Ayden looked up at the clear blue sky as they drove. He was on his way to Longhollow Peak. Longhollow Peak was a holiday resort for the braver person who enjoyed getting away from the city. Thousands of pine trees decorated the peak and hugged the camping area. One could book a small Wendy-House like room if you weren’t so brave after all. He was happy to get away from the city. Here he could avoid his bickering younger sister and her partner in crime. Best of all, none of his bullies would be here, would they? He was often made fun of for his fragile frame and the fact that he was shorter than the average boy. Just a few more months before he could get out of that hell hole: aka high school. His sister slapping Wilbur Smith’s The Seventh Scroll out of his hand caused him to snap back to reality.
“What are you reading, Harry Potter?” she burst into giggles with her comrade. He couldn’t understand how his parents allowed it, he turned 18 a month ago but his sister was still being allowed to treat him like a child.
“Jenny…” Ayden groaned picking his book up. She often called him that for he wore glasses. Although he didn’t look anything at all like Harry Potter!
“Oh look there it is!” their mother exclaimed as they neared the camping area.
“Yeah, the crater of boredom.” Jenny complained.
Their father handled the sign in work before they started unpacking. Jenny hurried off when it was her turn to help leaving Ayden to carry out her things as well. Many people were there at the atmosphere was quite cheerful as some held barbeques and other played games with their children. After all his chores were done he decided to lie down and read, but how could his sister allow him any peace? He was soon under attack by their constant bickering and set of teenage pranks. Finally having had enough he grabbed his bottle of water tucked his book under his arm and set off for a hike… alone.
As he left the hut he noticed quite a handsome young man helping fellow campers to set up their tent. He seemed about a year or two older than Ayden, quite tall for his age, broad and muscular – it was evident from his arms. His skin seemed naturally tanned and his dark brown hair complimented it perfectly. He looked Ayden’s way, those sharp green eyes made Ayden shudder. Green Eyes waved at Ayden but he only quickly turned and hurried into the bushes. It was not like they would talk anyway, so Ayden didn’t mind being his shy self here. No one was going to remember him. They never did, but then again they only came there once every two years.
“Ayden! Ayden!” Ayden’s mother came running after just before he completely disappeared into the bushes. “How can you leave without a map?” She handed him a pamphlet of all the hiking routes in the area with information about the duration and distance of each.
“Thanks.” He smiled. He had a good memory so he knew he’d be able to find his way back, even without the map.
“Be back before sunset.” She kissed him and hugged him before he was lucky to break away and set off into the woods. She didn’t want to let him go on his own but she knew he was a strange young man who enjoyed being alone.
Nearly an hour later he finally found a good spot, it seemed peaceful. The only noise came from a weak stream strolling over some rocks. Making himself comfortable he took a sip of water before starting to read. Upon turning another page he heard a splash. Looking up from his book he couldn’t see anyone – or anything. He heard rustling on his other side, looking that way he only saw bushes. Getting up he braced himself – it was not uncommon for wild animals to stroll near camping area, perhaps a deer. Suddenly something jumped him from behind. He screamed as he swung around. His sister burst into laughter.
“Argh! Jenny! Go back to mom you shouldn’t be here!” he frowned.
“Scaredy cat!” she laughed as she ran to her friend. He picked up an acorn and hurled it at the two pests. They dodged it and ran away laughing.
“Loser!” He could hear her friend call before the two vanished from sight. Agitated he decided to walk deeper into the woods. He noticed a second to late that his map fell from his pocket and into the river. He shrugged then flipped his book to the next page. He was going to remember.
Being captivated by Smith’s words he forgot to look at the time. He only noticed it was nearing sunset once the temperature started to drop. Something felt out of place, but he could not lay his finger on it. A soft rustle in the bushes caught his eye. He frowned; he was going to get Jenny now. He softly picked up a pebble. A rustle in the bushes from an opposite side also caught his attention, so her comrade was here as well. He aimed and tossed. The pebble landed in the bushes, he hit something, but there was no response.
“Okay Jenny, you fail this time. I can see you’re in the bushes. And Samantha is on your opposite side.” He frowned when they did not respond then got up. Usually she gave up when her ambush was discovered. He sighed loudly and closed his book. “We got to get back, it’s almost dark.” He started walking but then paused seeing the bushes rustle before him. An eerie feeling gripped his stomach. The bushes to his right rustled, and then to his left, there were definitely more than three things there!
He turned and ran! He had to get back to the camp site! He could hear it following him but he couldn’t stomach it to look back! Hearing the rustling catching up he screamed! He was to slow! Desperately fighting the branches out of his way as he ran he tripped over a fluffy black creature and fell down. He screamed and kicked at it, he heard a growl! Quickly getting up he raced on. He had no idea where he was going and was sure he was lost by now! He could hear panting behind him he leaned forward and was near tears he couldn’t die like this! Not by the teeth of some wild animals! He was out of breathe and his legs burned his energy levels were quickly dropping and soon he found himself slowing down. He could feel something tightly gripping his arm and yanking him to the side. He reacted with a punch and a slap with his book.
“Hey hey! Calm down tiger!” It was Green Eyes.
Once they reached the camping site Ayden was surprised to see his parents waiting for him. The previous cheerful atmosphere was no longer there as everyone were already in their tents. With watery eyes he ran to hug them. Green Eyes watched them for a while. His mom kissed him a few times.
