Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Like the most annoying drumbeat in the world that stupid clock in our classroom kept constantly ticking on, drowning out my math teacher. The last lesson on Wednesday was the most annoying of the whole week. Nothing in the world could compare to the handling of numbers on a piece of paper. Ever since they introduced letters and specific formulas everything went to shit.
“Only ten more minutes, Simon”, I muttered to myself.
Looking two rows over at my best friends they seemed equally bored. My mind kept wandering back to our conversation during lunch break.
“Have you guys heard about those shady dealings at the port?”
Both Dane and I looked over.
“Emmy, there are always shady dealings at the port.”
When she sat down, Emmy shot Dane a sour look. “You know what I mean, knob head. I’m talking about REALLY shady stuff. There are rumors that someone is trafficking people in huge containers.”
Dane coughed on his sandwich, looking wide eyed. “Where are you getting those rumors from?”
But she just shrugged him off. “The internet? Telegram. I don’t know.”
We were never able to get a straight answer from that girl so I just chuckled with her. “When do we meet?”
The two of them just laughed at me, thinking I was cracking jokes.
“Guys, I’m serious. Don’t tell me you aren’t the least bit curious.” I could see that I wasn’t winning them. “Come on...Just a little peek. Ten minutes in and out. Dane you could take your brother’s car, right? We take the car, look for a hole in a fence and then sneak in.”
Being the only one old enough to have a license Dane was our private taxi around town. His resolve was fading quickly.
“Simon is right. We won’t be long. Just tell you parents that we’ll go eat a pizza somewhere.”
As soon as I had Emmy on my side it was a done deal. We could see that Dane was struggling with himself but we had a date. “I’ll get you two at 8pm at Simon’s, kay?”
The bell finally got me out of my memories and out of this hellhole. I was just glad to get out of that room, shove my books that I didn't need into my locker and ride my bike home. Getting my own driver’s license in three months' time would be oh so liberating.
While unlocking my bike Emily clapped me on the back, simply smiling and waving. She always preferred taking the bus home. I just got used to riding my bike after fifth grade.
“See ya at 8”, I shouted after her, as she was boarding the bus.
Riding the bike on a warm summer day, the sun on my skin and wind in my hair, was when I felt free. Free from the boredom of everyday life. I could just ride where I wanted to go. No school, no parents, no strings attached. Just going wherever, the wind would take me. Such dreams were very short-lived though. Coming back home to the two-story house behind stupidly ornate eight feet high fences reality came back crashing. It always dragged me down to know that our lovely housekeeper would be the only person to be waiting for me when I got home. She was a nice
lady and all but sometimes I just wished that my own mother would be the one shouting greetings from around the house when I closed the front door.
“How was school?” Janice never called me sir, young master or such things. I never wanted to be like my father. He liked having a British housekeeper for whatever reason. Secretly he probably fancied her.
“Same as everyday”, I yelled back trying to get past the sound of a vacuum. Shortly after the sound stopped. Apparently, Janice was done in the living room. Even if she wasn’t my mother, her smile always helped a lot.
“Your parents should be home around seven today. Do you want me to fix you a snack?” Janice tried her best but I was too excited to eat. My mind was already racing what we would find later that evening.
“It’s okay, I’ll head out later with Dane and Emmy. We wanted to go to the pizza place in town at 8.” I might have actually felt a bit bad for lying to her. The prospect of something breaking me out of the monotony of life, if only for a few hours, was outweighing my consciousness heavily.
Killing time was easy though and getting out of the house would be even easier. I just did homework, listened to music and watched Heartstopper on Netflix. Of course, both my mom and dad called, saying they would have to work a bit later. Just like that dinner at 7 was off the table. Janice was happy to go home earlier and I had the house for myself.
Emmy and I had been talking for a few minutes before the doorbell rang and the two of us headed out. Dane seemed the most nervous of us all, Emmy was getting unsure now and I was giddy with excitement.
