Chapter One: 'Nightmares'
"I shall never stop Katerina; I will always be there to show you the consequences, both of the past and future. It is and always will be your own fault. Remember that.” He snapped his fingers, the scene finally disappeared. We were encapsulated by the shimmering darkness once again, it was nearly over. “Tap, tap, tap Katerina.”
The blackness was no longer glittering; David had disappeared. Two chinks of light interrupted the dark of my bedroom, one beneath my doorway; the other in the slight opening in between my navy curtains. I had woken up, the nightmare was over. I burried into my thick duvets, careful not to make a noise as I cried. J—just a dream; just a dream, Kat. Wetness trickled down my cheeks and violent tremors racked my body. The sick feeling I felt in my nightmare was still there, if not stronger now.
The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. A chilling sound came from my outside my bedroom window; the sound of fingernails on glass.
I shot strait up, ceasing my breath. My hand shook as I reached toward the curtain to pull it back. I stopped myself; lowering my outstretched hand… did I really want to see what was out there? No, I had to at least check— it may have even been a branch, I reassured myself. The only problem with the branch theory happened to be the fact I had no tree outside my window.
My heart quickened as my hand drew closer to the curtain. Wrapping my fingers around the thick materiel, I lifted the curtain slightly. I frowned; there was nothing out there. It was just the dark and empty street, illuminated only by the tall street lights over the road.
Dropping the curtain, I sunk back under the covers. The tense breath I had been holding escaped my lips, although the sickness remained. My head was throbbing, the same way it did after every nightmare.
I didn’t want to go back to sleep. All I could see were those people walking into the flames; David’s face looking down at me, laughing as I cried. I couldn’t not-sleep forever, but I could at least read in the meantime. Turning my bedside lamp on, I grabbed one of my books from beside me. Sudden warmth rushed over me as I opened the book, sifting through to the page I had bookmarked. The soothing words of the first Harry Potter book, instantly transported me to another place, a place my father had no control over my dreams. My eyes grew heavy as I continued reading. They stung as I tried desperately to stay awake, unable to face the images that would storm my mind if I let my eyes shut. Stifling a yawn, I continued reading, finishing yet another chapter.
The book fell to the ground as I jumped, hearing the door handle to my bedroom turning. I let out a sigh as it swung open to reveal my mother, her eyes as darkly shadowed as my own. Her body was visibly quivering and her green eyes held a glazed and vacant look. “Mum… are you ok?” I asked concernedly, shaken by her empty look. Pushing my duvets back, I jumped out of bed, tumbling over the covers slightly before I took her in a tight hug.
My mother stood still, not returning the hug for a moment, until she wrapped her arms around me, “Oh Kat,” she whispered, patting down my messy curls.
I frowned, “What’s wrong, did you have a seizure?”
She shook her head, her wavy, shoulder length hair scattered over her damp face. “You had a ‘David’ nightmare, didn’t you?” She phrased it more like a statement than a question. I couldn’t help but widen my eyes at how well she knew me; of course generally when I’m up this late reading it’s because I’ve had a nightmare. Reading is the only way I keep them away.
“I did… it was horrible, they feel so real.” I confirmed, hugging her tighter. I sat my chin on her shoulder. “How did you know, did you see my light on?”
“I had one too.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before continuing, “T-there’s something I need to give to you Kat.” Mum let go of me, “You need to read it now, come with me.”
I cocked my head, confused at her unusual behaviour, but quietly walked down the hall behind her. I could barely make out where I was going; I moved my hand to the light switch, but mum swatted my hand away and shook her head. I sighed and grabbed the banister, making my way up the stairs with her. We crept up the stairs, jumping over the creaky seventh step. Evelyn’s soft snores could still be heard through her open door as we passed, hopefully leaving her asleep.
Mum reached towards the piece of rope hanging from the ceiling as we stopped on the landing. She tugged it, pulling the ladder to the attic down. “Up here, be careful going up.” She instructed, starting up the ladder. I waited for her to climb through the opening in the ceiling before following her. Grabbing the ladder rungs, I pulled myself up with a tight grip. This had to be the absolutely weirdest thing my mother has ever done; my mind was spinning, not just with tiredness, but at just how absurd this midnight mission was. Climbing up through the hole, I squinted as my eyes adjusted to the sudden light. Mum gave me a hand and pulled me up. She then pulled the ladder up and closed the ceiling entrance.
