surprise when she typed the name of the leader of the next generation into Google and your face came up.” I was on the verge of hyper ventilating. My sense of sanity was slipping away again. My fingers clawed at something, anything that was real. That had been real until my world had been tipped like a bucket and emptied replacing the plain waters of everyday life with the inky, poisonous mercury of the Demon world. The Demon world where nothing was certain and the only promise was uncertainty. Oscar was still talking but I couldn’t here him. Words were spilling around in the new murky depths of my brain. “Demon” “Energy” “Leader” “Powerful”. “Oscar.” I interrupted him. “Could you shut up a minute?” “Sorry.” He said and did as I said. A whole generation of life-sucking Demons. How many of my friends? Katie, Niamh, Athena, Sofia, How many? I was trying to cope with the swirling mercury but it wouldn’t be to long until I started to drown. I was meant to be a leader. What did that mean? Would I have to explain to my friends what we were? They would just laugh at me. What about my parents? What did sucking the energy out of a human mean? That last one I was sure I knew, after all I had seen it. I now understood that what Oscar had called “Hunters” had not just killed those people. They had sucked the life out of them. The souls. I was cut from that cloth. I was a monster. I could see no good in this. Not one shred of light could penetrate the thick poison that now surrounded me. I was drowning now. I broke down into tears and pulled my knees up to
my chest. I wanted to die. I didn’t want this. I wanted to crawl away into hell where surely I belonged. Oscar guessed what I was thinking. “But don’t you see? This is a good thing.” His voice sounded almost desperate. “When your Demon there are a thousand more colours. A million more experiences. A googolplex of emotions so strong that a human would collapse. I mean tell me that this,” he grabbed my face between his hands. “Isn’t amazing.” He didn’t need to explain. I felt it. Suddenly I was happier then I had ever been before. I was a thousand miles higher than anyone had ever travelled. This was better than any drug that I had tried. Better than any Friday night car chase with a dodgy boyfriend. I was on a new high; it was fast and constant. It was real. And then I wasn’t drowning. Oscar had pulled me out of the mercury and into the air. Air had never tasted better ever before. I realised that where I had seen no light there now was a blazing fire, so bright that it would blind me but Oscar wouldn’t let the flames burn me.
Chapter 2 Call of duty In the end we spent hours in the Art department, swapping rooms according to lessons and chatting endlessly. Our talk fluctuated between normal, Likes and hobbies, and abnormal, what I had to do as leader and weather I could still live with my mother. The first answer was this:As leader of my generation I would normally have to find the rest by tracing the damage left behind them but thanks to Oscar’s mother we could find them before they cause too much harm. In fact in theory we can find them before they even change. Taking the excess of the damage down to a minimal or even annihilating it all together. Because traditionally I would need to survive to save the others I wouldn’t change until later on when, in the past, I would have had a small army of young Demons to protect me. In short I would be about 19 before I stopped aging and needed to consume the lives of humans. Oscar’s parents were both Demon so he would age until 20 along with his sister Sophie who was at present 13. The differences between a “Generation Demon” and a “Born Demon” were small and few; The Born Demon’s brain would develop extremely quickly reaching that of an adults by about 5months whereas Generation Demons would develop faster than humans but don’t reach adult stage until about 7. Born would grasp hold of their powers quickly, Generation normally took longer (excluding the leader). Generation’s powers would be stronger than the average Born but the Duel family were all extremely powerful, possibly the strongest in the western world. They were powerful for these main reasons:Henry (Oscar’s father) was leader of his Generation but had broken off from them when he met Alisha (Oscar’s mother) leaving his Generation under the
watchful eye of Adrian (Oscar’s “Uncle”). Henry’s power is to know when danger was coming, where it was and who was behind it. Alisha was the only known child of two Hunters. Hunters searched the earth for the best life “tastes” killing Demons and humans, consuming animals to affect there hunting senses and appearance. They never cultivated friendships let alone relationships, making Alisha one of a kind. Her animal instincts were magnified and she could see almost every Demon in the world. Talented parents made for talented children. Sophie (Oscar’s sister) could see things through people’s perspective which sounded kind of lame but Oscar assured me that seeing things from people’s perspective often meant seeing things that she wasn’t meant to see; if another