Hidden in Red

By @Mina_Autumn
Hidden in Red

Destiny Turner thought herself to be ordinary, but after getting caught in some strange happenings at Red Pine University, she finds her true power **** New chapter updates bi-weekly **** Also vote on the ending for the chapters to influence the next update.

Chapter 1

Wait a Minute

A bright violet dances across the sky’s canvas. The glowing warm light melts away any worries I might have. My hands swirl around in the tall grass as I lay flat on my back. A deep inhale brings the lavender scents into my lungs and infect my senses. I’m not quite sure where I am, but I’m okay with that.

           Wait a minute. I pull myself into a sitting position where I can better see my surroundings. This world is unlike any other, yet it’s familiar. The golden light illuminates my surroundings perfectly as I look out among the tall pink grass. This meadow stretches across as far as I can see. No sign of any other people, but these blue-green dragonflies hop around the few cardinal flowers that speckle the landscape. It is strangely quiet here. Not even the sound of a bird. Just the wind’s occasional blow.

           Time doesn’t seem to exist here either. I remain in a constant state. Despite being here for hours I don’t hunger for anything. The cotton candy flavored air feeds me instead. I love the taste of the air and breathing seems so much easier. It’s just a perfect place to relax, yet not one to sleep. I can close my eyes, but sleep will never come for me. This place keeps me awake like a coffee late at night. Maybe it’s the candy air.

           I wipe away a tear that swam down my face. I hear a soft sniffle come from myself. Why am I crying? I’m not sad nor am I very happy, yet tears wind down my face. Maybe I am sad, and I don’t realize it. My sounds are the only ones I hear, and it interrupts the setting. In fact, it’s like the environment changes its behavior upon hearing my sobs. The bugs disappear to hide from me, and the sun hides behind some clouds. Even the peachy grass turns into a dull and boring gray. The air isn’t sweet anymore and instead of sweet it’s turned salty.

****

           The soft jingle of my alarm and the smell of breakfast brings me back to this reality. I’ve been to that dream before. It happens occasionally. I never recognize it when I’m dreaming, but when I wake up, I realize it’s that place again. It’s actually a pleasant dream. It’s a nice break from the nightmares and it’s not too strange to where it makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes it makes me sad. I always cry when I’m there, but I don’t know why. Dreams are sort of like that, I guess.

           I wasn’t hungry in the dream world, but I am very hungry now. Usually I play on my phone before getting out of bed, but I can smell that my roommate Brooke has made either pancakes or waffles. It’s enough to get me to get out of bed immediately.

           I throw my thick blankets off me and sling my feet over the side of the bed. I hop out of bed with my bare feet slapping against the rough carpet. I tread over to the bathroom to start my morning routine. First, I obviously use the toilet like a normal person, but after I wash my hands, I always brush my teeth. I can’t not brush my teeth, as I just feel dirty. Once I’m satisfied with the cleanliness of my teeth, I move onto washing my face. I splash the hot water onto my face. I’ve heard that washing your face is supposed to help you wake up, but the warm water makes me want to fall back asleep. I break out the container of coconut oil that I always apply every morning to help my dry skin. I’ll stop here with these descriptions of getting ready, as I’m sure it’s probably just getting boring.

           When I’m finally comfortable, I grab my mug and get a cup of coffee. Ah, yes, my favorite mug. It’s a galaxy mug where the stars appear once you pour in hot liquids. The galaxy is a little chipped, because I accidentally put in the dishwasher back home. “Good morning,” greets Brooke. She tosses her black braid back. I’m just glad she put her hair up this time for breakfast. I love her thick hair, but I’m tired of finding long black strands all over our dorm, but especially in our food.

           “Good morning,” I mumble back. I sit down and take a sip of the hot coffee. How do you describe the taste of coffee, besides liquid gold that was a gift from the gods. Yes, I guess you could say I like coffee, and that’s typical since ever since I’ve started university, I’ve been living off caffeine.

