Welcome to Greyhollow, a small town with a dark past and even darker secrets...
|Chapter One: Awakening
Tristan awoke standing before the window, yet again. The pale blue rays of the moon bathed him in soft light, as the ethereal dream haze faded away from his conscious mind. Rubbing the last remnants of sleep from his eyes, he gazed at the glowing orb in wonder. It was calling to him. A faint beckoning, gentle nudging in the back of his mind. Frowning, Tristan narrowed his eyes as he stared at the thin shadow embracing the moon. The luminous planet was nearly full, in the waxing gibbous phase.
On certain nights of the lunar cycle, he found himself in strange places with no recollection of how he got there or why. Looking at the moon brought a curious feeling of half-remembrance. It was as if he could nearly grasp the reason for the nightly wanderings, but all his mental fingertips were able to do was merely brush those elusive memories.
Crisp night air rolled through the open window, rustling the white curtains to life. He leaned over the sill, lowering his sight to the sleeping town below. The house which he was in was built atop a hill, which overlooked most of the houses below. This was not because of social status however, but rather a humble reason. It was once part of a farm, many years ago. Being able to see most of the land below was necessary for a farmer who dealt mostly in livestock. He would have been able to keep a watchful eye on his cattle, and be in constant lookout for possible predators or thieves. Tristan sometimes thought to himself that things hadn't much changed over time. Just that the cows now built houses and grazed inside them.
The houses were colonial, mostly designed in the new England style that had somehow survived in this modern era. It was very picturesque and a stark contrast towards most urban areas, a town forgotten by time. On quiet nights such as these, Tristan felt as if the world itself was holding its breath. Trees shed dying leaves as the breeze tossed their orange and yellow heads. The woods surrounding the town were painted in the vibrant hues of fall, a season that he welcomed gladly after the blistering summer.
The calling of his pillow was growing stronger than the song of the moon and he started to get goosebumps as the air began to hint at the forthcoming winter. Tristan quietly closed the window to avoid waking his grandmother. She tended to be a light sleeper and was frightening when her rest was disturbed. The thought of her striding down the hall, with white hair billowing behind wide open eyes and lips curled in a snarl was enough to send anyone scampering off to bed.
Once in the safety of his room, he began the examination. If nightly wandering was the only symptom, he might have chalked it up to himself being a sleepwalker. But there was another mysterious element to these occurrences. Standing before a full length mirror, he pulled off his shirt and stood shivering in his pajamas.
White scars marked his body in assorted places. Scratches, burns, and one particularly nasty gash twisted down his rib cage, but he knew of these already. Twisting, he spotted a new one on the back of his left shoulder. Three, to be exact. They seemed to be claw marks as they were parallel to each other, but they weren't very deep and had healed over already. As always.
There was never any blood, just a mysterious silvery mark. Except for that one time, when he was very young and found himself out of his bed for the first time. Tristan had awoken in crippling pain, in a dark pool of blood. That was the night after he had lost his parents. He faintly recalled his grandmother sobbing, gently brushing his face and praying for something not to take him as well.
Shaking those memories out of his head, he took one last look at his strange new tattoos. There was a time that Tristan thought he inflicted them upon himself, but something told him there was another explanation. Flopping on the bed, questions roiled in his restless mind. As sleep came to carry him away, he wondered if he would ever discover the secret behind it all.
"So you did it again, huh?" Tristan looked over at Dylan, who was dragging hard on a cigarette. They were behind the high school gymnasium, all four of them. Aiden convinced the others that English class was a waste of time, and even sweetened the deal with a pack of Camels. Clara was reluctant to ditch her favorite class, and even more so to smoke but Tristan knew how to persuade her. Hinting at a story was just irresistible to her insatiable curiosity.
"Well come on, did it or not?" She huffed, waving a hand at the smoke Dylan purposely blew at her. Aiden chuckled at her discomfort. Brushing some ash from his black shirt he glanced at Tristan questioningly. "Yeah. It was at the window this time, though. And I think I got clawed up a bit too." He shrugged, pulling on his own cigarette and savoring the feeling in his lungs. "That's it?" Clara groaned. "I can't believe I missed Beowulf for you guys to get your fix."
"Hey, I'm a social smoker I'll have you know." Dylan said as he exhaled. His blue eyes watched the smoke lazily curl in the sunlight. FINISH HIM was emblazoned on his ratty white shirt, along with a few characters from Mortal Kombat. An avid gamer, he loved to compete against other players and win. Unfortunately this also meant he took losses rather poorly, and could grow moody on off days. The only exercise Dylan really saw was when he got off the couch in search of food, but lately he was making effort to eat better as he was growing a little on the pudgy side.
This was not the case for Aiden, however. He took fitness very seriously, working out religiously to heavy metal music. Bulging with muscle, he would have been a shoe-in for the varsity football team but he had little interest in organized sports. Instead he helped out in his Dad's tattoo parlor and sported some impressive ink, despite only being seventeen. A serpent crept up his neck, the only semi-visible one. He dressed exclusively in black, with occasionally splashes of color on his band t-shirts. Despite his commitment to physical fitness, his weakness was addiction. Aiden had many vices, nicotine being one of the lesser ones.
