Ten minutes later I made it to Robert’s house. His house was about four blocks away from mine, and in the times when I had to walk to his house—which was every time—it really came in handy.
I gave my signature three knock beat on the door before his mother, Mrs. Kensington answered. She was a woman in her mid-forties; her jet black hair was pulled in its usual tight bun. Her clothing was the embodiment of the classic business woman with her black pencil skirt and white collar shirt, both smoothed out as if they were freshly ironed.
I had been to Robert’s house about a million times, but each time Mrs. Kensington gave me the same look. It was a look I was accustomed too, just about everyone—aside from my family, Robert, and though it pains me to admit it Daston—gave me when staring directly into my eyes. It was a look filled with genuine fear. Her eyes were crystal blue—different than Robert’s—and in that one second, I saw many new red veins sprout out in the whites of her eye
I quickly side stepped her, before I gave her a heart attack, and let myself into the house.
Robert’s house was everything he was not. It was orderly, classy, and perfect, with beautiful cream colored Venetian couches smothered in white fluffy pillows and huge hand carved tables. It was too perfect. The furniture was as fresh as the day they bought it. I was always afraid to touch any of it in fear that I would ruin its perfection.
I headed towards the stair well and ran up the stairs, taking two steps at a time. I barged into Robert’s room, throwing the door open. It resounded in a loud smack against his wall. “Boo.” I said conversationally. Robert was half sprawled on his bed, mauling over a new comic. He looked unaffected by my interruption even though it was loud, and I was sure the house shook from the force of the door smashing against the wall.
Robert’s room was littered with dirty t-shirts and comics. He had a chest next to his bed that looked like it had come out of a pirate ship, but I knew that was where he kept the rest of the pile of comics and mangas. His walls were painted a vibrant gray, but it was hard to see since almost every inch of it was covered in band poster’s or newspaper clippings. The one window he had was right next to his bed, and it was covered in a thick dark blue curtain. I needed to check if there was any way to peep through them later.
“I knew you were coming.” Robert said ominously, turning the page of his comic. He always seemed to know when I was here. “You might be wondering how I knew.” He said, still not looking up from the comic.
“No.” I lied.
“Liar you always want to know.” He smirked, finally turning his head in my direction. “And just because I’m feeling nice, I’m going to tell you.”
“Oh great one, tell me what I need to know.” I said with a dead panned voice. He smiled smugly.
“You always seem to suck the entire atmosphere out of my house like some black hole.” The seriousness in his voice made me shiver. I always noticed how a room would go quiet when I entered but I always thought it was all in my head. Or at the very least that it happened to everyone. Hasn’t everyone walked into a room at least once and known that the people there stopped talking because of them. Sure, most people do not have it happen every time, but still. I did not like having my suspicion confirmed. It made me feel paranoid
“What do you mean?”
“Just listen for a second, what do you hear?” He whispered. I perked my ears and tried to listen to what he was talking about, but there was nothing.
“Robert I can’t hear anything.” I whined. If this was one of Robert’s jokes, he shouldn’t be standing so close to me.
“Exactly,” He said.
“My mother is never quiet. She is always talking to someone on the phone or humming in that overly excited voice she always uses.” He rolled his eyes showing how much he hated that voice. “And do you hear her now?” He asked. I was starting to understand.
“You mean she always gets quiet when I come? Maybe it’s because a stranger is in her house? I sure as hell get quiet when people come to visit my house.”
He shook his head. “No, my mom is not like that.”
I could not believe it. How could I have this much effect on a person? I always heard gossip about what a talker Mrs. Kensington was, but I’ve never heard a peep out of her. I had thought all that gossip about her was a lie.
“Yep; and that’s how I know that you’re here, because the house gets unusually quiet whenever you’re around. It’s like you completely suck the life out of my mother leaving her—
“Empty.” I finished. What had I ever done to her? Was it just gossip? Did Mrs. Kensington hear something about me? Did she make her own conclusions and labeled me untrustworthy? Was I not even worth a simple acknowledgement in her books?
Even as I thought it, I knew it was not true. There was something else, something more that I was missing. Everyone in town could not be this stupid to believe some nonsense rumors. They had nothing on me except for the label of freak.
“Brianna?” Robert snapped his fingers in front of my face, interrupting my internal conflict.
“What?” I replied.
“What’s with you, you’ve been inside your own head rather than on your feet these past two weeks.” He looked me straight in the eye, and the concern I saw there almost made me tell him about my dream. Almost, but I chickened out.
“I’m just tired, I haven’t been sleeping well.” I lied, hoping it would not show on my face. It made me feel guilty when he did not question my lie. Robert and I never lied to each other. Why all the secrets now? Especially to Robert, who knew everything and then some about me.
“So, you want to study the book now.” Robert asked. He made it sound like a question, but I could hear the desire under his voice. There was no putting it off when it came to his obsession.
