~ Chapter 2 ~
Valeria Cruz strode into her bedroom and flicked on her radio. It was
already old and scratched when shed bought it at the pawn shop,
but the static wasnt usually too bad, and besides, it was all they
could afford. Listening to the pulsing Spanish disco music for a moment
, she stood with her finger on the dial, deciding if the volume was low
enough to keep from disturbing her grandmother in the next room. Finally
convinced it was okay, she threw herself on the bed and stretched out
her tall, lanky seventeen-year-old frame, pushing the flattened pillow
into a wad under her long, straight black hair.
More bored than tired, Valeria rolled on her side and looked around the
shabby little room. The torn curtains, the shredding carpet, once bright
and garish, were now dulled with dirt and age, but at least the one awful
painting in the room looked no worse hanging at an angle to cover a rather
large hole in the wall.
Everything Valeria owned in the world could be stowed easily in the two
tattered cardboard boxes she could see in the tiny doorless closet . Two
or three articles of clothing strewn about the room practically emptied
the one box, except for the hand-me-down winter coat shed had since
she was thirteen. Guess that makes it easy to move, she thought
sardonically. Can be ready to go in five minutes. Maybe three. Heaven
knows, I never get out of practice.
She had lost count of the times shed found a landlord, or even
the fearful neighbors, standing with boxes in hand, their boxes,
her weeping grandmother waiting on their current doorstep as she returned
from school. The hurriedly packed boxes were then thrust at them as they
were commanded to leave that place, leave that town, and take their evil
There they are!
Susana, Valerias newfound friend, waved to a group of girls approaching
There was no lack of young people in the sleepy little Spanish port town,
just an overall lack of money. It was for this reason that Valeria actually
felt a bit more comfortable here than in some of the other places theyd
lived. She and her grandmother didnt have much less than anyone
else in the little fishing village and almost everyone lived in the same
type of tiny run-down bungalow as she did.
The group of girls swarmed around Susana as if they hadnt seen her
in months, but Valeria knew it had only been since yesterday at school.
Okay, everybody, this is Valeria. Shed appreciate it if everyone
would stop calling her just the new girl now. She does have
a name. Right, Val?
Susana looked to Valeria to confirm and Valeria just smiled shyly. Valeria
wasnt good enough at reading people after just a few
weeks to know if Susana was really that nice and sensitive to her feelings,
or if she just wanted to be the first one in town to find out all about
the new girl. In fact, Valeria wasnt certain why Susana
had befriended her at all, just that Valeria found she wanted desperately
to go along with it and feel as if she fit in with some people her own
age for once.
After finishing introductions pleasantly, the group wandered back down
the street toward the cinema, chatting among themselves.
Valerias sudden dizziness took her by surprise. It caused her knee
to wobble and she stepped off the sidewalk. Embarrassed, she glanced around
the group quickly to see if anyone noticed. She acted as if nothing happened
and pushed a nagging thought from her mind.
As they approached the cinema, Valerias heart sank. She was working
hard enough at making some new female friends, but it looked as if the
girls had made arrangements to meet with a group of boys from school,
as well. And in her life, in her mind, nothing had ever gone better because
there was a boy, or boys, involved.
The dizziness returned. Valeria was trying hard to focus so she wouldnt
faint or fall. Okay, she told herself, youre just nervous.
Its been seven weeks now since the last time. Its nothing--
itll go away. This time she pushed hard against the
feeling that was fighting to come through.
Susana stepped up to make introductions again, and Valeria only nodded
her way through them, willing herself to act normal while she fought with
the vertigo in her head. Please! she prayed, please let them
think Im okay, that Im normal!
Introductions over, the now larger group began to filter through the single-file
line at the entrance of the ancient theatre.
The dark quiet theatre and the rather dull old movie had calmed Valeria
somewhat. When the entire group decided afterwards to head to a nearby
café for a soda, she didnt even feel especially panicked.
Sitting and sipping her soda, it was nice to listen to people gossiping
and chattering happily, and even if she wasnt joining in much, at
least she was being included--and for the moment, accepted.
Then, she sensed it. The dizziness came back with a renewed vengeance,
bringing with it a wave of nausea that made her clutch suddenly at her
No! her mind screamed as if her thoughts alone could resist it.
No, leave me alone! Its not fair! She could feel the emotions
pouring into her by themselves: the depression, the sadness, the hopelessness,
the bleak and utter darkness. Valeria tried to push back, gasping for
breath and struggling to maintain what would outwardly appear normal to
Her vision blurred momentarily, then all turned a dull gray. The feelings
were mounting like an enormous black tidal wave, gaining momentum and
hurtling towards her. She could almost see at the wave crest the beings,
the black hooded figures. One held out its gray scaly hand, as if ready
to reach for her, ready to take her and sweep her with them, bending her
will to theirs. She reached inside to the depths of herself and for a
moment she believed she could still fend them off.
WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME??!!!! she screamed at the top of
her lungs, bolting upright out of the little café booth that was
so far away from her battle inside.
The wave paused as if to taunt her, to terrorize her a little further.
The black hooded figures turned as one to look down at her and she knew
they would send her mind to search for the boy again, the black-haired
boy with the scar.
She looked up into the hoods where faces should have been to see pain,
and hopelessness, and the cold empty blackness. And it was then, only
then, that Valeria realized she had fought her best fight, and she had
lost. The black wave crashed over, and consumed her in darkness.