Monday, 27 February 2012

2012 - Year of the Books

Hi! No story today, because *don't eat me* I have stopped writing for a few days.

Now, before you rip me to shreds, let me explain. For the past 5 months or so, I have came in from school, went on my laptop and written short stories and my book for 4 hours. Every, single day I have done that, averaging at about 800 - 1000 words a night. Along with editing and blogging and stuff, I do any awful lot of writing, which means I sit down a lot, stare at a blank screen a lot, and read a lot of my stories a lot. I also have no life outside writing. And on Friday night, it got slightly too much, and I kinda broke down and sat wallowing in my own "I'm such a bad writer" attitude. In an attempt to combat that, I'm not going to write for a while.

So, on another note, I have a lot of books to read. A LOT of books to read, and most of them are classics. Here's my list:

I have about 100 pages left to go of this :D
Needs no description....


















And now, for the classics....
                                                                                                                           
 N.B. The Hound of the Baskervilles is there because I've already read the first two Sherlock Holmes novel (which are brilliant by the way) and I want to read the third. Pride and Prejudice is there because it was recommended by a friend...not because I like romance. There are a thousand others I could mention, but you'd get bored with my ramblings, so let's leave it at that :)

So, that's my reading list. Should take me up until the Easter holiday :P

Friday, 24 February 2012

Death's Card

Hi! I need to tell you of my new obbsession...John (and Hank) Green.
Hank and John :D
First of all, I'd like to point out that they are amazing and cool and awesome. End of story. John is an author, and Hank is a...I don't really know what he does officially other than vlogging and knowing a lot of science, but I'm sure it's a good job :P Secondly, I'm deeply encourage you to read John's books! They are amazing! I've read Paper Towns and his latest book The Fault in our Stars arrived via Amazon today :O Yey! So, in summary - Read John's books and go to vlogbrothers youtube channel. You won't regret it :)

Ok, moving on. I wrote this story to enter a magazine, but it didn't get selected so I'll post it here. Enjoy :)

Death's Card



The first time I saw Death was in an auction room, above the town hall. It was the summer of 1897 and I was only eight. I was sitting in my seat, my eyes lowered and my legs swinging. Father sat beside me. His back was pressed flat on the chair and his fingers played with the pocket watch that hung from his coat. The auctioneer called something out, and men started shouting numbers at him, 1’s and 5’s flying through the air like knives. It made no sense to me - the man might as well have been speaking German. I sighed under my breath and let my eyes wander round the room. Sunlight dappled the wooden floorboards and illuminated the beige walls. Hats bobbed up and down in the sea of people that sat behind me and hands soared into the air, holding cards, crumpled and worn with age. I turned my head and that was when I saw him. Death.

He was standing at the side, leaning against the wall, his head bent into the shadows. He looked normal - like a man - but he was rough, and his face was gaunt and pale in the afternoon sun. Blue veins criss-crossed his cheek in an intricate pattern, like a seamstress had taken a thread and sewn him up, a fruitless attempt to make him beautiful. He was wearing a pinstripe black suit on his top half, held into his flat stomach with a matching waistcoat. Black trousers covered his scrawny legs, and there was a hat perched on his head, covering a mass of lank, black hair. One of his hands was hidden in his jacket pocket, but I could see it moving, jerking, caught in-between reality and fantasy. In the other he held a playing card - the Ace of Spades. He rippled it over his skinny fingers and smiled. I still remember that smile. It sent a ripple of heat down your body, scorching hot fire that shot through your spine and down your feet. It was horrible.

Death played with his card for another minute and then he placed it in his jacket. His smile had long since vanished and had been replaced by long thin ribbons of pink flesh that could barely be called lips. My eyes were drawn to them - they were unnatural. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have stared, as a moment later, he whipped round and trapped my eyes in his own. They burned like fire, only a thousand degrees hotter. There were an ordinary brown, but flickers of red jumped and sparked through them. They bored into your soul. I wanted to turn away but couldn’t. I heard voices around me, but they were barely audible.

Death smiled again, and turned away. I was released from their grasp and I hurriedly turned back to my Father. I tugged on his sleeve. “There’s a man over there and he, he’s-”

Father glared at me and shook my arm off. I slumped back in my seat and frowned. I could see why he was annoyed. He was here on work, and he’d made me promise to stay quiet. Even so, he could have at least looked at the man. I turned to face the wall again. Death was gone, but then I almost expected that. He seemed like the person who wouldn’t linger in a boring situation. I took one final scan of the room, and then turned back to the front. The auctioneer was still droning on and on, in a single monotone voice, telling the audience about the fascinating potato peeler for sale. I sat back in my seat and frowned. Death was already leaving my mind, to be replaced by a fantasy. That was how it should have been. But things never work out the way they’re meant to, do they?

*

The next time I saw Death was that night, after the auction was over and I had been dragged back to the house by Father. I was lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling. The night was as black as soot, and just as filthy. It clouded my lungs and stifled my breathing. I hated the dark. You never knew what could be lurking round corners, under beds, waiting to pounce...

“Hello, kiddo.”

I jumped and grasped my covers tightly. I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. I tried a second and this time my voice echoed through the room.

“Who-who’s there?”

“Just little old me, kiddo.” There was a flash, and an orb flew out in the darkness, lighting my room. It was odd though, I remember thinking that. The orb was bright, blinding even, but it was as dark as coal, and metallic. It hovered above my bed for a moment before shooting upwards, towards the ceiling.

“Don’t worry. Only me and you can see the light. Old daddio can’t see anything.”

The voice was American. He sounded like the cowboys Father told me about in his stories. There was a clunk on the floor and the figure stepped forward. I knew it was Death before he revealed himself, but now there was no going back. No hope that it was Santa, or just a stranger.

“W-why are you here?” I stuttered as Death walked towards me. He was dressed as he was before but his hand was empty.

“I have some business to attend to. That and I’m curious. What’s your name?”

“James. James Warren.”

“And you can see me?”

I nodded and pulled the covers closer to my chest. Death had stopped walking towards me, but I could smell his breath, rancid and rotten as it wafted into my nostrils. I fought back the urge to gag and instead breathed through my mouth.
“I can see you, Sir. Should I not be able to?”

Death smiled and crouched down beside me. “No, son, you shouldn’t.” His eyes swept over my face, inspecting it. “You don’t seem special.” I nodded, unsure whether to be flattered or insulted. There was still a question pressing in my mind, bursting and screaming to get out.