I felt a constant rumble roll through my stomach. It was as if someone had thrown some stones on the world's strongest trampoline and they kept jumping around. When we found a parking spot around five minutes away from the ports main gate my excitement couldn’t be controlled anymore. I was the first to jump out of the car and the first to scan the barbed fence for an unintended opening. Worst case I actually brought a pair of wire cutters with me. Luckily, I didn’t have to use them. Behind a rather dense bush was a piece of the fence rolled back, just barely big enough for some teenagers to fit through.
Dane fidgeted a lot as I went first. “Guys...I got a bad feeling.”
I couldn’t be stopped though. If I had to do this on my own, I would’ve done so.
Right behind me Emmy crab-walked through the opening with Dane being last of us to trespass onto the port premises. We were lucky to see no guards around, which made Dane even more paranoid. Cautious but determined we moved closer to the cranes and shipping containers. The three of us ducked behind the contents of a wooden pallet when we saw a group of burly man transferring a whole bunch of heavy looking crates from a container into a flower shop delivery truck.
Before Dane could even open his mouth, Emmy put her hand over his mouth. Her eyes conveyed the message well enough. Sitting in the dark between wooden pallets and shipping containers we continued to observe the group being led by a person in a dark trench coat and shining blond hair. None of them gave us any indication that we had been found. Their leader went behind the container so our focus switched back to the men.
“What do you think they're loading?”
Immediately my blood froze and my heart skipped a beat.
“Who knows, there could be anything in those crates” whispered Emmy back.
We were watching with such an intensity that we hadn't heard him coming even close to us. I was the first to turn around and look into the smiling face of their apparent leader.
Panicked I tapped on Emmy's back and half shouted half whispered “Go Go Go!”
Only when they heard the urgency in my command they too turned around and froze. For a few seconds we were crouching there caught, like deer in a headlight.
That was all it took get us running. The guy couldn't have been older than 16 but we were so scared of being caught by some shady guys doing shady business at a port.
At first it seemed like we had gotten away but by the time we had to turn a sharp left back to the hole he just stood there smiling again.
“Come on, we aren't done offloading, stay a while and watch.”
No chance in hell we were about to go back. The gig was up, we were caught. And he knew that he had us. His voice was calm, not the least bit threatening.
I grabbed Emmy and Dane in front of me and shoved them back between containers. “Run, I'll be right behind you!”
Before I could enter the corridor between shipping containers, I felt a hand on my shoulder turning me around.
“Isn't it past your bedtime, boy?”
Instead of a menacing cowl I saw a stupid toothy grin.
“I..we…” Nothing sensible came out of my mouth.
“You thought it would be fun to see shady dealings at the port and now you got your friends and yourself in some big trouble. My my Simon, aren't you an adventurous one?”
My only hope was that Emmy and Dane had gotten to the car by now. I certainly was done for.
“Thinking about your friends in a situation like this. That's pretty noble of you.”
It dawned on me that this guy could read my thoughts. He just casually talked about what I was thinking without missing a beat.
“Smart and cute, brave and loyal. I like that. You are…looking for more in life than just school. Say how about you and I spend the night together?”
Instead of not beating at all my heart was now pumping at a hundred miles an hour. This time he knew the answer before I did.
“Oh, this will be fun! Come on, send your friends a message and we'll be out of this port in a few minutes. Just tell them you're with Jay.”
His stupid toothy grin disarmed all of my defenses. He had cute little dimples. No indication of any hostility at all.
What else was I supposed to do than play along. Had I had any intentions of escaping Jay would've known about it immediately. Knowing that he had won he slung an arm around my shoulder like an old friend and started to bring me back to the place we had spied upon earlier. None of his burly enforcer type guys even acknowledged my existence. As it seemed they were just finishing up.
“Business is finished, where do you want to go next? I feel like having a drink? Do you drink?”
He knew exactly that I only ever had a beer once and it was rancid in my opinion. “We can go wherever…”
What surprised me was that Jay went straight towards a Mercedes. “Jump in the back, my driver will take us to the club.” I was infatuated with his cute giggle when he saw my shock of him having a personal driver. Even I hadn't had one. There was that giggle again as he read my thoughts. It just didn't fit that tough guy mafia boss image.