“Let’s go make you a nice cup of hot chocolate.” His mom placed an arm around him and took him to their Wendy-House. He was even more surprised that neither one of them looked angry. He quietly sipped on his hot chocolate and decided not to question it before they really would turn angry. Afterwards he washed up at the public men’s restroom before hurrying to the “kids” Wendy-House. He was not fond of the idea of sharing the little space with his sister and even less with her friend and neither were they.
“Mom said you cried.” His sister broke the silence once they were all in bed and the lights were off. He didn’t reply.
“Such a wuss.” Her friend added in. He turned on his side and pulled his pillow over his head.
“Wuss!” His sister tried to get a reaction. She poked him with a hockey stick. He jerked and then the two girls laughed once more.
“You’re unbearable!” He cried out as he jumped out of bed.
He shivered in the cold as he tried setting up a tent with only the light from a small flash light that he gripped between his legs. He was not going to stay with those two for a moment longer. And he wanted to give his parents the privacy they longed to have. Perhaps he could even establish some sense of dominance if he was able to set up his own tent. He heard it was a tough job before. He scowled as he dropped the flash light, it rolled a bit before stopping beneath someone’s boot. He looked up to see who it was. Green Eyes picked it up and handed it to Ayden.
“Let me help you with that.” He came closer but Ayden lifted a hand.
“I can do it.” He smiled politely and thanked Green Eyes as he took the flash light but Green Eyes didn’t let go with the first tug. Ayden frowned as he took the flashlight on the second tug.
“Sure.” Green Eyes smirked, he was amused, and that annoyed Ayden. Green Eyes left Ayden to the job. Some minutes later he returned only to see Ayden had made no progress.
“Here…” Green Eyes pushed Ayden aside and started setting up the tent; he had done it a thousand times before.
“How did you know where I was?” Ayden couldn’t push the question aside any longer. Green Eyes hammered one of the tent peg’s firmly into the ground.
“Your mom told me you went missing. Your sis told me where she last saw you.” Ayden wasn’t satisfied with the answer perhaps all the fantasy books he was reading was getting ahead of him.
“Thanks…” Ayden whispered as Green Eyes finished setting up the tent.
“No problem man.” Green Eyes held his hand to Ayden. “Keith.” They shook hands but Keith again, didn’t let go after Ayden tried to withdraw his hand. Ayden frowned. He knew he wasn’t as mucho as Keith but there was no need for Keith to make fun of that.
Ayden tossed and turned in his sleeping bag. It sure was not as comfortable or as secure as the Wendy-House. Still, how quickly Keith found him puzzled him. Perhaps Keith was the one chasing him. But then again there was a black fluffy creature, most likely a wolf. He turned onto his side and closed his eyes. There was no way it was Keith.
Slowly the zip of the tent was being pulled down. Ayden was stuck in his sleeping bag; he looked up to see the hungry wolf drooling beside him. He screamed and then it snapped at him. He quickly sat up screaming. It was daytime already. Ayden spent some time with his father; they played a bit of catch although Ayden was no good in it. Later Ayden sat playing scrabble with his mum as his dad prepared some hot dogs. His sister’s annoying giggles soon neared although it was not on the same tone as it normally was. He could hear her bragging about her good grades and then looked up to see why she was promoting herself. Next to her was Keith, he was smiling as he listened to what she had to say. Ayden frowned as Keith sat down with his sister on the one side and Samantha on the other. The two teenage girls definitely had the hots for him.
“Jenny invited the young man for lunch.” His mother smiled trying to clear up her son’s confusion.
“Hi.” Keith smiled at him. Ayden forfeit the scrabble game and pulled out his book. He blocked out his sisters bragging and his mom’s pleas to be more social. But what disturbed him the most was that every time he looked up he’d catch a glimpse of Keith’s green eyes looking into his. It disturbed him so, that even before receiving his lunch he excused himself and went to his tent, zipped it up and read for a while before drifting into sleep. The tent was now a sanctuary where he could block out all disturbances. No one could see him and he was on his own with nothing but his books, just how he preferred it.
He had to pinch himself to make sure he was not asleep. There was indeed someone’s figure at the side of his tent, and the person was facing it. He didn’t want to make too much noise as he reached for his flash light. How long has the person been standing there? He looked at his watch, it was little past midnight. He kept switching his gaze from the person to the watch, even after one am the person was still standing there. His throat was dry and his heart clenched in fear, was this Keith? He felt a bit relieved that the person didn’t move, but that relief would not live much longer. The person walked around the tent. Ayden gripped his flash light tighter, he was going to wield it like a sword, it was the closest thing to a weapon he had.
Slowly the person started fiddling with the zip. Ayden’s heart pounded wildly in his chest. The zipper was pulled down a bit and Ayden screamed unable to contain his fear. His scream seemed to alert quite a few people as a few lights flickered on. The person looked around, clearly startled, before running off.
Ayden rarely woke up in a bad mood, but today was one of them. He had actually gone to sleep in his parents Wendy-House. He didn’t tell them about what happened, but today he was going to face Keith and find out what his problem was. He waited at one of the public benches but there was no sign of Keith on the camp grounds. He waited for a few minutes more then went to the sign-in house to ask where Keith would be working today.
“Oh Keith… the lad’s grandmother had to go in to hospital yesterday so he’s been on leave since midday yesterday.”
On leave since midday yesterday… Ayden was now baffled with questions. If it wasn’t Keith trying to pull a prank, who was it? Jenny? Perhaps… but the silhouette seemed that of a man. And if it was Jenny she would definitely have laughed once Ayden had screamed. But more importantly why? Perhaps it was a Casanova who had the wrong tent? Ayden sighed, this was supposed to be his little holiday of peace and quiet, and here he was baffled with situations he didn’t deem peaceful at all.