“Sir?” Death glanced up, but didn’t look me in the eye. “Why were you at the auction today?”

Death froze and then stood up. “That is private business, kiddo. Now, you don’t happen to be related to Johnny Warren, do you?”


I paused and then shook my head. Death sighed and shoved one of his bony hands in his pocket. “Shame. I need to talk to that guy. Owes me some money.” He smiled and then brought his hand out of his pocket. He was holding his Ace of Spades card.

“Look here buddy.” He leaned close into my face and waggled the card in my nose. “You want this?”

I stared at the card. It looked normal, bar a tiny red spot just above the ace. I took a deep breath, “Yes please, Sir.”

Death smiled. “Alright then. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll give you my card,” he flipped it onto his other hand with a flourish, “if you show me your...left arm. Deal?” I nodded vigorously. Death’s card for a glimpse of my left arm?  That wasn’t a deal - it was a rip-off, leaning heavily in my favour.

“Fine then.” Death handed the card to me, placing it in my fingers. They looked so pink and fat compared to his limp, dry, scaly ones. He withdrew his hand and smiled. A flash of heat burned up my spine but I was too busy examining the card to notice it. I flipped the card over, felt it, touched and traced each line on it. I was holding Death’s card. Death’s card! I grinned. Father would go crazy if he knew.

“Right. Let’s see that arm, kiddo.” I glanced up and blinked.

“Oh.” I dropped the card into my lap and pulled up the sleeve of my pyjama top. It was too big for me, so I rolled it up to my shoulder, so it wouldn’t fall down on Death’s unsuspecting hand. “There you are, Sir.”

Death grabbed my arm and pulled it closer to his face. His eyes moved over it, inspecting it. His eyes lingered on my wrist, and he glanced up at me. “Have you always had this?”

I looked down to where he was pointing. My birthmark. It was small and red, like the blood had somehow leaked out my veins and into my skin. It was shaped like a crudely drawn Ace. “The birthmark? Yes, Sir. Since the day I was born.”

Death furrowed his brow and traced the sign with his finger. “Interesting...What has your daddy said about it?”

“Nothing, Sir. I showed him it once, but he said he couldn’t see it.”
Death nodded and glanced back down at my wrist. He peered at it for a moment and then let my hand flop onto the bed. He stood up and held out his hand.

“Kid, I’m sorry to do this but I need that card back.”

I frowned and grasped the card in my hand. “You gave it to me. We had a deal.”

“Look, I know, son, but I need that card back. Now.”

I glared at Death. “NO.”

Death frowned and squatted on the floor. “Look, James. If you don’t give me that card, a lot of bad shit is going to happen. Give me it now, please, or I swear I will find your Grandma and strike her dead! Now, give it to me!”

My hand twitched. I didn’t want Granny to die, but he had given me his card as part of a deal. I stopped frowning and instead crossed my arms.

“Why do you want it?”

Death tensed and sighed. “That birthmark, son, ain’t a good sign. You hear me? Not. Good.”

“Why?                                                                                        

Death paused for a second, and then pulled up his sleeve. “There. Look.” I leaned over his arm. It stank of rancid meat, and it was mottled with spots and grime, but there was no mistaking it. An Ace, settled just below his elbow. “You see it?”

I sat back in my bed and nodded. Death had the same birthmark as me. As weird as it sounds, it didn’t bother me. It was just a coincidence.

“Son, this might not make sense now, but you have to listen to me real careful. Ok?” Death pulled his sleeve back down and took a deep breath. “That birthmark tells me something, something that you don’t know about. Only you and I can see it - well, me and every other Death that came before me.” He crammed his hands in his pocket. “You, son, are the next Death.”

A gasp escaped my throat before it was seized by Death’s iron grip. “Look, kiddo, daddy might not be able to see me, but he can hear you. I’ll explain all in a moment. So, don’t scream...” He loosened his grip and I gasped for air. Whether it was because I had just been choked or whether it was shock, I didn’t know.

“Me? Death?” My mind swam. I couldn’t be Death. I was eight. I wasn’t sadistic or evil, or greedy. I was, I was...

“Son, I know you’re just a boy and I know you’re shocked, but hear me out, alright. Once every century, a boy is chosen in the world. It doesn’t matter where he’s from, and he’s chosen at random. That boy is marked with the Ace - the death card symbol. I have one, and the Death before me had one. When we’re sixteen, our parents...well, they pass on and we are greeted by Death, who recognises us by the Ace. Only Deaths can see other Deaths, which explains why your daddy didn’t see me in the auction house. Anyway, we are taken in and trained for a year, and then the old Death dies, and he is replaced by the new one. We ain’t evil, son. We were just chosen to ensure life can flourish.”

 He paused and looked at my puzzled face.  “You don’t get it? Ok, so if everyone in the world live to say, seventy, who will make new babies? Who will plough the land, feed the sheep, harvest the grain? Who will work the clocks in the station? You see, son? Death has to exist for the world to go on. Death ahs to exist so young people can replace the old.” He smiled and stood up. “The reason you can’t have that card is that, well we use it to carry people to the other side. If you get my gist. In the hands of a normal man it is useless, but if Death touches someone with it, they drop down dead.”

I stared at the card in my lap. It seemed poisonous now, deadly. I picked it up and chucked it on the floor. 

Death laughed. “Relax, James. The card, the invisibility, they don’t work until I die and Death dies when he is one hundred. No sooner, no later. And we look pretty good too. Me, I’m 91. Another,” he paused for a moment, his eyes narrowed in concentration, “nine years, and I’ll be gone. And you’ll take my place. You’ll get your own death card then.” He smiled and placed a hand on my shoulder. It sent a shiver through my spine.

“Look, kiddo. I know how you feel. I’ve been here as well, you remember.” I was shaking all over, my body pricked with icicles and candles at the same time. I was Death, Father was going to die in eight years, I would live for one hundred years, and I had no control over anything. Fear and sadness and anger welled and 
flowed through my veins. Scared one second, sad the next.

“W-why?” I was suddenly aware that tears were streaming down my cheeks.

Death sighed and turned away. “Why, bud? I have no idea. I could tell you about luck and chance and a million other things, but that’s just rubbish. I have no idea why. Anyway, I’ll see you again in eight years, kiddo. Enjoy your life. In this job, you don’t get a break.” He clicked his fingers and the card flew into his empty hand. He shoved it in his pocket, and then clicked his fingers again. This time, the orb came down and caved in on itself, leaving darkness where there once was light.

