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A Brief Meeting.
I had to hand it to Rob, he sure did know how to throw a party.
Streamers, a banner with Timothy’s name on it, a giant three story cake, and of course every single medal Timothy had ever won sitting on the freshly polished mahogany table. It would've been great if I wasn’t the total weirdo at the party, and my cocky, smart alec step-brother wasn’t the birthday boy.
Oh, look at me rambling on about a birthday party that your not even at! I should probably start from the beginning but before that here’s a little word of advice; never agree to help an albino, blind kid.
Believe me it’ll get you in a looooooot of trouble. And I’m not just talking gangsters with guns, I’m talking about dragons, fairy princesses, and crazy trolls.
Now most of you have probably already shut this book, turned off your audio books, or deleted this PDF but if some of you are still hanging on then just please hear me out. I swear I’m not crazy! Well, not right now, at least.
Ok, time for the introductions. Hi! my name is Natalie Finch, I’m sixteen, and I have a pretty crazy story to tell you Sci-fi and Fantasy fans.
It was an early Saturday morning, and my step-father Rob had thrown some crazy B-day party for his son Timothy What’s-His-Last-Name.
It was a huge party, full of snobby, rich brat's and their rich pushover parents. Well I guess I can’t technically call them that, because that would be just like calling my family snobs.
Anyway, I was just watching the snobs waltzing around in their overpriced dresses, holding their little cups of champagne, and feeling totally sorry for myself.
I mean Timothy wasn’t even born today! Me and Nathanial where! But of course my mother had come up with the brilliant idea of pretending that Timothy was my new twin. The weird thing was that my name wasn’t on the banner with Timothy’s, my mother said she didn’t have the money but I knew better.
She just didn’t want to bother with her own flesh, and blood.
Crazy right? I mean honestly you can’t just replace your son!
Oh, there I go again! My mother says I tend to ramble, but of course she always finds bad things to point out about me.
My eyes flitted to my mother who was talking up a couple of singles, and holding two glasses of champagne. My mother once told me, while holding three of the same colored, and shaped vases just “because”, that Maude Greene had “no restraint,” and “could stretch her husband's credit card, until it was as long as Texas.” But of course I knew the truth, sure Maude had a big house, but she needed three jobs to keep it. Her husband, who was serving in the Military, tried his hardest to keep Maude out of debt by sending money, but the house payments kept her on her toes.
I stood, and took a sip of my lemonade.
Why was I even here? It’s not like anybody really liked me, they called me a “Hoodlum.”
Back to the story.
I drank the rest of my lemonade, and started towards the sliding glass door. I pulled on my jacket, and opened it slowly.
“Natalie, where are you going? I want to introduce you to a boy.” I turned and my mothers smiling face stared down at me.
“Just out.” I said, crossing my arms.
“He’s really nice!” She says cheerfully.
“Oh, well I already hate him!”
My mother cocked her head to the side.
“You haven’t even met hi-”
“Mom, whoever you choose for me will be a Harvard guy, with millions of dollars, and a Mustang. And like I said I hate those kinds of guys. So just stop.”
My mother shakes her head.
“Well honey, this is your party. Don’t you want to enjoy it?”
I laughed, and opened the door the rest of the way. “How is this my party? His name is everywhere! And what about Nathan?” I asked.
I wasn’t even talking that loud but my mother still looked behind her, I felt a pang.
“Just a few minutes, okay?”
She shook her head, “Well, alright but come back in when you get cold, I hate when your nose is all red. Oh, and I still want you to meet that guy, so don’t be long.” She smiled, and shoved me outside.
The cold weedled it’s way through my ombre hair, making it dance. It felt good to be out here, the only problem was that you could get lost in this garden of roses.
I had always hated them, but my mother adored them, maybe it was because roses had two sides. One side was beautiful, and enchanting, the other was full of thorns that made you bleed.
I smiled, these roses where much like my mother.
I made my way over to the gazebo in the middle of the thorny wasteland my mother adored. It was quiet out here, but I still felt as though I was hearing voices.
I shook my head, trying to clear my ears. It had been a while since my mother forced me to get treatment for my hearing, but I still felt as though a voice was lodged in there telling me what to do.
The first time I heard the voice it had been only three days since I had treatment. The voice was faint at first, but it gradually got louder, until I felt as though the person that owned the voice was right next me, whispering secrets into my ear.
Usually the voice would whisper nonsense, words that made no sense to me, and never would. But other times the voice would answer questions that had been burning in my head, and other times it would warn me about dangers.
It warned me about Nathan.
But I didn’t listen. I never did.
Two years ago today Nathan died.
And it had been my fault.
I shook my head and settled down on a bench, blowing on my fingers. It was freezing and I could hardly feel them anymore, I should have brought out gloves.
I dropped my hands, giving up on warming them, and traced a circle in the snow littering the bench, a smile lit up my face as memories of Nathan swam to the surface.
