Libraries are nothing new to me. I've been to plenty. But this, this is different. The wooden shelves reach all the way to the ceiling with at least millions of books scattered across the room. Mosaics and beautiful drawings cover the windows. My eyes catch one spot with no shelves though. Instead, there is a fireplace surrounded by red lounge chairs. It's a great place to read in peace, I decide. Hopefully, I will get a chance to come here for pleasure. Immediately, I push out that idea out of my mind. As soon as I know what they need me for, I'll be on my way back home, or wherever.
When Denim slams the door shut, someone asks, "Who's there?"
"It's me, father," Denim replies. "I came here with her, like you asked."
The stalker nods his approval. "Good man. Both of you, please sit down. It's time we discuss matters." I don't move from where I stand. I have the exact same feeling as I did in the park. My hands start to sweat and my body shows anxiousness. I try and take deep breaths as my hands and legs start to shake. Denim puts a hand on my shoulder and I freeze.
"It's fine. Trust him for now okay?" he whispers into my ear. I still don't move. All I'm concentrating on is his hand touching me. Why would he do that? I don't even know him. Taking a step back, I shrug his hand off. If I reopen the door, they will definitely take me back here and do who knows what. But what will happen if I do follow them? I guess I don't have a choice yet so I follow Denim towards the stalker.
Denim sits next to his father. So, I take the chair the furthest away from them. There is a moment of strange silence until the stalker speaks up directly to me. "Might I introduce myself to you, young lady. As you already know, I am Denim's father. You may call me Henry Hunter or Henry."
"I prefer calling you stalker," I breathe out. Denim hears me and tries to cover his laughter when his father glares at him. Then, his gaze flickers to me and I gulp. "And what is your name?"
"Tay-Taylor." It's my first time introducing myself with something I can be proud of. Its nerve raking and I blew it. The interrogatory expression on his face worries me. Henry is pale and looks like he will faint. He coughs and stands up. "Denim, may I have a word?"
I give him a questioning look but all he does is shrug, not knowing either. He gets up. I watch them out. They close the door behind firmly and I'm alone. I can't resist the urge of staying on this chair and I leap to my feet and listen in:
"Yes father?" I hear Denim say, once everything is quiet.
"Don't 'yes father' me, my son! What have you done to her?"
"Nothing. I did as you told."
"Then why is her name Taylor?"
"I don't know, ask Mercedes."
"Mercedes? For heaven sakes, what did that girl do now?"
"Do you have to ask? For goodness sake, her name is Taylor."
"She gave her the name of her favourite singer?"
"What do you think?"
"So, the girl actually likes the name?"
"I guess. I think she at least wants a nice name to call herself right? Better have one then go without." A pause. "I think the name's pretty, though I would have named her something else if Mercedes…"
"You think whatever you like, son. There are more important matters at hand!"
"Don't worry father. She fits every description. No name, doesn't remember her family, and has all the essential qualities right? As you said before, with a war in view, we definitely have an advantage with her right?"
"That was in theory. Now it's time to test things out."
"You know you must tell her soon."
"Let's not waste any time then. I'll tell her some things, and then make sure it's the right girl."
"It's time to test her. Tell Mercedes to get everything ready."
Test her? War? I wonder. What does that mean? Nothing is making any sense, but from what I just heard, I'll know something in a few minutes. I smile for no reason. Is it because Denim says he likes my adoptive name? No, it's not. It's not. He's just being nice, that's all. But I am wondering what he would have called me. Maybe I can figure it out later. I quietly run back to my seat and wait for them to enter like I never heard anything.
"Sorry for the inconvenience," Stalker apologises as they both settle down. "I hope it didn't take too long."
"It's fine." I say. "But I think you owe me an explanation."
He chuckles – which I notice he does a lot – and says: "All in good time…Taylor. Now, I must lea-"
I stand, pushing the chair back with such force that it falls backwards. This is my first time glaring at someone. I hardly ever make eye contact and I feel like flinching away but I'm so startled at my own action I can't move even move. "Leave? So you bring me here, expecting me to stay in god knows where this place is, and might not even consider, 'jeez this girl probably would like some answers?' Either you are mentally ill or just stupid!" I gasp at the end, even surprising myself.
What am I doing? Maybe I can… can just say sorry and that I wasn't thinking and that... I'm in so much trouble!
He sighs and shakes his head. "Kids these days. Where has all the respect gone? I hope you've heard of the saying 'respect your elders' but... I see that's not how it works anymore. He looks at me and blood rushes to my ears and I look away. I'm still standing there awkwardly. I see Denim and his father exchange looks until it seems like Denim won because Henry says, "All right. Come and sit. I guess there is no point of delaying the facts. I can't avoid it any longer."
Denim helps me pick up the chair and I sit back down. "Where shall I begin?" Denim's father asks.
"The first time you started stalking me." I say.