“See ya, kiddo.” I blinked and when I looked back, Death was gone.



Monday, 20 February 2012

How I Write - Finding Ideas

Hello my lovely readers! Today is the first post (or second if you count the names post) of my new How I Write series. From this day forth, I will be posting a writing advice/tips/random things about writing every alternate Monday :D I'm doing this because so many people enjoyed my post about names and I thought to myself 'hey, they liked that! Let's give them more crumbles of tasty wordy goodness!' And so, here I am. Writing this. Like a boss.

So, today's post is about ideas. They're pesky little creatures, aren't they? Playing hide and seek in our brains, running in and out of our thoughts. Mine have the annoying habit of appearing seconds before I go to sleep, ensuring that by the morning they are lost forever. But a writer has to have ideas. Any creative person needs to have ideas, or else they will have nothing to do. When I find myself short of ideas, this is what I do.

1. Take a shower.
It sounds crazy, but it works. In modern times, we are often so busy, we don't have time to sit and think. In a shower, we are free from responsibilities and we can let out brains roam free and stumble upon ideas locked in our subconscious. I also find that the hot water makes my brain more active, meaning it's easier to think of things. If you don't have a shower/can't be bothered taking a shower, do something else where you can let your mind wander. Wash some dishes. Clean some wellies. Stand in the rain. And yes, these are all water related. I like water. It helps me THINK. *You can also get amazing waterproof notepads for writing down your shower ideas :D I. Want. One.*

2. Do some exercise.
Writers have the horrible habit of sitting around, doing nothing. It's not there fault - after all, sitting in a chair with a computer in front of them is their job. But  when you're sitting around doing nothing, ideas don't flow very well. I know this because I have done it, and trust me, it's not desirable. Usually all you need is some exercise. It keeps you fit, gives you something to do, and most importantly, it gets those hormones running around like crazy. Adrenaline. Other stuff. And that increases activity in your brain, which increases the number of ideas you get. So go for a walk, or play some Just Dance 3 - whatever it is, your writer's block will fly out the window.

3. Sleep on it.
This is both a metaphor and not a metaphor. First, the metaphor. Sleeping on something can help you reach a  decision, as the subconscious is the boss when you're asleep. It calls the shots and it decides what you're going to do. Sleeping can also give you more energy, which is good for brainwaves.
The non-metaphor bit is also a bit crazy, but it works. Sometimes. In the while that I have been writing Wolfbane, I have had writers block. I have no idea where anything is going and what is going to happen. What to do? Write the chapter title, or the character's name, or the setting, or even a word or phrase that sparked your imagine on a bit of paper, and put it under your pillow. And then sleep on it. Now, this is a handy hint I read about in the Writers Forum magazine. It sometimes works, and it sometimes doesn't. But we all need to sleep, and by trying it you aren't losing anything. So the next time you have writers block, give it a go. It might help.

4. RELAX.
Sometimes all you need to do is not write for a while. Do something else, and forget about your writers block, or your yearning to write. Go parachuting. Read a book. Bake some cookies. Fly to the moon and back on a rocketship. It doesn't matter. You need to kick that badboy from your brain and let your mind do something different for a while. And who knows? Maybe you can write about what you did, or maybe your brain will be so thankful for a rest it will give you a gleaming gem of an idea.

5. Finally, live your life.
If you sit in a room staring at some walls day after day after day, you aren't going to be writing very well. Why? Because to write you need experiences! You need to know things and do things. For example, if one of your characters is skydiving or eating a pot of turtle soup, how can you tell the reader what that's like if you haven't done it? (I am in no way endorsing eating turtles. It was just the first thing that came to me) So,to summarise, get out there and do something, for crying out loud! Your characters will thank you. Your novel/story/novella will thank you. Do anything and everything that is outside your comfort zone. Not only will you increase your confidence but ideas will come easier after doing such a brilliant experience.

There are thousands more things that can help - just Google 'getting ideas' and you will have a treasure trove of hints and tips. These are just my top top top four ways to extract those naughty creatures from your head. Good luck!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Feral Boy 4

Hiya! I got back from my holiday in England yesterday :) It was great, even if we were living in a haunted house that creaked and groaned and banged for no apparent reason. My sister got really freaked out, so much so that she actually made me walk up the stairs with her at night. She's 14. Yeah, I have a (normal) weird family.

Daww, what a pretty scary cottage :3
So, anyway, I'm back and I come baring gifts. I have a lot of stories to give you and a few 'How I Write' posts to do :P But for now you have to make do with Feral 4, the second last Feral Boy story in my trilogy of five (sorry, Douglas Adams - couldn't resist). I hope you enjoy it!

P.S. And also, don't forget to vote on the poll in the sidebar :) I could really use your opinion!

The Feral Boy 4

Amelia crouched on the road, her hand wrapped around the butt of a torch. Jessica squatted beside her. “So, we’re here...what now?” She turned and looked at Amelia, a smile playing across her lips. She seemed to be enjoying herself. “Well, any ideas?”

Amelia shook her head and turned the torch over in her hand. The beam of light in front of her jiggled, passing over the thick glass of a window. They were outside the feral compound on the edge of town. It was huge and grey, a seemingly endless expanse of despair. It wasn’t tall, as such, but it was long and slender, a rectangular snake. A tall jagged fence surrounded it and a single dog was tied to the barrier. It was a German Shepherd and its eyes were closed in the throes of sleep. Its long coat brushed the pebbled ground, and its nose twitched. It might have been sleeping, but it was still vicious - Amelia could make out the glint of white canine coming from its mouth like a dagger.

Amelia gulped. “I-I don’t know. We could sneak through the fence I suppose but what if the dog wakes up.” 

She bit her lip and glanced at Jessica. “What do you think?”

“Yeah, we could try getting past Fluffy. It wouldn’t be too hard...”

“Fluffy?”

Jessica shrugged. “Well, he has to have a name. It was either that or Norbert.”

Amelia rolled her eyes. “Jessica, now is not the time to be making names up, ok? We need to save Javen!”

“Oh, fine then,” Jessica said. She pointed at the corner of the fence. “If we sneak round to the corner, we’ll be upwind and the dog won’t smell us, ok? Now, are we going to move or not?” She bounced to her feet and crept forward, keeping low to the ground. She was silent, but then that was expected.

