It was to be a night of evils. I knew that the moment the sun set. As soon as the blues, violets, reds, greens, oranges and yellows drained from the sky it was clear. The evil vibes were almost tangible. Mystery hung in the air and fear was everywhere. I could taste the sadness and smell the sorrows. Horror and hatred weighed heavily in the clouds. It didn’t need to be spoken aloud, the fact was evident: Death was ready to strike. I knew all this and yet I went to the lake anyway.
I could get to the lake by taking a path through the woods that were in my backyard. It was so familiar and routine that I could easily get there blindfolded. Tonight, though, everything was different. I had trouble staying on the path, which had never happened before and really worried me. The wind blew fiercely, chilling the night air and making whistling and howling noises in the trees. I had to pull on a sweater to avoid the cold.
When I arrived at the lake, it was spooky as well. The full moon cast eerie shadows all over its surface. The stars didn’t seem to twinkle as they should. The sky had a strange reddish tint. No light from nearby homes shone through the trees, as it usually did at this time of night. The whole place had a somewhat grayish fog around it that reminded me of a dream scene in a TV show.
I was the first one out there; I always am. I like to get to the lake early so that I can get out to Shadow Island before everyone else. It’s a quiet little island that no one ever goes to anymore, except us. I find it to be a great place to go for inspiration, if I have a problem or if I just want to get away and think. Sometimes I even try to do astral projection. My grandmother has been trying to teach me to do it ever since I can remember. It hasn’t worked yet.
I quickly got into my paddle boat and started out for the island, Shadow
Island, as it’s called by the group. The group is Jessica, Alexa, Jeremy, Laurel, Michael, Patrick, Sean and I. We’re all friends from school…well, not exactly. We’re not all close friends, but each of us has at least one connection with the rest of the group. I’ll try to explain. First I’ll start with my closest friends.
Laurel has been my best friend practically forever. We share everything. She’s the only person I’ve told about how I get to Shadow Island early. Maybe someday I’ll tell Sean.
Sean is my boyfriend; he’s also a newcomer. He moved to Maple at the beginning of high school. We hit it off right away and were close friends, but I’d always secretly been in love with him. I had wanted desperately to ask him out, but I was too chicken to do it. I’d dreamt and thought about it constantly. One day I was in an upbeat, try-anything mood, so I finally just went ahead, gathered all my courage, asked him out and made my dreams come true. That was near the end of freshman year. We’ve been going out ever since, and now it’s October of our senior year.
It’s not like everything’s been perfect and peachy, though. We’ve had our share of fights, especially lately. Many girls are interested in him these days. It seems many guys are interested in me as well. It’s a jealousy thing. Sometimes I wonder if he still cares about me. He probably wonders the same about me. The truth is, I really do care about him, more than anything in the world, more than I’d be willing to admit to anyone, even myself. It’s just that showing things like that, deep feelings, has never been one of my strong points.
The fact that Alexa was after Sean didn’t help at all. Alexa is not someone who I get along with under any circumstances. I’ve heard that she’s into drugs, but I don’t know if I believe those rumors. What I do know for sure is that she’s a spoiled brat who gets whatever she wants no matter whom she hurts in order to get it. Alexa can also be violent if life doesn’t go quite the way she wants it to. Now she wanted Sean and I had the distinct feeling that I would get hurt eventually. More likely sooner than later. She loves a good fight almost more than getting whatever she wants handed to her on a silver platter.
Michael is Alexa’s twin brother. It’s as if he’s her keeper. It always seems like he’s taking care of her or helping her out of a situation. She probably wouldn’t even come with us if it weren’t for him.
Michael, Sean and Jeremy are best friends. Jeremy is a poet. I’ve read some of his work and it’s really good. He’s shy and quiet, too. He really doesn’t say much to anyone, except our group, and especially Jessica. Jessica is his girlfriend, an artist and a good friend of mine as well. She’s someone who loves to cheer people up or make them laugh. She’s an extreme optimist who never takes anything seriously and loves nothing more than painting pictures of smiling faces and sunny days.
