Chapter 13: Real Life Horror
As the week passed Taylor noticed Nathan had grown distant. Sure, she was busy with dance but whenever she had tried to talk to him he wouldn't say much. Thinking he must be stressed about the swim meet she dismissed it, she just hoped everything got better after Friday night. When class ended Wednesday evening Taylor was packing up her stuff when Lauren stopped her. "Taylor, can I talk to you for a minute?"
Taylor glanced at Michelle who waved at her, leaving the studio with everyone else. "What's up?" Taylor asked.
"I got a call today from the people who's putting the talent show together, they said they had an act bail and they need a replacement so..." Lauren grinned. "I signed you up to perform a solo."
"I know you've been working on your own choreography, this will be your chance to show it off. But if you don't want to do it I'll call and tell them to find someone else."
After thinking about it for a second Taylor smiled. "That sounds amazing. I would love to."
"That's what I like to hear. If you want I could help you with the steps."
"No, no I want to do this on my own but maybe I could perform it for you the night before. See what you think?"
"I could do that. All right, get out of here."
"Thanks Lauren, see you tomorrow." She smiled grabbing her bag. Climbing into her car she couldn't wait to tell Nathan and her friends. Finally it would be a chance to show off her dancing to the best of her ability.
Lynne walked into the coffee shop, the soothing smell made her feel better from a stressful day. She had been cramming for tests and was on her way to Tristan's house to look at pictures he had taken with his own camera. Finally she felt like he made a good partner. But with everything going on she had been too busy too get her usual at the coffee shop so she decided to stop by on her way to Tristan's house. "Lynne." Someone called after she ordered.
Looking up she saw Eli walking towards her. Working with Tristan and her school work had taken up so much of her time she had never gotten back to him. "Eli, hi." She smiled.
Stuffing his hands in his pockets Eli frowned. "You never responded to my calls or texts I figured you must have forgotten about me."
"Yeah, yeah I'm sorry." She sighed. "School's been crazy and I've been working so much with Tristan..."
"Tristan? Why are you spending so much time with him?"
"Um...he's kind of helping me out with the yearbook."
Eli shook his head. "I wouldn't spend so much time with him if I were you. I've heard that guy's a bad influence."
Lynne scrunched her eyebrows. "But you barely know him. I just introduced you to him at the party..."
"I've...I've just heard about him ok?" Eli exclaimed. "Look, I can tell he's not the kind of guy you should be hanging out with him."
"One frappuccino!" The barista yelled.
Lynne looked back at the bar then to Eli, who was looking at her through narrowed eyes. "I gotta get home." Stepping backwards Lynne grabbed her coffee. "Bye Eli." She whispered before leaving the shop.
Tristan collapsed on his bed, completely exhausted. Not only had he been practicing swimming for hours on end but him and his friends had been training without their mothers knowing. Looking up his eyes flashed and his door closed without him touching it. Sighing he ran a hand over his face. "Even doing that hurts and I've been doing that all my life."
Laying his head on a pillow he heard a soft knock on his door. "Come in." He groaned.
"Tristan, dinner is ready." He heard his mother's soft voice say.
"All right, I'll be right down, mom."
"Honey, are you feeling all right? You look a little pale." Feeling the weight shift on his bed Tristan looked up.
"Yeah, I'm fine mom." He sighed. "Swim is kicking my ass, that's it."
"Sorry," He chuckled. "But seriously, I'm fine. Nothing I can't handle."
"Ok good, well come down whenever you're ready."
Tristan nodded his head, watching his mom walk out of his room. He felt bad for lying to her but if she knew what her sons were really doing she would freak out. Running a hand through his curly hair he headed into his brother's room who was about in the same shape as he was. "You feeling ok?"
"No, I'm so sore its not even funny." Nathan grumbled. "But its better than what I have been feeling. We're getting better, its just gonna take some time."
"Yeah, I just wish it would happen sooner rather than later."
Nathan nodded his head. "Nathan! Taylor's here!" Miranda yelled up the stairs. "Go on up sweetie, he's in his room."
"Thank you." Taylor smiled before heading upstairs.
Making the familiar trek to her boyfriend's room she noticed Tristan standing outside his door. "Hey Tristan, Lynne said you two are actually a good team when it comes to the pictures." She chuckled.
"Yeah, surprised me too." He smirked taking a look at the couple. "I'm gonna give you two some privacy." He muttered slinking out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Taylor shook her head, pulling her hair out of its ponytail. "Feeling sore?" She asked seeming to read Nathan's mind.
"Like you wouldn't believe." He sighed rubbing the back of his neck.
Putting her bag down by the door she walked over to sit on his bed, scooting over so she could sit behind him. With a gentle touch she rubbed his shoulders. "Thank you," He whispered.
"You're welcome." She smiled. "Um...I have good news."
"What is it?"
Leaning her arms on his shoulders she said. "Lauren signed me up to perform a solo at the talent show next Saturday."
"That sounds great, babe." Nathan murmured, his voice low.
"Yeah..." She frowned, she hoped he would be a little happier for her. "Baby is everything ok? You seem different."