Ayden felt uneasy. Looking around it seemed like everyone were watching him. His paranoia drove him to seek comfort in his father. But his father only told him to man up and tried to get him into another game of catch. Not quite feeling up to the game – and not liking it either he decided to talk to his mother instead. He felt somewhat crushed when he learned his mother took the girls for some shopping in the nearest town that was about an hour’s drive away. He then retreated to his sanctuary but after being there for a short few minutes he realised it was no longer a sense of comfort. His little sanctuary has been compromised and stripped from its protective titles.
Feeling insecure he headed for the lunch area where families were busy with their day to day activities. He didn’t want to be alone; even his sister’s teasing would be appreciated at this point. He tried reading but frowned as he realised how many times Keith was in his thoughts. He thought back to the hand shake, Keith had such a strong grip and his hands were rough. He started wondering what the rest of Keith’s body looked like and was horrified when he realised what he was thinking. He shook his head. He was not gay.
Once his mother returned he made it known that he was upset with her. How could she not have asked him to tag along? She said it was a girls day out to which Jenny responded then Ayden should have been invited.
“Well guess who we found in town.” His mom tried to stop a possible argument between the two. “Keith! The tour guide.”
“Really?” Ayden wished his quick curiosity went unnoticed.
“Yes, he caught a ride back with us.” His mother smiled. “And Jenny couldn’t keep her eyes off of him! He’d make a handsome son in law.” She giggled. Ayden felt the jealousy push up inside him. Jenny couldn’t have Keith! She was a spoiled little tramp!
“Where is he now?” Ayden enquired casually.
“He went back to the staff quarters.” His mom replied.
Well here he was. Right in front of Wendy-House number 37. He was just about to knock when he decided against it. The kind man at the reception desk had told him where to find Keith. Ayden was surprised that a nearly grown man could live in such a small space. He turned to leave when he bumped into Keith who was right behind him. Embarrassed he apologized. Keith didn’t look as cheerful as he normally was; it seemed the news about his grandmother didn’t sit with him to well. Nevertheless he invited Ayden in, perhaps only to look polite.
It was a rather unordered little house. Empty beer cans decorated the coffee table along with an ash tray. Filthy dishes were lined up in the basin and a half eaten sandwich lay on the kitchen counter. Ayden stepped on one of the many clothing pieces that lay scattered across the floor. The positive image Ayden conjured about Keith was almost instantly crushed. He decided not to stay to long in this pig sty and it seemed Keith noticed his disliking of this kingdom. He couldn’t quite understand it but something about Keith comforted him, something about him drew him to him. Before he even realised what he had said he invited Keith over for lunch.
Lunch didn’t quite go according to plan. The moment Keith sat down at the table Jenny and Samantha brushed Ayden aside and flocked Keith from both sides. Ayden attempted a few times to get a word in here and there but in the end gave up. He was no match for his chatterbox sister. Having no book he was left to dwell on his thoughts. His mother gently touched his leg and whispered to him: “Don’t they look so sweet together?”
Ayden wanted to add in a sarcastic comment but when he looked at the two he realised Keith didn’t even glance at him at all this time. He felt somewhat disappointed but he tried not to let it show. He ate his meal in silence and kept his eyes on his plate. He was really alone, and it was starting to bother him.
His rough hands gently slid down Ayden’s shoulders stripping him of his pyjama shirt. His tender lips softly caressed Ayden’s neck. Everything was silent and the only thing Ayden could hear was Keith’s calm breathing. Ayden placed his arms around Keith.
“Kiss me…” Ayden whispered. Something dropped onto Ayden. He jerked. He sat up. He was not in his sleeping bag. He looked around himself. He was buried beneath a pile of leaves and something smelled of compost. He was lying in it!
Disgusted he jumped up! He was in the forest but had no idea where. This was the sickest prank he had seen in all his years! It could definitely not have been Jenny or Samantha for that matter, they would not have had the strength to carry him, and even if they did, not even they were this sick. The next thought that gripped Ayden’s thoughts was the man from his tent. Keith.
He walked around for what seemed like hours before he finally heard the sound of a gentle stream. He followed it and eventually ended up back at the camp site. He didn’t care about the stares or disgusted faces the people were pulling at him. He headed straight for Wendy-House number 37. He hammered on the door and heard rustling inside.
“Open the door!” He called out angrily. The door opened and just as he was about to unpack all his anger he realised it was a middle aged man before him. He looked fit for his age and had some resemblance to Keith. He smiled at Ayden.
“No wonder I couldn’t smell you.” The man remarked. Ayden frowned he couldn’t figure out if the man was trying to be humorous or insulting.
“I’m looking for Keith. Is he in?”
“No, he’s at his work station. I am on my way there now if you would like to accompany me?” Ayden accepted the offer but something felt horribly out of place. Every step with this man made Ayden’s heart skip a beat – and not in a good way. They were headed for the woods. Ayden could almost feel the eyes of many others directed on him from the woods, as if it was alive. Ayden was just about to set foot into the woods when he heard Keith calling his name. Looking back he could see the young man running towards them and looking rather panicked at that.
Once Keith reached them his panicked expression changed mildly aggressive as he got between the man and Ayden.
“You lost nothing here.” Keith snarled.
“You belong with us Keith, we are your family.” The man protested.
