Three hours later the worst part of boarding a trolley to downtown Kenosha wasn't that I had no real idea where I was going. It wasn't that I spent the last couple hours aimlessly walking or that I started a fight with the only real friend I had in this town.
It also wasn't even the fact that it started raining as night approached. As I stared out my window as the trolley kept making stops and pickups, the very worst part of replaying my argument with Sam was realizing that he probably wasn't wrong. I really was always putting myself in the midst of our father and his relationships.
I was always contributing my two-cents even though I didn't care for their commentary when it came to my own life. I was always causing mischief by pushing my father and brother to their limits, doing all the things I knew I really shouldn't be doing. I never liked following rules, plain and simple.
It was as I nearly smiled at the thought of how furious our father would be if Sam told him I run off that I realized my brother may have had a point – I am conceded. That was a sad realization.
"Close your eyes and count to ten," I whispered to myself. That was the saying my mom had always told me when Sam and I would struggle with something. Closing your eyes and counting to ten sometimes provided you ten seconds of clarity you wouldn't have had before counting. God help me, I knew I needed the clarity. All I wanted was life to return to the way it had been in my childhood. Mom and dad were both in love and happy. Mom was always around when you needed her. Dad didn't bury himself in work and become an absentee parent. Sam didn't need to multitask playing big brother and alternative parent figure. Back then, I would've been thrilled to be back in Kenosha with my loving but harebrained grandparents. Now as I rode the dark trolley this town was just a sad reminder I didn't have a happy family life. I hadn't for years.
"Closing eyes and counting to ten; as if that would help anything," an annoyed voice grumbled a couple seats behind me. The man who spoke held a strange accent that couldn't be placed. It was strangely tinted with maybe an English accent crossing with an Australian one. It took me a moment to register someone had just made fun of my off-hand comment to myself. A female somewhere behind me sighed. "She is mortal, Triton. Human's develop coping mechanisms for when life becomes a tad difficult," she said, her voice sounding as lovely as a gentle breeze. "They are fairly not too different from ourselves."
The male snorted at this statement. "Difficult? She is someone who does not look as though she has reached her twenty-first year of living. The fact that young mortals believe they need coping mechanisms is a joke."
It took me a minute to register that the two were talking exclusively about me. It was shocking to think people would be talking this loudly about someone right in front of them. I talk about people behind their back all the time but at least I could say I held the decency to do it in a whisper. I sunk lower in my seat.
"Perhaps the girl is having a bad day," the female voice allowed, yawning ever so slightly.
"Yes. I bet she has it difficult with her porcelain skin and pretty features. Perhaps she struggles beating men or women away with a broom over their jealousy for her beauty," the man with the lovely accent snorted.
I swiveled my head while trying to overhear the rest of the strange conversation. Were they still talking about me? "You seem to be forgetting you are a mortal at night, friend. One who must rely on human transportation to transport himself places."
The male laughed softly. "I gather you are trying to strike a point, Ara?"
"My point old friend is that you should have thought about speaking about the mortal in front of her while she is able to hear you. Now, you have just let on that you are speaking about her. Why else is she craning her neck to listen in on your words?"
"Mine alone? Come now, don't be daft enough to believe she can only hear me-"
"I'm invisible, genius."
That alone was what caused me to sit up on my spot and start peering over the seats to see the couple who was talking. My eyes widened by what I saw. There was a couple in the back, two people who looked like they walked straight out of a modeling catalogue.
The man looked to be in his early twenties. His bronze colored hair was in a messy and unkempt way. It was almost as if he purposely attempted to achieve this look, or, he simply hadn't bothered looking in a mirror lately to fix it. His sun kissed skin and perfect complexion made him alluring to look at. The man rivaled the most gorgeous of male models I had ever seen in print. He looked tall even though he was slouching in his seat. His torso looked as though he either worked out or was simply blessed with an amazing body. But it was his eyes that were his most striking feature. They were a vibrant color that looked crossed between the prettiest blue and green.
The woman next to him was identical in beauty although she and the man looked nothing alike. This girl had long legs covered by black leggings. Her costume she was dressed in looked as though she had come from an old country fair. It was gold and engraved in strange patterns I wouldn't know how to describe. While on anyone else it would look silly, this costume only made the girl look more beautiful. Her jet-black hair was long and shiny, tied in a neat braid that went down her left shoulder. The girl's skin was a creamy white, her blue eyes were an even brighter blue than Sam's. Her lips were red and full, looking as though she did not use or need any sort of makeup to enhance them to make them lovely.
While the woman looked me right in the eye, the guy looked directly at the floor, as if he were trying to avoid being seen. That alone made him look somewhat childish. He was sulking. I realized there was no one else in the back of the trolley beside this beautiful couple. I could only goggle at the man like an idiot. He was that pretty.
Suddenly the young man's eyes snapped up to stare directly at me. Even though the prettiest pair of eyes I had ever seen were staring back at me, the owner of those gorgeous eyes didn't seem like the type of person I wanted to start a conversation with. The young man looked foul tempered as he watched me in annoyance. "Oi, what are you looking at?" the man asked in his heavily accented voice.
