Teenage: “Be Gone” part 1 of the “In the Web of Time” trilogy

“IN THE WEB OF TIME” fiction for teenagers and young adults

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To get a taste of the book read an extract aptly entitled “Doubts and Niggles”-

Chapter 7

 

Doubts and niggles

 

          For several days now – maybe even two weeks – William had a disturbing feeling that he was being followed. He would not be able to explain it or back it up with any proof, but from the moment he woke up to the moment he closed his eyes at night, he felt he was not alone. Somebody’s eyes were constantly on him, somebody’s breath brushed against the back of his neck, he could hear footsteps behind him but when he turned there would be no one there. At least – not a person, but sometimes he would see a cat.

It was the same – as far as he could say – cat: black mostly, with some white on its paws and the end of its tail distributed evenly up to a certain level as if a perfectly black animal had been dipped in white paint up to its knees. Its whiskers were white too. The cat had huge yellow eyes. It would glare at William in a challenging sort of way. It would not waver or scurry away, but neither would it come any closer to him. It was always some ten steps away. Once William tried to approach it, but as soon as he extended his arms towards it, the feline creature bared its needle-sharp teeth and hissed at him. William stopped in his tracks. “Okay,” he said. “I get the message.”

The cat stared.

“Are you following me?” William asked marvelling at how ridiculous he must have sounded taking to a stray animal. “I’ve seen you around.”

The cat stared.

“Stop following me,” William raised his forefinger. “I’m warning you.”

The cat hissed, rose to his feet, arched its back lazily and strolled away. William looked around to see if anyone witnessed his strange exchange with the damned creature, but luckily he was alone. Well, not quite alone – the cat was there, somewhere in the hedge, William could see the pair of yellow eyes still peering at him. He set off for the school entrance – there was no point pursuing some stupid stray in the bushes.

William wasn’t a nerd, nor was he superstitious, he trained in martial arts and fencing – he could stand his own ground against anyone, but the problem was that he did not know how to confront someone who wasn’t quite there, or someone who wasn’t quite… human.

Perhaps it was his head playing tricks on him. He had been studying for his A-levels, preparing for the fencing tournament in April and chasing girls relentlessly for the past few months. It had to be some form of exhaustion.

Maybe he was going mad. There was a history of madness in the family, mum had let it slip once, which she had then fervently denied, but William wasn’t a fool. He knew there was something odd going on in their family on mum’s side as she would never speak of her roots and she did not seem to have any living – or dead – relatives. Unlike dad. Dad had a brother and two sisters, they had children – William’s cousins; there was a grandpa and a grandma on dad’s side and William used to stay with them in Kent during the summer holidays when he was younger. There would be Christmas cards and birthday money from dad’s family, but not a peep from mum’s. Mum stood alone as if her family had all died out or disinherited her. Or gone mad.

A heavy hand landed on William’s back. It made him jump. It was Oliver: restless, fiery with the flame of his red hair, and weird at the best of times.

“Going for a swim after school? Will race you.” He flung his books, tied up with a brown string into a neat parcel, over his shoulder as he pushed the front door open with his foot.

They were walking down the busy school corridor filled with familiar faces, some of whom would soon belong to the past. But not Oliver – he was also, like William, aiming for Oxford. They would meet there after the summer holidays. William was looking forward to getting away from home and living the life to the fullest – in no other than Oxford! It was just the small matter of exams this June…

“So how about that swim? Worried I’ll beat you?” Oliver reminded him with a self-assured grin.

“No, course not! You can’t beat me, as we both know,” William grinned back at him, “but I think I’m seeing Charlotte after school.”

“You think?”

“I wish I wasn’t. She can be tedious at times – all that walking her home stuff’s getting to me. I’ve no time for all that,” William sighed.

“You’re bored with her, aren’t you?” Once again Oliver banged him on the back with a heavy hand. He looked impressed. “You lucky bastard!”

“Luck has nothing to do with it.”

“Only the good looks, huh?” Oliver grimaced. With his thoroughly freckled skin and small matt-brown eyes void of eyebrows or expression, he wasn’t the best looking of boyfriend material on offer. Creepy, as Charlotte had once put it.

“Yeah, good looks and personal charm,” William smiled ruefully. He didn’t want to talk about it. Girlfriends seemed to come and go in quick succession. None of them could hold his attention for longer than a couple of months. They were too bland, too predictable. They wanted to be walked home, fought for, begged for favours, showered with gifts, but they had little to offer in return. There was something missing in all of them. William could not tell what it was, but he would know it the instant he found it. For now, he kept looking. Tirelessly and without any luck.

Deep down, William was a hopeless romantic. He yearned that great, one-in-a-lifetime love. He knew it existed. He felt it deep in his gut: the mystery, the tragedy, the intensity of it. He knew it was out there, he just hadn’t found it yet. Sliding on the surface of casual relationships was becoming wearisome. The girls were eating into his time, boring him with their gossip and vanity, envy and insecurities. Searching for the one-and-only was a cruel task – he had to break so many hearts as he went. It didn’t give him any pleasure to do that, but he had to find her. She was there. He knew she was. Sometimes he had a distinct feeling that he had already met her – she was almost like a memory: an unclear and distant memory, someone he had come across when he was a little boy or maybe in another lifetime… if he was to believe in such fantasies, which he did not. Of course, he didn’t.