“No…” Keith’s hostile appearance was now being returned. Keith took Ayden by the arm and took a few steps backwards before turning to walk away dragging the dumbfounded Ayden along.
“I’ll get you to return, no matter what the cost.” The man chuckled darkly.
Ayden sat on Keith’s bed. The house was sort-of cleaned up. The dishes were washed, clothes folded up, and the beer cans were in the over flowing dustbin. It seemed to be only the two rooms. One with the kitchen, living room, and a bed, and the other was the small bathroom. Ayden didn’t know what to say, he felt as if his life has taken a bizarre turn.
“You have got to leave.” Keith said as he looked at Ayden from the kitchen. “Leave Longhollow Peak.”
“It’s a holiday resort…” Ayden started.
“Ayden trust me… you have got to leave.” Keith had some urgency in his voice.
“What is going on?” Ayden snapped!
Keith only looked at him but did not reply. Soon the two were walking together to Ayden’s parents’ Wendy-House. Ayden wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or not. Everything felt so unreal. Once the door opened Keith greeted kindly before taking his leave. Ayden entered and remarked that Keith was a total freak and that he didn’t want Jenny near him for her own safety. They sat down for a game of scrabble, Jenny and Samantha also joined and it seemed to be a peaceful affair until Ayden looked down at the word he had just made with his last set of letters: “DANGER”.
Everything was just stacking up to his amount of fear. He looked at his mum as she prepared a few mugs of hot chocolate and could’ve sworn he saw someone standing at the trees near the woods from out the window. When he looked again no one was there. He hated feeling scared, his whole holiday was ruined! He asked his parents if he could spend the night in their room again but to his surprise his father declined. Jenny and Samantha also didn’t want him there but they didn’t have a choice.
He lied calmly in bed listening to Jenny and Samantha’s insults and bickering. It was strangely comforting him but once the two girls fell asleep that eerie feeling clasped his stomach. He found that he had trouble falling asleep and his eyes were constantly darting around the room. Eventually he fell asleep but he woke from a nightmare and then he saw it: the silhouette of a man right in front of the window at the foot of his bed. He screamed but this time the man did not move away, not did his sister wake up. There was rapid scratching on the door as something was trying to break in. He screamed out again but yet no one woke. The door suddenly slammed open and Keith’s father walked in. He had an axe and was coming right at Ayden!
Ayden jumped out of his bed just in time to miss a blow from the Axe but he was to slow to dodge the grab. He punched and kicked wildly and soon heard his sister crying. Snapping out of his nightmare he saw that he was on the floor and no one else was there but Jenny and Samantha. Samantha was shining a flashlight on the two.
“You asshole!” Jenny sniffed. It seemed he had actually been wrestling with her!
He couldn’t believe he was going there, and even in the middle of the night. Danger was all around him and he could barely see where he was going. He was running as fast as he could. He wanted comfort, he wanted to feel protected, he wanted… Keith. Once he reached the door he hammered on it. There was no reply. He felt crushed. Here he was in the middle of the night, alone, in the darkness with nothing but a dying flash light. He hammered again but this time he could hear shuffling on the inside, the door slowly opened and he darted in.
“It’s two o’clock in the morning.” Keith groaned as he wiped his eyes. Ayden slammed the light on then sat down on Keith’s bed trembling. Keith locked the door then handed Ayden a beer. Ayden shook his head. He whispered something but his throat was so dry it wasn’t audible. He then returned with a glass of water and added a spoon of sugar for Ayden’s nerves sake. Ayden took a few small sips before placing it down, Keith stood before him.
Ayden looked at Keith’s legs and realised they were bare, slowly his eyes dwelled upwards. Keith was in nothing but a black silk boxer. His muscles were well toned and he had no ink on his body, though he did have a few scars on one of his hips. Ayden pointed at the scars, Keith looked at it before telling him he was attacked by a bear. Ayden didn’t believe the story, but then again he didn’t know what to believe. He slowly lied down on Keith’s bed, it was still warm. He closed his eyes tightly. He couldn’t let himself cry! Not in front of Keith! How could his own father deny him the protection he needed? No matter how hard he fought he couldn’t fight back those tears.
Keith sat down on the bed and gently rubbed Ayden’s side. He hated seeing Ayden this upset. He liked seeing Ayden happy and getting lost in his novels. He always made sure the bullies never reached Ayden here. Every two years was a special treat once Ayden arrived. Even though Ayden never knew, Keith was looking after him since the time he reached Longhollow Peak until he left it. But it was this act of kindness that in the end caused this much confusion and fear. Oh how Keith hated himself for it now. He should just have left Ayden alone since the first time he saw him, since Ayden was merely ten years old.
Keith got onto the bed now behind Ayden and gently lowered his arm over him. He covered them both with the blankets. Normally Ayden would resist but he was to upset and Keith’s arm around him made him feel safe. Ayden sniffed and eventually felt calm enough to attempt sleep once more. Just before Ayden fell asleep he could’ve sworn he felt Keith’s soft lips kiss the back of his neck. Keith smiled gently as he watched Ayden sleep. He never thought this day would ever have come.
The next morning Ayden stretched out, it’s been a while since he had such a good rest. When he opened his eyes he saw Keith at the basin looking out the window, he was smoking a cigarette. Ayden tossed a pillow at him. Keith turned around to look at Ayden.
“I want answers.” Ayden demanded. Keith killed the cigarette before taking the pillow back to the bed. “That was your father right?” Keith nodded. “What did he mean when he said so that’s why I couldn’t smell you? Was it you who buried me in cow dung? And who was the man at my tent? And what was chasing me through the woods?” Ayden felt agitated when Keith did not reply. “Why do you want me to leave?” Now Keith looked at Ayden.