Still feeling surprised the beautiful couple was able to carry on a conversation about me in front of me, I felt at a loss for words. "Er...Are you two performing an act or something?" That had to be what they were doing. There was a performing art center a few blocks away. These two had to be actors. If not for their little charade then for their costumes.
"You can see her?" asked the man as he tilted his head to the side to watch me.
My eyes widened as I partially wondered if the gorgeous young man was a tad mentally imbalanced. I took in his appearance. He wore a tight fitted long-sleeved black top that looked like a surfer's shirt. A strange type of black pants covered his legs, looking similar to a karate gee. He was also barefoot. This was strange.
He was barefoot on a trolley at night looking like a wannabe surfer from California. The woman beside him suddenly stood, overlooking me as if I was a strange monster from another planet. If not actors, these two were probably crazy. Night was approaching; the more stops the trolley made, the seedier looking of people seemed to be getting on. Walking away from Sam and my grandpa no longer seemed to be as grand of an idea as it had previously been. Standing slowly as the trolley came to a stop, I tightly grasped my purse as I moved towards the front. "Weirdo," I muttered under my breath, not sparing the gorgeous people another look.
Even though I spoke in barely a whisper, the man laughed across the trolley. "Nice to meet you as well," he replied. It was as if he heard my comment just fine. Peering behind me I found the man was chuckling as the girl beside him continued to watch me strangely. Her eyes were narrowed, her brows furrowed in concentration.
Kenosha was close to Chicago. The shoreline of the lake ran all the way up the coast of Wisconsin and even partially down in Illinois. I should've known even in the lake-side town there would be weirdos wandering around this time of night. I was no longer in my old stomping grounds of North Carolina. That was the place where little old ladies sat on porches drinking sweet tea while children stayed out late in the summer time catching fire flies.
Instead, I was close to a big city. People stayed out late going to nightclubs and unscrupulous individuals rode the nighttime trolley. I was completely regretting not staying by Sam. If I had, I would have been fed a big dinner and dessert before going to bed with Pele and our cobwebs. At this point it was only a fifteen-minute walk to my grandparents' house. I would have tried riding the trolley all the way home, but they stopped running past eleven.
Taking a deep breath, I welcomed the long walk along the beach to make it back to the house. I could've chosen to walk the sidewalks by the street, but, I liked the water. The sound of the small waves gently lapping at the shore was comforting. The lake had a different smell then the ocean but it was nonetheless enjoyable. Memories of childhood flooded my mind and gave me a smile. I missed the starry nights by the lake and the cool breeze that would come from it late at night. As much as I hated being reminded of my broken family by being in this town, I relished being able to see Lake Michigan again.
During my walk I approached a small ledge of rocks on the beach. I jumped off without thinking. Having it being so dark out with the exception of a few large light posts every couple feet away, I didn't notice how far off my jump was. This was stupid to do in wedges. I wobbled to my knees before standing.
"Hey," A man's voice said. "How are you?"
I jumped in surprise. I hadn't been expecting someone to be down here. That was another reward I deserved for not looking how deep this drop was before I jumped. I could smell the man before seeing him properly. He wreaked of alcohol. It was such a strong odor it almost smelt like he splashed it on himself to bathe in. The man before me was tall and stocky. He was maybe in his late twenties or early thirties but I couldn't tell given the lack of light. He had an entirely bald head but had a large goatee coating his jaw and mouth.
The man wasn't alone. One guy seemed to be starting a nearby fire a distance away while another two were swigging out of bottles. I couldn't see too well but the scent of alcohol and the multiple bottles around were a tell-tale sign that these men were drunk.
"Are you the singer?" asked the guy huskily, grinning at me like a fool.
Bleak memories of stranger danger danced through my head. My mom had always warned Sam and I growing up never to talk to strangers. Even though I was nearly an adult I felt strongly this now seemed like solid advice. I diverted my head down, quickly walking on the sand and ignoring the man.
"Heeeyyy..." another guy said, laughing lightly as he got in front of me. "Where you goin' pretty girl. We just wanna know if you're the singer." Even though this lanky man was nowhere near as burly as his friend, he still towered over me. I was only at 5'5 in heels and I was not a muscled girl. No part of my girly features screamed threat.
I tried to remain calm. These men weren't doing anything particularly bad; they were just scary drunk. "Er...I'm not," I answered quietly, not enjoying how small I was in frame compared to these men. Damn genetics. While Sam got a broad torso and muscled frame standing at 5'11, I got the short end of the genetics from my family by being small and slender. This was grandma Diane's fault for being so petite. Oh, what I would give to have a hundred extra pounds on me right now!
"You could be..." another man cooed drunkenly. "That's who Brad was hanging out with. The singer..."
"She doesn't look anything like the girl," the stocky man retorted. "Do you?" he said, speaking exclusively to my chest alone.
Keeping my head down I hurried past the tall man. But I wasn't quick enough at walking before the man grabbed my arm roughly. "Heyy we're not done with you, pretty girl. Where's Bradley??"
