"I dare you, Todd, to take Luscinda on a date!" Melissa squeeled. Todd was finally one of the popular kids, and it felt pretty damn good. Luscinda was a shy, geeky girl with oversized glasses. Overall, she was a pretty decent girl, minus the glasses.
"Alright, alright. I'll do it," Todd said, grinning sheepishly. If he denied the dare then they would have called him a chicken and spread rumors about him. That was the least thing he wanted right now. They all grinned at him; Melissa, Claudia, Zack, and Kat.
"Do. It. Now!" Zack said, excitement in his voice. Todd nodded, and stood. His hands were sweating, why was he nervous? It's just a dare, and after the date they might do some prank on her. Nothing harmful, just a prank. Slowly, Todd walked towards Luscinda who was sitting alone at her table. She looked up from her book, surprised to see him.
"H- hi... What do you want?" She asked, her voice trembling a bit.
"I was asking if you'd like to go on a date with me." Her eyes widened a little more in surprise.
"O- okay... wait, is this some sort of sick joke?"
Guilt formed a hard ball inside of him. "No, no. Not at all. Listen, maybe we can go catch a movie or something."
She gazed at him, suspicion lurking in her eyes. "Alright."
Todd smiled and said, "okay. See you at eight."
The rest of the school day flew by. It was 7:50, Todd already told the gang about his date, that after the movie he would go on a walk with her, and that they could ambush her then. But Todd didn't like the plan anymore, because after the movie they were walking around town, holding hands. They talked small, nothing too important. She wasn't wearing her glasses, and she looked... beautiful. Her hair in dangling, stray curls over her soft, freckled face. He didn't want to hurt something so perfect. He hoped they cancelled or forgot about it; Luscinda would probably hate him if they did prank her.
They walked together to the outskirts of town, to the abandoned city. No one knew anything about it, not even when or who built it. It was just a big pile of concrete and rubble. He held Luscinda closer. Just in case, he thought. They found an almost flat piece of concrete to sit on. They gazed up at the bright crescent moon; stars skittered the night sky here and there lighting up the night. Magnificent.
Luscinda turned her gaze to Todd, and Todd's to her's. She leaned in and their lips met. Warmth from her lips filled and warmed his body. He wanted to stay this way, right here, with her; forever.
"Hey! Todd's kissin' the dweeb!" Zack's unexpected voice yelled. Luscinda and Todd pulled apart, and looked towards where the voice came from. The whole gang was there; fierce, ready to raise hell.
Luscinda looked at Todd, confusion written on her face. The confusion turned to fury and she pushed him. "YOU LIED! How dare you! You made a fool out of me, Todd Mertens! And I fell for it! I hate you! I hate you!" She pushed him again, but Zack came and punched her on her cheek. She fell to the ground, covering her face, sobbing loudly.
"Oh, shut up, whore!" Kat yelled. Todd tried to rush to Luscinda's aid, but Melissa and Claudia grabbed him by the arms to restrain him. Todd's vision blurred with tears as Zack repeatively kicked Luscinda's side; his boot drenched in her blood. Todd screamed for him to stop, but he continued. Kat picked Luscinda up forcefully by the shoulder, got out her pocket knife, and began slicing one of Luscinda's eye out. The sight disgusted Todd and he vomitted.
"Those pretty, little eyes," Kat whispered coldly.
"STOP!" Todd screamed. He screamed it over and over until his throat hurt. Blood was everywhere; dark and red and ugly. Her left eye socket was an empty black hole with blood flowing out of it. Luscinda collapsed to the ground face down; not moving.
"Don't you ever touch him again," Kat said, now sawing Luscinda's right hand off. The sound was horrifying. Kat threw the hand at the sky, landing about seven yards away. Luscinda wasn't moving, flinching, or breathing. Todd screamed and was free of Melissas' and Claudias' grip; he fell to his knees, cursing all their names. They all laughed. IT'S ALL MY FAULT. I could have stopped it, she could still be living. But no, I must fit in, I must be normal. It's all my fault...