"Maybe I'm just tired." He snapped, his voice harsher than he intended.
Immediately slinking back Taylor muttered. "Oh..." When he didn't say anything else she hopped off the bed. "I'll see you later." She said quickly grabbing her bag and walking out of the room.
"Tay..." He whispered but she was already gone.
Getting off his bed Nathan walked over to his window to see his girlfriend hurrying to her car but she didn't go home like he expected, she sped off down the road. Knowing he was going to have to apologize Nathan grabbed his keys off his desk. As he headed downstairs he yelled bye to his mom and brother but almost ran into Lynne who was standing on the other side of the front door. "Whoa Lynne, hey," He gasped.
"Hi...I was supposed to come by, apparently Tristan took some pictures he wanted to show me." She explained.
"Right, he's inside, go ahead." Nathan muttered. "I gotta go, I'll see you later."
Lynne stepped aside to let Nathan pass before walking into the house. "Lynne hey," She heard Tristan's voice say from the dining room.
"Hey." She smiled but noticed Tristan's mom sitting at the table. "Oh gosh, I'm interrupting dinner aren't I? I'm so sorry, I can come back."
"Don't be silly," Miranda laughed. "Come in and eat."
"O-ok," Lynne stammered dropping her bag onto the couch. Tristan pulled out a chair for her making her feel right at home.
Michelle was about to pull her hair out. Ever since Sheena came home from the hospital she had been running all over her house helping take care of her sister and her niece who was currently screaming at the top of her lungs. Cradling Ari in her arms Michelle walked around the living room gently bouncing her up and down. "Auntie needs to practice her dance." She sang looking down at the baby who continued to cry. "Oh God, if you keep this up I'm gonna cry along with you."
"Michelle! I need water!" She heard Sheena yell from her bedroom.
Muttering a few cuss words under her breath Michelle placed Ari down in her bouncy seat before heading into the kitchen to refill Sheena's glass. Making sure it had a few ice cubes in it she headed down to hall to her sister's room. "Here you go, how are you feeling?" She asked, forcing the words to sound kind.
"Tired, just leave it there, I'm gonna try to nap." Sheena moaned pulling her comforter over her head. "Can you close the door so I can sleep?"
In other words 'Close the door so I don't have to listen to a screaming baby. "You got it." Michelle cringed walking out of the room, closing the door behind her. "Ok Ari, mommy's trying to sleep and Auntie needs thirty minutes to practice so we gotta figure out what's wrong with you."
She checked her diaper, she was already fed, and she had taken her nap earlier in the afternoon so Michelle was confused. Over Ari's cries she heard a knock at the door. Hopping over a few piles of clothes she made her way over to answer it. To her relief she found Jake on the other side. "Hey, you said you wanted to study right?"
"Oh right!" Michelle exclaimed slapping a hand to her forehead. "Come in, just brace yourself for what you may see and hear."
"Is everything ok?"
In that moment Michelle snapped. "No, no its not, my niece won't stop crying no matter what I do! My sister is absolutely no help because she is bed ridden for I don't know how long cause it seems like she just keeps getting sicker instead of better! I don't even know what we are! I mean you kiss me and then I don't know what! I need to practice this dance or I won't perform at the talent show this weekend! And to top it all off I'm pretty sure I'm gonna fail most of my classes this year!" She yelled. "Ok...I feel a little better now."
Jake looked confused. "What do you mean you don't know what we are?"
Michelle felt her face grow hot. "I mean...we kissed but you never asked me to be...I'm...well..."
Now he understood. Smirking Jake bent down to give her a light kiss. "I didn't think I needed to ask."
Resting her hands on his chest she blushed even more. "I'm a girl, we sort of need to be asked so we know what's going on."
"I'll be sure to remember that from now on." He whispered leaning down to kiss her again.
Suddenly Michelle pulled back. "Hang on...do you hear that?" She grinned but Jake shook his head. "Exactly, its silent." She giggled looking over she saw Ari completely asleep in her bouncy seat. "Thank God...I was about to throw myself in front of a bus."
Jake's eyes widened. "Don't do that."
Laughing Michelle stood up on her tiptoes to wrap her hands around his neck. "I won't, I promise."
Lynne was surprised how comfortable she felt around Tristan's mom. Usually she felt unbearably awkward but she felt at home with them. While Miranda washed dishes Lynne sat with Tristan on the couch looking at his laptop. He had actually taken a few good pictures of the student body. "I have to say I'm impressed." She smiled.
"Thanks, but I gotta say its kind of fun getting candid shots. The ones where they don't expect it are the best ones."
"Yeah I know." She laughed feeling her phone vibrate in her pocket. Looking down she saw it was another text message from Eli.
Scrolling through a few more pictures Tristan heard Lynne sigh. "Something wrong?"
"Huh? No, well not with the pictures or anything." She muttered.
"What's going on?" He asked closing his computer.
"Its...its Eli. He's starting to be really clingy and its creeping me out honestly." She explained. "I went to this coffee shop after school and he got mad at me cause I never called him back and because I was spending time with you."
"With me? Why would that make him mad?"