family planned an attack on the Duels and one of them didn’t want to, Sophie would see it. Oscar himself was sought after throughout the Demon world and had often been captured and made to use his powers for the captors purposes (Hence the warehouse). He could send you to sleep with just one look, extending that to the point where he put you in and take you out of a coma or paralyses at will. He could even kill with it. Oscar’s stay with the hunters and his heritage from his grandparents meant that he could pretty much tell what your power was by just sense. He told me that I could change my environment and the immediate atmosphere by my moods and feelings. If I got stressed things could smash. Things or people. I was going to have to master control fast. As for my mother, well whatever I was expecting I couldn’t stop a few tears from rolling down my cheeks. My mother would probably be the first person I killed. If I was in the house when I changed, she would die. If I was in town when I changed, that would only buy her a few minutes maximum. The parents of Generation Demons were part Demon so they would have a taste better than any humans. I would kill her and probably not think twice about it. I had been right, I was a monster. The fact that Oscar was there to dull the pain was helpful for now, but I knew that soon as I was alone I would collapse. I tried not to let it show through. I had only known Oscar a few short hours but the connection I felt with him was like nothing I had ever experienced; while we talked he had only to smile and I would forget that I had any problems let alone a Generation of them to add to my own. With Oscar it was hard to believe that anyone was human, how could a human look upon a face so perfect? Even now I could see imperfections in his face, a small scar in between his lips and nose but I could not convince myself that even that was not how his face should be. How everyone’s faces should be. What had happened to make me think that? I knew friends of my parents who married their high school sweet-hearts and said that it was “love at first sight” but I knew what that meant, he knocked her up and her father made them get married. Could I have been wrong? I had always had a coldhearted approach to the stereotype “love”. Oh I’d had boyfriends in the past but I’d never felt this way about anyone. This was not how my world worked when it came to love. It went like this: He asks me out, I agree, he takes me
out to a cinema/restaurant, I finally feel like this might just make me happy, he destroys my trust somehow, I move on almost instantaneously and ring Vicky, Vicky calls some hot bloke in college to give me a ride to school the next day and all the man I was “in love with” never gets a second glance from me. I had always just accepted that love was extinct if it ever existed. I didn’t just have that approach to love, I was famous for it. People joked that I pretty much ruled this town with and iron heart. How had this changed? How had I become worse than some love struck Juliet? This person that invaded my brain every time I saw him wasn’t me but I liked her. She was…happy. How had I not realised that I wasn’t happy? I had known Oscar for hours so why did it feel like we had known each other before? Like we had loved each other before? I was confused but definitely happy; I realised that this wasn’t a new person but me; how I should be I just needed Oscar here to keep me this way. I knew now that this man was my life here in front of me, a troubled past with a new, unimaginable future. The final bell went and Oscar smiled. “I’m sorry to have kept you for so long. I’m sure the headmaster won’t appreciate me keeping you from lessons,” He said ending my revelation. “Don’t worry, I’ll tell him someone locked us in a classroom for hours. He shot me a quizzical look.”Trust me in this school that story is quite believable. Students pick on new kids a lot.” “Thanks for the heads up.” “No problem, just don’t go ANYWHERE alone for about a week.” I warned him. “I’m sure you’ll look after me.” He said jokingly, as if he needed protection. Oscar stood up and offered me his hand so that he could help me up. I took it and let him pull me up; he kept my hand in his and pulled it up to his face to kiss it gently with a thoughtful look on his face. “Are you expected back home or do we have a while? It’s just there’s something I need to show you.” He asked me and my heart jumped at any opportunity to spend more time with him. “I was going to go over my friend Katie’s house to sleep tonight but she cancelled on me this morning so as far as my mothers concerned I have all night without trouble.” I told him annoyed that the speed of sound was so slow that I couldn’t say them faster. “All night? Well that’s good.” He said and my heart almost stopped. “Unfortunately this is stuff concerning your Generation but that won’t take all night.” I smiled at him and his answering smile made a bubble of new emotions rise up from me. I heard something smash in the corner and turned to see a vase of flowers that had suddenly grown to big for its container turning the vase into
