Read Part 1
Kate didn’t sleep easily that night. Her worry over Isobel’s new companion plagued her, the same old thoughts and anxieties going around her mind like some disturbing carousel, depriving her of sleep. She felt restless, yet whenever she tried to find the words to explain what it was, her mind scattered, rambling off into different corners and offered up random, nonsensical explanations. She needed to speak to her friend. She’s always been one to follow her gut instinct and she couldn’t shake the feeling that something didn’t just didn’t seem right. She had to at least try.
The next morning, exhausted but with her decision heavy on her mind, she finally found her friend walking down the corridor and after a quick jog and a few disgruntled teachers, she caught her arm.
Isobel turned around, her grey eyes wide before her features settled into a smile. Just as quickly, her face fell and she began to gnaw on her bottom lip. “I’m so sorry about yesterday. Callum couldn’t stick around and he was giving me a lift so...”
Kate waved her off before tucking herself to one side as a group of young girls hurried past. “Don’t worry about it- look, can I have a quick word?”
Her eyebrows drew together and her head tilted slightly. “Sure...”
Taking a moment to think, Kate looked out of the nearby large paned before pulling it open and making her way through it. She could hear Isobel follow, the familiar jangling of her bangles offering a melodic accompaniment to the butterflies quickly gathering pace in Kate’s stomach. The playground was quiet- all the other students were in lessons or on the sports pitch on the other side of the school- and Kate found herself drifting towards the bench that she had sat on the day before. Resuming her position, she dropped her bag next to her feet, waiting a moment for Isobel to do the same. Once her friend had settled, Kate took a moment to think over what she was going to say, her eyes wandering over to a nearby cluster of trees. She took a minute longer to watch a light breeze rustle the tree before sweeping some loose strands from her face and taking a deep breath.
Meeting her friend’s eyes, she moistened her bottom lip and began. “It’s about Callum.”
“What about him?”
“How well do you know him?”
Isobel continued to meet her gaze as she crossed her arms, the corners of her mouth turning down. “Well enough, why?”
As she carefully picked each word, her eyes drifted to the grains on the table top, her fingers idly picking at the thin cotton of her top. “I just want to make sure that you’re being careful- that... that you’re not rushing into anything.”
A loud huff caught her attention and she brought her eyes back up into the conversation. Isobel was shaking her head, her teeth sinking into her bottom lip. “What the hell is your problem with Callum?”
“I’m not saying I have a problem with him, I just care about you and want to make sure that-”
“You clearly do, come on Kate- spit it out.”
The dark haired girl swallowed heavily before she met the sharp grey eyes of her friend. “I just have a really bad feeling about him. I don’t know what it is- it’s just that something doesn’t feel right about him.” When Isobel pulled a face, she hurried on. “I just don’t want you getting hurt.”
Her nose wrinkled and her eyes narrowed as though she had been witness to something particularly vile. “Are you jealous, is that it?”
“Don’t be daft.”
“You are aren’t you? That must be it! You can’t stand the fact that someone cares when you have no one.”
Kate flinched at the comment, the well aimed jab causing a vicious sting and the words t thrum over her skin. “Wha-”
“Forget it, at least somebody wants me around.”
Still overwhelmed by the onslaught of venom, Kate could only watch mutely as Isobel slid off the bench and marched back towards the building. Her strides were wide, her fists clenched tightly at her sides as she stormed away with the efficiency of a hurricane. For a mad moment, Kate thought that she could almost see a cloud of anger and shadow around her retreating figure before she blinked again and the brightness of the summer morning saw off her friend.
Hurt, Kate stared down at her lap. She was shaking, Isobel’s remarks flittering over her and sinking into her very being. Her vision began to blur and she blinked quickly, refusing to cry in both shock and upset. With unsteady legs, she carefully manoeuvred off the bench and slowly made her way back inside unsure of exactly where she was aiming.
She didn’t see Isobel for the rest of the day. She tried to ring a couple of times but all attempts went straight to the other girl’s voicemail. Kate couldn’t even see her at the end of the day when they usually met up on the playground- even going so far as to wait by the gates in case she passed her on the way out- but she never saw the familiar face.