It’s strange how later on you remember small details that you had never noticed before. Such as the fact that Nathan had been wearing a nice wool scarf, and the leather jacket I had bought him, the day he died. Which was today.
I thought that he never wore it, but I was wrong. He had worn it.
I sigh and stand. The cold has numbed me. It’s time to return to my wonderfully dull life!
Wow, I sound just like my mom: Overly cheerful!
I cautiously descended the stairs, and began walking to the sliding glass door. I was at least three feet from the door when my voice piped up.
Distance. It is the key.
I swiped at my ear, and came to a stop. Distance? Huh? What did that mean? Was I too close to the door? No, this was my home, I was supposed to walk through these doors.
Behind you! My voice insisted.
I wheeled around and caught sight of flaming red hair, and a green cloak. Distance?
I quickly sidestepped, and ducked behind a large rose bush.
Someone was wandering around my mom’s garden, watching me. How could I keep my distance, when whoever it was had broken into my backyard?
Distance. The voice said again, but like always I didn’t listen.
I peered around the roses and saw the green cloak disappear through the gate that leads to the neighbors yard.
I thought for a moment, trying to figure out what to do, the voice wasn’t being very helpful, it kept telling me to forget. But I was a wild child, and I wanted to know what that weirdo had been doing in my yard.
I swatted at my ear again, and began to run towards the gate. I vaulted over the top, and kept running. The girl was, thankfully, still in sight.
My hand shot out and grabbed the girls cloak, a squeal escaped her lips, and she came down screeching. I ducked out of the way, and watched the girl struggle to her feet.
Distance! The voice screeched.
“Shut up.” I whispered.
The girl stood up straight, and regarded me with cold, calculating green eyes.
“Who are you?” I hissed, “why were you in my mother's garden?”
For a minute I see distaste written all over her face, but she quickly rearranges her features into a bright smile, that’s dripping with honey, and something else.
“I’m so sorry! You see I just loved your roses so much, that I had to see them up close!”
Her smile widens, “I didn’t really think that it would be private property. Well I guess I didn’t think at all!”
I stare at her, my eyes narrowing.
I finally realized what's wrong with that smile.
It’s full of venom.
I shrugg, trying to mask my discomfort.
“Well, just stay off next time.”
She steps forward, and I nearly gasp.
I thought her skin was pale, but now that she’s close enough, I see that her skin is a very light shade of green. And I can also see that her hair isn’t a red/orange color, it’s as red as the roses in my mother's garden.
Did she dye her skin?
The name that comes to mind is “Poison Ivy” from the DC comics my brother adored, but that doesn’t seem right, Poison Ivy isn’t real.
Well I guess that’s not entirely true, this girl is an exact replica of her.
So is she real? Or not?
I shake my head, trying to clear my thoughts.
She stares into my eyes, and I quickly glance away, noticing that her wrist has a simple thorny vine wrapped around it, and there’s a small rose from my mother's garden at the base.
“Hey!” I protest, “you stole one of my mother’s roses!”
She laughs, “You flaunt them so much that I couldn’t resist!”
“Who are you?” I ask once again, I expected it to come out as a sort of hiss but it comes out more like a calculated question. One that sounds as though I have thought about it for a while. Her smile brightens when I think about this and she steps back, responding with a quick “nobody.” That makes me think of more questions that have been lurking in the recesses of my brain. I feel as though these questions have not been answered, instead they have produced more questions.
And I have a feeling as though these questions are just the beginning.
As the girl trots off, I stand there for a moment, trying to process what just happened. Meanwhile the voice is screeching like a banshee, using words I hardly understood.
“Will you shut your mouth!” I screech, “I can’t stand you.”
I didn’t expect it to work, but the voice abruptly went quiet. For how long I didn’t know. But I suspected it wouldn’t last very long.
I pulled my coat tighter around me, and began the long trek home.
Well it wasn’t a long trek, but it adds flair! Doesn’t it?
When I was only a couple of feet from the garden, my voice broke it’s silence.
Not Gone. Only missing. Follow the voice.
“Ugggghhhh!” I complained, “Just please be quiet! You make no sense anyway, so why talk?”
But, like always, the voice didn’t acknowledge me, but it kept talking, saying the same things over and over again. I attempted to tune out old Voicey, but it was next to impossible.
“Alright Voice, can you just be quiet until we get home?”
The Voice went quiet a moment.
You need me, I can’t be quiet.
I was stunned.
A direct answer? An arrogant Voice in my head? What was happening?
“And why do you think I need you?” I asked, bitterness in my Voice.
I don’t need anyone, especially an arrogant, jerky, Voice in my head.
I have been with you for as long as you can remember. I am your oldest friend. I have helped you with decisions, and warned you against danger. Now tell me, does that sound like someone you don’t need?
I shook my head. The Voice made a logical point.
I am always logical.
The Voice said sounding very stuck-up.