Lastly there’s Patrick, who is just a guy who’s a friend to anyone and everyone. He’s one of those people who cares about people in general and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He’s the type of guy everyone can count on. Sometimes, though, I think he worries too much about others’ feelings and problems, and not enough about his own.
Every Friday night at nine we all come out to the island. It’s kind of a tradition. We’ve been coming to the island almost since we were in diapers and we’ve all become attached to it. It’s just somewhere to go to hang out. There aren’t really many places to go in Maple; it’s so small. We all love Shadow Island anyway.
On that particular night while I was paddling to Shadow Island, I wondered what it was that made me so sure that after tonight my life would never be the same. It was just a sense, a premonition. Usually I don’t pay too much heed to those things, but tonight was different, I’m not sure why. Evil was just lurking in the clouds and danger was hiding in the trees. There was no denying it was there. I knew I shouldn’t go to Shadow Island. I knew if I did, I’d regret it, but still I went. I have always been a curious person.
I reached Shadow Island and pulled the boat ashore. I looked for my favorite spot to try my astral projection. To my surprise, there was a girl lying there, right in my spot! I had no idea who or what she was, so I just watched her. She hadn’t seen me. She seemed to be concentrating really hard on something. I watched her tense features as she lie there, looking at the sky, and I wondered what she was thinking. All of a sudden, the sky illuminated with color. It just seemed to flare up out of nowhere. It looked like the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, which was crazy because that doesn’t appear in this part of the country. I now didn’t need to hear it spoken aloud to know what the girl was thinking. The sentence just seemed to hang in the air, “I wonder what it would be like to be up there, to be part of that.” With that, the girl just floated up towards the Aurora and vanished, just like that! The Aurora then disappeared as well.
“Wow,” was all I could utter. That was so strange. It had to be my imagination. I didn’t really know what else to think, so I just settled down in my usual spot.
Astral projection is something that’s hard to explain. My grandmother has done it since she was a child and is convinced that I, too, will be able to do it. The main thing is that you can supposedly go wherever you want just by concentrating hard on it. Instead of virtual reality it’s virtual traveling. It’s a form of meditation where you can’t think in words, just images and emotions, and it’s said that you can actually visit places and see things while doing this. The idea really fascinates me. My grandmother says it’s a skill that’s hereditary and that all I need is to keep trying.
That night I was lying there, trying to do this, trying not to think in words (which is next to impossible). I was concentrating as hard as I possibly could when the Aurora suddenly appeared again. I didn’t know what to do. Then I begin to think about being up there…visualizing it…wondering what it’d be like…
Right then I could feel myself rising up, higher and higher, towards it. One thought entered my mind: a clear, strong, NO. I opened my eyes and I was back on the ground where I’d been before. I breathed a sigh of relief. Had it worked? Was that what astral projection felt like? I was relatively sure that’s what happened. I noticed that it was the word no that brought me back. I was just a little too scared to go through with it Besides, the group would be arriving soon. I got up and started walking around, waiting for them. I was too nervous to stay still. I was afraid that if I did I’d just float away.
The group arrived shortly. Sean was first. He greeted me with a warm hug and a teasing, “First again, huh?” They all loved to bother me about always being the first one out to Shadow Island. “Yeah, you got it.” I replied.
He was followed by the others. Michael and Alexa both hadn’t come. I, personally, was glad about Alexa.
The evening started out okay. We just sat around in a circle, talked, gossiped and caught up on all the news at school. At one point, Patrick pulled me aside and said to me, “I’d be careful around Alexa tonight.”
“What are you talking about? Alexa’s not even here. And why would I have to be careful around her, anyway?” Boy, was I defensive!