Luscinda layed stiff on the blood-covered rubble, not moving, not breathing. This is it, she thought. I'm gonna die and all because I thought I loved this boy; this lying, filfthy, murdering boy.
Her hand and left eye was gone, and she was bleedy heavily. She saw nothing but a few blades of grass, and so much blood. She heard screams, and laughter; horrible, deafening, sanity-breaking laughter.
She was only hanging on to life by a thread, colors were blurring together, and the world was fading. She felt as though she was falling, almost like something was pulling her down. Death. It felt like that feeling you get when you're half-asleep and you feel like you're falling. She couldn't remember what it was called, but that scientist say that's when the brain thinks it's dying.
Well, in my case, I am dying.
The world went blank for a few hours, it was nearly peaceful for Luscinda, and a dim corridor appeared. All the pain was gone, all the blood, but her hand and eye were gone. The corridor looked like a hospital's, with white tile floor and white walls. One end was dark and hazy, the other was lighter, but still hazy.
A choice. Life or Death. But which one was which?
Luscinda slowly moved down the dark end, her footsteps echoing. The corridor was replaced by the abandoned city, where Luscinda layed still, eye and mouth wide open. Luscinda wasn't in her body, she was looking at it. She looked away from her body and tried to identify the other things.
The sight of them horrified her, and gave her an emmense headache. They were bright, static, human-shaped figures. When she looked at them static screamed in her head.
Luscinda turned around and ran back in the hospital-like corridor; this time for the other end. The lighter end seemed longer; she ran and ran till her legs grew tired. She was gradually losing energy, but she couldn't sleep, she had to get to the other end. She started to crawl to the end. It seemed to get brighter and brighter the farther she went. Luscinda was hopeful at first, but the longer she crawled, the hope was slowly replaced by fear and confusion on what might lay at the end of the hall.
Hours past, she grew hopeless, but she continued.
With one last swing of her handless arm, she pulled herself forward and the corridor changed into the abandoned city...
* Note From Author: I would like to say that the original There Were Nine—Prologue, and There Were Nine—Part 1 were deleted for certain reasons, I decided that instead of having a prologue I would make it the first part, and then this as part two. There will be links this time as soon as possible.
(Six Days Later)
Todd sighed, and plumped down on the filfthy prison bed. His trial --and his so-called 'friends'-- was tomorrow. When Lusc-- when "it" happened, a jogger happened to find them and called the police.
I deserve this. I caused this all. He started thinking about what his mother would've said if he told her that, probably something like: "Todd dear, you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Accidents happen."
But it wasn't an accident. Luscinda died. A perfectly innocent girl DIED because of him. Her body vandilized, her arm and eye taken away without a thought because of Kat's weird obsession over him. He wanted this all to be over in one, swift movement.
For his life to just... end.
He's had enough of this small cage, he'd been there for almost a week. Why can't they just get the damned trial started and put me where I belong? He thought the first day he arrived here.
A guard walked over to his cell, and opened the metal door. "Hey, Scum, come with me." That was one of the nicknames the guards gave him; Scum, Douche, Sicko, Psycho, and his favorite, Shitbag. The guard grabbed him forcefully by the arm, and guided him past several other guards. He took him down a hall that Todd didn't recognize. There was no one else in the hallway, and there was only one door at the end.
"Hey, what's goin-"
"Be quiet!" The guard whispered loudly. He opened the door, and practically threw Todd in. "Don't you realize I'm trying to help you?" The guard passed back and forth, keeping his eyes on Todd like a hawk. "Your frien-- I mean, those other guys, that got you in here, one of them's gone missin'."
"What do you want me to do?" The guard grabbed him by both his shoulders, and stared right into his eyes.