Clara was the opposite, very much by the books and walking the straight and narrow. That wasn't to say that she had her faults, she could be very overbearing at times and liked to make plans while leaving others to the work. But she was the peacekeeper, always cooling down the testosterone that flared up from time to time. Her gray eyes reminded Tristan of storm clouds, which darkened with her mood. She loved to read, often devouring books with a fearsome literary appetite. Curiously enough, Clara's interests extended beyond the written word and into the realm of comics. Manga, specifically. There was great love for that and anime, as she enjoyed a good story no matter what medium was used. Her wrists jangled as she crossed her arms. She had taken to wearing anime bracelets that tended to be rather noisy.
"That makes what, three times this month that you've been having a nightlife?" Clara's brow furrowed in concern. "It's happening more often, do you know why?" Flicking his butt away, Tristan shrugged. "It's a lame superpower, that's all I know." Aiden laughed in mid drag and ended up nearly coughing up a lung. "Dude- " He sputtered. "Not cool."
Dylan had been silent in thought and spoke up. "Maybe it's a curse..." He murmured gravely. Aiden rolled his eyes while Clara also voiced her disapproval. "Don't start that crap again, it's 2016. Get real." Tristan looked at Dylan with interest. "You think so, man?" He nodded seriously, and spoke in a low voice. "I always thought there were some strange things going on around here, but it's so hard to put your finger on it. Remember when all the birds died a couple of years ago?"
Aiden snorted. "It's called bird flu." The gymnasium door opened with a bang and Clara darted around the corner of the building, eyes wide with fright.
"Hello? Anyone out there?"
Everyone was silent when they heard who was speaking. It was the principal, Mr. Hartness. Silently, Aiden dropped his cigarette and stepped on it. Tristan put a finger to his lips and crept around the other side of the building as the others followed.
There was getting detention, and there was getting caught by Mr. Hartness. He didn't earn the school nickname Mr. Hardass for his sweet demeanor. Punishments which were given ruled pretty high on the spectrum of cruel and unusual. It was rumored he once made a freshman clean all the gum under every school desk over the course of a weekend... with nothing but his fingernails. As the story goes, one of the desks still has a bloody thumbnail stuck in a piece of gum.
Once around the other side of the building, Tristan broke into a run. Dylan groaned and ran along with everyone else, panting heavily. Clara easily outstripped the boys due to her spotless lungs and experience on the track team. "Come on slow pokes!" She laughed, bracelets tinkling musically.
They reached the music hall and managed to sneak in the fire exit. Everyone was sweaty and out of breath except for Clara, who was unfazed by the physical exertion. "Goddamn gazelle, that's what you are." Dylan wheezed and wiped the sweat off with his shirt. She shrugged and stretched lazily. "Gotta be able to run fast when boys are chasing you." "In your case it's to catch them when they are running from you." Tristan grinned and earned an icy glare.
"Uh guys?" They stopped bantering to look at Aiden. He was peeking out of the fire exit and ducked back in. "He's on the warpath!" Panicking, the four scattered around the music hall. Dylan clambered on top of the stage and hid behind one of the sound walls. Aiden opted to take the low road and vanished under the stage in a maintenance hatch.
Tristan darted frantically between seats looking for a hiding spot. Clara opened the broom closet and whispered, "Hey jackass, in here!" Racing towards his savior, he had scarcely gotten inside when the fire exit swung open with a squeal.
It was awfully dark in the broom closet. And more than a little cramped. Tristan was rubbing shoulders with Clara, he could feel her exhaling as they were almost face to face. He noted that she smelled awfully good. "You reek." She whispered. "It's just my natural musk." "Yeah well if he finds us it's because you stink." "I'll tell him we were making out." That got him a jab in the ribs. Tristan winced. "Shh!" She put a finger to her lips. At least, he was pretty sure. It was impossible to see anything except for a faint crack of light that came from the bottom of the door.
Faint footsteps echoed around the hall outside as the dreaded Mr. Hartness lurked about. Clara's breath was warm on his neck. He gently brushed her hair out of his face and poking her eye in the process. "Ow!" "Sorry, I didn't mean to!" She raised her hands and rubbed her wounded eye, knocking what might have been a mop from the wall. "Stop moving!" Tristan hissed and grabbed her to stop her thrashing about. "You got my eye, asshole." "Sh!"
Footsteps grew closer.
Clara was pressed against him, her hands pinned against his chest. Tristan couldn't help himself and smelled her hair. Strawberries. Definitely strawberries.
Mr. Hartnett was very close.
She began to shake and he squeezed her gently. His heart was racing and he wasn't sure if it was because of the danger or her close proximity.
Oh she is so going to kill me if we survive this. He told himself, but some part of him was secretly enjoying this whole mess. When she buried her face in his chest his heart jumped again.
The light below the door grew dark as the footsteps ceased before it.
The moment seemed to last forever. He half hoped it would, so they would stay locked in that embrace. Then the door flew open and Clara let out a muffled scream.
Aiden stood before them, holding his sides with laughing. "Oh my god this is priceless." Clara shoved Tristan into a mop bucket and stormed out, her face bright red. Tristan extricated himself from the bucket and felt his face grow hot with embarrassment. "You should have seen your faces..." Aiden gasped out and collapsed into a chair, crying with mirth.
Tristan glared at him and looked towards Dylan who was walking up towards them wearing a sour expression. "He never came, Aiden was being a dick again." Scanning the room showed no sign of Clara, but the scent of strawberries still lingered in the air.