Amelia joined her, stepping as lightly on the ground as she could. Stones crunched under the soles of her shoes and she winced. Did it have to be so loud? She slid her torch in her pocket, shielding the light. She took another step and was relieved to find the spongy texture of grass beneath her. Glancing up, she rolled her shoulders. The fence was a metre in front of her, standing tall and black. Pointed posts speared the stars, which looked like sequins in the satin sky. Amelia looked at it for a moment. It was beautiful. She had never really seen the stars before. It wasn’t what you did in Skyy. You sat and watched the box or you played the game station. You never went outside, and you never saw nature.

“Well, come on then!” Amelia blinked and saw Jessica scrambling up the fence, her arms weaving over the posts, grabbing and yanking. She was very near to the top. “Amelia! Come on!” She turned around and let go of the fence with both hands. Amelia jerked forward as if to catch her and then she remembered. Jessica wasn’t real. She couldn’t fall, let alone die. And sure enough, there she was hanging in mid air, her legs wrapped round the beam.  “Are you coming or not?”

Amelia walked forward and wrapped her hands round the fence. It was ice cold and Amelia felt a shiver ripple down her spine. “Y-yeah, I’m coming.”  She tightened her grip and yanked herself upwards, just far enough to push her feet in between the thin gaps. She moved her hands upwards and made to go again, but then she stopped. “Wait...”

Amelia jumped down from her position and put her hand between the bars. The gap was huge. It had looked small, but it wasn’t. Amelia narrowed her eyes. That was weird. She passed her other hand through it. Still tons of space. Amelia grinned and took a deep breath, her eyes narrow. One, two, three. She fell forward and landed with a plop on the other side of the fence.

Amelia pushed herself to her feet and looked at Jessica, who was standing to her right. “Woah,” she said. 

“What was that?”

Amelia grinned. “It’s not real. The fence, I mean. It’s a dyadic infra unit - a Diu for short. It’s a box that projects an image over a distance. It turns real but only when you apply pressure, otherwise it’s just a projection. Which is why it ceased to exist when I let go of it.” Amelia shrugged and brushed the dirt off her legs. “Dad uses them all the time, to make coffee and stuff, but I’ve never actually see one before.” Amelia glanced over her shoulders at the fence. It looked real again, solid. She swallowed and turned back round to Jessica. “They must have better security on the inside if the fence is fake. Come on.”

Amelia skittered over the concrete, her feet skimming the smooth surface. She daren’t turn her torch on. Windows shimmered in the moonlight - what if one of the guards saw her torch? What would she do then? No, it was better to run in darkness.

The building grew rapidly as she got closer. The grey wall seemed huge, bigger than anything Amelia had ever seen. There didn’t seem to be any door. Great.  Amelia stopped and turned round to look at Jessica.  “How are we meant to get in?”

Jessica snorted. “Through an air vent of course. Don’t you know anything? Look, there’s one over there.” Her slim finger jabbed thin air, pointing at a tiny rectangle two metres to the left. It was about a metre off the ground. 

Amelia could barely see it, but it was there all right - she could hear the hiss of the air conditioning inside. She nodded. Her heart was thumping in her chest, thunderous and irregular. This was it. It hadn’t quite sunk in, but now she realised...this was real. She could be shot, arrested, thrown in jail, all for a boy, an Unregistered boy. Was it worth it? Did she really want to do this? Yes. No. Yes. Amelia’s mind raged inside her head, her feelings battling it out with her brain. She willed them to stop and instead chose what her heart said. Yes. Beyond any reason, any question, anything. Yes.

Amelia raced forward. She skidded to a stop in front of the vent and used her hands to feel the edges. Cold 
metal tingled her fingertips, and sharp, jagged points of a nail ran over her palms. It was sealed shut. There was no way they were getting in without making a bang.

Amelia sighed and lifted her foot. Clash! The soft heel of her shoe collided with the grate in an instant, sending it soaring backwards into the gap. It clattered for a moment on the hollow tube and then stopped. Biting her lip, she placed her hand on the thin layer of metal. It was warmer than outside, but she could feel the heat disappearing beneath her fingers.  “Are you coming?” she shouted to Jessica. A trail of steam came from her mouth and hit the metal.

Amelia heard a giggle ahead of her. She blinked and saw Jessica on her belly in front of her, smiling. “Way ahead of you.” She giggled again and crawled forward. Her legs flailed behind her, threatening to whack Amelia in the face.

Amelia grinned and squeezed into the tunnel. It was tight, pressing her lungs into her heart and her arms into her stomach. She wriggled around a bit. There. It wasn’t as uncomfortable now.  She pushed her hands in front of her and crawled forward. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Amelia pressed her head down, but she could still hear the steady thump of Jessica’s elbows whacking against the vent. She was glad she had given Jessica noise now - it made the whole thing seem less frightening, less scary.

“Watch out. The end’s right in front of you!” Amelia glanced up and froze. Her arms were perched on a ridge, her hands dangling over the floor below. Straight ahead she saw lights, flickering and dirty. They were attached to damp green ceiling. Amelia looked down over the ledge and gulped. The floor seemed miles away, dull green linoleum staring up at her with black flecks and brown dots for eyes. Amelia wriggled backwards. She was glad Jessica had told her when to stop, even if it was a bit late. Otherwise she would have been a goner.

Amelia leaned her head over the edge and saw Jessica standing on the floor below. The wave of her blonde hair was almost a pinprick. “H-How am I meant to get down without making a noise?” Amelia whispered. Her voice caught in her throat and she choked down a cough.

“Jump, of course! I’ll catch you!” Jessica grinned and reached her hands out in front of her.

Amelia frowned. “I’m not in the mood for games, Jess! You know I’ll go straight through you! What do I do?”

Jessica sighed. “Fine then, scaredy pants. You can’t see it but just below you is a metal plate attached to the wall. Step on it and then jump down, ok?”

Amelia gulped. “I-it’s there?” She leaned her head further over and she still couldn’t see anything.

“Yes, yes! Now, come on! Just swing a leg over and...hop!”

Amelia took a deep breath. There was nothing to lose...well, apart from maybe a limb or two. Amelia closed her eyes. Think of Javen. The sweet, musky smell of his hair, the feel of the dirt between his fingers, earthy and light...Amelia opened her eyes and jumped.

soared through the air, her fingers scrambling over the cinderblock wall. There was nothing there. There was nothing there! No ledge! Amelia felt the ground fall away from her and she was falling, plummeting, skydiving through the air, nothing to hold, nothing to grab, this was it, this was the end...

