Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!
photo credit: taylorschlades at morguefile.com
Bright orange pumpkins stared at me. Their jagged smiles wicked in the darkness. I shivered, pulling my jacket tight as the wind whipped through the trees sending leaves skittering past me on the sidewalk.
Where in the hell was the school bus? Across the street, I watched the lamplights flicker, making the entrance of the tunnel freakier than normal. Goosebumps broke out across my skin, and it had nothing to do with the chill in the air.
Today was Halloween, the holiday I hated and feared the most. And it was because of that damn tunnel. But I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to remember Kale’s screams, and the darkness. His disappearance.
Five years ago today, I thought. Had it really been that long ago? My best friend gone, me the only witness.
Crunch. The sound of footsteps echoed through the woods behind me, and I spun around, flashlight in hand.
“Shit! C’mon bus.”
At last the yellow banana boat rounded the corner, air-brakes hissing as it slowed to a stop in front of me.
“Morning, Zoey,” Mr. Mockler said, as I climbed the steps.
I hurried toward the back of the bus, but most of the seats were full. At last, I came to one with a kid in a hoodie hunched over.
“Hey, can I sit with you?”
He didn’t even glance at me, but he slid closer to the window, giving me room to squeeze in next to him. After I got situated, I turned toward him, but couldn’t get a good view of his face. I definitely didn’t recognize him. He must be new.
Someone kicked the back of our seat, and I spun around to see Jason Milleron smiling. His fat face was inches from mine, squinty eyes piercing.
“Tell that emo kid you’re sitting with, I want to talk to him,” he said, nudging his friend Randy next him. They laughed.
I stiffened. “Don’t start, Jason.” My voice cracked.
“Tell him to turn around,” Jason said.
My fingers tightened around my book bag. “No.”
The boy next to me shifted in the seat, to face him. “How about you tell me yourself asshole.”
Jason reached for the kid, jerking him forward by the sweatshirt. “You don’t know who you’re fucking with.”
The boy laughed. A cold, chill swept over me, the scent of earth and woods clinging to the air. “And I don’t care.”
“So you think you’re tough, freak?” Jason’s face pressed closer. “Why don’t you meet us at the tunnel tonight, after dark? Then we’ll see how bad you really are.”
Oh God, I couldn’t let this happen. It was Jason’s fault Kale had went into the tunnel that night. We’d been trick-or-treating by ourselves for the first time, when Jason and his friends came out of nowhere. They’d stolen our candy and started beating the crap out of Kale. I remembered screaming for them to stop. And they did. They let Kale up long enough to chase him down the street, and into the tunnel.
“No,” I said. “Leave him alone, Jason…”
“What’s wrong Zoey? Scared?’
I clasped the boy’s arm. “Listen, just ignore him. You don’t want to go in there.”
The boy jerked free from Jason, and turned to me. His hood fell back, revealing shaggy dark hair, and eyes the shade of ivy. I swallowed hard. His eyes seemed so familiar. And the dimple in his left cheek.
“I’ll be fine, Zoey. I can take care of myself,” the boy said, then turned to Jason. “I’ll see you at ten, don’t chicken out.”
The bus pulled in front of the school, and Jason pushed down the aisle, knocking me back into the new boy. His hands steadied me.
“Thanks,” I said, noticing the small scar on this right thumb. It couldn’t be. I swallowed hard, spinning to face him. “Kale?”
But the boy had disappeared. I glanced out the window, only to see him walking toward the school. How in the hell had he gotten out? I noticed the dirty shoe-print on the seat in front of mine. He must’ve climbed over.
I was losing my fricken mind. Just because he had dark hair and green eyes, didn’t make him Kale. My friend was dead. No amount of wishing would bring him back.
School dragged. I spent most of the day, searching for the new guy. But I never saw him again. People whispered about him, but no one seemed to remember his name. I even tried cornering Jasmine, who was the queen of gossip, but she didn’t know either.
Something strange was going on, and I didn’t like it.
By the time I got home from school, Mom was already in her costume to hand out candy.
“Hi sweetie,” she said, when I came in. “You holding up okay?”
I nodded. “I’m fine. But listen, I think I’m going to go out tonight.”
Mom’s eyes widened. “Are you sure? You haven’t done anything since…”
She didn’t have to finish, because we both knew I hadn’t celebrated Halloween since Kale.
“I’m going to throw on the fairy costume you bought me,” I said. The reality was I needed to stop that boy from going in the tunnel. One way or another.
The crisp autumn air, made my teeth chatter as I left the safety of my porch. All around me goblins, and demons, and witches, and ghosts traipsed down the sidewalks carrying bags of candy. But I noticed they steered clear of the tunnel.
They were the smart ones.
I moved across the street, shadows clinging to every tree and vehicle. The darkness seemed to consume the whole neighborhood. Taking a staggered breath, I forced my feet forward, until I stood outside the tunnel.
Jason and Randy were already there, wearing grisly masks, and painted with fake blood.
“What are you doing here?” Jason narrowed his eyes.
“I’m not going to let you chase that boy into the tunnels.”
“Looks like he chickened out…”
Then I saw the silhouette at the end of the tunnel. The hooded figure, walking toward us.
“Kale!” I shouted.
Jason went still. “No, it can’t be him.”
But as the boy from earlier stepped from the gloom, I saw the recognition on Jason and Randy’s faces.
It was him.
“No—it can’t be you, we killed you. We watched you die,” Jason said.
Bile burned my throat.
“It was you?” I screamed at Jason. “You took him from me?”
Kale’s eyes glowed eerily. “What’s wrong Jason? You look like you’ve seen ghost.”
Jason moved, but Kale appeared behind him. The next thing I knew, Jason and Randy were running toward the tunnel trying to get away.
Kale glanced at me and smiled. “Will you wait for me?”
“Always,” I whispered.
Screams echoed off the stone walls, the streetlights flickered out. Clouds covered the moon dousing all light.
“It’s done,” Kale said from beside me.
I rushed into his arms, clinging to him. His lips brushed mine, sending my heart skittering.
“I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too.” He brushed tendrils of hair from my face. “I can stay with you forever now,” he said. “Now that the sacrifices have been made.”
I grinned, pulling his head toward mine. “No one will ever hurt you again, I promise.”