"I'm getting you out of here. You're too valuable to lose. Listen, get into these clothes and follow me." He gave him ordinary looking clothes, and put them on. They were a little big, but Todd didn't care much. "Now, follow my lead. Don't say a single word unless I say okay, okay?"
"Okay." They left the room, and started heading towards the exit until the guard at the door stopped them.
"Identification, please." What? No service with a smile? He handed the guard a card, looked at it, then gave it back. "Hey," He said, suspicion lurking in his voice, "Who do you got there with you, Torren?"
"Just a visitor who was feeling a bit woozy and needed assisstance back to their car. But since this fella's a friend of a friend's, and my shift is over, I might as well help him get home."
"Right, well, hope you feel better soon, sir." Todd nodded at him, and they left to the parking lot to "Torren's" trash-wagon he must call his truck.
"Get in. You can talk now, just don't ask too many questions," Torren ordered.
The drive was silent for most of it, but questions shot here and there in Todd's mind. He had to ask those questions. "Is your actual name 'Torren?' "
"Never liked it much, but my mother named me that so I guess I have to live with it. Mums can be weird sometimes. It was supposed to be 'Torrent,' but she was ill from childbirth and wasn't focusing right when she named me. 'Torrent' means 'a sudden, violent, and copious outpouring of something.' Weird, yeah?"
"Yeah... weird." Why would a mother name a child 'Torrent?' It seems very odd... "Now, what you said earlier... about me being valuable... why would I be so valuable? I killed a girl for cryin' out loud."
"You didn't kill her."
Anger rose inside of Todd, and swelled into a ball of burning fire inside of him. "That's what they all say! You don't know the story! You don't know any damn--"
"I don't. I don't know the story, but Luscinda's... somewhat alive."
"What? How could this be?"
"It's complicated; even for me. Only a small group of people know about this, and most of those people are bringing her up into something... monstrous. A creature that feeds on pain, misery, revenge."
"What do I have to do with this, though? I'd be no help, I mean, look at me! I'm worthless, and I'd be happy if she killed me and got her revenge. I deserve it."
Torren made a sharp turn, went off road, and slammed on the breaks causing Todd to jerk violently forward and back. Torren looked at him, annoyance and impatience burning in his eyes. "YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS! You are the only hope in stopping her! She will kill whoever gets in her path, and we need you to stop her. You're who she wants, and we are going to give her what she wants."
"That's crazy! I'm not gonna be some bait!"
"You have to kill her, or many, including you, will die."
"Fine, I don't need more innocent people dying because of me. But who is this 'small group of people?' "
Torren sighed, and talked as if he was explaining something to a child. "They are... dead, but somehow alive. We don't understand how or why, but they have 'abilities' that can help them spread their evil. But Luscinda's special, she's the only who hasn't actually died of them all. There used to be seven of them, but one of them died. He's the one who brought Luscinda into the group. He was actually a good kid, he was a spy for us, but the head of this group killed him. There's some prophecy that the ninth person who is banded to the group will kill the head of the group. That's one of the reasons we think that she killed Vladimir, besides him being a spy."
"Wait, Luscinda? Kill? She couldn't, and she definitely wouldn't start now."
"Don't you realize, fool, that they have her brainwashed?! She might even went insane for all I know!"
"She's not insane! Okay, they might have her brainwashed, but instead of killing her, can we un-brainwash her?"
"It might not work! You can't sit down, have some coffee, and try to talk this out with her! She's a wild beast that feeds on the blood of her enemies!"
"I can talk to her. I can help her, I swear."
"She's too far gon-- You know what? Do your own thing. Do your own goddamn plan, and see what happens. Have me clean your guts off the walls when she's finished with you!"
Something quivered inside of Todd, what if he is right? What if it's too late?
It can't be, she deserves much better. "I'm doing my plan. I won't take orders from you."
"FINE! Get out of here! GO! Get the hell out of my truck!" Torren leaned over, and shoved the door open for Todd. "Go, I said, GO!"