Amelia landed on the floor with a thud. A moment of silence passed, a second of white that clouded Amelia’s closed eyes. But then it faded and she peeled apart her eyelids. She was looking at the ceiling. She wasn’t dead. 

She groaned and felt her shoulder pop back into place with a sickening crunch. “There, that wasn’t that bad was it?” Amelia glanced up and glared. Jessica was standing in front of her, beaming. “Come on then, get up. You’re not hurt! Look up - it’s not even that far!”

Amelia moaned again and struggled to her feet. She cast her bloodshot eyes upwards, and there it was, the vent, only a few metres above ground. Amelia sniffed and then turned back to Jessica. “You tricked me.”

Jessica nodded. “Uh, duh. I had to, other you’d never come down. Right, let’s go find Javen.” She grasped Amelia’s hand and broke into a sprint, flying along the corridor fast as a breath of wind. The corridor was long and dull, curving around at random intervals. Jessica took a left, then another left, then a right. Amelia wondered if she knew where she was going. Surely not? If Amelia didn’t know, how could she?

Jessica took another right turn and then stopped in front of a heavy metal door.  “That’s where Javen is.” She slid her hand into her pocket. “Well,” she said, a grin returning to her face. “On you go!”

Amelia bit her lip. “Are-are you sure this is right?” She twisted her head and peered through the thick glass windows on the door. The glass was dirty and covered in grime, but there was no doubt about it - there weren’t any lights on. Amelia craned her head further, but the glass was too clouded to see anything more. She sighed and turned back the Jessica. “Well? How do you know?”

Jessica shrugged. “I don’t know.” She saw Amelia’s sceptical expression and put her hands on her hips. “I just know, ok? Now, go!” She pushed Amelia forward again, ramming her into the cool metal of the door. “You can do this,” she whispered. “I know you can.”

Amelia nodded and felt her hand tighten round the butt of the torch. She pulled into out her pocket. The weight was strangely comforting, friendly even. She twirled the torch in her hand and then pressed her hand to the door. The metal was cold and she could see smears of red and brown on its surface. “Y-you’ll come with me?”

“Of course. Now go.” Amelia nodded again. She could do this. For Javen, for Javen...She pressed hard on the door and stepped inside.

The first thing Amelia noticed was the smell. It was rotten, dirty, like roadkill. Amelia felt her throat rise in a gag. It was disgusting. Amelia closed her eyes for a moment and let the doors swing behind her. She could get used to the smell - no, she would get used to the smell. She had too. Amelia opened her eyes and slowly brought herself to focus the flickering torch on the room around her. It settled to her right, and a gasp choked through her throat.

Cages. Rows of cages, each holding a quivering body. They were metal and lined up at the sides of the room, the gaps between them barely noticeable. The room itself was no more than a wider version of the corridor outside, but it was dirtier, smellier. Red streaks were smeared on the walls, sometimes paired with brown dots and black stripes. Amelia shuddered. They had passed at least ten doors, and if each of them was like this...

“Uggghh...”

Amelia whipped round and stared at one of the cages.  There was a woman there, huddled in a corner. Her skin was white and parchment thin and her cheekbones were like knives under her face. She moaned again and shifted away from the light. Her arms were wrapped around something, hugging it close to her body, but Amelia couldn’t see what. The bundle quivered and Amelia saw a bony hand reached out and touch the woman’s face. A child. Amelia felt a twang in her heart. A child. A tiny toddler, stuck in this prison. Amelia watched it stroke its mothers arm for a moment and then wrenched her eyes away. She was here to save Javen. She would save the rest if she could, but Javen was the priority.

Amelia turned the torch to face ahead of her and then took a wary step forward. She was half expecting for the floor to snap up and bite her, swallow her whole. But it didn’t. She was safe. She took another step forward, and soon she had broken into a run. She couldn’t hear or feel Jessica beside her, but that didn’t matter. Her eyes scanned the cages, looking for Javen’s brown hair, or his ragged clothes. Nothing. All she saw were men, and women  - no teenagers to be seen. Amelia bit her tongue and slowed down to a jog. She wanted to shout out, but she didn’t dare. What if the people heard? What if they swarmed, or something? Amelia had seen a movie where that had happened and the character almost died. No, she couldn’t ask someone...unless there was someone already awake...someone not wanting to make a fuss...

Amelia stopped and looked at the cages nearest to her. She still felt a shiver crawl down her ribs when she saw the metal bars. Woman, sleeping. Man, sleeping. Man, sleeping. She turned to the other side. Man, sleeping. Woman, sleeping. Man, sleeping. No, wait...the man’s eyes snapped open and he grinned.

Amelia blinked. The man was awake alright, his beady eyes staring at her like a vulture admires a dying carcass. He was middle aged, gray hair thinning on the top of his head.  He was well built but it was easy to see the effect imprisonment had had on him - his mouth was turned down at the corners and his eyes were lined with wrinkles too deep to be from natural stress. There was something familiar about him...something she had seen before... The man leaned forward and beckoned for Amelia to come closer. Amelia gulped and walked towards the cage, making sure not to get to close.

“Y-yes, Sir?”

The man smiled again. “You looking for someone?”

“Yes, Sir. Actually, I was wondering if you could help me.”

“Sure thing, but only if you do something for me.” Amelia paused then nodded.

“Me first. I’m looking for a teenage boy, a bit taller than me with brown hair? Have you seen him?”

The man’s eyes widened and he wrapped his arms around the bars. “J-Javen?”

Amelia nodded. “Yeah. Have you seen him?”

The man smiled, a laugh playing on his lips. “Seen him? Yeah, he came in a few hours ago. He’s up that end.” 
He pointed further down the corridor. “I was going to ask you to do something else, but here’s my new favour. Look, can you bring him down here once you’ve busted him out?”

Amelia narrowed her eyes. “Why?”

The man laughed, a deep hearty sound. “Why? I- I know him.”

“How?”

“ He-Javen...” He looked into Amelia’s eyes and she noticed the edge of tear hanging from his eyelashes. “Javen...Javen’s my son.”

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dancing Flames - Flight

Hello, everybody! How is everyone doing? Well, I have some news. Ahem. From this day to the day of the 17th of February, I am taking a break from blogging. Why? I'm in York for the holidays! Yay! But, unfortunately, that means no internet, which means no blogging :/ Hmmm...On the brighter side, I have two stories waiting in the wings (one being Feral 4 ;D)  and a post on showing vs telling :) So, have a good holiday (if you've got one), and there'll be lots of juicy stories waiting when you come back!

