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I’m in luck, the traffic is light and soon I reach our flat. Hastily I throw off my clothes – I’ll never wear this skirt, jumper and underwear again – and have a shower. Still dripping wet I rush out again to dress and stop in my tracks. “Hello, Livia!” My heart stops and I wrap my towel closer around me.

“Ruth! What are you doing here?” I pant, my eyes darting around. Is anybody else here too? How did she get in? Right, I must have left the door unlocked in my hurry. Wearing only a skimpy Carven beach dress, Ruth is sitting on my sofa, leafing through a magazine. Hasn’t she gone to Madagascar yet? She’s certainly dressed for it. Something doesn’t add up. Now she looks at me, smiling, which is suspicious in itself.

“I wanted to check to see if you’re alright. Cassius was rather worried after your call yesterday.” That’s even more suspicious, Ruth wanting to check on me. I’m flustered because of my guilty conscience and her presence as well.

“Excuse me for a minute,” I mutter and grab a pair of jeans, underwear and a jumper, returning to the bathroom. I certainly don’t want to talk to her as long as I’m naked. When I return she’s still here but I’m a bit calmer now. “Ruth, what exactly do you want? Why are you here when you ought to have left yesterday with the others?” I ask her impatiently. I hope this doesn’t take too long, I have to get to the airport. Ruth gets up from the sofa, shaking her long blonde hair.


“You really have no idea, do you?” she smirks at me, amused by some private joke. “Are you really that stupid or are you just pretending?” I’m going to throw the bitch out now but just as I open my mouth she continues. “We don’t travel by plane, Livia.” Now she’s lost me.

“So you didn’t go to Madagascar?” I’m aware that I’m really not sounding too bright now. Ruth rolls her eyes at me in exasperation.

“I mean, we don’t need a plane to get there or anywhere else by the way.” I stare at her, my wet hair dripping all over the floor. Ruth sighs heavily. “We’re no ordinary humans, Livia, in fact, we’re not human at all. We ubilocate wherever we want to go.” Ubi…what? And what about the Bentley? is my first illogical thought. She has to be kidding, right? Clearly one of us is raving mad, either me or this beautiful girl who’s decided to make my life hell. Now she throws her head back, laughing loudly. “You should see your face right now!” she giggles. “Just tell me, didn’t you ever find us weird in some way or other?” Of course, I want to shout in her mocking face. But she hates me, she’d tell me anything to scare me away. So I stubbornly shake my head, longing to get rid of her, go to the airport and talk to Cassius as soon as possible. Not human, my arse! I’ve felt him, smelled him, he couldn’t have been more human! Ruth’s black eyes are narrowed now, her lips curled in disgust. “You don’t believe me?” she hisses angrily. “I’ll show you something!” She grabs my wrist and I shiver, either from of fear or because of her ice-cold hand, dragging me into Natalie’s bedroom. “Natalie has been watching you for quite a long time because she has the absurd notion that you should become one of us!” she shrieks, pointing at the calendars that are still scattered on the bed. My stomach is in knots, I already know this, well, the watching part that is. “But it can never happen because you’re just as cowardly and iffy as your mother Rebecca was.” The name hits me like a truck.

“My mum? How can you know her?” I whisper hoarsely. She can’t really because Rebecca died twenty years ago and Ruth was – what? – about three – at the time.

“Oh yes, we certainly knew her very well,” Ruth confirms mockingly, her eyes suddenly blazing with blue lights. “But she wasn’t cut out to join us, always full of reservations and unaccountable fears, just like you.” She laughs out loud and I take a step back, my heart beating frantically. Whatever she is, she’s certainly not normal! “Your ridiculous fear of flowers! You’ll never be one of us!” With two quick steps she’s at the window, the sunlight falling on her. I wish with all my heart that she was a vampire, then my problem would be solved. No, not really, I don’t believe in them.

