Day 203 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a character going somewhere late at night.
Erin: For my eighteenth birthday, my dad opened our water park up after dark. It was my favorite place and my favorite time. Going down the slides with only the stars and moon lighting the sky was a completely different experience. Water and darkness were my two biggest calming sources. Putting them together was the perfect present and a night I would never forget.
Shannon: Being outside late at night always puts me on edge. My senses heighten and I notice every sound, every movement, and it feels likes I’m in the wrong place. I’m my only defense and I’m not enough, not for all that’s awake at this time of night. Still I went to the woods. I wanted to be scared. I wanted to feel something else, and when you’re terrified that’s all you feel.
What is your character doing at that hour of the night?
“Hey, Lydia,” called Conner, leaning back so far in the library chair I expected him to fall right over, “you wanna hang out with us after classes are done? Hopefully in an hour, say five-ish?” With Jer and Davie sniggering behind their open text books, their feet creeping ever closer to the tipping chair, I was forced to respond. I snatched up the psychology textbook I’d just put down on an empty table and sighed heavily as I practically sprinted through the enormous, packed building.
Placing my free hand on the back of his chair and giving the guys a disapproving glare, I answered hastily, “Sorry, I’m busy today, otherwise I’d love to.” Nervously shoving the chair back onto the floor, I swing around Conner and planted my books on the cement table, still eyeing Jer with distaste; they were always goofing off during class, but that kinda move would end badly for everyone involved. Being on the college basketball team had its perks, one of which being that any injury sustained by a teammate would lead to retribution neither of them were prepared for.
Conner leaned back a bit before Davie, sensing the displeasure of their move, quickly caught Jer’s interest with a snide, “Oh, what’re you doing that’s so much more important than we are?” Grinning slyly with his slightly yellow teeth, Davie slammed the book he’d bee pretending to read shut, and slid it into his bag, eyes boring into me.
For a moment I considered my options; tell them what I was up to, ignore the question completely or tell them I was doing something else. “Well, if you must know, I have a date this evening so I’m headed home to get all dressed up,” I answered, staring uncomfortably into a particularly ugly-looking stain on the floor. As I felt their eyes stick on me, my cheeks started to burn painfully and I struggled to keep my breathing steady. Curling my lip viciously, I jeered, “Well, what are you guys gonna do that’s so fun, anyway?” With the noise from around the library appearing to rise compared to our table, I raised my eyes and blinked at Conner.
“We were gonna go to that sports bar and play some pool, actually.” There was an ashamed quality to his tone that wasn’t common for the top-tier student, but I was feigning annoyance at them so I pretended to not care about damaged feelings.
Though I loved pool, and wasn’t entirely convinced Conner hadn’t simply said that’s what they were doing because I did, I wasn’t prepared to give up the wonderful evening I had planned for their games. Besides, they couldn’t beat me so it was getting a bit old hat. “That sounds like fun, but I really do have some work to do,” I added, peering around at the table I had been at to see it full of animated classmates, “and I lost my table to stop these idiots from tipping your chair over, so I’ll be staying here if no one objects.” Looking them each in the eye, I threw my notebook onto the table and scrounged around for a pencil.
By the time I was finished arranging my materials, the guys had silently decided to leave amongst themselves. “Well, see ya later, Lydia,” laughed Davie, having just stolen Jer’s pen as he frantically searched the floor for it.
Nodding curtly, as was the ending tone of our conversation, Conner spoke in monotone, “Bye, Lyds.” He sauntered away through the crowds and through the doors, presumably to his electrical engineering course.
“As soon as I find my pen I’ll be outta your hair,” muttered Jer, still on his hands and knees as Davie went to pieces over his prank.
It took the two boys an amazing amount of time to leave with a bit of threatening on Jer’s end and some choice words from Davie about Jer’s intelligence level, however non-existent. When they’d finally left, I flicked through my notes to a page that was filled with scribbles, eraser marks and grey shapes that almost moved as I looked at them. Before I could begin to work on it, though, a hefty pile of books came crashing down on the solid tabletop, rousing me from my internal thoughts.