So, the last of Dancing Flames. I'm surprised this didn't get a bigger reaction like The Feral series, but oh well. You seem to have liked it anyway, so enjoy the last part :)

Dancing Flames
Flight


“What the hell where you doing?!”

Fintan sat bolt upright and stared at Sal. His eyes were closed and his breathing was slow. He looked unconscious, his thin lips pressed together. Which meant...Fintan whipped around, and gasped. The shack was a smouldering mess of rubble. Embers glowed in the wreckage, and Fintan saw the flicker of a flame hidden underneath a broken piece of wood. The fire had gone out, most of it anyway. Fintan furrowed his brow. That shouldn’t happen. The shack should have gone up in flames, burned to the ground. It couldn’t just go out.

“Well, Fintan?”

Fintan jumped and looked around the clearing. There was no one there, but him and Sal and...wait... “Arianna?”

She stood behind the shack, her hands placed on her hips. He clothes were stained black with ash and smoke and her beautiful eyes raged and flamed inside her head. “Well? What the hell was that?! Why the hell did you use your power?” Fintan winced. He had never heard someone so angry. He propped himself up on his hands. “Arianna? What are you doing here? You could have gotten hurt!”

Arianna walked toward him and snorted. “More like you and your mental friend. And to answer your other question, I followed you - you were up to something, I saw that much. Why did you do that?! Why did you use your fire?”

Fintan frowned and stood up. His ribs creaked and ached, but he barely noticed. “How do you know about my fire?”

Arianna folded her arms across her chest. “I saw it earlier. But that doesn’t matter! If I hadn’t been here to help you, you and your friend would have been charred to a cinder.”

Fintan’s eyes widened. “You put out the fire?”

“No, it was the magical centaur. Course, I did!”

“But-but where did you get the water?”

Arianna shook her head and laughed cruelly. “Fintan, you need to learn something. You aren’t alone. You never were.”

She took a small step back and opened and closed her palm in the same motion Fintan had gotten so used to. 

A spiral of water sprung into the air, dancing over Arianna’s palm like a ballerina. She closed her hand and the water stopped.

“I am water. You are fire. Somewhere out there, there is wind and earth. We are the same in the way we control our power. The only difference is that I’m not an irresponsible idiot. Now, back to my first question - WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!”

Fintan was too stunned to reply. “I-There’s others?”

“Once every second generation, four kids get the powers. We get them when we turn fifteen. We get a secondary power as well, but yours hasn’t developed since-”

“We have another power? Cool! What’s yours?”

Arianna sighed. “Mind reading. That’s how I knew what you were planning to do. When we talked, I looked into your eyes and saw Salvatore and fire. That’s all I needed to cause concern.”

Fintan felt a spark hit off in his brain. “That fire I saw in your eye? That was reflected from my mind?”

Arianna nodded. “You’ll get a secondary power in about a week or two. They take a bit longer to develop. 
You...you might get invisibility, but I don’t know. Anyway, stop changing the subject! What were you thinking! You could have got your friend killed!”

Fintan took a step forward. “He asked me to come with him! I had no idea he was crazy enough to make me light something next to petrol!”

“Yeah, well look what you’ve done!” Arianna wrung her hands. “You have to get out of there. No, we have get out of here. The school will see the smoke.” She threw a glance at the wreckage behind her and scowled. 

“You’re coming with me, and I’ll shove some sense into that head of yours.” Her hand leapt forward and grabbed Fintan’s wrist. He leapt backwards and flexed his hand. “Get off me!” A small flame shot out of his palm and caressed Arianna’s smooth flesh.

She smiled. “Nice try. Doesn’t hurt me. Now, we need to move.” She yanked him forward and he stumbled into a branch. “Come on,” she hissed. She started running, pulling Fintan over logs and stubbing his toe on branches.

“Hey, hey!” He slowed to a stop, making Arianna stop with him. “What about Sal?”

“What about him?”

“Well, we can’t just leave him!”

Arianna frowned. “Yes, we can and we will. Now, come on! No one can know we were here!” She started running again, and soon, the smoking embers of the shack were out of sight. Fintan glanced behind him and then looked at Arianna. It used to be that he fancied her. He still did, but now, she was his mentor, his guardian almost. Fintan tried to think back to yesterday, how normal everything had been, when left wasn’t right and good wasn’t bad. He could barely remember it, and with a flash, he realised he didn’t need to. This was his life now. This was how it was meant to be, ever since he was born. He wasn’t just Fintan anymore - he was the Fintan, the boy with the power, Fintan, the boy Arianna was linked to, Fintan, the boy who abandoned his best friend. He was Fintan - the boy with the dancing flames.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Dancing Flames - Trouble

Hi! *Just give you a little update on my life, as you do* I have just spent the last hour at school doing a biology test. Joy. It was pretty easy actually, but still...its a test -.- Oh, and I'm currently wearing the newest addition to my wardrobe - green jeans! I don't usually tell you about my personal life, but I mean come on - these jeans were too awesome to miss!

So, this is it. The second last part chapter of Fintan's story. So many questions...Will he go with Sal? Will Arianna ever notice him? Mystery! Intrigue! Fire! Awesomeness! So, yeah, I hope you enjoy it! To see Discovery click here. To see Pressure click here.

Dancing Flames
Trouble

Biology passed slowly, the seconds ticking by like minutes and the minutes ticking by like hours. Mrs Dylan droned on and on, her voice monotone as she described the effects of glucose on sugar, or something like that. Fintan wasn’t really listening. He stared into space, savouring each moment of his meeting with Arianna. The soft rose of her cheeks, the wisps of hair curving round her jawbone and those eyes, those gorgeous, wonderful eyes, deep and soft and blue...

The bell rang in the corridor and Fintan pushed his jotter and textbook in his bag. Shoving his tiny pencil in his pocket, he walked out the class and down the stairs. People were pushing and jostling beside him, moving him from one side to another in a wave-like motion. He stumbled onto the ground floor and moved his bag strap further up his shoulder. He got to the end of the corridor and paused. Maths was left - the front gates were right. Fintan bit his lip. Sal would kill him if he didn’t meet up with him, and maths was boring. But then again, they were doing stuff in maths...Fintan shook his head inwardly. Who was he kidding? The choice was obvious. Right.