“I don’t have all the answers, Ayden. But it’s not safe here. Here are people here who want to… harm you.”
“Oh but I think you do. And if you know who wants to harm me why don’t you just send them home?”
“It’s not that simple…” Keith looked away.
“Just tell me what is going on! I have a right to know!” Keith remained silent. Ayden got up. He was fed up with all the secrets. It seemed like he was in the middle of some sick and twisted game or just a series of pranks that was getting by far out of hand. He headed to the door.
“Ayden please you have to leave. You’re going to get hurt!” Keith pleaded before Ayden slammed the door shut.
Ayden had enough of it all. He was going to face his fears. He was going to look for answers on his own. Whatever was causing all of his confusion seemed to be coming out of those woods. He was going to go to the source. He packed himself some lunch, changed his flashlight’s batteries and obtained a new map from the information kiosk.
He was becoming tired but he was not going to turn back, he kept pressing on. He was going to go to the top of Longhollow Peak if he had to. His mother and father were under the impression that he made a friend that he was going to sleep over at the friend’s tent. The silence rang in his ears and the endless wood was rather misty. His anger numbed the eerie feeling and his mind’s warnings of danger. He consulted the map a few times before slipping it into his bag; he couldn’t follow a road if he wanted answers. He had to get lost; like that day he was being chased.
His watch stopped working and paired with the fog becoming rather thick it became unable to tell the time. In the far distance he heard a rock rolling over another. He paused. It was coming. He got his flashlight and turned it on. He was ready for it. He heard growling behind him, and then in front of him. It seemed to come from above rather than below. Slowly looking up he could make out a feint figure. A humungous scraggy figure loomed over him, ears pulled back, it drooled. His eyes widened, he didn’t stand a chance.
“Thank you ma’am.” Keith smiled after finding out Ayden had made a friend. Having watched Ayden closely for quite some time he knew this was unlikely. Nevertheless he went to this so called friend’s tent, but no one of that name lived there. He looked around for a few minutes then tried to quench his worries. But he couldn’t, Ayden’s scent was to feint for comfort. He looked around making sure no one was watching before he sniffed the air. He went to the kiosk then asked the lady working there if she had seen Ayden. She told Keith that he was there hours ago to pick up a map. Keith’s eyes widened. He darted for the woods.
Ayden gasped out, he had no more energy left. He slid down the tree as he was thrown against it. These creatures had super-human strength it was like something from one of his fantasy books. Except this time around… it wasn’t fantasy. A black creature loomed over him. “It’s payback time kid. You kicked me in the face, remember?” Ayden’s mind was processing so many thoughts it was hard to keep track of them. These things could talk! He remembered the black fluffy creature from that other day but his memories were cut short when he smelled that rotten breathe. The creature was going to bit his face.
Suddenly something else dashed through the fog and the two creatures rolled aside. Ayden could hear vicious growls, yelping, tearing and scratching as a fight seemed to be taking place right in front of him. He wanted to get up and run but he was exhausted and not to mention quite injured too. Sometime later he heard more yelping before everything went silent. He could hear something dragging towards him. He could see it now, a werewolf standing on all fours before him, but what struck him the most, were those beautiful green eyes.
“Keith…” Ayden whispered before exhaustion overtook him and everything turned black.
It was two days after the incident when Ayden finally felt fit enough to get out of bed. A light fog rested over Longhollow Peak and her counter parts. His injuries were minor to what Keith’s were. He could still remember it as if it was yesterday: the bloodied werewolf panting in front of him. He decided to pay Keith a visit. He was sure Keith lived alone despite the fact that his father had opened the door. Perhaps his father expected that it was Keith, but then again why would Keith knock on his own door? They seemed so hostile towards one another. He couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in that family. In return for his kind deeds he expected that Keith would give him some answers.
Back at number 37, he couldn’t quite understand how the manager didn’t sent Keith to a doctor. He was badly injured after all. There was no answer.
“He’s on patrol duty, at the lake.” A fellow worker informed Ayden as he sat eating his orange next door on the porch. Ayden thanked the unkempt chubby man before going to the lake. He only came here once, eight years ago. He remembered the terror as he was thrown into the water and stripped naked before being abandoned. Such humility caused him to never return. With every step Ayden took a deep breathe; it was going to be alright, Keith was there right? He saw a few youngsters in the distance seeming to have some fun around a clumsy fire. Deciding that he’d avoid them he started his trip by going anti-clock wise around the lake, though his attempt did not go unnoticed.
“Ayden!” a familiar voice called. He stopped to look back. Damien, one of his bullies from school! Ayden wasn’t going to stop to prove his bravery; he didn’t have much of it anyway. Instinct sunk in and he started jogging. “Hey wait up, we just want to talk!” Damien chuckled as he and his friends set after. Ayden didn’t fully recover yet and his leg was starting to give him some trouble. They were catching up and it wasn’t long before Damien yanked him by the shoulder and flung him around. “What you running from pansy boy?” he grinned.
“No please…” Ayden pleaded fearing what was to come.
“What you kids doing around here?” Keith appeared from the fog behind Ayden.
“Just chilling.” Damien smiled patting Ayden’s shoulder quite hard. Keith frowned oh he clearly didn’t like that.
“There’s a warning about a storm, everyone has to get back to their shelters.” Damien thanked Keith for the heads up then smiled at Ayden saying that he’ll see him later before he left along with the others.