shards on the floor. Oscar burst out laughing doubling over and I blushed a deep crimson. “Did I do that?” I asked shocked. “Yes, you must have been happy about something.” Oscar said between laughing. I scowled as he straightened up. “Oh come on! You have to admit that that was funny!” I tried very hard to keep the scowl on my face but with Oscar grinning at me I couldn’t. “Come on.” I said bowing my head so that he couldn’t see the ludicrous smile on my face. “We really need to go back to reception before they send out a search party.” We walked in an easier silence than before – after all I didn’t think that there was a high chance of my death this time – he held the door open for me and I thanked him. Mr Green was in his office when I found him. “Ah, J that took longer than I would have expected,” He said looking down almost nervously. I almost groaned; one other thing teachers always did to me was look down. Or at my breasts. Sometimes it was hard to tell which was more annoying. Suddenly I realised something; what if that was an effect of my power? Some teachers had commented about my “aura of menace/arrogance” but I had put it down to annoyance or perceptiveness, I was very arrogant, but now I thought that it could just be the atmosphere around me changing slightly. I dismissed the thought for now and concentrated on telling a believable story. “We got locked in an ICT suite when I took Oscar to sort out a school webmail address; we just got let out by some year seven kids that I don’t know.” That was good; I didn’t need an alibi thanks to the schools bad reputation. “Oh dear, well I’m sure you don’t need to go to every lesson. I mean, from what your teachers tell me you seem to know everything in the curriculum.” He said no doubt trying to flatter me into another favour. “I’m sure it’s down to the brilliant teaching standards in this school sir,” That was a blatant lie; the school did have some great teachers but the amount of disruptions in class meant that we covered about a terms work every year in each subject. “Right well if you could continue to show Oscar the ropes through out the week that would be good,” “Yes sir,” I was trying to get a feel of my power, it would be so useful to not do whatever mundane thing that Mr Green could think of. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful. “Um before you go J, I have a small favour?”
“Anything sir,” I said sighing internally. It would be so much easier to just be as rebellious as everyone else in the school and never get asked anything, but no I was the mature one. I always had been. When my mother and father fought it was me who sorted it out. Even when I was little. I didn’t to think about my childhood much because memories that I had worked so hard to push out of my mind always came swirling back, snatching at me with talons sharper than reality, I felt a memory slip through my well worn defences. I was so tired after everything that had happened today and I didn’t have the energy to stop it so I just let myself sink into the sharp claws. My father was drunk, screaming words at my mother that I didn’t understand. I was sitting in the corner, trying not to cry; if I cried then he would turn on me. I was only three but when daddy was drunk that didn’t matter to him, he would hit me if I cried about him hurting mummy so these days I stayed silent. I only spoke when spoken to, the perfect child. I crawled up the stairs hoping that out of sight would be out of mind. I tried to make it up to my room but I accidently stepped on the floorboard that was broken, daddy had promised mummy that he would fix it months ago, it let out a low whine. Daddy stopped shouting downstairs and started to stagger unevenly up the stairs. Coming to get me, I thought solemnly, coming to hurt me. He was at the top of the stairs now towering over me. He was the angry monster from everybody’s nightmares, the creature that lurks around the corner waiting for you to be on your own, defenceless to kill you. Mummy was downstairs, unconscious. I was alone, defenceless… I snapped back into reality almost visibly jerking with the effort it took me to bring the memory to an end. Mr Green hadn’t noticed anything. “You know the open evening tomorrow?” He said. It took me a moment to remember that he wanted something. “Erm yes.” I was vaguely aware that my teachers had been trying to calm down the worst miscreants with a new passion recently which could only mean one thing; a chance to show the school in a good light and get some well behaved students in for once. “Well I’m sure that you are aware, and I’m speaking entirely off the record here J, that this school doesn’t exactly have the best err reputation in the area,” He said apparently admiring his shoes. “I am aware of that judgment sir.” I said treading carefully. “Well I’d like to propose something that might interest you.” Of course because you know all about me and interests, “What would that be?” “I was rather hoping that you would piece about the good points of the school.” In one night that was going to be impossible.