Fintan slipped past the crowd of pupils and pushed open the fire exit door in front of him. A breeze of frigid air hit him and he sucked in his breath. He hunched his shoulders and stepped out onto the cold, hard, gum-littered concrete. He shut the door behind him and walked forward. He wanted to make fire, but he was still too close to the school. He could feel student’s eyes on his back, staring at him with mild amusement. Another boy cutting class, they would think, Nothing strange. If he wants to be suspended, so be it.

Fintan glanced up and saw the front gates. They were tall and black. They were horrible. Personally, Fintan thought they made the school look like a maximum security prison - making the students and pupils the prisoners on Death Row. Fintan squinted against the freezing wind and made out the blurry figure of Sal standing at them, his hands in his front pockets.

Fintan ran towards him and patted Sal in the shoulder. “Hey buddy,” he said, smiling. “How was drama?”

Sal snorted. “Boring. Now come on. The place we’re going is round the back of the school.” He turned and marched forwards, heading towards the crowded car park.

Fintan hurried after him. “What, the ‘woods’?”

Sal nodded. “The old shack in the ‘woods’. And I wish you wouldn’t call it that. It’s not even a wood for crying out loud, just a bunch of old trees. It’s too wet to set any of them on fire but there’s some paper in the shack. Oh, stop looking so worried, Fin! It’s just a bit of fun!”

Fintan kept his mouth shut, and followed Sal, who as weaving through the lines of cars. This couldn’t be good. The shack was out of bounds for students, and so were the ‘woods’. The tiny clump of trees had been banned for years, ever since that boy accidentally got his leg broken by trapping it under a tree root. Fintan bit his lip and hopped onto the pavement. No, this was bad. Or, at least, it wasn’t good. But then, things to do with Sal were never good.  What was he expecting? A picnic?

“Fin, what you doing? Pay attention, or you’ll fall.” Fintan looked up from the ground and was surprised to see that the concrete beneath him had morphed into a spongy layer of pine needles and moss. Sunlight dappled the trees above him and Fintan could just make out the shaded, dark wood of the shack ahead. 

“Well, come on then! We’ve wasted half the period already, you know.”

Sal was standing beside him, his eyes wide and expectant. “Well?”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Let’s go.” Fintan jumped over a fallen log and pushed a branch out of his view. And there it was. The shack. It stood there as it always did, in its soaked, disgusting glory. Flutters of movement shimmied over its surface like an illusion, but Fintan knew better - they were beetles and bugs, maggots crawling out for the stinking interior and emerging into the crisp air to...feed? Fintan had no idea. All he knew was that it wasn’t exactly sanitary.

Sal walked towards it and fiddled with the door. There wasn’t a lock on it, but it was stiff and swollen with rain. Sal pushed and pulled until it creaked open. He turned round to look at Fintan. There was a smile on his face, stretched and chaotic, a grimace in any other world.

“You coming?”

Fintan took a step forward and shuddered as a blast of wind flew past him. “I-I thought we were doing it out here.”

“Heck no! Come on, Fin! It’s just a bit of fun...”

Fintan paused and then started walking towards the shack. The grin on Sal’s face grew wider. “I knew you’d do it. Now come on!” He vanished into the dark, musty interior of the shack, his hand trailing behind him. 

Fintan ducked his head and followed. He coughed, and with a shaky breath, looked up.
The shack was small and dusty. A single light bulb lit the room, wires winding over the ceiling. The shack was cluttered with old paper, sodden and rotting, metal bins full of petrol and alcohol, and broken bottles. Litter covered the floor like a carpet. Fintan glanced up and winced. A large spider scuttled over the wall, its spindly legs moving in unison over the dirt covered panels. A shiver rippled down Fintan’s spine and he turned towards Sal. “Can you hurry up? I hate this place.”

Sal was standing at the opposite end of the room, sifting through piles of animal droppings and rotten newspaper to find a dry piece of A4. “You are such a baby, Fin. It’s only a little dirt. Ah, here we are.” He yanked a bit of paper out from under a pile of beer bottles with a flourish. “Here.” He handed it to Fintan, who grabbed it gingerly by the corner. Sal stood back, his eyes alive with a mad curiosity - so mad, so manic, that for the first time Fintan felt a twinge of fear in the back of him mind.

“Well, go on then! Show us your stuff!”

Fintan looked at Sal’s face. This was not a good idea. It had never been a good idea. Why did he come here anyway? He would have been better off in maths, where it was warm and dry, and his friend wasn’t pressurising him to light a document of some sort. But then again Sal was his friend, and well, what harm could it be?

Fintan smiled and held the paper higher up. “Watch this.” He held his free hand underneath it, and in a fluid motion opened and closed it. A flame soared onto the paper. It caught immediately and Fintan dropped it, watching the flames lick the paper, sending dark brown lines along the edge of it. Sal stared at it, his eyes wide with wonder. His mouth moved but no words came out.

Fintan glanced at his friend for a moment. He looked...odd. As though he was on drugs, high on crack or something. His eyes seemed to bulge out of his skull, and his forehead was covered in a thin layer of sweat. The flame danced in his pupil, getting higher and higher, caressing the edge of one of the metal bins...

Fintan leapt forward and grabbed Sal by the arm. The petrol canister. The fire was at the metal bin, and it was climbing steadily towards the top, towards the hole in the lid of the barrel.“Move!” Sal sat perfectly still. “MOVE!” Fintan started to panic. He knew what happened when gas set on fire. It exploded - a lifetime of watching science shows had taught him that. He stole a glimpse at the flame. It rippled over the bin, tiny sparks flying out of it onto the cool, hard metal. Fintan turned back to Sal. His eyes were still glazed over and his breathing was slow. He was in a trance.

Fintan slipped an arm under Sal’s armpit and hauled him to his feet. He blinked twice and then settled back down into the useless potato he was. Fintan grunted and pulled him towards the door. With every step he got heavier, and Fintan was painfully aware that every second he spent trying to escape was another second that the flame had to climb higher. Heat began to build up in room, ash and smoke whirling around in the air. 