One person she did see was Callum. He was waiting by the other side of the wall, a set of keys idly being dangled from a couple of fingers. She tried not to look at him as she kept a constant vigil for her friend but as the rush of students leaving began to die down she could no longer begin to pretend not to sense his heavy stare on the side of her face. Unwillingly, she allowed her attention to drift over to him. He was wearing sunglasses again, his mouth set in a thin line as he looked at her, the lenses over his eyes masking his thoughts. She forced her eyes to return to the gates but he moved, snapping her attention back to him as he began to walk over. Instinctively, her fists clenched and she diverted her gaze back towards the school, as if somehow it may offer her a reprieve or someone would emerge to save her from the situation but, before she knew it, she could sense him besides her. Her jaw tightened as she tried to ignore the rustle of fabric next to her or the quiet breathing of the man at her side. A hand wrapped around her forearm and despite her efforts to pull herself free from his grasp, she soon found herself being forced around a corner. The warmth of the day seemed to recede as she was shoved into the shade, the cool air causing goosebumps to break out over her skin.
The back of her head connected with the brick wall behind her as he forced her backwards and she hissed out in pain as her scalp throbbed. Callum calmly removed his sunglasses, his dark eyes taking a moment to sweep over her before he lowered his head and slipped the shades onto the collar of his t-shirt. He hummed in the back of his throat before lifting his face once more and fixing Kate with a stare. Fear and anxiety clogged her throat and she swallowed heavily in a bid to remove it. The air around her seemed sparse as she waited for him to speak, her palms slick against the rough texture of the wall against her back. Finally, after an indistinguishable amount of time, he spoke, the rough timber of his voice filling the small space between them. “I'm not happy, Katherine.” Beneath her panic, she bristled slightly, a small portion of her brain indignant over his blatant use of her full name. “Do you know why?” When his eyes continued to bore into hers, she realised with sickening clarity that he was waiting for an answer. She gave a jerky shake of her head, her tongue heavy and useless against the bottom of her mouth. “I'm not happy because Isobel is not happy and she's not happy because you've been telling tales about me.”
Driven by fear, she managed to find words. “I've not been-“
He shushed her as he moved closer, the zip of his jacket digging into her stomach through the thin material of her top. She turned her head to the side and squeezed her eyes shut as his voice rumbled against her ear. His words were treacle slipping through herA mind and into her bloodstream, seizing up her heart. “Apparently, you were trying to warn her off me.”
“I swear, I wasn’t-“
His hand reached upwards and under her chin, his long finger digging into her cheeks. She flinched violently, the pressure of his fingertips causing her jaw to ache and her eyes to sting as her vision blurred. “I don't appreciate being lied to, Katherine.”
She was trembling, her entire body quivering like a bow string on the verge of snapping. Through the haze of terror, she thought she could almost see black swirls dance across his irises, a dark heady cloud of panic and dread surrounding them, suffocating her with but with a quick blink it seemed to vanish taking with it the air from her lungs.
“I think that you're actually pleased for your friend, aren't you, Katherine.” His blunt nails dug into her skin and she could feel the blood rushing under his fingertips as she gave a quick nod. He nodded with her, mimicking her movements. “In fact, I think that you are going to encourage her to continue to see me aren't you?” Her vision was getting blurry but she nodded again. “And you know that deep down, you're just a pathetic individual who no one wants to be around, aren’t you?” The tears broke free, hurt and despair mixing with her fear and making it all the worse. Feeling her heart squeeze, she nodded once more. Once again, he copied the gesture before a smile broke out across his face and he released his grip on her face. He gave her cheek a gentle pat, the warm skin of his hand smearing the moisture on her face. “Good girl. I'd hate to think that we'd need this talk again.”
Totally numb, she was only partly aware of the hurt and despair that rocketed through her stomach like a shard of glass, piercing her insides. He eased his weight of her and, after giving her a quick wink, he replaced his sunglasses and walked away, a soft whistle following him as he went.
Without the added support, she sagged to the floor of the alleyway, feeling completely exhausted. Her brown hair spilled around her face as she no longer had the energy to hold her head upright, the encounter feeling like a bitter tonic in her throat. Kate exhaled loudly, her lungs constricted and her breath wheezing. A small part of her mind recognised the need to stand up and go and find Isobel, to warn her about the danger that she could be in yet another large part of her caused her to sink further into the floor, the whispered words of Callum chasing around her head and drowning her in their power.