“Like I have a choice,” I grumbled. I was still a bit ticked off over having to study another one of his books.
“Good.” He seemed satisfied enough with my answer and went to go fetch the book like an over eager puppy. Of course, the son of a librarian would drool over books. He went no further than his bed and flipped the book out from under his pillow. It was all leather, like an over-sized journal, the color so faded it was almost impossible to know what the original color had been. The bind was gnawed off as if Robert had gotten a little too over-eager and bit it. The title was scrawled in big old fashioned writing. The book looked like it had come straight out of Dracula’s castle, but that wasn’t what made me shiver. It was thick, the pages reaching up to the thousands. The sight alone made my boots shake.
“What the hell is that?” He better be joking, or else Robert was looking at serious head up his ass time.
“It’s the book.” He shot back though his stance had turned a bit wary. I guess he notice the, don’t mess with me look on my face. Or maybe the, I’m about to kick your ass posture I was holding. Either way, it looked like he knew he was in big trouble.
“Book, that’s no book. That’s a freaking encyclopedia.”
“What? No its not, it’s the book.” He retorted, but I thought I saw him take a quick glance at the book just to make sure.
“I know that, what I’m saying is couldn’t you find a bigger book.” I said sarcastically.
“Bri, shut up and get reading. Stop trying to wiggle yourself out of it.” He guessed. Damn, I was hoping this banter would go on longer and cut through reading time.
“Fine.” I surrendered and flopped on the floor. There was no distraction in the world that could get Robert out of reading. A hot woman could walk into his room topless and he would still be more interested in the book on his lap.
“Good.” He ran his fingers through his dark locks before signaling me to come next to him. “I found out that the book is separated into sections.” We were both sitting cross legged on his bed, with the book on our laps. His deep black comforter felt cotton soft against my legs.
“What kind of sections?”
“Well, there’s the old ritual sections, which basically explains the basic trapping rituals for demon. There’s nothing new in those, they are all the ones we’ve studied before.” He explained. “Then there’s the witch section, I skimmed over that one, there was nothing too important there.” He waved it off. “There is also an omens section, both good and bad omens. Did you know that seeing a white dove with something piercing its middle is a sign of evil? That was a new one for me, usually the bad omens talk about black crows not white doves.” I signaled with my fingers for him to get one with it. “Right.” He nodded. “Finally, we have the underworld section.” He paused briefly in one of those building the anticipation moments that Robert was so fond of.
“Yes.” I encouraged.
“Well, the underworld section is split in two parts, there’s first the actual description of hell.” He whispered. “And then there’s the demon section.”
“Ok so we just read the first part.” Seemed simple enough.
“That’s what I thought. But I found something very interesting in the demon section. It described a ritual to send a demon to hell.” He looked excited his dark eyes showed a boyish mirth. “It’s not like the other ones we’ve read about, that just traps the demon in one spot. With this ritual you could banish him from this world and send him to the fiery pits.”
“What? And more importantly, why the hell would we need to know that?”
“You never know what could happen. We need to be prepared. It’s actually quite hard to send one to hell. Killing them is much simpler.”
“Yeah, Yeah I know.” Robert and I had spent a whole week a couple of months back learning incantations to kill demons. Each incantation was several phrases of Latin words that had to be said precisely, if you pronounced even one word wrong it would not work.
“Well, it says in this book that to send a demon to hell you have to drop three dots from the blood of the willing, and a virgin with the intention of sending the demon to hell should kiss the demon to seal the deal.” He finished.
“A kiss, really?” I said doubtfully.
“Yeah. It has something to do with the purity of the virgin. A demon is everything unholy in this world. He wouldn’t be able to stand the pureness of that kiss; even if it is intended to send him to hell.” His eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. “But what’s the willing?” He asked.
“Someone who willingly gives up their blood.” I stated the obvious.
“Ohh. Well, that’s that. I can’t seem to find anything about opening a portal though.
“So, this whole search is useless.”
“No, there was something not quite adding up. I think it’s somewhere in the demon section, but I can’t find it.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully and stared at his wall, as if it had all the answers to the world.
“And that’s why you need me.” I guessed.
“Yes.” He said, still not looking away from the wall. “Those eyes of yours miss nothing, there like hawk eyes only scarier.”
“What?” I asked startled. That was the first time he had referred to my eyes as scary. And even though it was only Robert, something about it did not feel right.
“What about my eyes?”
“Oh nothing, it’s just that your eyes get really scary sometimes. I feel like you could see right through me. I feel naked, like you’ve stripped me of all my secrets.” He sounded far away. I knew he was more concentrated on the thought of the demon than on the question he answered, but it still made me shiver.
“So, you are just using me for my naked stripping eye.” I tried to joke.
“In lack of better words yes.” Robert agreed. I scowled at him he gave me a small shrug.
“Fine, let me have at it.” I did not know until several hours later how much I would regret saying those words.