A minute later, we were on our way out of the port area. I was beyond intimidated but decided to send my friends a message anyways.
>>Don't worry, the dude is pretty cool, we're gonna hang for the night.<<
We just drove in complete silence, me looking down at my black phone screen, thinking about what might happen with me after Jay was done toying with me and he just kept looking out the tinted window. The driver stopped in front of the entrance, while a lot of people just looked at the Mercedes rolling up. A few of the party goers had a
sour look on their face, some of them were in awe. Jay opened the door to his right and I followed him out. I wasn’t sure how we were supposed to get in that club but apparently the bouncer knew Jay pretty well. What surprised was the scrutinizing look I got.
After we got through the open door, we walked down a dark hallway. The closer we got to the door at the end the louder the sound of drum and base music got in my ears. The music became almost deafening as we entered the dance room. Never had I been to a real club with alcohol and such loud music. Jay navigated us to one of the VIP booths in the corner with a perfect overview of the whole dancefloor. Following suit I sat down, taking a look around. It definitely was interesting to have the opportunity of visiting a dance club on a school night.
Shortly after we had sat down a rather young-looking waitress came to our table and asked us about our drink order. Being the confident one Jay ordered two bourbons with ice and a coke on the side.
“Those two whiskies are for you, right?” I asked nervously.
But Jay just smiled at me, staring deep into my eyes. I wasn’t really a socially awkward guy except when it came to staring contests. I lost pretty quick, making my cheeks blush and my eyes wander around the establishment.
“Tell me about yourself Simon. What do you like to do for fun? Do you usually hang around the port at night?”
“Just sometimes. Most nights we hang out near the red-light district managing our hookers.” I answered sarcastically.
At least it solicited that cute chuckle of his but I guess he knew I was bullshitting him. The more I looked at the way his blond hair framed his features, the more I think I fell for him. There was a certain charm to the way he handled himself. And those dimples. When Jay was genuinely laughing he had cute little dimples on either side of his lips.
Just as I had thought it there actually came a blush to his cheeks.
“Stop it, I'm not that cute.”
“I never said that…”
“But your thoughts are screaming it right at me.”
It wasn't much of a shock by then. “So you DO read my thoughts. Is that how you found us behind the boxes?”
“God yes…you guys thought you were so sneaky. I could hear your steps from three containers away.”
“Oh please, now you tell me you also got super hearing.” It made me look around a bit. A lot of the party people looked barely old enough to be here, some of them even younger than me. Jay began to smile as the wheels began turning.
I turned my head back to look at Jay. For the second time that evening my heart began to stutter. A primal fear began gripping my chest when I saw those fangs extend from his lips and that sinister red glow from his eyes. My mind screamed to get out of there, to flee and run for my life.
“Eaaasy tiger. You would've been dead at the port if I wanted to.”
His words did nothing to calm me down. I was in danger. Jay could sweet talk all he wanted but I didn't know what he would do later with me. I knew his secret, I saw them off-load stuff at the port. No way in hell was I going to get out of this situation alive.
“That depends entirely on you. I promise, that you won't be harmed tonight. Just enjoy this night out with me and we'll see how this ends.”
How much could I trust the word of this total stranger who wasn't even human?
The young waitress came back with our drinks. Jay pushed one of the whiskey glasses to me and raised his.
“To eternal youth and newfound friends.”
I figured if I was going to die anyways, why not try some new things. The amber colored liquid burned the whole way down into my stomach. It was painfully obvious that I never had something like this to drink. I scrunched up my face and shook my whole head to try and ease the uneasiness I just experienced.
"Why would you want to drink this?” I coughed while Jay was having a laughing fit. To save me some further embarrassment he slid the glass of coke in my direction.
“Take this, makes the whiskey go down easier.”
In that moment I would've gulped down anything to lessen the burn.
Jay lost some of his creepiness when he grabbed my hand and dragged me towards the dance floor. He looked like a normal teenager just having a fun night on a roll. “Time to dance!”