Part of her recognised the cold clammy texture of her skin and the chill that was starting to enter the air yet she couldn't bring herself to move. As she was lost in the ruthless cycle of her thoughts, she was barely aware of the pinky hue of the sky or the whispy clouds gathering. Her limbs felt heavy, her legs and arms becoming dead and useless as she stared into the abyss of her thoughts, the overwhelming depression and darkness spiralling out of control. Logically, she knew that something was wrong, that her reaction wasn’t entirely normal and that she needed to get up, but every time she tried to pull free of the dark thoughts spiralling out of control in her head, she’d be sucked back down.
She couldn't say how long she was sat in that alleyway. It wasn't until she felt a gentle pressure on her arms and the unbearable weight of the negative voice in her head began to recede that she began to come back to herself. She blinked a few times, her eyes adjusting to the sudden darkness around her before she realised that there was someone next to her. Panicked, she withdrew from the touch and tried to hide away but when she could finally focus on the person besides her, she realised that it wasn't Callum.
The man crouched besides her met her gaze carefully, his pale green eyes, barely obscured by the large lenses of his glasses, met hers calmly as she tried to clear her head and remind herself where she was. Slowly, he replaced his hand on the top of her arm, and she breathed deeply as the poison that seemed to have consumed her withdrew, giving her the clarity to think again. Her mouth was dry, her lips tender and cracked and she idly wondered how that had come to be.
As she began to pull her scattered thoughts together, he spoke. “Are you alright?”
She nodded gingerly, taking a moment to breathe in the crisp air before her brows furrowed. “How long have I been here?”
“I don't know.”
Her eyes wandered down to her hands and she flexed them carefully. Her fingers were stinging from the sudden cold of the evening air. The man at her side followed her gaze before slowly reaching forward and cupping her hands in his before rubbing gentle circles into her skin. “What's your name?”
Distracted by the sensations of her hands, it took her a moment to answer. “Kate, who are you?”
“My name is Oliver.”
She nodded as she tried to put the pieces of her scrambled mind back together. Her mind was still hazy and her forehead furrowed as she tried to concentrate on what had happened before her encounter with Callum. She had been at the school gates when he had grabbed her. Why had she been at the school gates? She’d been there because...
She yanked her hands out of his grasp and tried to stand, temporarily losing her balance in the process. He took a moment to steady her but she soon righted herself. “I've got to warn Isobel!” Kate fumbled with her coat but her hands felt awkward and clumsy. She groaned in frustration.
Oliver, who had risen with her, held up a hand in a calming gesture. “Calm down. Who’s Isobel?”
Her eyes were wide and she waved her arms about as she tried to find a way to convey the seriousness of the situation. “She's my friend and she dating a maniac! She's got no idea what he's capable of- I can't just leave her with him, God knows what he’ll do to her-“
Hands on the top of her arms pulled her up short and she blinked owlishly at the man in front of her. She met his eyes and all the tight grip of panic receded slightly. His voice was soothing and she forced herself to focus on his words. “Kate, I need you to calm down for me.” Immediately the tension began to leave her shoulders. “Did he hurt you?”
Swallowing heavily, she thought of his venomous words and the thud of her head against the brick wall. She half lifted her hand towards the back of her head as she remembered the feeling of the dull pain that rocketed through her skull before lowering her arm. “I'll be fine.”
His frown deepened but he continued. “Good, now this is important: I have to find him, where did he go?”
“Why? Who are you, why are you after Callum?”
“Do you know if he got into a vehicle or-“
“I don't know, OK? I don't know!”
Oliver exhaled through his nose and looked at her. He appeared almost sad as his green eyes met hers, their depths expressing something which she couldn’t quite understand. "I’m sorry about this, but it appears that I have no other choice.”