“Um sir I’m busy tonight but I’m sure I could improvise something.” I was already planning out what I was going to say, I loved a challenge. “That would be brilliant! Thank you J I knew I could count on you!” Right yeah reliable, mature, over-experienced it was all the same. “Off you go then,” he said trying to dismiss me flippantly but ruining it with a nervous glance at me, hoping that he hadn’t gone too far. “Thank you sir.” I nearly ran out of the office; partly because I didn’t want to do anymore favours for Mr Green but mostly because I wanted to reassure myself that Oscar was real and still waiting outside for me. There he was, staring into space and looking thoughtful. I wanted to just stand there and stare at him for a while, but I would look like some random moron who didn’t have a clue and in my book that was a crime; I hated people thinking that I was useless. My primary school had once tried to send me to a councillor, it didn’t go well, I had committed myself to never think about...it again and this stupid man had asked me all sorts of annoying questions. He was supposed to help me but it hadn’t helped at all, it had dragged up all sorts of memories, but the very worst part was when he’d said “I know you must feel so confused, like you don’t know what to do.” I’d screamed and shouted, throwing a full blown tantrum until my mother had came and taken me away, muttering “I told them it was a bad idea.” I brought myself back to the present before I could remember something that I had successfully kept locked up since I was little. “Where are we going?” I asked as we walked up the hill, away from school. “You know, I’m actually surprised you came; it’s not as if you even really know me.” He said. He was right and I knew it but it didn’t matter much to me; part of me still expected to wake up and walk into school with the dream secured in the back of my mind like most things seemed to end up. In truth though, most of me didn’t expect any danger with Oscar around. I guess I, and I will never admit this to anyone, felt kind of safe with him around, like I could trust this person that I’d only known for a few short hours. I was too damn proud to tell anyone that fact but that was how felt; like Oscar completed me. Urg, thought a voice in my head, get over yourself! Since when did J Grayson need someone else to complete her? Do you want to be one of those stupid love-struck idiots who end up feeling like they’ve lost everything when all they’ve lost is some boy? “That doesn’t answer my question.” I said. “You don’t like not getting your own way do you?” He said, flashing me a smile that made my heart rate soar.
“I guess I’m used to people telling me everything I want.” “Just telling? What about people giving you what you want?” “That too, but I put knowledge above possessions so where are we going?” “Just up here, through the gulley.” “Ah, is that where I find out that everything you’ve told me was a pack of lies designed to get me there alone?” I asked teasingly. “Is that a hint of nervousness?” “Hmm, call it anxiety” Oscar laughed and muttered something about “Nerves being more appropriate.” I was anxious though, I wanted to know where we were going but more than that I was worried about what I was expected to do. Was I supposed to know what to say or how to act? We walked through the narrow gulley joking a few times but as we got closer to our destination I grew increasingly worried. We came out in the more posh side of town, a few of my friends lived around here in huge houses with expansive gardens. He led me to a modern-looking house that looked a bit like a bungalow but it protruded over the edge of a small hill giving a section of the house an extra floor. Just after the house ended the hill became more like a cliff so I couldn’t see what lay beyond it. Oscar took my hand and I forgot all my worries again. “My parents aren’t here but I’ll warn you that my sister is home and she’s going to annoy the hell out of you.” He said trying to look serious but I could see the mischief in his eyes. “Great, any day now I’m going to have to face severe dangers but, oh no, I’m also going to be annoyed by a 13 year old. Oh have pity on me!” I said over dramatically. He pulled me through the front door and into the hallway. I looked around; it was all whites and dark wood panels. The overall effect was a contrast to the modern exterior, it seemed like I had stepped into a manor or small palace designed in some far off century, but then, I thought, if Henry was leader of his Generation he’s at least 100 years old. Oscar seemed to be thinking the same thoughts as me. “Yes, its ghastly isn’t it?” “Hmm?” My thoughts were in another century. “The decor, it’s so...old. My parents like it but I prefer more modern styles. I guess that’s a hazard when your Father’s stuck in the 14th century.”
“14th?” I almost cried. That was even older than I’d imagined! “Yeah, tell me about it,” He said, looking almost embarrassed. “At least I don’t have as bad as an old mate of mine, poor Taylor has to live with a Father who remembers a time where the year had only three digits in it” “Oh harsh,” I said. But I knew neither of them had worse Fathers then me, I must tell myself that. What was I thinking? I mustn’t even think about it. “Come on let’s get meeting Sophie out of the way.” “Oh no,” I mock groaned. “Not a 13 year old! Please.” He pulled me forward, down the long corridor and through an ornate door. The room that stretched out in front of me could rival any banquette hall I’d ever seen. It wasn’t big but it made up for that in grandeur; the bulk of the room was taken up by an impressive, dark, oak table that was set with fine silverware and an ornate candle holder. On the wall there was a large portrait of Alisha, Oscar, Sophie and a man I took to be Henry, in the background I saw images that I guessed were symbols for something or other. A door on the other side of the room opened and Oscar’s sister glided