Protesting some more was futile so I just let go. The music was pumping so loud and hard that it rattled every bone in my body. I was dragged into a raving sea of people that pushed and shoved me into every direction imaginable. It was actually a lot of fun to lose every inhibition I had to jump and stomp and sway together with Jay in the mosh pit.
After an hour or so of non-stop movement my breath had all but left me and I stumbled back towards our booth. Drinking the whole glass at once earlier had had an effect on me that I just wasn't used to. My head was swimming and my cheeks were flushed a deep red. Instead of sitting across from me Jay just slid right next to me, our shoulders pressed together, signaling the waitress to bring two more whiskeys.
I was happily sipping on my cola being aware of the contact between our shoulders and legs. Well he knew how I felt about him and guys in general so no harm in enjoying the prolonged touch.
“What are you thinking about, my dear Simon?”
I snorted loudly. “You know exactly what I'm pondering.”
“Then tell me. Why are you afraid to ask?”
“I don't know. Maybe I just don't want to know. Be as blissful as before tonight.”
“Oh believe me, there is no going back after tonight. Once I show you what is really happening around you, you can't just not notice.”
"Then don't show me. I like my life the way it is” I lied.
Jay didn't confront me about it. He just smirked at me knowingly. “Aren't you curious about the alternative? What lies beneath the city and behind locked doors?”
Jay knew a hundred percent that he got my attention. At 15 years old I already gotten bored with life. My parents couldn't care less about me. We saw each other in the morning and later at dinner. Back when I was younger we had the occasional family vacation. That died down after I turned eleven. Nowadays I was happy if we went to a restaurant once a month. I felt that my presence was a nuisance to them.
“Let's say I agree. What is that alternative supposed to be? Running away from home?”
I felt an arm being draped over my shoulders again. “It will be much more than that. You will be forever young. Stronger and faster than any human could ever hope to be. Life can become one giant party with all the thrills you can imagine. Let's not forget all the cute boys you will meet along the way. The only catch is you having to work together with me. Oh and giving up on ever seeing the sun or your family and friends again.”
I knew that it sounded too good to be true. “It sounds tempting but I don't hate my parents or my life enough to just give up on it all.”
“Suit yourself. If you decide against life in the sun meet me here tomorrow night. We'll celebrate your last day alive then. For now.”
A second glass of whiskey was brought to our table. “Bottoms up!”
We clinked the glasses and my second swish of whiskey went down better. I began to like the taste.
For the rest of the night we stayed in the club, I danced with a ton different people and Jay's shoulders rubbed mine countless times. It was the time of my life.
Around four in the morning I was pretty much wasted and exhausted and I couldn't give a shit. Both of us slurred our words. We supported each other on the way back to the car. Without a word our driver got going when we entered the backseats. Jay and I joked and giggled like old friends while they drove me back home. The driver just knew where to go.
“Hope… hic…I seeya tomorrow…hic.”
My mind was way too clouded to think straight. “Probably. Who knows? I'll think about.”
Shooting me a genuine smile Jay pulled the car door shut and the Mercedes went off into the night. I stumbled my way to our gate, put in my keys and tried to be as stealthy as possible. Luckily my parents seemed already fast asleep and I could punch in the pin for the alarm system fast enough.
“Pretty strong pizza you ate, to reel like that.” My dad sat on the sofa watching TV on mute. “And I always thought Emily would be the responsible one to keep you away from alcohol.”
After having seen Jay's true nature earlier that night I wasn't scared of my father. “We just had some fun after we ate. Won't happen again.”
“Let's make sure of that. I never had to ground you…for a month you come back after school. When I get home I want to check your extra work that you'll do after tomorrow.”
My grades were pretty much perfect. Why should I do more stuff for school? I was furious. For the first time in a long while I had real fun. They didn't care the least bit about me. As long as I was a good little boy who didn't cause any problems for them we had small talk at dinner! I didn't answer. My feet stomped up the stairs to my room. I was drunk and I needed sleep. In just a few hours my alarm would go off.