She couldn’t quite describe what happened next. One moment he was looking at her and she was trying to work out what he was apologising for, the next she was reliving it all over again. All she could see was Callum looking at her, his vicious words ringing through her ears as she tried not to crumble. Kate felt as though she was drowning, a distant part of her brain realised that she was gasping for air as, through the whirlwind of chaos, she could see the bright glow of Oliver's eyes piercing through the memory and the warmth of his palm against her cheek. She felt herself collapse again as Callum walked away, the distant rumble of a car barely noticeable above the din of her own anguish.
Just as quickly as it came, the ordeal went leaving her tired and sagging against the wall. Her nerves were tingling as though she had been given a severe shock as she gaped at the man who was removing his hand from her face. Suddenly, the pieces began to fit together: her indescribable fear of Callum, the darkness that she had thought she had seen around him, her breakdown after he'd walked away…
“Who are you people?”
He sighed softly, pushing his glasses up further onto his face. “I've been sent to stop the demon that hurt you and is currently dating your friend.”
“Demon? Isobel is dating a demon? Callum is a demon?”
The air gushed out of her. If it were not for the wall against her back, she might have toppled over. “Are you a demon too?”
“I am an angel.”
A startled laugh escaped her. “Of course you are! This is crazy, this is absolutely crazy!” Frantic, she pinched at the webbed skin between her thumb and forefinger.
“What are you doing?”
“Checking to make sure that I'm awake.”
“Kate,” Suddenly he was right in front of her again, his eyes level with hers. “I need you to trust me. I need your help to stop him.”
“How? How can I stop him? You're the freaking angel, here!”
“But you are the one he underestimates. Kate, you can see part of our true forms- that makes you so much more than an ordinary human.”
“So what? That doesn't mean I can-“
The loud ring of her mobile cut through their conversation and she quickly searched her jacket to pull out the device. Quickly checking the screen, she frowned, the prominent clench of her stomach tightening. “It's Isobel.” Not giving Oliver a chance to respond, she answered. “Hello?”
Her friend’s voice was rough and panicked whilst sobs cut off her words. “Kate, Kate- you have to help me. It's Callum he's gone mad.”
“Wait, Isobel, slow down. What's happened?”
“I spoke to him about meeting you and he just lost it. Kate, I'm so scared!”
Kate could feel her heart give a sharp thump in her chest as her friend whispered quickly down the phone. “Where are you?”
“I'm in the underground car park near to where my Mum works.”
Her mind scrambled to think of the place before she finally realised where she meant. “Ok, Isobel, stay on the phone, we’re coming to get you. I want you to hide and stay there. I'll get there as soon as I can.”
Pressing her mobile against her chest, she reluctantly looked at Oliver who had been watching the conversation in interest, still uncomfortable being around him after what he had just made her experience. “I have to get there now.”
His eyes darted to the side and slid shut. She was about to ask him what he was doing when, after a moment, he reopened them. “Do you know where she is?” Kate nodded. “Close your eyes and think of the place as hard as you can.”
Apprehensive, she did as instructed, her eyes scrunching tightly as she nervously waited for him to do something. She heard the tread of his shoes as he came closer, the warmth of his palms sinking into the top of her arms before there was a rush of air and her feet seemed to leave the ground. She squeezed her eyes tighter, her hands finding the material of his jacket and clasping on tightly before her feet settled on solid ground once more.
The first thing that she became aware of was a small gasp nearby and bitter cold. She shivered, causing Oliver’s hands to slip from her arms before slowly peeling her eyes open.
Cars were parked all around them, illuminated by the dull fluorescent lights above, which gave off a steady buzz. The level was empty, save for the young woman huddled next to an old blue vehicle to their right, her eyes wild and her complexion pale.
“Isobel!” Kate quickly rushed over before dropping into a crouch next to her friend. Her lip was bleeding and her right eye was beginning to swell. She wrapped an arm around the other girl and realised that she was trembling, the erratic jumping of muscles prominent beneath her thin shirt. “We need to get you out of here.”
Isobel huddled into her hold as she looked at the man besides them. “Who are you? Where did you both come from-”
“There’s no time for that now, I’ll explain later-“
Kate was cut off from the loud sound of clapping. The noise bounced around the walls and filled the air, making Kate’s jaw tighten and her muscles to lock. Next to her, Isobel whimpered and clung on tighter.
“Well what do we have here? I thought that after our little talk you would have known better.”