“Earlier, she called me up to bring her home from a friend’s house because she was too drunk to drive. During the entire ride all she talked about was Sean, and how she loved him. Basically she was just babbling. She was mad as a hatter! She told me she wanted to kill you. Then she mumbled a lot more, and I couldn’t even understand half of it because she was really drunk and everything she said was slurred. One thing I did get from the conversation was that you’re not exactly her favorite person in the world right now. She was furious with you. She also kept saying, ‘Just wait until tonight, just wait,’ and I’m worried. You know how she gets when she’s mad. Everything and everyone is her enemy, and she can be violent.”
“Yeah, I think everyone knows about her violent streak, but if you’re worried about my losing Sean to her, you’re crazy. In her dreams, maybe,”was my reply. I sounded confident, but I had my doubts. What if Sean really liked Alexa? That Cheshire-cat-smile of hers could work wonders. What if she twisted him around her little finger as she did everyone else? I’d kill her, I swear I would.
We rejoined the group. Sean said to me, “Let me guess, a new boyfriend?” He tried to sound playful, as if he was just teasing me, but he looked bitter.
“No,” I snapped, a little hurt, “just having a little discussion, that’s all.” This whole thing between the two of us was getting to be pretty stupid and childish in my opinion. It was really getting out of hand.
Then another boat came ashore. There were Michael and Alexa. Michael sprinted over to us as soon as the boat landed. “Guys! Guys! It’s Alexa, she’s loaded! I’ve never seen her like this before. I don’t know where she got the drugs or anything, but she’s stoned out of her mind! I think it’s acid. That’s known to make people violent. She’s scaring me. She looks like she’s working for the devil or something,” Michael said while gasping for breath, “I tried to get her to stay home, and not come here, but she insisted.”
“Oh dear,” Jeremy said softly in the quiet, melodic voice he has, “I remember last time Alexa went off the deep end. Didn’t she give someone a concussion or send someone to the hospital or something like that?” He looked genuinely scared. His question was never answered.
Just then, all Hell broke loose. In other words, Alexa came ashore. I could tell right away she was on something. I got very nervous.
“Hey Alexa, how’s it going?” I asked, trying to sound cool and casual even after all those warnings I’d received.
“Shut up, bitch,” she retorted with such contempt and venom in her voice that I knew she just despised me. I could tell just by looking at her that she was wasted. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like whatever was to come next. I was right.
`”OK, guys, listen to me. If you don’t, you die,” were the next words that came out of her mouth. Jessica started laughing hysterically just at the way Alexa was walking and the gargled way she was talking. Alexa shot her a look to stop a herd of elephants. It was positively evil. Then she pulled out a gun. That stopped Jessica’s laughter immediately.
“Wha-what?” Jessica stammered.
“I have some unsettled business I need to take care of.” Right then I got really scared, I mean really scared. I’d never seen her act like this before, and with a gun, too! I’d never seen anyone act like this before, for that matter, only on TV, or in books.
“OK, are you listening? Jessica, Michael, Laurel, Patrick and Jeremy, I want you all to get in your boats and go home, and pretend nothing happened. The other two, must stay. They are the ones I need to settle with, now MOVE!” Alexa commanded.
Patrick started to protest, “Alexa! Are you out of your mind? You can’t do this!”
“Oh, but I can,” she replied. Her voice was as sweet as sugar. “You don’t have to worry about that part of it.” Then she added more fiercely, “What you may have to worry about is your life if you don’t get out of here soon.” That quieted Patrick.
I grabbed Sean’s arm. This couldn’t be real…but it was. They all looked hesitantly back at us, but when Alexa got her gun and waved it in their direction, they all moved quickly. Most of them cast glances back at us. I knew they wanted to help, but couldn’t. Laurel kept looking back at us with a desperate look in her eyes.
They did as they were told like robots. I don’t think any of us realized the full impact of what was going on. I, myself, was numb with fear.
After they left, Alexa sat down. “Sean, do you love her?” she inquired, in a little-girl, vulnerable-sounding voice, while at the same time acting as if I were an object, as if I weren’t really there.
“Well, y-yes,” he replied cautiously.
That sent Alexa off. She looked more ferocious than ever and spoke with more anger and hatred than I’d ever heard a human use before, “Well, Sean, I can’t have that. I always get what I want, and I want you. You must kill her.”