“Keith!” Ayden was so relieved he walked closer to him, but stopped once he noticed Keith was fit as a fiddle. “What…? How?!” Keith seemed puzzled by how shocked Ayden was. They started a stroll around the lake and it seemed the storm warning was just a lie. “You were badly injured. I saw you! You were bleeding!” Ayden protested once Keith tried to assure him nothing of the sort had happened.
“Seriously, listen to yourself. Werewolves?” Keith raised an eyebrow. Ayden had to admit, it did sound kind of crazy. “You must have been dreaming. Besides I’m not injured at all.”
“Well I am.” Ayden frowned. If it wasn’t at all true, where did his wounds come from?
A few moments of silence followed as they continued their stroll before Ayden couldn’t take it anymore. He knew something was up, it was impossible that his whole trip has been a dream. Strange things have been happening since day one!
“Why do you keep lying to me?!” He shouted punching Keith’s shoulder, although it didn’t seem to have much of an impact. Keith continued to claim his innocence. “My life is in danger and you keeping secrets from me, is not making it any better!” Ayden wanted to scream with frustration, why did he always have to cry to prove that he was serious? His tears came as a surprise to Keith who didn’t quite know how to respond, he stopped walking and turned to face the raging young man.
“What is going on? I have to know! I have to protect myself.” Ayden clasped his hands together in a begging motion.
“If you want to protect yourself, get as far away from Longhollow as you can.” Keith had sincerity in his eyes that chilled Ayden to the bone. Realising he was still not going to get any answers he decided it might be best to just follow the tour guide’s advice. He was going to ask his parents to leave for home a few days early. The two remained silent. Ayden wanted to confess how he felt as well but what if Keith was only being kind, and Keith was a man as well! No, he wasn’t gay! He shook his head then looked at Keith; on the other hand he had to admit… he did find him dangerously handsome.
Ayden stopped walking, everything was out of control. What the heck, he could just confess anyway. If Keith didn’t feel the same he’d just never come back to Longhollow, not that he wanted to come back after the unfortunate turn of events anyway. Keith stopped to look at him.
“I think I …” Ayden closed his eyes tightly the words weren’t coming as easily as he had hoped. “I think I… have… a crush on you…” After no reply came Ayden finally opened his eyes. Keith was looking at him with what seemed like pure disgust.
“Disgusting little faggot.” Keith said before he turned to walk off. Ayden felt like a sword pierced his heart, his eyes became watery once more. He opened his mouth to speak but no words would come out. He watched in silence as Keith disappeared back into the mist.
His mother rubbed his back as he sobbed with his face buried in the pillow. He had already packed his bag, even Jenny’s and Samantha’s. He wanted to get away from Longhollow Peak, now aka the hell hole. He was either going mad, in danger, or just hallucinating everything, better yet his hell hole one bullies were here now. Worst of all he lost the only friend he had, Keith.
“We understand that you want to go home sweetheart but we’re still booked for another week.” His mother continued to try and comfort him. He kept insisting to go home and even pleaded for a bus ticket saying he’d go on his own but his over protective mum didn’t like the sound of that. He decided that he was going to stay in the “kids” Wendy-House for the rest of the time. At least his sister and Samantha would sometimes come to pester him and he wouldn’t be truly alone. But to his surprise their bullying was kept to a minimum and he knew his father must have had a word with the girls to cool it down.
Two days later Jenny and Samantha jumped into the room with utmost excitement. They had some of their mom’s make up and started to dress one another up. Ayden looked at the two as they applied heavy eye shadow and pink lipstick to their lips.
“Guess who asked me out?” Jenny grinned. Ayden just dropped his head back onto the pillow. He didn’t understand Keith seemed so… nice. “Keith Woodwillow!” she squealed and grabbed her friend’s hands as the two jumped around excitedly. Ayden just snorted. What kind of a surname was Woodwillow? There was a knock on the door.
“Oh my god it’s him!” Jenny whispered. She hurried to the door and took a deep breath before finally opening it. Keith greeted her with a smile. Ayden didn’t even bother looking Keith’s way.
“Ah, Ayden, why doesn’t he tag along?” Keith suggested. The girls giggled.
“Ayden is way too scared to leave the hut.” Jenny said as she slipped her arm around Keith’s. Keith looked at Ayden as the two girls dragged him out of the Wendy-House.
“If you change your mind we’ll be down at the lake!” Keith called but he received no reply.
Ayden wanted to go, he hugged his pillow, he really wanted to. He liked being in between people now, it made him feel safe. He even wanted to spend time with Jenny and Samantha they felt so distant. He wanted to hang out with Keith to but perhaps Keith was only nice because he wanted Jenny. Believing nobody really cared he hugged his pillow tighter. He was done crying, he was going to man up, like his father suggested.
The campfire burned brightly, teens and young adults sat wrapped up in sleeping bags or holding one another as they exchanged ghost stories. Ayden hugged himself as he walked closer, he didn’t even think about bringing a blanket along. He saw Keith sitting comfortably between Jenny and Samantha, Jenny was even leaning against him. He went to sit furthest away from Keith as he could before he noticed that everyone had someone with them… except him. Ayden kept his eyes focussed on the fire, he didn’t even notice how many times Keith’s eyes drifted to him.
Shivering from the cold he decided he was rather going to head back. No one even noticed he got up and left. He decided to take a short cut through the bushes as his teeth clattered. If those super-human creatures wanted to kill him they could do it easily if he was in or out of the woods. Hearing something behind him he stopped walking and looked back only to see Keith placing his jacket over his shoulders. Ayden rolled his eyes then started walking once more.