in. “You know Mum doesn’t let you skate indoors.” Oscar greeted her. “Well then it’s a good thing that you’ll be there to stick up for me, Brother.”She replied with a cheeky smile. Sophie was of average height and wore a long black and white polka-dot skirt with a black belt and white top. She had quite a round face and very bubbly aura. She rolled over to where me and Oscar stood and looked me up and down before smiling, showing incredibly sharp teeth that reminded me instantly of the Hunters in the warehouse. At almost the same moment her blue eyes turned to a vivid green. “Just ignore her, J; she’s trying to freak you out.” Oscar said, glaring at her. “She doesn’t speak English fluently so just use long or unusual words to piss her off.” “I’m enchanted to make your acquaintance,” I said trying out the theory. To my satisfaction her face clouded over. She muttered something in a language I had never heard before to Oscar who laughed and replied in the same tongue then he turned back to me. “Come on, I’ll show you the nicer part of the house.” The “nicer” part of the house turned out to be Oscar’s own private living space in the part of the house that was on the hill. This was more like what I expected from the outside of the house; it was clean and modern with a
slightly minimalistic feel, the only things that weren’t white were either black or dark purple. Oscar gestured me to sit on one of the white couches with purple cushions and sat down on an easy chair opposite to me. “So I’m supposed to be teaching what to do and all that jazz but I think you might prefer to go home and think about what all this means. It’s not like you have a choice but you might need time to adjust.” I could see that he meant to be nice but suggesting that I needed anything was a well known mistake. “Look, I’m a bit of a mysterious girl but there are a few choice things that everyone knows about me; I do everything on my own, I will help anyone who needs me, I don’t stop for anything and –most importantly- I do not need anything from anyone. I don’t need breaks, I don’t need help and I do not need time to adjust.” I tried not to sound too angry but this was something that nobody questioned, I did everything without help. Assistance, yes but no help. He held up his hands in a peace making gesture but his eyes were sparkling with mischief. “So you think you could be told everything right here, right now and need no time or breaks?” This was starting to seem like a challenge, I don’t think I’ve ever turned down a chance to test myself. “I’m confident in that fact.” I said, meeting his gaze directly. “We shall see.” Was all he said and then, without warning, he grabbed my hand and pulled me up a down a small, spiral staircase into a dark but impressive room covered in shelves upon shelves of books. Oscar let go of my hand and stood in the middle of the room, throwing his arms into the air and yelling, “This is the biggest Demon library in the world and the only place you can find the complete history, religion, records and pretty much everything about everyone who ever lived.” He walked down an aisle in the same excited manner, at the end of each corridor created by the books I could see paintings but I only saw glimpse as we went past. “Right then, first we’ll do the mechanics,” He had brought me to what looked like a reading corner of a library but with a twist of what I had already come to recognise as Oscar’s taste; minimalistic with a lot of white, black and purple. He pulled out a HUGE book entitled Humans, Demons and Hunters-a physical comparison. “That will tell you all you need to know about the physical aspect of us and for the society,” He pulled another big book and dumped it into my arms. He then continued talking at top speed and putting yet more books into my hands. “The official Government of Demons and Hunters basically controls how much we can reveal ourselves to humans and organises calendar events such as Demon God festivals and things like that. It’s made up of powerful Demons like Lord Minus-he runs the Minus project
but we’ll cover that another time-and Generation leaders. Have you got all that or do you need some time?” “No I got it,” I said. “Exposure, festivals, Minus and leaders.” His eyes narrowed slightly and he said, “Ok, something you should know about me. If I explained something in detail it means I feel that it’s important so please don’t shorten it.” I recited all that he’d said almost word perfectly and watched with great satisfaction as his eyes widened with surprise. “Don’t be shocked,” I said “I’m an actress.” “Hmm. Right, well if you read that over the weekend I can give you more on different topics. Or do you need more time than that?” “I’m a fast reader,” was all I said. “You’ll accept any challenge won’t you?” “You’re learning,” This had turned into some kind of contest between us but neither of us knew what to do to win. Eventually Oscar broke the competitive silence. “Come on, I’ll give you a lift home.” “You can drive?” I asked. “Of course I can!” He said indigently. I raised my eyebrows at him. “Fine we’ll walk.” Oscar looked through the window and laughed. “As long as you like getting wet.” He continued. “Alright I’ll risk a trip in your car.” I said with a roll of my eyes. Damn this small, wet country! It’s a popular misconception that the fact that it rained a lot in Wales is a stereotype but unfortunately it’s 100% true. It turned out that Oscar was actually a very good, if slightly fast, driver and the car journey passed with me directing it. “I’ll see you in school.” He said as he pulled up outside my house. I suddenly felt really tired and just murmured “Night” as I got out. When my mother asked me why I wasn’t with Katie I muttered something about it being cancelled and she didn’t question me. I went up to bed with my mind reeling. It was full of everything but mostly it was just repeating one word. Oscar. Oscar. Oscar. Oscar. Oscar. Oscar. Oscar. Oscar. Oscar. Oscar.