A chill began to creep up her spine and branch out through her limbs. Her throat began to feel tight as she tried to block out his words. Isobel’s grip was borderline painful as her fingers dug into her, whilst scratchy wheezes escaped her throat.
“There’s no need to be shy now. Why don’t you come out and say hello?”
Kate felt as though she might be sick. She tried to swallow back the bile that was beginning to build in her throat when Oliver reached out and grasped her hand causing the feeling to fade. His other hand rested on Isobel’s shoulder causing the other woman to immediately begin to calm. Her eyes shot up to his, her swollen eye grotesque in the dim light.
Despite the mocking words of Callum and the menace in the air, in their little bubble it seemed fairly still as the angel reached up and brushed a thumb just below her friend’s eyebrow. Before Kate could register what was happening, the swelling was gone. Isobel’s bottom lip was trembling as her eyes darted between Kate and Oliver before the loud crunch of a nearby car shrivelling caused her attention to swivel towards the screech of metal.
Oliver’s voice was gentle as he met Kate’s gaze. “I need you both to stay here. I will come and get you when it’s done.”
“What’s done?” Isobel’s eyes shifted between the other two. “What the hell is going on?”
As Oliver stood and made his way around the car, Kate felt her heart kick up a gear. “I’ll explain later.”
Kate was only half listening as she peered over the trunk of the car and watched Oliver stop in the cement in between the car spaces, his arms loose at his sides as he looked at Callum. Callum was stood on the other end of the path, a slight smirk on his face. “Ah, what do we have here? You’re a long way from home, angel.”
“The same could be said for yourself.”
His smile broadened. “Very true. Well, why don’t we have the girls come out and join us?”
Kate ducked as the car they were hiding behind caught fire. The heat was unbearable as she grabbed Isobel’s hand and pulled her away, her legs straining as she bolted away to hide behind a four-by-four on the other side of the car park.
Isobel was panting heavily. “Oliver is an angel?”
“And Callum is demon- you really do have the worst taste in men!”
They ducked as another torrent of fire was aimed in their direction. Throughout the onslaught of flames they could hear the sounds of grunts and fists connected with flesh. The noise was almost unbearable, the loud sounds of blows otherworldly as car parts flew about- the grinding of the metal causing the young women to flinch as they hit the various walls around them. The concrete pillars chipped and crumbled as the two beings fought, the rubble scattering around their feet and raining down on the vehicles around them.
The battle raged on. Kate lost track of all time as she and her friend tried to protect themselves against the onslaught of chaos around them. She covered her head with her arms in an attempt to protect it from the material and debris flying about when light flashed. The smell of burning filled the car park and a cry tore through the air.
The sounds stopped. Kate tried to look into the rear view mirror but the destruction of everything around them disrupted her view. Isobel cowered behind the car as Kate, unable to take the sudden pause, shifted into a crouch and tried to see what was happening.
Her fingers gripped the bonnet as she craned her neck and peered over. What she saw made her breath catch. She could see Callum, his arm outstretched and his fingers curled in the air. Oliver was on his knees nearby, gasping, as light, almost painful in its intensity, began to bleed out of his chest. Behind the demon, a large shadow seemed to cover the wall, the outline of a creature impossibly large and horned.
“You’re making this way too easy, angel. Where’s the rest of your back up, hm?” Oliver didn’t reply as he scratched at the cement near him. “Isobel, sweetheart, why don’t you come out? I may reconsider killing the angel if you say sorry...”
Kate glanced at Isobel to see that she was hiding her face against the metal of the car, her shoulders trembling. Kate’s eyes flickered back to the scene nearby. “We have to do something or else we’re all dead!”
Isobel peered up at her but remained silent. Kate’s mind scrambled for an answer as she tried to block out the overwhelming panic that was beginning to bubble up inside her chest. There had to be something, anything that they could do! Her eyes darted about as she tried to find something that might give them an advantage.
Isobel’s elbow in her ribs caught her attention and she looked at her friend to see her point through the window of the car. There were a set of car keys on the front seat.
Without a second thought, Kate tried the door handle only to find it locked. She swore under her breath before grabbling with the door, her fingers scrabbling with the plastic in an attempt to get it open. When that failed, she tried to use her elbow to break the glass. Pain shot through her arm and she gave a silent cry as she cradled it.