Annoyingly, he chuckles again and starts. "I've known you for a long time, my dear, even when you were just a child. But since you move locations regularly, it takes me a long time to relocate you. I had a feeling that you were the one that I was looking for so I tracked you down, trying to find the right moment to finally meet. When I found you cleaning about, I took a chance… And by your reaction," I'm looking down at my shirt the whole time but I can tell he's looking at me with amusement. "It was indeed the wrong time. After, I de-" He stops and looks at me and laughs. Denim and I exchange a brief look. What was so funny?
"You are something," he says to himself although I still don't know what he's talking about. "Fine, if you want straight answers, I'll give them to you. Really, teens don't have the patience for a good story. A man like me always knows." So he thinks I'm bored when I was just trying to avoid eye contact. But, it seems like he forgot the whole thing and started anew.
"There have been two family organizations that were against each other since the beginning of humanity. One is called Hunter."
"I wonder which one you guys are." I mumble. Hunter. Henry Hunter. I think it's obvious.
"The other is called Light." He continues. "Each organization has special fighting abilities. For Hunters, they can aim at almost anything and hit wherever they desire, no matter how far or fast the item is moving. Our usual weapon of choice is the bow and arrow, but use slingshots and small daggers as well. We have a good sense of direction and we have sharp eyes, ready to attack even in the darkest hours."
Aiming huh? I think about the rock I threw. Could that mean… No. It can't. What about the other one? The other "group". What is he even talking about? It's not making any sense.
"However," he says. "Lights have the skills of agility and they have faster reflexes than normal. They usually carry swords and knives." People still use swords? Weren't swords used in the olden days? I'm pretty sure nowadays, the majority of the population uses a gun.
"You make this sound so cheesy father!" Denim says. He was so quiet, I forgot he's there. "I think I should be the one to explain the rest to her, father." He winks at me and I look away, half in disgust and wonder. "It doesn't matter who tells me what. All I need are answers." I say.
"Before answers, there are facts." Henry beams, like he has been waiting for the exact time to say it. "We aren't even done giving the facts so hush up until we finish."
I shrug. "I'm all ears."
"A fact you should know is that both have extremely large family trees, so by the end of the 19th century, it wasn't possible to all have the same last name. People started making up their last names. Only true descendants would keep their original names." I see him straighten up just a bit when he says this next line. "They tend to hold more skill, but that's not that important."
"Can I ask you something?" I say, my voice shaking quite a bit.
"What is it?" He sounds annoyed and I can tell he wants to speak.
Denim smirks. "Of course! What do you think we are? Vampires? Wizards? Werewolves? The only difference between us is our general skill and that we have been practicing this for a long time. Long time as in generations and generations. It becomes a part of us almost. "
"So we are more advanced mentally and physically." Henry joins in.
"Then why don't you have each other's abilities? If you are human then you should be able to right?"
"True," Henry tells me. "But each side hates using anything but what they know. Whoever likes the other family's skill is considered a traitor or an outlaw by their family. An item of shame."
I finally get to ask my most important question. "Why are you telling me this?" I look over at Denim and I see him struggling to stay still on his seat. "Well?" Pieces, I think. Both are giving me pieces that are nonsense to me. Actually, half of what I understand makes no sense. Nothing.
Suddenly, there is a huge blast that erupts through this whole place. We snap our heads to see the source of the sound. Books and even the book shelves themselves start to rain down as another firework like sound explodes. A white or greyish colour of smog is falling from the ceiling; flying and covering everywhere like a cloud forming. I can hardly see though it and I feel blinded. I choke and I stumble backwards and almost fall when Denim catches me. My heart races when his hand holds my waist. My memory of his father taking me on the streets floods in. A feeling of fright, and panic hits and I elbow him in his ribcage and he lets go in surprise. Then I'm on the ground and scrambling to hide behind a chair away from him. I don't trust his father so why should I trust him? I've had enough with him thinking he can do whatever he wants to me.
"What's happening?" I ask, but it's so loud I have to yell.
"I don't know!" he yells back. "But it's fine. Just don't panic."
"Are you mental Denim?" I scream in disbelief. How is this," I wave my arms around, showing this mess. "Okay?" I can hardly see him. The whole room is becoming dustier. He is about to reply when he turns his head above me and says, "Dive!" Out of the corner of my eyes, I see a part of the ceiling and dash blindly away to my right. A second later, a pile of concrete lies where I stood only a few moments ago. My heart is pounding so loud.
"Get down!" Henry warns to us. It is like a blizzard of smog and dust now. Denim notices me struggling to breath. Before I can protest, Denim comes over to me, takes his jacket off and puts it on my mouth and nose. I try and turn away from it, not wanting to have something to block my mouth but he plants it so firmly I can't remove it. He and Henry seem just fine. There is one more explosion and this time I see pieces from the wall scatter into the air. Then, utter silence.
The whole room is quiet. I tentatively take of Denim's jacket from my face and peek out from the chair sheltering Denim and I. I could never imagine seeing what I saw in front of me.