"I couldn't tell you. We're not even dating, at least in my mind we aren't." She murmured. "And then this dream...no forget it."
Tristan sat up straighter. "No Lynne, you can talk to me."
Looking into his eyes she saw nothing but sincerity and trust so she took a deep breath and started. "I keep having this nightmare, I'm trapped and I can't save myself which is one of my worst fears." She sighed. "Then I feel something grab me and I see Eli so I think I'm safe but then he...changes. He looks almost demonic and its scary. I wake up in a cold sweat and feel like something's watching me."
Tristan's jaw clenched. When he didn't say anything Lynne brushed some hair behind her ear. "Its stupid...I mean, its just a dream. Its not like anything like that could happen in real life."
"Yeah..." He whispered. "Hey I'll be right back, ok?"
"Ok..." She smiled weakly as he hopped off the couch.
Heading upstairs to his room Tristan found his phone and quickly called his brother. "Pick up..." He groaned.
"What?" Nathan's voice snapped.
"Nath, I just talked to Lynne and she told me about that Eli guy."
"This again? Look man, we all met him and none of the other guys had the feelings that you got. I seriously think its just jealousy."
"No, just listen, she told me about a nightmare she keeps having. Eli's normal one minute then he looks like a demon the next. What does that sound like to you?"
Biting his bottom lip Nathan thought back, they heard about these before. "Ok all that doesn't mean anything right now."
"What are you talking about? It sounds like she's had this dream more than once."
"We don't know for sure if that's it. This could mean anything."
Tristan scoffed. "My own brother doesn't believe me. Wow, thanks bro." He snapped before hanging up the phone.
"Damn it," Nathan grumbled hearing the line click.
He had been driving around for half an hour looking for Taylor's car but still no sign of her. Finally he narrowed his search down to one more place. Stepping on the gas he headed towards the community center.
Taylor stretched her muscles in front of the mirrors. The janitor had been so kind as to let her come into the studio after hours. "I'm gonna have to get him a Christmas present or something." She muttered as she put in her music.
Hearing it play she started moving along. Over the past few days she had been working on her leg movements and overall she was happy with how the dance turned out. She tried to use the lyrics to her advantage, using her body to really sell what the song is saying. It was such a sweet, fluid song she was able to have some of her ballet roots but also some hip hop moves. As she tried to do an aerial she missed her footing landing hard on her butt. Groaning to herself she stood up to try again but something in the window caught her eye. Snapping back she looked at the door but no one was there. "Shake it off, Tay, the lack of sleep is getting to you." She whispered brushing her long hair off her shoulders.
Propelling herself forward she tried to use all of the floor during her dance, she had always been told never to just stay in one spot during a dance so she used the open space to her advantage. Replaying her music she started from the top trying to nail everything in one try. As she danced she noticed one light start to flicker on and off. Stopping what she was doing she stared at it, thinking it would stop after a little while but it didn't. Then another light started doing the same then another in a domino affect. Feeling chills run down her spine Taylor walked over to grab her stuff but as she bent down to pick up her bag the lights cut out completely. "Oh my God..." She murmured hurrying over to the door.
Stepping into the hallway all she saw was pitch black. "George!" She called out hoping to hear the janitor but she received no response.
In a brisk walk she headed to the front doors but both were locked from the outside. Pushing against them she willed them to open but they didn't budge. "He wouldn't leave me in here." She sighed running a hand through her hair.
As she tried to reason all this out in her mind she heard a door from the end of the hallway slam making her scream. Reaching into her bag she tried to find her phone but then quickly realized she left it in her car. Trying to calm her nerves she heard another slam from somewhere in the building making her jump. Sitting down on the cold floor she tried to see into the darkness but there was nothing. Covering her ears with her hands she started shaking but then the lights came back on without a problem. Placing her hands on the wall she braced herself, standing up. "Hello?" She called.
"Oh hey," She knew that voice. From down the hallway she noticed Eli walking towards her. "Taylor, I didn't know you came here."
"Uh yeah," She stuttered. "What are you doing here? The center's been closed for the past two hours."
"I guess I could ask you the same question, huh?" He smirked. "Well I thought I had to pick up my sister from class but when I got here she wasn't in her usual room so I went looking."
Just as Taylor was about to say something else a knock on the door made her jump again. Turning around she saw Nathan standing on the other side. When she didn't make a move Eli stepped forward. "You gonna let him in?" He chuckled gently pushing on the door, making it open without a problem.
Now she was confused, nothing made those doors open a few minutes ago. "Eli? What are you doing here?" Nathan repeated her question.
"Don't worry about it, I gotta get going. See you later, Tay." He said stepping around the couple to walk out of the center.
Taylor wrapped her arms around herself, still feeling frightened. "Hey you all right?" She heard Nathan whisper.
"I-I...I don't even know." She muttered.
Nathan could see her shaking. Stepping forward he took her in his arms. "I'm sorry," He said rubbing her back.
"Don't even worry about it." She sighed. "I'm just glad you're here. Lets go." She smiled grabbing his hand.
Nathan nodded his head but he knew something happened to scare her and he knew he would have to get to the bottom of it.