I glance at the door, maybe I can escape somehow. “Don’t even think about it, Livia!” she hisses as if reading my thoughts. “Look at me! Can you see my shadow? No?” Ruth laughs mockingly. “That’s because we Arash don’t have them. Our shadow is our astral body, you see? That‘s why we don’t have one when we show ourselves in our human form.” My mind is reeling, I’m feeling very sick now. She definitely has no shadow but I don’t understand a thing she says. Astral body? Arash? I’ve never heard this word in my life before. I close my eyes and hope to wake up from this nightmare, but when I open them again Ruth is standing in front of me. I gasp, stumbling back. “Don’t worry, Livia,” she smiles condescendingly. “I don’t want to torture you anymore, on the contrary, I want to release you from everything that’s frightening you.” My breath hitches, the mad bitch wants to kill me! But instead of coming for me she strides into Natalie’s living room and takes the star-shaped mirror from the wall. Quickly I follow her, from here I can maybe get to the stairs and out of the house. “That’s your reflection, how weird,” she murmurs, her brows knitted in worry, but after an instant she whirls around, her face smooth again. “You see this mirror, Livia? Its purpose is to erase your memory. It’s very easy, I have to concentrate on you and you have to look into this mirror, done!” Erase my memory? What the hell!

“Fuck off!” I scream at her, my voice finally returning. Ruth smiles again, she seems to be really enjoying herself now.

“Calm down! I didn’t explain myself very well. I won’t erase your whole memory, just the memory of us and what you know about us. Your life will simply return to the point before you met Natalie.” She takes another step towards me. My thoughts are racing. Clearly my brain refuses to believe one word she says but my gut feeling disagrees. I’m somehow tempted to look into this mirror, believe her story, and forget everything that’s troubling me. But the thought of not remembering Cassius jolts me awake. It would be bad enough if I lost him, but not to remember him, his mouth caressing me, his hands, I just couldn’t bear it. His soft words, ‘I love you’ resonate in my ears.

“Never!” I cry out, enraged, as Ruth comes to a halt in front of me. I can feel the cold emanating from her body.

“Oh come on, don’t be such a troublemaker! I’ll make you look anyway,” she sighs exasperatedly, holding up the mirror. I take another step back and feel the wall behind me. My heart is beating so fast I’m afraid it might explode, the blood is roaring in my ears. I’ve no idea what’s going on but it has to be something terrible and I have to get away from Ruth. She pushes towards me now, grabbing my wrist again and forcing the mirror up to my face. I catch a glimpse of my smiling reflection but I force myself to look away. My right hand is in Ruth’s vicelike grip, her body pressing mine to the wall, radiating iciness. My breath is shallow as I try to push her away with my left hand, but she’s too strong. I avert my eyes, taking in the chest of drawers to my left. Suddenly I notice one of the red candles which Natalie has placed everywhere in the room and a lighter and something stirs in my brain. Instinctively I snatch the lighter from the chest, thrusting the flame into Ruth’s face. She cries out, terrified, as she did all those weeks ago at Cassius’ party. She stumbles back, releasing my hand, and I snatch the mirror from her, smashing it on the floor. The lighter slips from my shaking hand but Ruth poses no danger anymore, she’s gone, vanished from the room like a ghost. Breathing hard I fall down on my knees, tears streaming down my face. I’ve no idea what’s going on but Ruth certainly is no normal human being. Neither is Natalie. Nor is Cassius or the rest of them. Still shaking I glance at the fragments of the broken mirror which are scattered on the floor and jump with fright. Each of the eight shards shows a face: Ruth’s, Natalie’s, Will’s, Cassius’, Rupert’s, Augustus’ and the face of the tall man who I dreamed about recently. My heart stops when I recognise my smiling face in the last one.

The next hours are a blur. I stumble through the streets, at a loss where to go. I don’t have a flat anymore and under no circumstances will I ask my parents or Sophie for help. Who would have thought they were right in their assumption that there was something strange about my friends? I was obviously the only one who didn’t notice it, or didn’t want to, to be more precise. I was so happy in their company and now it feels like I’m on the run. Will they come after me? Nervously I look around but they’re not here. I’ve no idea how to go on, I just can’t cope. Like my mum. She obviously didn’t get out in time and she died. Maybe I do still have a chance if they can’t find me. Could be that I wasn’t so drunk after all last night and my decision was the right one. Anyhow it’s the only possible way out, they won’t find me there. I’ll never forget, but I have to move on.

Shortly afterwards I ring the bell. Ralph, still in his pyjamas, opens the door, a big grin on his face when he sees me. “Hi baby,” he murmurs, kissing me on the mouth. “Welcome back!”


© Elke Stevens