Maybe it would be Emily. William gazed in her direction. They were in the same class for geography. She had only joined the college in September and kept pretty much to herself. There was that air of mystery about her, something still to be uncovered.

Mr Kemp, known as Forest-Kemp, the geography teacher was banging on about the richness of natural resources in the African continent. William was contemplating the richness of the natural resources of Emily Tomlinson. She was athletic, tall and very alluring.

During the lunch break, William took his leave of Oliver in the cafeteria and swaggered off to make better acquaintance with Emily Tomlinson. There was a non-descript girl sitting next to her and chatting with great animation. Emily was eating a pie, and William instantly regretted having chosen the fish.

“How’s the pie?” he asked as he slid into a seat opposite her.

The non-descript girl stopped talking and stared.

“Not bad,” Emily said.

“Not bad at all,” the non-descript girl reassured him now that she had recovered her voice.

“We haven’t really been officially introduced,” William was seizing Emily with his eyes, ignoring the other girl.

“Emily’s from Kent,” the other girl volunteered this gem of information.

“So am I!” William feigned surprise. “I mean, my dad’s family come all the way from Kent – Tonbridge.”

Emily smiled, “Small world.” Her eyes positively shone.

“So you’re here to stay? In Salisbury?”

“I should think so. We moved in with my stepfather, mum and I. Last summer.”

“Maybe I could show you bits of town?”

“Maybe you could.” She was playing hard to get and William hesitated for a moment. The non-descript girl counted herself out of the conversation and turned to talk to another friend on the other side of the table.

“Well? Would you like me to? We could start with the cinema tomorrow…”

“What film are they showing?” Emily asked.

“I don’t know. Don’t care,” William looked at her pointedly. “I just want to show you the cinema.”

Emily Tomlinson laughed. She was his.

After school, William was stuck with Charlotte at a deserted bus stop bench outside school. He knew he could not take her home because of what he had to tell her. He felt such a lowlife.

The weather had gone down the drain in the last couple of days. March was unpredictable. It started to rain: firstly small timid droplets splashing on the pavement, then more persistent, large ones bombarding the roof of the bus shelter, and finally a torrent – strings of water running down the glass walls and drowning parts of William’s conversation with Charlotte.

“Shall we go?” she asked. There was insecurity in her tone. She suspected something. Her very large eyes looked pleadingly at him.

“Dad’s back home.”

“We can go to my place.”

“I don’t think we should be doing it today.”

“I saw you with that new girl in the cafeteria…”

“Oh yeah, Emily. Geography – I mean we’re in the same geography group. Just… talking – geography… She’s from Kent, like my dad.”

“I didn’t know your dad was from Kent.”

“Now you do.”

Her eyes misted. He didn’t mean to be rude, it had just come out that way. He smiled at Charlotte clumsily.

“We can’t sit here forever,” she said. “The rain’s almost stopped.”

William stood up and opened his umbrella. “I will walk you home.”

“And then you can come in for a bit?”

“No, I don’t think so, Charlotte. I don’t want to do this anymore,” he blurted out at last. “I don’t want to lead you on. I’m sorry. This is not right, not for me. I’m sorry-“

“It’s Emily, isn’t it!” her lips curled down as if she was about to burst into tears.

“It’s nothing to do with Emily, or anyone. We’re not right for each other – you and I-“

At last the tears she had been holding back, poured out. Charlotte gave him one last, hurt look, turned on her heels and ran into the rain. William did not go after her. He watched her splashing water out of puddles as she ran through them mindless of her shoes getting soaked. She was a small girl, not very sporty at all. Something clenched his throat. He hated himself for being such a callous bastard. But he couldn’t help it. He didn’t feel anything for her, but pity. She was not the one. She awoke no feelings in him, but they were there, still untouched. Perhaps Emily Tomlinson…

Holding the umbrella over his head, with the other hand in his trouser pocket, William walked home. Again, he had this eerie sense of being watched. He stopped, looked around. The street was empty but for that stubborn stray cat. It had materialised from nowhere and was seeking shelter in the bus stop William had just left. It was glaring at him – if it wasn’t for the fact that it was only a stupid animal, William could have sworn there was stern, contemptuous disapproval in those feline eyes. He stopped and looked back at the creature. The rain water was bombarding his umbrella and sheets of water slid off its edges blurring the image of the cat with only those yellow eyes glowing uncannily in the semidarkness. He knew those eyes. He knew that cat. He dreamt of it the other day when he had thought he’d woken up to find a cat sitting on his bed, watching him. It was the same cat.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: In the Web of Time – love, revenge and eternal life « abevanswylie
  2. action2468
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 01:46:04

    If Emily deserts William he’ll really be in a fix. Great reading and thank you very much for sharing your great talents.

    Reply

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