“What the h-” I started to swear before realizing the entire library had gone silent and I couldn’t see how the books had managed to fall onto the table in such a perfect stack. Holding onto my heart, I peered around the tower and saw a sprout of mousy brown hair sticking up from a messy bun and a pair of large, round glasses that had a mind of their own. “Cassie?” I asked the textbooks, fluttering idly through my notebook before settling on a page with normal, albeit messy, class notes.
After a minute, the hair shifted around the mountain and the eyeglasses slurred, “Sorry, Lyd, I was just, hmm, just,” before holding up a hand while the other covered her mouth. She chewed something quickly, making gestures with her wide, amber eyes, before swallowing something larger than I thought possible. “Sorry, I had to shove half my sandwich in my mouth because they,” here, she pointed toward the library guards, “wouldn’t let me in and I didn’t think I would have time to find these otherwise.” Smiling widely with her perfectly-straight and sparkling white teeth, she started checking off the titles on a large slip of paper I could have sworn was a takeout receipt. “Now I have to get all these past them because it’s the weekend and I need to have half of these done for Monday. Would you mind, perhaps, helping me get these to my dorm room?” she asked, her doe eyes glistening under the unnatural light.
“Well, I actually have some stuff I have to do as soon as I hand this paper in,” I answered, pleading with my eyes to the bookworm.
“Oh,” she spoke mainly to the table, “what kinda stuff are you doing?” Her tone was soft and melancholy, like lying in a field of clover on a dreary spring afternoon.
Sighing deeply, my lower lip began to tremble slightly and my eyes started to prickle as I spoke gloomily, “My uh, my parent’s dog, uh, well, she’s uh, she’s just not, not doing too uh, too well.” The lump in my throat forced a quiver into my voice and I fought back the tears valiantly; sniffling a bit near the end, I choked up too much to continue.
Cassie’s enormous eyes glistened even more as she rushed around the table and encircled me with her surprisingly-strong arms. With her hot tears dripping on my ear, I hugged her back and blinked rapidly to disperse my own waterworks. When I pulled back, she took a step and nodded forlornly as her eyes continued to water; she pulled out a handkerchief and blew her nose violently into it. “Oh, Lyd, I am so sorry. You just take your time and I’ll, I, I’ll see you later. I’m one phone call away, remember.” Carefully picking up her books, she sidestepped the table and headed toward the doors, but I was too busy searching back through my notes to see whether she made it or not.
What could have been hours later, a couple of giggling girls appeared at my table, sipping lattes and carrying tiny purses that couldn’t have held any size of book. Behind them were a couple of guys murmuring excitedly about something as they noticed there weren’t enough seats at the table. “Hey Lydia, what’s up?” asked the blonde girl as she fixed her ponytail in a compact mirror and pursed her lips. After a minute of pretending to ignore them all, I finally glanced up as the guys were fighting over the remaining chair with the girls rolling their eyes in irritation.
“Hey, Jessica,” I sighed, nodding to her before turning to the other girl, “Audrey,” and the two entangled boys who were about to end up on the floor, “Gerald, Ken.” With a half-growl, I turned back to my work before I realized none of them were going anywhere and shut the notebook with a snap. “Well, I gotta go so you guys don’t have to fight over a chair,” I called to the figured on the floor and tossed my book back into my bag as Jessica grabbed my wrist tightly.
Raising her eyebrows, she tilted her head, still with my wrist held tightly in her grasp, and asked, “Where do you think you’re going? We were gonna do some studying then head to the café.” Gerald was struggling to his feet, Ken sprawled out behind the girls’ chairs, and was trying to make eye contact with me.
“I was actually going to finish this at home, ‘cause I have this paper and two more bits of homework to get done, actually,” I answered in a clipped tone, struggling lightly against Jessica’s fingers. With a nervous glance at Audrey, I gave a harsh tug and my arm came free. “Sorry, I just really need to get this done, you know?” Pleading with my eyes as the group as a whole, I was relieved to have elicited mostly understanding looks.