Todd stepped outside to the empty field that was next to the road. A slight breeze past through his shaggy hair, and inside he quivered again. Torren skidded his car onto the road, and flew away. Todd sighed, he either had to walk home or hitch-hike. Neither seemed pleasing. And where was he going to go? He couldn't go home, his mother would think he's a murderer and call the police.
Damn, Torren is the only one who is trying to help me. What now? His sister.
Lindsay didn't live far from here, and she would take him in for sure. She had a newborn baby, only born less than a month ago. What was the baby's name again? Nancy? Nadia? Namine? Something that started with an N. Todd didn't know who the father was, ever since she moved out they didn't stay in contact much. He shrugged the thought away, and began walking. The sun was just beginning to set when he knocked on the door of Lindsay's apartment.
Vladimir was gone. One selflishly killed him for no reason at all! Vladimir was the only one who trusted her of them all. Luscinda was angry; she didn't know what to do. The anger of her murderers still living burned inside of her, she wanted to get revenge and avenge Vladimir. She knew what she was doing. She finished training before he died, and she was ready to spread the blood.
Spread the blood of those who wronged her. Zack looked up at her with pleading eyes, making muffled whines of mercy and forgiveness under the cloth that was tied over his mouth.
Tears were streaming down his face, and blood. Luscinda slashed at his mind, slowly torturing him with images that would bring a growned man down to his knees crying. She enjoyed his suffering, and was excited to get the others. She couldn't wait to get her hands on Todd. He wronged her the most. HE caused her to do all of this.
Luscinda slashed with excitement at Zack's throat. Even when he was already dead, she continued slashing. Laughing, she was laughing. Luscinda couldn't remember the last time she laughed like this; she's never had so much fun. She felt his dirty soul lift from his body, and leaving towards the sky. Luscinda unhinged her jaw, and her mouth grew, sucking Zack's soul into her mouth.
One down... four to go, and Luscinda was going to enjoy it all.
Zack's body started to crumble, eventually turning to ash. Luscinda looked at the three girls tied up in the corner, all were unconscious. Claudia, Melissa, and Kat... All were going to suffer. She just had to get her hands on Todd...
There was no reply. Todd knocked harder, and the door fell open. Oops. "Hello? Lindsay, you here?" He yelled. "Lindsay?" No reply. He carefully stepped inside. The apartment looked normal, nothing out of place. Heck, there was still a water bottle on the coffee table next to an open book.
He walked past the living room, and the kitchen to the first door. Just the bathroom. He walked to the next room; this time it was the baby's nursery. Purple walls with flowers, yuck. He leaned over the crib, but there was only a bunch of teddy bears. He stepped out and into the last door; his sister's room. Everything was spread into a mess like someone was looking for something in a rush. Papers here and there, the bed not made, and pencils and books covering the desk. Todd walked over to the desk and looked at the open notebook. It read in large, sprawled letters: "YOU DID THIS."
Todd backed away, confusion and fear overwhelming him. What did it mean? Did someone take Lindsay and her baby? Or perhaps, something? The thought made his body run cold. He ran towards the phone, and thought of who he can call. Not the police of course, not Mom, so who? Wait, Uncle David. He must know something.
Todd dialed the number, and waited. Ring... Ring... Ring... Ring... Todd feared he might not answer, but then he heard David's voice. "Hello?"
"David! It's me, Todd. Did anything happen to Lindsay?"
"Wait, what? I thought you were in ja--"
"Okay, okay. Calm down. But you didn't hear? Poor girl went bonkers, and went to the mental institution in Stoffern. Her friend, Mary, has Namine now. I reckon she'd be a good mom to Namine since her boy Ron is turning out pretty good. Man, I hope this is only temporary. They think she'll only be there for a month, a year at the most. But who knows? She might not be okay by then. Well, I'm paying for her apartment while she's in Stoffern--"
Todd dropped the phone. His hands were trembling; his whole body was trembling. Lindsay was gone. Her sanity snapped. But why? Was it because when he went to jail she lost it? Maybe the father left her, and she got too upset? Or maybe she encountered one of these people Torren talked about?