“I thought I told you to shut up. And I don’t have to listen to you, I don’t even know you.”
Like I said, I am your oldest friend. The Voice said matter of factly.
“Fine, your right” I said grudgingly. The Voice was really ticking me off.
I was only five feet from the sliding glass door, when the voice spoke up once more.
Winter, he’s close.
I snort, “no kidding! I had no idea you wanted to be that right!”
No, not Winter, Winter, I mean Winter!
“Your literally making no sense.” I say.
“Hi.” A voice chimes up.
I turn around, and face a boy with nearly translucent white hair, white skin, and pale blue eyes. Great another weirdo is in my yard!
I stare at him, and he smiles.
“Winter…” I say quietly, “Is that what you meant Voice?”
Yes! The Voice grunts, Bout time!
Winter stares into the distance, his lips still wound up in a smile
“Who are you talking to?” He asks.
“No one.” I answer, “How did you get in my yard?”
“The gate, it’s open.”
He only looks to be about Ten or Eleven, but the way he talks…..He sounds so much wiser than he’s supposed to be.
“My name is Winter, and i’ve come for your brothers help.” He says, his eyes still focused on something in the distance.
That’s one thing I've always had a problem with. I can’t stand it when a person won't look me in the eyes when talking to me.
“Listen kid, I have no idea who you are, or how your associated with my brother, but I can’t help you.” I cross my arms, and settle my features into a scowl.
I’ve had people come over and pretend to know my brother so they can get close to me, therefore getting close to my mother who gives my friends plenty of money. For no reason. Maybe she’s afraid that they’ll get tired of me and move on, so she feels the need to bribe them.
“Aren’t you Natalie? Nathan's sister? Surely you know where he is!” He steps forward, “I really need his help!”
I shake my head, “Look, he’s not here right now, and this little act is-.”
“Well, when will he be back?” He interupts.
His eyes flit around, avoiding my face completely.
“I don't like it when people don’t look me in the eyes, so why don’t you be a little more considerate!?” I say loudly.
He laughs, “I don’t even know where you are right now, so how would I look you in the eyes?”
He’s blind. The Voice offers, smug as ever.
I scowl, he can’t be blind. How would he have gotten here in complete darkness?
I step forward and wave my hand in front of his face.
“Oh.” I say lamely, taking a step back“sorry.”
“It’s ok, can you just tell me where he is?”
“The Catholic Cemetery, it’s at the Church, you’ll find him there.”
He looks surprised for a moment, then a look of confusion settles on his face.
“Why would he-?”
He looks down, understanding settling in.
“Oh, I ...didn't know” His eyes come to settle on his feet.
“Sorry, I can’t help you.” I say. I turn away from the boy, and take another step towards the door.
“Wait!” Winter calls, “maybe you can help me.”
I turn back around, and shake my head.
“He’s dead, ok? I’m sorry, but I really can’t help you!”
He talks under his breath, and smiles.
“Your siblings!” He insists, “surely you have the same talents.”
“Like I sa-”
“Please, meet me on Fifth street tomorrow at Ten. I know you can help! Your siblings after all.”
“I told you, I can’t help, so why don’t you just go back home. Kay?”
The boy stops, and turns back towards me, a frown on his cute little face.
“You don’t want to help me?” He asked, his lower lip quivering.
“I...I really don’t think there’s anything I can do ...I am sorry.”
He shakes his head, “But you can, I know it! I just know it!”
I sigh, “And how would I help you? I can't bring back the dead! It’s impossible!”
He smiles, his unseeing eyes boring into mine for the first time.
“Anything is possible.” He says as seriously as possible.
He turns toward the garden gate and takes a few steps.
“You know where to meet me!” He calls back over his shoulder.
I wait, expecting Winter to need help navigating his way out of here, but he leaves my sight without a single stumble.
“Odd kid.” I mutter.
I turn from the gate, and slide open the glass door.
She couldn’t help but laugh to herself when little tiny Winter appeared from behind Natalie.
Ivy knew there was nothing that kid could do. He was blind, and an outcast. How could he heal the rift that had been created so long ago?
The truth was, he couldn’t.
He wasn’t strong enough.
When he asked for Nathan, Ivy figured he would leave when he heard the answer. But he hadn’t.
Which meant that he wanted help from Natalie.
And that was not good.
But it didn’t really matter now. Ivy had what she needed to get rid of that girl.
She had a rose.
But it wasn’t just any rose, it was a special rose that, when mixed with the proper ingredients, would become a deadly poison.
It was a good thing that Ivy happened to have all of the ingredients.
The blood of the enemy.
She couldn’t take it from Natalie, she had a protection spell cast around her. Ivy couldn’t touch her.
But she could take it from Nathan.
He wasn’t dead so why not?
All she had to do was find him.
And kill him.
Ivy laughed. Her brother thought he could protect Natalie, but eventually he would be her downfall.
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