Scoffing, Jessica flicked her hair and responded with a condescending tone, “Of course, Lydia, we understand, but we can all help each other, right?” It was never simple when Jessica was involved in anything; she played dumb pretty well, but I knew she was hiding a bigger brain than any of them.
“It’s actually for a make-up assignment and I forgot to ask about what gender the subject was, which is why I’ve been staring at this stupid, idiotic paper for so long. I just didn’t want everyone to know that I was behind, but now you do, I’ll be on my way,” I ended irately, swinging my bag haphazardly onto my back as stunned silence followed me through the library.
It was long past five as I took the first few steps down the secluded path, inching ever closer to the GPS coordinates I was given and shivering wildly. Above me, birds were speaking their last words for the evening in shrill tones that matched the nervous energy in the air. As the trees finally parted into a wide clearing, I took one fleeting glance behind me as the path became obscured by branches; I was already more than a little on edge, since I told no one I’d come, and the prospect of having to claw my way back through the trees in pitch darkness wasn’t very appealing if I didn’t know which way I’d come. Resisting the strong urge to mark a tree or leave some trace with which someone could find my murdered and shallowly-buried body, I continued forward across the field of rotting wildflowers and entered the path at the opposite end.
Before I’d taken more than two steps, I couldn’t see more than an inch before my eyes and paused to find my flashlight. It lit brightly, casting an eerie blue glow on the moss-dripping trees and shadows creeping away from the light. Sighing into the cold damp air, I watched my breath form a ghostly cloud and dissipate in the beam of light, silently wishing I hadn’t told them I was coming. But, after a few minutes thinking someone was breathing down my back or watching me with blood-shot eyes, I started forward again through the spindly tree trunks, ignoring the gently rustling of leaves.
After at least half an hour of wandering through the woods with nothing but the glow of my flashlight and gentle urging of my phone to keep my sanity intact, a warm glow came into view through some deeper, thicker bushes. Though I hadn’t been there before, I had a suspicion this was the meeting place so I switched off my phone and shoved it, with frozen fingers, into my jeans pocket. I crept forward through the trees and listened intently as the crackling of a fire greeted my ears and the subtle smell of burned sage hit my nose.
Breaking suddenly through the wall of branches, I was met with a strange sight of four strangers sitting around a medium-sized bonfire throwing various materials into the flames and cackling madly. When they noticed me, the one at the far side shouted over the fire, “Lydia?” I nodded, unable to speak for shock, and dropped my bag at the edge of the forest before taking a deep breath. With a wide, toothy grin plastered on her shadowy face, the woman sprinted around the fire and gave me a big, warm hug. Pulling back, she gestured to the fire as she spoke in a heavy voice, “Welcome to the circle, sister Lydia, I hope you’ve brought your knowledge and ingredients so we can get started.” There was a round of muffled affirmation around the circle before I nodded again and our long night started me on a new and amazing journey.
Ghost scans the alley from the fire escape. He doesn’t check for Emerald Tiger, knowing he’s right around the corner. Ghost watches a person come into the darkness with a backpack. The figure drops the backpack on the ground and opens it up. He finds a spray can and shakes it, looking at the bare brick wall. Ghost starts to climb down, the figure unaware of him.
The artist takes out paints, too. After making the main colors, he fills in the lines and details. He sits down with the picture next to him. Ghost just watches, unsure if he really found the person. The figure touches the still drying paint, sighing. A can falls just outside the alley. The artist whips his head in that direction.
The birds come off the brick and fly off, but not before their paper looking wings and bodies smack their creator in the face. ‘It’s him.’
He follows the boy as he goes off down the alleys. Emerald Tiger joins his brother in the shadows. A group of thugs find the lonely artist, and start pushing him around. Ghost sees him getting close to an old graffiti picture. Not wanting to get him into worse trouble, Ghost leaps down and takes on the thugs. Emerald Tiger does so as well and they are taken down easily.