Follow the call of the wild; don't turn away,
The whispers in the breeze will lead you here,
I am the answer, to the question you pray;
To find me you must defeat your fear.
There, beyond the weeping willows,
Across the ripples of the streaming crystal lake,
Beneath the forest hollows;
Through the gold coated roots that do a portal make.
Step lightly over the one-footed bridge,
Beware the luring nymphs down below,
Around the honey-bush and past the wooden ridge;
Into the water - where the moon-tide flows.
Keep your feet light, your breath quiet,
Listen carefully for the morning cry three,
And when you hear it...
You'll find me.
Cat-tilted, ocean-green eyes lifted from the delicate magnolia
scented paper, to survey the familiar stuffed toys cuddled together
on a rose-printed bed. Pen in hand became still as the slender young
girl tilted her head slightly, listening.
A few breaths later, the definite sound of a rogue rooster called out. She counted the cries in her mind. One. Two. And three. Her gaze shifted from the bed to rest on the pale pink digital clock she'd gotten from her grandparents last Christmas. 6:08 AM showed red back at her through the dimness of the room. With a sigh, she placed the pen down on her desk and leaned back in the high-back chair, stretching her legs as she gently rubbed stiff neck muscles.
Moving house was nothing new to her. For all her seventeen years of
life, Zoe Rudolfse had always been labelled 'the new girl'. The
new girl at school; the new girl at work; and when her parents
decided to home-school her she earned the title of the new girl down
She was lucky she'd managed to convince her parents to put her back in school after this last move. It would guarantee her at the very least one year of finding her feet. If she could find a part-time job and earn enough to sustain herself, she wouldn't need to pack up her life and move when her parents would decide it was time for 'a change'. She needed to start thinking about college, and life after high school.
Zoe turned her head toward the half-open window in her room. Dawn
broke across the night sky in shades of pretty blue. A breeze drifted
inside, lightly stirring her curtains. The sounds of scuttling little
feet were clear in the quiet of the morning hours. Rats, Zoe
thought, tilting her head up to gaze up at the pale ceiling. She
narrowed her eyes, watching and listening.
Moving from town to town, and a couple of times from continent to continent, wasn't a problem for Zoe. Meeting new people, getting lost, and wondering whether she'll make any friends every time, wasn't what always winded her up and turned her into a bundle of nerves. New places were interesting. People were easy to interact with. What Zoe hated about moving was the new house – and the new entities she would come across.
She followed the sound of the faint scuttling with her eyes. A
floorboard creaked somewhere down the darkened hallway. The wind
picked up outside, battering against the walls of the house and
blowing her curtains in. The house groaned in response; another
floorboard creaked, the fridge picked up its humming in the kitchen
down the hallway.
Her physique didn't relax until she heard the faint sounds of scratching and gnawing in the corner of the room. Stupid rats. Zoe glanced down at the poem in front of her for a moment. If she kept a diary, she would probably be writing in it right now, bashing herself for being so... weird. She didn't understand her need to write down where she was. She always restrained herself from folding these poems into a paper jet and letting it fly out the window. Chances were it would crash right outside their yard, and her parents would find it. It was far too humiliating to risk, so she carefully slid the slip of paper into the folder where she kept all her other poems. Tuck it away, along with all my other little fantasies, Zoe thought.
The idea of some part of her calling out to something – or someone
– was crazy. It's just because you haven't found a place
where you feel you belong yet. Her mother's words ran through
her mind again, and Zoe agreed wholeheartedly. It was true – of
course she'd made lots of friends, and she loved some of the towns
where they'd stayed before. But the sense of belonging had evaded
her. She probably wouldn't recognize it even if it hit her smack in
the face, Zoe thought bitterly. Still, she couldn't explain away
the feeling that someone was looking for her.
Zoe turned off her desk lamp, and tiptoed toward her door. She stood in the doorway, and cautiously peeked her head out. The moonlight coated everything in beautiful pale light; like the sun during the day, only this light was colder and softer somehow. Zoe's fascination and teasing about her parents being blind as bats in the dark had fizzled out to something oddly similar to fear in recent years. Her reasoning that it was just their eyesight going bad at night, was deflated when she discovered her friends having the same condition at a random slumber party. It wasn't until that party took place when Zoe had to admit the truth to herself; that she was more different to everybody else than she'd realized.
The hallway wasn't empty. She felt her body go stiff for a moment,
her eyes going wide when she noted the blurry shadow against one of
the walls. It was watching her with eyes as red as rubies, glowering
back at her. Her own gaze narrowed back at it. She retreated into her
room, closing her door firmly but quietly behind her. The window bunk
was surprisingly comfy, and Zoe hugged one of the throw pillows to
her chest as she curled up onto it, detachedly watching the slow
Stupid shadow people, Zoe thought. They were a familiar sight to her as she'd been surrounded by them since she was a little child. They never hurt her, and she didn't trust to attempt to communicate with them either. She somehow knew that they were following her for a reason, but she didn't want to know what it was. Ignorance is bliss, Zoe chided herself jokingly. They weren't the entities that she was afraid of.
What she was afraid of was the entities that would be called and
welcomed into their home by her mother. Zoe never told her mother
how much it bothered her that she'd chosen to be a medium as a
career. Her mother loved helping the living move on and find closure;
Zoe didn't want to take that purpose away from her.
Of course, Mrs Rudolfse had been delighted when it was discovered that Zoe was as sensitive to 'those passed over' as she was, and since then her mother had been giving her tips and advice on how to 'deal' with it. But then, of course, Zoe hadn't corrected her mother. She wasn't clairvoyant, that was a certainty now. She simply saw the world differently from everybody else; from being able to see at night as though it was clear as day, to watching guardian angels follow oblivious people around.
It would be another two days before Mrs Rudolfse saw her first
clients in the new town. Two days for her to tune into the passed
entities. Zoe knew she would see them sooner, if not that very day
then the next. They would flock to their house, and Zoe would pretend
not to see them, or hear them, or smell them, or feel them. She had
to put up the facade of oblivion, because things often turned very
ugly when the entities recognized that she was able to interact with
Zoe sighed softly as the sky lightened outside. The facade of being as normal as everybody else was going to be tricky, as always. She'll be perceived as intriguing and interesting at school that day. She'll be called eccentric once it came about how much she'd 'travelled'. She'll be called different because of her mother's career choice. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what she'd be labelled if her secret got out.
A/N: I'll put my disclaimer for the fic in here so I can have that done and dusted. The Shadow World, Julian, Jenny, and any of the other FG characters, and the concept of the FG, is copyright property of L.J. Smith. The plot, and all other characters, belong to me. I got inspired to write this a while ago. It branches off from my trilogy fics, the third one in particular, if you're interested in getting a little bit more background about why I'm writing this fic. Otherwise, it's not necessary to read my other fics, you shouldn't be lost reading this as a stand-alone. The poem is copyright of Chantelle Smith, so please don't cross any lines and illegally make use of it.