Maybe they got to her, and she couldn't take it? Todd's head was pounding, his heart beating wildly. His world started spinning, and he fell on the floor next to the phone.
The last thing he heard before he passed out was the front door opening and low footsteps coming towards him...
Torren drove straight home after he kicked Todd out of his truck. The fool is gonna get himself killed; he's practically asking for it. Torren sighed, slammed the front door shut, and picked the mail off the ground.
Bills, bills, advertisements, wait, a letter from Lindsay? And David? Odd. He slumped onto the couch, and ripped Lindsay's letter open first.
With my last strings of sanity, I'd like to say I hope you're proud you left me... and your daughter. Now she's going to grow up without a father, and now a mother all because you couldn't commit to being a dad. I'm FURIOUS with you! How could you expect me to believe your 'excuse' on leaving us?! I will not stand here and think that you could possibly be what you say you are. Those are fairytales! Make-believe! And you use that as an excuse? How stupid are you? You will never see Namine ever again! I won't let you anywhere near her! And now you will never see me... ever again.
- Your once beloved, Lindsay"
Torren could practically hear how angry she was. He knew she wouldn't believe him, but he couldn't stay near Namine or her, it was too dangerous. Heck, it was too dangerous to look or even think of them or Todd. Torren was in danger of even associating with the Hunters, but Luscinda and the rest need to be stopped.
Todd's head was pounding, and his heart beating wildly. He tried moving, but pain shot down his spine when he tried to move his neck to look around. Where... am I? He layed there for what seemed like an eternity, then he heard a door creak open behind him.
"Be quiet," A female voice said. She grabbed him by the shoulders, and turned him on his back so he could see her face. She had her violet hair in a ponytail, her face was covered in dirt and dried blood, but her eyes, her eyes were hidden by a red blindfold. What the...? "Shh!"
She grabbed him by his wrist, and helped pull him up. She led him through what looked to be a dungeon of some kind, seeming perfectly capable of seeing even though she had a blindfold over her eyes. As Todd's eyes adjusted more to the dark, he could see that she had a bow and arrows strapped on her back. This is getting weirder and weirder by the second. For a minute, he even thought this was a dream.
They turned a corner, and a hooded figure was standing there. The girl jerked to a stop, he felt her arm trembling. The hooded person was wearing a dark gray hood attached to a dress that seemed a little too big for her. As Todd looked closer, he saw she had no right hand, and in its place --Todd shivered-- four long, curved needles shaped like fingers, drenched in dried blood and a bit of rust. The figure reached for her hood, and pulled it away. Long strands of golden blond hair fell out, some covering the left side of her face.
Luscinda. It was Luscinda. For a moment Todd was happy to see her alive, but the she grinned a sadistic smile unlike any other. It sent chills all through Todd's body and made him wish he were dead. Her right eye seemed to have no eyelids. Todd looked closer at her, and saw that her pupil was split, like a cat's or snake's, and that it was an red-orange like color.
"Well, well, well, what do we have here? Catrinia, helping our guest escape? Tsk, tsk, tsk, that just won't do, will it, Todd? Well, you deserve a punishment, I suppose. What do you say, Xalend?" Oddly Luscinda seemed so calm... so calm in fact it was frightening.
Catrinia let go of Todd's wrist, and backed away one step. Todd managed to peel his eyes off of Luscinda, and looked back at Catrinia. She continued backing away from Luscinda, her eyes never leaving her's. A dark swirl of smoke formed into an also hooded figure behind Catrinia. The figure put his hand over her mouth, and the other over her arms. She squirmed and struggled, and managed to reach for a small holster strapped on her leg. Catrinia pulled out a dagger, and threw it at Luscinda.