I felt like I knew him so well, I started drawing up a future in my head with him by my side. I was becoming obsessed with a boy that I had known only one day but I didn’t care. I spent hours thinking about him; I already missed him. But then, after fantasies and plans and other cringe worthy things a thought struck me. What if he doesn’t feel the same way?
Chapter 3 Meet the misfits “Get up.” A sharp light pierced my eyelids as my mum came in and pulled open my bedroom curtains. I blinked back against the painful rays that came through the door on to my balcony. I groaned and put my arm in front of my eyes to shield them. “I feel terrible,” I groaned. “You look it. Aw honey, did you have bad dreams again?” She asked. “I have bad dreams every night mum.” It was the truth, kind of. “Do you want to go to school today?” No, I didn’t but do I have a choice? I’d already signed up for that stupid open evening thing. On the other hand I really didn’t want to see Oscar. “Yes mum.” Was all I said. “Okay then. I’ve got to get to work now but I’ll see you later.” She kissed my cheek and left. On my way to school my mind was, once more, filled with Oscar but contrary to last night my thoughts weren’t pleasant – If embarrassing – ones, how could one stupid, teenage boy force me to make such a fool of myself? How had I acted last night? I seemed to remember behaving like some, idiotic lovedrunk puppy. My anger at Oscar built itself up like a brewing storm as I walked the mile and a half to my shabby, defaced school. “J!” I was greeted and hugged by my friends. Victoria, possibly the most flirtatious one in our group-Trust me, that was a big achievement- came up to me with that look in her eye that I’d come to realise meant one thing and one thing only; guys. “Someone saw you walking out of school with a HOT new guy.” She accused me, “Why didn’t you call me?”
Damn, if anything happened to anyone in this school, Vix would know about it. She runs the schools personal, offline Gossip Girl; if you wanted some info then you’d better be in Vix’s favour. “Because there was nothing going on.” I said coolly. Whenever I didn’t tell her something we had this kind of faux-stand off. “Oh really?” She asked in the same cool manner. We were standing about three feet away from each other with our arms folded and trying very hard not to laugh. “Well if you won’t tell me, I’ll find out soon enough.” “Good luck finding something that doesn’t exist,” I said walking past her. “Oh it’s on Deviné.” The only people who ever got away with using my real name were my friends. Jasmine Deviné how I despised that name, the surname felt like a lead weight around my shoulders; it was a constant reminder of what I came from. I came from a monster. Not that any of that mattered anymore, I was a Demon, I guess that I would get used to not thinking of myself as human. Well maybe one day. As the day progressed I became increasingly angry with Oscar; who did this boy think he was? He just turned up and uprooted my whole life and made me feel so…so idiotically loved up. I didn’t even know him. By the time lunch came I worked myself up to a point where I could have walked up to Oscar and confronted him with a huge “What is with you?” speech and, depending on his response, a previously choreographed slap. As I walked over to my table at lunch with the kind of pace my friends had first come to fear and then tolerate, but before I could make my anger known to the group my name was called by someone in the other end of the cafeteria. It was Oscar. Brilliant. I turned and prepared to yell a stream of abuse regardless of who saw my outburst but when I looked up at him smiling like he was pleased to see me, I forgot everything I had been thinking and once again he filled my mind up, leaving little room for anything else. No room for rational thought or any thought so I just smiled at him. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The ever present voice in my head screamed, destined to be ignored as usual. You don’t have to talk to him; you don’t even want to talk to him. Contrary to what my conscious was telling me I did talk to him. My mind and I don’t get on very well. “Hey,” I greeted him. “How was your first proper day so far?”
“Oh you know,” he said waving his hands in a general gesture. “Had to introduce myself a million times, got asked repetitively if I was good at art because of my Mother, oh and I got pelted with water bombs.” “Yep, that sounds like a typical first day here.” I said laughing. “What did you do after they soaked you?” “Oh they didn’t get me,” He said. “I caught the balloons and lobbed them back at them.” Just then a group of drenched guys walked past. If the water wasn’t enough indication to the fact that these were the would-be new guy tormenters, the dirty looks they shot at Oscar was. When the guys saw me standing next to him they instantly changed to the look-at-me-I’m-a-guy-who-can-make-sexjokes state that was default for every guy from 10-20. “You make me