Fintan pushed forward. He could feel sweat bead on his back and the door didn’t seem to be getting any closer. He turned around. The flame was licking the top of the canister now, seeping into the hole at the top. Panic flooded Fintan’s body. This was his fault, all his fault, why did he do this? Why did he listen to Sal, why was Sal even his friend, why did-

There was a pop and Fintan felt someone push him from behind. He flew out into open air and landed on a pile of leaves, still holding onto Sal’s arm. He coughed and spluttered. He felt as though every last drop of air had been squeezed from his lungs. He coughed again, and let go of Sal’s arm. He was vaguely aware of a sizzling sound coming from the shack, but that didn’t matter. He had to breathe. Fintan tried to concentrate on the movement of his lungs - up and won and up and down and up. His heart slowed in his chest, and he lay on the soft mossy ground, panting.

“What the hell where you doing?!”



Friday, 3 February 2012

Dancing Flames - Pressure

Hi! This is the second part of Dancing Flames. I hope you like it :D

Dancing Flames
Pressure


Fintan walked down the school corridor and rubbed his eyes. He was so tired. He spent the whole of last night working his fire to the best of its ability. The flame he produced was now over a foot long if he concentrated and kept his focus, and he discovered he could make a spark by snapping his fingers. By only opening one finger, he found he could shoot flames, meaning he had more accuracy. It was amazing. The power had changed and morphed to suit him - it had taken a while to get the hang of it, but now he felt invincible. He could shot fire from his hands for crying out loud! Fire! Yellow and red flames as big as his forearm, sparks and flashes bright enough to light a room. And he had checked it was real fire. Paper went up in flames the moment it touched his palm and it gave off enough heat to make his face sweat. And the best part was it couldn’t hurt him. His hair, yeah, but him? No.  As tired as he was, Fintan felt great.
He ambled over to his locker and turned the dial. 394. There was a click and the door swung open, revealing a pile of books and chewing gum wrappers. He pulled the Biology textbook out and closed the door.

“Hey.”

Fintan jumped and whipped round. A smile burst on his lips, and he relaxed. “Sal! Don’t do that. You scared the daylights out of me.”

Sal grinned and leaned against his locker. He was Fintan’s best friend, and that meant their lockers were together. “Hey, Fin. How you doing?”

Fintan rammed to Biology book into his rucksack and slung it over his shoulder. He glanced at his friend. Sal’s real name was Salvatore - his dad was Italian - but he had shortened it ever since he started school. He and Fin looked more or less identical. They both had long sweeping hair and wore black skinny jeans and black tops. They both wore bright converse and they both had a passion for heavy metal and Shrillrex. There was only one difference between them - Sal’s crazy side was more pronounced. He was mental. Crazy. Bonkers. Not in a bad way...it wasn’t like he thought he was the second coming of Jesus or anything, but he did have the unfortunate habit of acting on impulse, not thinking about what he said or did. When Fintan had first told his mum about Sal, her eyes had widened and her mouth opened. It had quickly closed in a frown, and she had gone back to chopping vegetables. But her look was enough. Fintan shouldn’t be hanging around with people like that. They were a bad influence.

“Yeah, I’m doing alright,” Fintan replied. He had the sudden urge to spill everything, to tell Sal his powers. 

There wasn’t any harm to it, was there? It wasn’t as though Sal could use his powers - Fintan controlled them, he could choose what to do with them. Fintan pressed his arm on Sal’s shoulder and tilted him towards the locker. “Look Sal, you can’t tell anyone, but...I can make fire!”

Sal’s eyes grew for a moment and then returned to normal. “Stop pulling my leg.”

Fintan shook his head. “No, I’m serious! It happened yesterday in P.E. when Mr Winton was shouting at me, and then this spark came out my hand. I was practicing it all last night! I think it has something to do with the fact I just turned fifteen, but I don’t know. Look!”

Fintan closed and opened his hand and a small flame came out. Sal stared at this, his mouth agape. “I can also control how big the flame gets watch this.” Fintan focused a bit more and the flame doubled in size. It flickered in mid air for a moment, and then Fintan closed is hand.

Sal looked up at Fintan, his eyes twice their normal size. “Woah. I mean, wow. You just...woah!” He put his hands on his head and weaved his fingers through his straight hair. “You just...”

Fintan pressed a finger to his lips. “Shush! I don’t really want everyone to know about it.”

Sal nodded. “Yeah, alright. Mum’s the word.” His face suddenly lit up and he grinned. “Can I see it in action? You know, like burning stuff?”

Fintan bit his lip. It seemed harmless enough, but knowing Sal it was probably dangerous, and most likely meant getting into serious trouble. “I don’t know, Sal. If you have a bit of paper or something...”

Sal shook his head. “No, bro. I’ve got a better idea. After you’ve finished bio, meet me at the front gates to school. I know a place we can go.”

“And what, skip maths?”

Sal simply winked and said, “Meet you there,” before sauntering off, his hands shoved into his pockets and his hair down over his face.

Fintan turned around in the corridor and started walking to biology, on the first floor. Should he go with Sal? Yes, or no? He was his best friend - his only friend, actually - but Sal was mental. Probably meant for him to light a gas canister or something. It wouldn’t be something good for his health that was sure. Or maybe it was. Sal had been known to act rationally on occasion. He didn’t seem that crazy there. Maybe he just wanted to go somewhere quieter, where no one could see them. Mum’s the word, and all that. Yes, that was it. Sal wouldn’t want to hurt him. Sal would never do anything to-

“Excuse me? Are you ok?”

Fintan glanced up and found himself staring into the eyes of Arianna. She was older than him by a few months and she was stunning. Poker straight blonde hair, blue eyes the colour of the waves, with tips of white foam appearing in specks and clusters in her iris. She was standing over him, her arms full of books. Her brow was furrowed in worry. “Are you ok? You looked kind of dizzy.”

Fintan felt his face flush red. “I-I’m f-fine.” He gulped. “I’m fine. A bit tired, that’s all.”

Arianna stared in his eyes for a moment and Fintan swore he saw spark of fire in her pupil. He blinked and it was gone. Arianna smiled. “Oh, ok then. You’re...Fin, right?”

“Fintan, yeah. You’re Arianna.” He blushed again and diverted his eyes to the floor, hovering for a moment at her breasts.

Arianna laughed, her chuckle sounding like angels singing.  “Right. I’ll see you around, Fintan.” She walked off, her hair bouncing off her shoulders. Fintan watched her disappear around the corner. His heart was beating at a million miles an hour, and he could feel sweat bead on his forehead. Arianna had talked to him! She had talked to him! His mind could barely comprehend it. The fire in her blue eyes vanished from Fintan’s mind, and he sauntered to up the stairs to biology in a daze.