“What?!!” Sean exclaimed, dumbfounded.
“She must die,” Alexa went on, “I can’t live knowing you love her, and if you won’t kill her, I’ll kill you. If I can’t have you, no one else can.”
Both of us looked at her incredulously. The somber, hateful expression on her face told us she was not kidding. She had her gun ready. “You’ve got five minutes, Sean. Take the gun and do it. And don’t even think about pulling anything smart on me. I have my own protection and my own weapons. I assure you, you’ll regret it.” I didn’t, even for a second, think she was bluffing.
“Alexa, this is crazy! You’re talking about murder here! The others are probably calling the cops as we speak! C’mon, think about it, it’s absurd!” Sean tried to rationalize, “Besides, what would this do, anyway? You think this is the way to win my heart? You’re dead wrong. I’m not doing this. Please, just consider what I’m saying. It’s for your sake, too. Why don’t we stop now and forget all of this?”
Alexa’s reply? “Shut up and do as I say. You’ve got five minutes to do it or you’ll be dead.” She wouldn’t listen to reason. Sean gingerly took the gun from her hands.
The full reality of all of this hit me then. I was going to die. Sean, the boy I loved more than anything in the world, was being forced to kill me. I’d always wondered and thought about what death would be like, but it wasn’t something I needed clarification on quite so soon. I began to cry. This couldn’t be happening. This must be a dream, I thought, but Alexa wouldn’t budge.
Sean put the gun down in the grass and wrapped his arms around me. He, too, was crying. “I don’t know what to do, I can’t hurt you, that’s out of the question, but I’m scared,” he murmured, “I don’t doubt she’ll kill me.”
I thought about that. The thought of his dying terrified me more than my own. I loved Sean, it was as simple as that. There was no way in Hell that I could just sit there and watch him die. I couldn’t let Alexa do that. If he was going to be strong like this for me, I had to be able to do the same for him. I knew what I had to do, but that didn’t make it any easier. I began to sob even harder. I could tell by his determined expression that he was trying to be brave, as was I. Nevertheless the tears were flowing down his cheeks. I held him closer and stroked his hair, “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay, I promise.”
He looked up at me, bewildered. “Give me the gun,” I demanded. Slowly Sean put it in my hands, as if afraid of what I might do. Alexa also looked a little mystified, and said to me harshly, “Don’t forget what I said before about any smart stunts. I was dead serious.” I nodded.
I looked at the gun while I contemplated what I was about to do. I had never used a gun before and I was scared, petrified. I wasn’t sure I could go through with it, but one look at Sean reassured me. I knew I was doing the right thing, and I knew it would take every ounce of courage I had, (much, much more courage than it had taken me to ask him out).
I’d known I shouldn’t have come to the lake tonight. I’d known it would be a night of evils and I had been right. This whole situation was evil. Never before had I realized quite how true the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” was until now.
With one last look at Sean, I raised the gun to my temple. It was just then that realization struck Sean, and he understood what I was going to do. I will never forget the look of horror that crossed his face just then. “No, Violet! don’t!” he pleaded in a desperate voice.
An idea struck me then, a brilliant one. It was a chance, I was grasping for something, but I could try. That was the most I could do. I hurled the gun into the water. I had to move quickly before Alexa took action. I threw myself down in the grass. I had to concentrate. I didn’t wait for the Aurora this time, I didn’t have time to waste. I envisioned myself in the sky…being up there…the planets…the stars…
I concentrated on this image as hard as I could. Then there was a big flash of light and the Aurora appeared again. I began to rise higher and higher, towards the sky. This time, I did not pull back or use words.
Alexa and Sean looked on in awe. I heard Sean say, “Goodbye, my love. I always knew you were an angel.” I could tell he was still crying. He’d miss me for a long while. I would never forget him, I knew. I just kept floating up. I knew to reply would bring me back down to the death of either Sean or I, so I kept going. A star seemed within touching distance. I reached out my hand to feel it.