"Let go, please," I say, my eyes wide as I now deeply regretted running out on Sam and my grandpa.
"Nahh...I don't think you wanna leave just yet..." the stocky man drawled. "How bout' you get to doin' some of the fun things that Star chick was doing at the party?" He asked, rubbing his hand up and down my arm.
That was when I decided to run. I kept my purse close as I broke into a sprint down the sand. However, running in heeled sandals could only get you so far when a barefoot man chases you. The stocky man tripped me and caused me to go tumbling into a small sand bank. I hit the sand hard. My hands started shaking from my fear.
This was bad. The closest house on the beach was roughly a mile away. Most likeley, someone wouldn't be able see or hear this struggle given how dark it was and how loud the waves were pushing against the shore.
"HELP!!" I screamed regardless, knowing full well I had no chance against these guys given their height and weight. While female friends of mine played sports or took kickboxing classes, I painted my nails and watched YouTube videos on hair styling and makeup tutorials. I've never been a fighter. I suddenly regretted not attending a karate lessons with Sam two summers ago in favor of a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon.
"We just wanna talk." the guy drunkenly laughed.
I crabbed crawled away. Just as the man looked to be on the verge of picking me up or falling down on me, an ear-piercing shriek broke into the night. The sound was an insanely loud noise of nails on a chalkboard mixed with a strong whistle blowing. I near yelped given how horrible the sound was. The noise sounded ugly and shrill; enough to burst my eardrums if it continued at such a strong level. I covered my ears out of sheer pain, shocked the drunk men weren't doing the same. Instead, they all held a look of awe on their faces as they glanced around the large beach in wonder. "There it is again..." the lanky man said in a strangely awed voice. "It's beautiful."
I kept my ears covered even as the shrieking went down in volume. That was most definitely the wrong adjective. Just how drunk were these men they thought this horrid noise sounded beautiful? Beautifully awful, that's what it was. Stuffing toilet paper in my ears seemed like a better option than listening to the shrill squawking noise. I placed a mental bet with myself no one else could hear the sound given the houses were so very far away from the edge of the sandy beach.
"I've never heard something so wonderful..." one of the men whispered.
"Ahh...Is she here?"
I got myself to my feet, slowly relishing that this strange noise seemed to capture the full attention of the drunken men. Who knew what would have happened to her if they hadn't heard the noise! I was about to turn and run before I found she was face-to-face with a blonde woman dressed in a golden bikini top and a flowing sea-green skirt. Her long blonde hair was tied loosely in a braid as a cool decoration of sea shells and a deep green hair tie decorated it. Even in the dark, I could see this girl looked like a supermodel, somewhat rivaling the girl on the trolley in beauty. Even though I wore heels to present myself around 5'5 in height, this girl towered over me by being three inches taller than that while barefoot. This new arrival was so utterly gorgeous she was easily the type of woman who could make just about any girl take a hit at their self-esteem just by being in the same room as her.
"Hello," said the woman, her voice high but lovely. "You seem to be in need of assistance, darling," she purred, her statement revealing a very beautiful accent that sounded Australian.
I nodded, shivering gently. It was cold given it had only stopped raining after I got off the trolley. A light breeze was coming down the beach. How the woman cold wear such a revealing swimsuit given the chilly weather was unknown. She didn't look like the weather was affecting her. Looking back at the drunk men, I found they seemed preoccupied with the arrival of three more women who looked nearly as beautiful as the woman in front of me. The strange part of their arrival was I that hadn't heard a car arrive in the parking lot planted next to the arena. These women seemed to appear out of thin air.
"You should not travel alone," the woman beside me said quietly, watching me as I watched the men. "Men are dastardly beings who are always willing to take advantage of a pretty girl," she nodded gravely. I said nothing. How many weird people could I possibly run into in a single night? "You should run along, now," the young woman said, sounding bored. "Well...Perhaps you should take care of your wound, first," she continued, nodding her blonde head towards my legs.
It took a few moments to register what the girl was referring to. Scanning my bare legs I found blood was trailing down the back of my thigh. It was courtesy of a piece of glass from one of the broken beer bottles. It must have cut me as I fell onto the rough yet still damp from the rain sand. It was surprising the woman managed to see the cut given I had never turned my back to give her a glimpse of my bare legs. I ripped the glass out and was disappointed to find I would need a large bandage for the cut. Neosporin would be a good idea as well. Could you get tetanus from a broken bottle? I hoped not.
"My er...house is over that way," I say, barely noticing how the men and the newly arrived women seemed to be hitting it off perfectly. The men seemed to be incredibly desperate for attention as they surrounded the scantily clad women.
"Well, come along," the girl said kindly, beckoning for me to follow. "A dark place surrounded by men such as these is no place for an innocent mortal."
What are we hoping to see in future chapters?
Why did the mysterious stranger mean by his question?
YOU ARE READING
The Hunters of Artemis: A Siren's CallHorror
Sixteen-year-old Gabi Parker expects nothing exciting when she and her older brother move to the lake-side town of Kenosha, Wisconsin for the summer. It is soon discovered the lovely town has a strange habit of young men turning up dead in a grisly...