Search Home Read Write Forum Login Register
Volume I

An aged woman ran the paper-fine skin of her fingers across the small, ornate box before her. A film of dust clung to the grooves of her fingertips; it had been many years since she had last caressed the whorls and lines of the dark wood. She had kept it hidden in a cabinet in her chambers, always locked, always safe. That was where she stored her most treasured possessions, though she had few she held dear.

This was not one of them. She kept this box hidden out of fear, not of what it could do, but of the danger it represented and the wash of guilt it brought in her. She could see the face of a young boy etched in the fine lines of the wood; it was a face that haunted her. It was a face that reminded her not simply of whom he had become, but whom she had also, and how he had been instrumental in that.

She had found in her years that nothing could age the youthful soul like guilt and regret. 


The enclaves could scarcely be made out in the sheath of darkness which seemed to bathe the ceiling of the castle, appearing to drip down the walls in thick and heavy curtains. The darkness was suffocating, watching with eyes that were black on black, hidden within its depths but watching nonetheless.


The girl seated on a narrow bench in the vast corridor gripped the hard oak beneath her fingertips. Her translucent skin gleamed white around her knuckles. Standard issue black shoes tapped an erratic beat on the unforgiving stone underfoot.


The girl's face was drawn. Exhaustion and indecision lingered on the fair plains of her face and shone in the grey light of her eyes. Swiftly she stood. The action seemed to denote a certain amount of assuredness that she did not feel.


Her long drawn breath seemed to rattle about in her chest as she looked at the large and foreboding door before her. The decision made seemed simple enough to act on: walk ahead and turn the knob, or turn and run.


A strong and churning part of her knew that to do the latter would be to sign away a part of her, a strong and inherently good part that was salvageable only by admission of the truth. But to do that would be akin to admitting her part in it all, her guilt. Though it was no physical crime she had committed, her knowledge of it and her refusal to act amounted to the same outcome.


And now a girl was dead.


The knowledge and the constant reminder was like a spear through the centre of her, a small and aching hole that she could at times ignore when the distraction was keen, but in quiet moments it stretched and frayed and hollowed her out.


It was a guilt that consumed her, particularly in moments such as that one, when she was lost in contemplation and abhorrence of her actions, was bitterly disappointed in the feebleness of spirit that she would never have thought her own.


It was in those moments when his languid voice could not reach her thoughts to tangle them in dark and sordid suggestions, whispers that made her do and think and be unlike herself. Unlike the good person she knew, somehow, she was.


She stepped closer and touched slim, white fingers to the cool metal of the doorknob. The chill seemed to jolt her and she stood back to look around. Surely the man, her teacher, who resided beyond the office door, knew she was there. In the same way his piercing eyes had seemed to understand her predicament and recognise her need to tell it to someone who could fix a thing so far beyond her control.


He could not have possibly known the truth of her story though; it was only hers and his and he would never tell.


The girl's fingers twitched and she squeezed her eyes closed. The opening of a door was seemingly so simple an act and yet it would be the beginning of a change for her, a seismic shift in the small mirror of events she knew. It would bring about an outcome she could neither foresee nor control.


By doing the right thing, by admitting this great secret, she would be binding herself to the event and to everything that had taken place before it. She could still walk away now and pretend she did not know the truth, was an innocent in this game of dark deeds.

And yet she would always know, even if others did not. She would always know what had happened, and she knew that despite her fear, it was something she could not hope to live with.


The girl shivered violently as an image of him flared between her scattered thoughts. If she opened the door she would be solving the problem he presented; she could extract herself from his grasp, the danger that he was and the dangerous way he changed her even when she was conscious of him doing it.


He was manipulative in a way that made her fearful because she could not understand it, or his motivations. She could not understand his sway on her. The absence of self-control he wrought in her was the most dangerous part.

She could tell the truth now and escape him, escape his hold. And she should do it, she knew she should. She was a good person, a true person that had, lamentably and horrifically, been led astray. She thought her teacher might understand that, might forgive her.


And yet to do the right thing, to ignore his dark and senseless hold on her was not so easy a thing to do. Beneath the chillingly seraphic features, the beauty that was beguiling; lurked something she could not understand or fully acknowledge. Something that rippled and disturbed. It was a sort of darkness, a density in his spirit that she feared could not be erased. It was like the bleak and blackness that crept around her now, consuming.


The girl lifted her chilled hands to press against the hollows of her cheeks and brush back the errant wisps of dark hair that clouded around her face. They fell at her sides as she stared at the door again. Slowly, she lifted her hand, a purposefulness coursing through her. Her fingers wrapped around the knob.

"Minerva." The word carried on a whisper, just as the wind whistles through a crack in a window: ominous and possibly not there. This voice was real, though she had heard it many times before, wrapping up her thoughts in a black and twisted spell.

Her fingers trembled and loosened their grip. She lifted haunted eyes to see a tall boy emerging from the cloak of darkness in the corridor. His posture showed a sort of calmness in the way his arms rested, without tension, by his side.

Despite the absence of light, his pale skin glowed white with shadow darkening the hollows and plains of his face. His eyes were dark and heavy upon her. Waiting.

Her fingers tightened once more around the small brass knob, and then released it. Her arms fell limply to her side.

"Tom," she whispered on a sigh.


Track This Story: Feed

Write a Review

out of 10


Get access to every new feature the moment it comes out.

Register Today!