Time slowed. The dagger sliced through the air, Luscinda turned to dodge it, but she wasn't quick enough. It met her face at the right side of her lips, and cut all the way through the rest of her right cheek. Blood poured from the wound, but Luscinda looked at Catrinia and grinned. The cut made it look as though her grin stretched to her ear.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk," She clucked her tongue, and nodded for Xalend to step forward with Catrinia, "And I was going to let you live." Her voice sounded different, oddly deeper and more sinister. Luscinda stroked Catrinia's face, causing Catrinia to whimper a little. "That beautiful little face of yours, I bet your eyes are just as beautiful."
Luscinda started reaching for the ties on the blindfold when Catrinia screamed, "NO!"
Luscinda stepped back one, "Why not, dear? I'm sure your eyes aren't that bad." She reached again, this time successful in untieing the blindfold. Luscinda gasped, and so did Todd. She had no eyes. Not even eye sockets. It was just... skin. Catrinia crumpled to the ground, not moving. Luscinda sighed, "She was very good with that bow. What a loss."
Luscinda turned to Xalend. "What did you do, boy?"
"N-nothing. I-I didn't d-do anything," He stuttered. Luscinda stepped closer to him.
"Sh, shh, shh. I know, I know you didn't. But someone must pay, don't you think?" This wasn't Luscinda, Torren was right, she's lost it. It wasn't very cold in here, but you could see Luscinda's breath coming in small clouds of fog. With a single thought, Xalend crumpled to the ground. "Tsk, tsk. Too many deaths. Don't you think, Todd?"
Todd mumbled nonsense, and began backing away, his eyes never leaving her. "Luscinda, look at yourself. This isn't you. I never meant for any of... that to happen. I... I love you Luscinda. I never wanted it to happen."
She stepped closer. "You know, Todd, that's what Zack happened to say, 'I never meant for any of that to happen.' And that I thought the same thing you did, I thought I loved you. But I'm happier now without you. I'd be even more happy if you'd stay with me. Do I frighten you, Todd? Am I ugly to you now?"
"You were never ugly, but now you are murdering people and that is ugly. Just please, stop the killings."
"You know, Todd, ever since I was murdered, my skin is now like ice, but my soul burns like fire. It's how I do the things I do, and my soul will burn brighter if you'd just stay here with me."
Todd quivered inside, he backed away more, and broke into a run. "Todd?" --Luscinda hollered-- "What's wrong? Stay with me!" He felt lost, trapped inside a maze with this... beast that was once the girl he loved. Todd ran and ran, never slowing down, until he reached an opening in the building. There were two chairs and a table in the center of it.
Purple smoke floated above the chairs, eventually turning into two people. One was a skinny man with round glasses, one of the lense cracked. The other was a small woman with duct tape over her mouth, her hair in pigtails, and a small cat resting on her lap. They turned their gaze to Todd, in which the man with the glasses smiled. "You must be Todd, yes?"
He shivered. The cat woke, jumped on the table, and spoke, "Brother, of course he is." Todd trembled when he heard the cat speak. Todd looked around the room, and saw only one opening, but it in between him and the tunnel was these two. "Luscinda is going to kill you. She's coming right now, and she's going to kill me and both of you."
The man laughed, and the cat joined him. "We are not letting you through with that lie."
"She's going to kill us all! Everybody run for their lives!" The cat sarcastically hooted.
The man stopped laughing, and stepped towards Todd. Reaching out with his leather-gloved hand, he grabbed Todd's chin, and studied his face. His eyes widened, and he stepped back. "Zu, run. He's telling the truth. I'll be behind you," The man's voice trembled; Zu grabbed the cat, ran to a wall, and whispered something that caused the wall to open up, revealing a secret passage. "Run, boy, run for your life," The man whispered to Todd, and chased after his sister.
The walls closed up, and Todd ran down the tunnel. It seemed like he'd been running forever, until he reached a metal-barred door. Todd carefully opened the door; the sight of what was inside made the color melt from his face, and his body fell to the ground.