“What day is it?” she asked.
I caught a shadow of a smile behind Olivia’s fluttering eyes. “That’s good. I like Fridays.”
“What do you remember?”
She shrugged, and let her head fall back against the pillows. “Being here. I remember you, sort of. But it’s a bit like a dream. Where did you find me?”
“In the woods. There was a cave, but not one the locals knew much about. It was deep in.”
“The locals?” Olivia smiled at that. “You sound like a movie-detective.”
“Well, I’m not. I’m not a detective of any kind, actually, but I do want to help you.”
“Like a Sam Spade-type. How’s your Bogart?” she asked, as if she hadn’t heard a thing I’d said.
“Not great.” I sighed. “Olivia, do you remember who put you in the cave?”
I watched a lump work its way up her throat, then down again. Her jaw flexed, threatening to bust through her pale, dry skin. A rash was forming at its base.
“I put me in the cave.”
My eyes darted back and forth, working through her words. “You were hiding from someone?”
She rotated her neck to face me. Her eyes sharp and focused for the first time since we had met.
“How did you find me, Zoey?”
So, she knew my name, somehow. That was good, I guessed. I squared my shoulders and exhaled slowly to steady my nerves. Then, in as straightforward a tone as I could manage, I told her the truth. “I saw you. In a vision.”
Olivia looked relieved. “You’re Other. Like me.”
“Did you send me those visions, Olivia?”
“Not on purpose. I guess I was scared and it just happened. I didn’t want anyone to know.” She paused, and I gave her space to formulate her next words. Finally, they came. “Mr. Ryder took me into the woods.”
“The math teacher?” I felt my brow crinkle and my eyes narrow to slits. “The one who was killed by the wolf?” I had heard about that. The town still had posters all over, warning about the wolf.
“It wasn’t a wolf.” Silence. And then, “I did it. I killed Mr. Ryder. It was so stupid, just like in a movie. He told me his dog ran into the woods and I went in to help him. Just like a dumb kid in a dumb movie.”
I cringed, wishing I knew how to comfort her.
“We called for that dumb dog for a good ten minutes before he touched me. He seemed sad, and I didn’t want to be rude, so I didn’t push him off right away. But then his hand slipped down and —” she squeezed her eyes shut. “I pushed him off of me, but he grabbed me so hard. I couldn’t get free. He said I wasn’t like the other girls. That I was special. He knew about me and Vic — the bartender. I told him we were in love, but he didn’t want to hear it. He said he was trash, and I deserved better. That I should be with a real man, so I’d know the difference.” A single tear rolled down her cheek, though she didn’t seem to notice. After a moment, she released a huff of air. “It got bad. Scary. And I don’t know what happened. One second I was screaming, and the next… he twisted apart. It was like when you twist a water bottle, and suddenly it goes POP!” She looked at me, with wide babydoll eyes. She was so young. “He went pop, Zoey. Blood and guts all over the place. I couldn’t stop screaming. Everything around me started spinning, and I just ran. And I kept running. And I crawled in that cave. And I stayed there. And I cried and slept and cried and slept and somehow, without knowing it, I called to you for help.”
I placed a hand gingerly over hers. “It’s not your fault. He was the monster. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
She laughed at that. “I didn’t do any of it on purpose. I didn’t know I had the power to do that. And I didn’t know I was calling out to you. Subconsciously, or whatever. Hell, I didn’t even know who you were. How did you hear me, Zoey?”
“I don’t know. But I’m glad I did.”
© Shyla Fairfax-Owen