“Ayden…” Keith followed. Ayden ignored him as he pressed on. “Ayden wait!” Keith grabbed Ayden’s arm and turned him to look at him. “I’ve been an asshole, and I really want to make up for it.” Ayden shrugged looking away.
“It’s fine…” He wanted to turn and walk off but Keith grabbed him and held him firmly in place.
“Would you look at me please?”
“What do you want from me?” Ayden’s gaze slowly drifted to Keith’s eyes.
“I-I…” Keith stuttered.
“Listen, Keith it’s fine... We can just forget that we ever met and go on with our miserable lives.” Ayden tried to get out of Keith’s grip but failed.
“No. No we can’t.”
“Stop playing with me…”
“I’m so sorry for everything. I am not playing with you Ayden I…”
“You’re just saying that...”
Ayden’s heart nearly stopped as Keith leaned in. Closing his eyes he landed a soft kiss on Ayden’s lips. Ayden returned the kiss. It felt so wrong, but yet so right. Slowly they broke the kiss to look at one another, Keith seemed sincere. Before he could stop himself Ayden kissed him again, he placed his arms around Keith who picked him up and pressed him against a nearby tree. Their gentle kiss soon turned passionate as Ayden wrapped his legs around Keith.
“W-wait. Stop.” Ayden pulled back. “Someone might see us.”
“Right…” Keith gently placed Ayden down. Ayden took Keith by the hand and lead him back to the Wendy-House making sure no one saw them. After they both entered Keith threw Ayden onto one of the beds then got on top of him kissing him wildly. Keith sat up and removed his shirt then leaned down to kiss Ayden again but Ayden protested.
“I don’t want to-“ Ayden started but the door suddenly flung open. The whole camping area could probably have heard Jenny’s horrendous scream.
He couldn’t believe that he actually received fifteen lashes from his father’s belt. He was eighteen years old for pity sake! His family was mortified once Jenny stormed out of the “kids” Wendy-House to tell them the news. Keith tried to apologize but Ayden’s father would hear nothing of it, he shooed Keith away and warned him not to come close to Ayden ever again. Jenny didn’t want Ayden back in the Wendy-house and this time Ayden’s parents fully understood and as punishment forced him to sleep in the tent… on his own.
Ayden sighed not even his book could take his mind off of Keith. He turned onto his side then noticed the silhouette next to his tent. He smiled, Keith! He got up and unzipped his tent only to see Keith was walking away. A clear indication he had to follow he assumed. They were going to remain separated for in case Ayden’s parents spotted them. They kept a comfortable distance from one another, Ayden halted before entering the woods. He looked around to make sure nobody saw him before slipping in as well. Ayden had to pick up the pace to keep up with Keith.
“Hold up!” Ayden complained. “Nobody can see us anymore.” He climbed the last rock and found himself in a small clearing with Keith’s back towards him. He couldn’t place his finger on this Keith. He was such a strange young man. He walked closer and placed a hand on Keith’s arm to turn him around. It was not Keith.
“Finally.” Keith’s father grinned sadistically. Ayden backed off. “You caused me a lot of pain human.” He started coming towards Ayden calmly. “It’s about time you paid for it.” Just before he could grab Ayden he dodged and ran for it but Keith’s father responded quickly. He didn’t even manage ten leaps before being clutched tightly. “Now, now, you don’t want me to transform do you?” the man smirked slyly. Ayden resisted a little longer but once he noticed the werewolves around the area emerging from the woods he realised his attempts would be futile. What could he possibly have done to cause this man any pain?
She panicked! She had looked everywhere but there was no sign of him! It was a cloudy cold day as the family set out to find Ayden. No one knew where he was or when he disappeared.
“Perhaps I was too hard on him…” Jenny could hear her father speaking to their mother. Figuring he might have gone to Keith’s they had gone to his home but he wasn’t there. At first they believed it was an abduction or a run-away but Keith was on patrol duty at the lake. Jenny knew she wasn’t the best sister but she did care, even though she didn’t quite show it. She was perhaps still too immature. Although she was upset when she realised Samantha wasn’t really bothered. After a brief argument the teen girls split up and Jenny was now on her own heading to the lake. Even if he didn’t know anything about it, perhaps he wanted to know. Or was he just using her brother as a one night stand? No, he was using her to get to him! Humiliation to the max!
She kindly greeted her brother’s bullies and asked them if they had seen the boy but none of them did. They wouldn’t lie to her she was good friends with them after all. She then told them that Ayden had ran away to which they were surprised. He was such a wuss, why would he even bother to dash off on his own? She briefly explained why she had screamed the previous night after they enquired and was quite angered when they burst into chuckles and laughs.
“It’s Brokeback Peak!” She could hear Damian laugh as she stomped off. Assholes.
Keith was depressed. He sat on one of the rocks beside the lake as he stared into the distance. He offended Ayden, he angered Ayden’s father, and his own seemed clinically insane. The only person he was close to was his grandmother, now on her dying bed, and yet he couldn’t visit her. Things were way too far out of control. Using a pebble he started scratching Ayden’s name onto the rock. He had to convince the family to leave. It was the only way to keep Ayden safe.
“Romantic.” Jenny remarked as she walked closer. Keith was so lost in his thoughts he didn’t even hear or smell her. He wanted to dust the letters away but it was not scribbled in sand. He greeted her awkwardly. He wasn’t sure how to keep things casual – after all he did use her to get to Ayden. “No need to be weird. Have you seen Ayden?” Keith looked surprised at her question. She told him about the unfortunate turn of events.