Isobel was frantically furrowing with her bag, trying to undo the buckle that kept it closed. Her fingers kept on slipping, the moisture on her fingertips making the plastic slick beneath her skin before she finally managed to open it and pull out her laptop. Moving past Kate, she began to bash the laptop against the glass, the banging of the computer against the window echoing around the other cars.
Callum’s voice reached them. “What are you up to ladies? There’s no need to be so impatient. Just a little more time to finish this one off and I’ll soon be with you.”
Neither of the women responded. After a few more attempts, the glass began to crack before finally giving way. Isobel quickly cleared the glass and reached for the handle inside. The door sprang open.
Isobel looked at her friend. “You’ll have to do it.”
“Why me?” Kate continued to rub at her arm, trying to think around the shooting pain from her elbow.
“I’ve got no clue how to drive!”
Risking another look at what was happening between Oliver and Callum, she swiped the keys from the front seat and hastily climbed in. Her hands were unsteady and it took her a few attempts to get the keys in the ignition before she managed to turn the key and hear the car rumble to life. After taking a quick moment to berate herself for the recklessness of what she was about to do. She whipped on her seatbelt and put the car into gear.
Then she aimed right for Callum.
The car groaned as she went faster and faster, her trembling hands barely managing to change up gears as she pushed the vehicle on. The demon turned to face the car, his eyes temporarily wide with surprise before his face broke out in a wide grin and he held his arms out as if to embrace her.
The space between them was growing smaller and smaller, the pin on the speedometer climbed higher and higher-
Callum made contact with the car, his body bouncing against the windshield before flying backwards. Kate lurched forwards, her hair flying about her before she was yanked back by the seat belt, her foot pressed heavily against the brake causing the tyres to squeal as she began to stop.
Her chest hurt and her neck was aching as she desperately tugged at the seatbelt in a bid to get it loose before falling out of the car. Her legs were unsteady, each step barely carrying her as she made her way over to Callum’s body nearby. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Isobel running over, her trainers slapping against the concrete floor as Oliver tried to pull himself upright.
When she was close enough, she peered at his face trying to block out the image of the thick black blood sticking to his skin and clothes. His eyes were shut and as Isobel finally reached her side, she exhaled heavily.
Isobel was crying, tracks of moisture marring her face as she grasped Kate into a hug. “Oh god, Kate-“
A hand grabbed Kate’s ankle. Isobel screamed as her friend swivelled around to see Callum’s deformed face sneer and try to pull Kate towards him, his other shoulder useless at his side as he tried to use her to move. Her feet were slipping on the pool of blood beneath him as she tried to fight him off, her ears ringing and her heart tight with fear-
A bright light overcame then and Kate shielded her eyes. A loud inhumane cry filled the air causing Kate to go cold as the grip around her ankle loosened before the brightness behind her arm began to fade and she risked a peek behind her sleeve.
Oliver was stood over the now smoking pile of ash, his chest rising and falling quickly as he stared down at the remains of the demon before lifting his head to look at her. “Are you alright?”
Suddenly exhausted, Kate sank to the floor. Her hands slapping the cement as her bum connected with the ground. Overcome with emotion, she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Yeah, I think so.”
Seeming to understand, he gave a small nod. “I think it’s time that I get you both out of here.”
She couldn’t agree more. As he reached out a hand, she took it- refusing to look at the remains of the being they were leaving behind. As Isobel took her other hand, her friend gave it a squeeze and allowed Oliver to rest his free hand on her shoulder.
Without another moment’s delay, they were gone, the familiar sensation of air rushing over her oddly soothing after the commotion of what had just happened.
Oliver dropped them off at the school and, as Isobel slowly lowered herself to the ground and tried to catch her breath, Kate looked at the angel. “Thank you.”
He gave a small nod in acknowledgement. “I will see you again soon, Kate.”
Before she could ask what he meant, he had gone. Shaking her head in disbelief and trying to ignore the sensation of the blood caking the bottom of her shoes and trousers, she helped her friend to stand and held her tightly against her side. “Come on, I think it’s time we went home.”