Written by Robyn Woodward
‘Of course we won’t get caught,’ I insisted, hoping my voice wouldn’t give away the secret hope that we would.
‘Are you sure?’ Even Astrid looked worried. She was usually the bravest of us all.
Behind her, back on the dusty road, Hannah played with the ends of her hair and Max was studying his shoes like he hadn’t even heard.
‘Sure I’m sure. And even if we do, so what? What will they do? What will anyone do? That’s the problem with the people in this town – no guts.’
My heart thumped. I could practically feel my blue eyes glow, and I had to sweep a hand across my forehead to hide the sweat. My fringe glinted gold in the afternoon sun – a look of purity and angels, my mother had always said, just perfect for the devil to play with. She was probably right.
I crouched back down and parted the thick grass, taking the shadows off what we’d found.
‘So – are you in?’
I looked up at Astrid, and she glared down at me, as if waiting for me to back down... I stared down at the grass, at the object hidden there, (ready to be dug up) wishing the ground would just open up and swallow me...
I said quietly. Astrid pulled me up and smiled triumphantly.
‘Great! Now go get your boyfriend and sister in on it too!’
I obediently walked over to Max and bit my lip. He turned and smiled at me,
‘You told her no, right?’
He asked, his green eyes glimmering with hope. They lost their spark as soon as I shook my head, and he groaned,
‘Here you go again, Cassie, following her round like you’re her dog, or something. It’s time to start thinking for yourself, or you won’t have me around to back you up.’
I stared at him, eyes wide and they brimmed with tears. I turned away and ran down the road, not caring whether anyone else was following. If I'd have turned round, I'd have seen all three of the others puzzling over where I’d run off to, Max confessing, and them all giving chase and coming after me. I kept running, tears flowing down my face like a small river, wishing it was all just simpler. I turned the corner, into a dark alleyway and slumped against the wall. I heard the faint shouting voices of the people I thought were my friends and closed my eyes before sitting down on the dirty floor. Usually I was a clean freak, but I couldn’t be thinking of that now. I was on my own, and there was nothing I could do about it. My boyfriend had pretty much dumped me there and then, and my best friend would probably jump straight on him when she knew we were finished. I was just about to get up and walk home alone, and then a spine chillingly smooth voice came creeping from the corner of the dead ended alleyway, by the bins, just out of the light.
‘Don’t go. I haven’t introduced myself yet...’
My head snapped round and I looked into the gleaming orange eyes of a boy. I gulped slightly and he moved close to me, pressing his hands either side of me on the wall. I looked down, deliberately avoiding his mysterious eyes. He chuckled, not moving an inch to give me leeway so I could escape. I began to get worried very quickly and opened my mouth to scream for help.
‘Oh no you don’t... I want to be friends...’
My scream withered away and a tiny, pathetic whimper, and he grinned, showing a row of straight, white teeth and I kneed him where I knew it would hurt. He keeled over and growled,
‘You’ll regret that... Cassandra.’
He managed to groan through gritted teeth. As soon as he uttered my name, it hit me that I’d made a huge mistake. I’d just angered someone I didn’t even know, but who somehow knew my name. I ran from the alleyway and straight home, ignoring any looks or calls of ‘Are you okay?’ from people walking down the street. I didn’t want to turn back, didn’t want to look behind me, but I had to know if whoever I’d just met, was following me... I kept running as I looked behind me, and found no one there. I turned back to look where I was going just in time to run straight into a lamppost. I sank to the floor, already unconscious.