“You know, Mum, this would have to be the weirdest thing you’ve ever done. Care to explain?”
She didn’t smile at my comment, but nodded, turning to the old patched up arm chair at the edge of the room, “Help me push this off the rug.”
Narrowing my eyes, I went to help her. Something weird was up and it was beginning to worry me, “Mum, please tell me what’s wrong? The nightmares aren’t real, we’re okay now…” We shoved the surprisingly heavy chair to the edge of the mat. Mum ignored my question and crouched down, lifting the edge of the faded red mat that had previously been covered by the chair. I coughed a bit as the thick cloud of dust flew into my face. She continued to lift a loose board, revealing a dusty safe about a foot below. She quickly spun the dial before I could see what numbers she was entering. The lock clicked and the little door sprung open.
A yellowed envelope sat at the bottom of the safe. Mum reached down, leaning down so far to get it that her nose just about sat on the dusty wooden floor. She pulled it out and sat back as she handed it to me, “Read it.” She ordered, her voice soft, though still blank.
It was heavy for an envelope, not only due to the contents, but the paper—or parchment should I say, was thick and old. I turned it around to see my name extravagantly written in delicate black ink. Looking to mum for conformation, I opened it to pull out a letter.
No doubt you are currently perplexed by your mother behaviour, but do not fret, she will be okay. The reason you are reading this, that your mother is showing it to you now, is because… he’s back, your father is back. We knew long ago he would come back for you and it was decided then that when he did, you would have to escape.
I am sorry that it has come to this, but it is the only way for you to stay safe.
Enclosed it money for a first class plane ticket to America. Your mother will have already booked your seat, the money is just compensation.
Good luck Katerina.
“Is this a joke?” I questioned as I finished the letter. It was ridiculous, every single thing that had happened tonight. And it was mean. It was practically making fun of my biggest fear, belittling the terror he causes me. I dropped the letter along with the envelope; it thudded to the ground, spilling a thick wad of fifty pound notes around it; no doubt fake ones.
She sighed, slowly shaking her head. Her eyes were glistening with unshed tears, “Oh sweetheart, I-I’m so sorry this has to happen.” She launched herself into my arms, pulling me into a hug, but I stepped back with a glare.
“How could you, why would you. I mean what the hell, this is worse than what even the girls in my class could fucking achieve!” I screamed and my tightly bound fists shook with both anger and betrayal. Never in my life have I screamed, or sworn at my mother like that, but right now I was more furious than I’d ever been. “How could you… you’re my mother.” I whispered. My eyes stung as I fell to the ground, refusing to meet her eye.
Her expression had changed from the scary blank one, to hurt. She swallowed and walked over to me, sitting down beside me and draping her arm around me. I shrugged away, but she held me there, lifting my chin so she could look me in the eye, “It’s not a joke… you’re leaving tomorrow evening.”
I opened my eyes, but held my glare, “Why are you only telling me now then, if it isn’t a joke. I thought you told me that we can’t let him control our lives… so why are you sending me half way across the world because of him?” I took in a deep breathe to try cease my sobs, I had to be thinking logically here.
“I did tell you that. But at the moment keeping you safe is far more important.” She explained as she attempted to hug me yet again. This time I didn’t resist, I just sat there with tears rolling down my eyes as she gently played with my hair.
“But how can we leave our lives behind? What about your job, my friends—our lives?”
She bit her lip unsurely, her own silent tears made my shoulder damp as they fell. “We’re not leaving, Evie and I. It’s just you, Kat. Some old friends of mine are taking you in… I don’t know for how long though.”
Closing the door behind me, I came to a stop in the middle of my room, how could I leave this place? I’ve lived here since I was only three years old; I can only remember ever living here. This place is part of me. From the stacks of reread books stacked in my bookcases and piled over nearly ever surface; to the fairy lights wrapped around my ancient four poster bed. There seven years’ worth of posters tacked to the walls and ceiling, of the Harry Potter movies, the Vampire Diaries, Twilight. And tomorrow I’d have to leave it all behind… because of my father.
I pulled back my tangled bed covers and crawled in, grabbing my book again. I grabbed the remote on my bedside table turned on my minute little clunky television to show a paused episode of the Vampire Diaries. Pressing play, I closed my eyes and held my book tightly to my chest. This was most likely the last night I would spend here for a very long time… I might as well sleep well.