“This can’t be happening.” Keith slid off the rock.
“Do you know where he is?” Keith shook his head but Jenny didn’t believe it for a moment.
Enraged he slammed his fist against the wall of his little shed. How could he have left Ayden alone?! He knew all along that he was in danger, how could he have been so stupid?! He knew he had to move fast, his father was no merciful captor… especially when his victim was a human. Although Ayden’s life was the cause of most of his worries it was not all. He could smell Jenny; she has been following him since he left the lake. He had to lose her she would definitely be killed if she interfered. He left the shed and headed for the woods, he knew every tree and every animal that lived and breathed in it. Losing Jenny was a bit harder than he had expected but not a difficult task.
Once out of sight he leapt forward and transformed into his werewolf form so that he could gain that extra speed, the same speed he used to save Ayden before, he had to use now. The thought of Ayden being harmed fuelled his adrenalin as he set into sprint.
Confused she followed the footprints again, but just like before she ended up where she had started. Now she was convinced Keith knew something. She reported the suspicious behaviour to her father who had the cops called in. Ayden’s father didn’t want to take the blame and was now trying to make Keith out as the prick of the tale.
Ayden looked back up at Keith’s father. He was bleeding from his nose and mouth.
“If it wasn’t for you, he’d be running with me. Like it was supposed to be!” the werewolf raged. Ayden tried to defend himself against these accusations in the beginning but every time he opened his mouth he’d get a tough beating and now feared for his life. Despite his fear he was becoming equally angry. Every time the wolf was temporarily silent to gather his thoughts Ayden looked around for any possible means of an escape. He knew he couldn’t outrun these creatures and the only way he could lose them was by jumping off the side of the cliff, but then he would most likely fall to his death.
Ayden reached behind him to get a handful of sand, yes, he was going to do it. He had no chance of survival either way. Beaten, exhausted, and nearly hopeless, he only had himself to rely on now. Once the man looked away he ran for it, but as expected the wolf tried to grab him, without thinking he threw the sand into the man’s eyes and kept running without looking back. He could hear the wolf growling in rage as he tried to get the sand out of his eyes. Ayden wanted to stop but once he looked back and saw the angered werewolf aggressively coming his way, he jumped.
“You better hope you die filth! Otherwise I’ll rip you apart myself!” The wolf growled before slamming his claw into one of the nearby trees in rage.
His arm felt broken as he hurriedly limped on. He had to keep pressing on. The whole situation seemed very one sided. He knew he had to make haste, those werewolves darted through the woods like formula one cars tore across the race track. He covered some ground when he heard voices. It sounded familiar and he headed over there, any help would be appreciated. To his despair it was Damian and his gang. Worse even they believed his broken arm was simply a trick as he tried to get past them unharmed. They couldn’t possibly allow that.
“Just listen to me! We have to get out of these woods!” Ayden warned but they still believed it was an act. Damian punched Ayden weakly and was surprised at how much pain he seemed to have caused him. Ayden collapsed. Now convinced he was in need of medical attention the boys picked him up and carried him back to the camping area. An ambulance was called in but in order to save time Ayden’s parents drove him halfway and handed him over to the medical staff.
When he woke he was relieved that he was still alive. His unanswered questions were endless. He looked out of the window he was back in his home town. He must have been transferred when he was still unconscious. Later his family came to visit and Jenny even hugged him.
“Where is Samantha?” Ayden enquired. The two were inseparable since third grade. Jenny shrugged.
“Who cares? She was kind of a bitch.”
“That’s why you two were such good friends.” Ayden teased.
“Ayden!” His mom gasped. He smiled at Jenny. Did she abandon Samantha’s friendship for his sake?
It seemed like he’s been alone for hours just shortly after visiting hours were over. He felt used and angry when he thought of Keith. Perhaps if he knew what was going on this could all have been prevented. He briefly told his mother what had happened without the mentioning of a werewolf of course, she’d think he lost it. The night was peaceful although inside Ayden was not. The next morning he was allowed to go home and was booked off from school the following week. Jenny suggested that they spent some family time together and would call later to finalise their arrangements. He usually hated being in her company but he was quite excited about leaving the house for a change. He spent some time online researching anything he could find about werewolves. But as far as Google was concerned they were fantasy creatures who didn’t really exist. He nodded as he read about their boosted regenerating rates now the other day made sense.
The doorbell rang. He turned off his laptop and grabbed a jacket before heading to the door. Once he opened it and saw Keith before him he slammed it shut.
“Ayd-“ Keith knocked again.
“I need to-“
“I’ll call the cops!”
“I just want t-“ Keith looked at the car pull up in the driveway, it was Ayden’s father. Ayden tried to ignore the argument outside but eventually Keith seemed to have left. How did Keith even find him?
He pushed any thought of Keith from his mind. He was back home where it was safe. Life was going to become normal again and he could finally move on. If Keith bothered him again he would get a restraining order against him he promised himself. After the movie the two siblings went to the arcades and had quite some fun together for the first time. Keith was glad his sister was finally growing up. Excusing himself he went to the men’s restroom. He always used a cubicle, instead of the urinals.
He hummed a tune but silenced once he heard the bathroom door lock. He remained silent as he heard footsteps coming closer. Quickly his fingers glided over his mobile phone’s keypad keying in the word HELP before sending it to Jenny. [To be continued…]