           “Are you still going to the library?” she asks. As she takes a bite out of a mickey mouse shaped waffle. “Oh, and by the way, I made waffles.” She bought that waffle maker recently as an impulse buy from CVS. We’ve been eating waffles a lot. Gotta get that $20 worth, right?

           “Yeah, I’m gonna try to get some research done for that paper, you know the one about contact lenses.” My voice sounds scratchy. I take another sip of my coffee, even though I should probably drink water.

           “You’re always writing papers,” she comments with her nice, not-scratchy voice. Brooke is closet thing I know to a princess. Everything she does is so refined and innocent. Not to mention she’s absolutely beautiful. I’m not exaggerating when I say, she is the most gorgeous person I’ve ever met. Right now, she’s dressed and ready to go somewhere. She’s wearing her cute pink polka dot dress.

           “I’m an English major…” I take a container of syrup and douse my pancakes. The sweet smell of the syrup overtakes my senses. There can never be a better duo than syrup and waffles.

           “Oh yeah. I suck at English and grammar.” She says as she sits down across from me. I pass her the syrup.

           “I know, I proofread your papers.” I laugh before taking a bite of sticky waffles.

           “Well, I’m heading out,” she puts her empty paper plate into the trashcan. I follow behind her. “I’m meeting up with David for coffee.” Brooke and David have been dating for about six months now. They went to the same high school and now they go to the same college, Red Pine University. I only met him once at a party. He seemed nice, but I like to give Brooke her space. It’s not really any of my business who she dates.

           Brooke grabs her rose-colored purse as she runs out the door. “Hey, we have some left-over waffles, want to go next door and see if Alex wants any. If not than can you throw them out, no use in taking up space in our minifridge.

           “Sure,” I say taking the plate. I follow Brooke out the door, but she turns left and I turn right. I knock gently on Alex’s door, in case she’s still asleep. The door opens and Alex leans against the frame.

           “It’s like really late,” says Alex. “What are you doing awake?”

           “It’s 9AM…”

           “Oh,” she pauses for a moment to notice the brightness of the hallway in contrast to her dark dorm room. “So what brings you over here?”

           “Brooke, wanted to know if you wanted a waffle.”

           She looks down at my waffle plate. She takes one off the top, and hesitates before taking two more. “Is Brooke here?” she asks before taking a bite off of the waffle mouse’s ear.

           “No,” I answer. “Sorry, she’s meeting up with David.”

           “Alex!” calls out her Scottish roommate from inside her dorm. “Gimme a waffle!”

           “I’ll get you a waffle!” she shouts back. “We’re really busy right now.”

           “What are ya’ll up to?” I ask

           “We’re watchin’ Night in th’ Woods, noo gang awa’ we’re almost dain wi’ th’ series!” yells her roommate within the dark.

           “I can’t understand what she said.” I say to Alex.

           I was about to go back to my room, but the sounds of someone running down the hallway quickly nabs my attention. Suddenly the two girls dash by me, with one of them pulling my arm to follow them. “Get outta here!” One of them yells. My vision blurs as, I quickly am swept off my balance. My plate of waffles knocks onto the ground.

“Hey!” I shout as I yank my arm back. “What is going on?!” I stare into the girl’s silver eyes that swirl like a storm cloud I don’t want to disturb. She’s completely serious. Her face is like a stone and by the looks of her exposed biceps, she’s a whole lot stronger than me. I shrink back. She’s very intimidating, but yet she doesn’t look angry at me. She’s mad at something else and I just got in the way.

“Do you want to live?!” asks the girl holding the fire escape door open. She waves her thin noodle arms around. Her freckled face is painted with much more fear than her friend. I hesitate. What is that supposed to mean? “Come on!” I turn to look behind me, and I can see in the distance a single man marching towards us. He had a very large gun at his side, and he fires shots randomly throughout the hallway.

Panic grips me. I cover my head and run into the stairwell. I pause for a moment. I’m not shot. I look to the other girls. They seem okay. There’s no sight of blood and no scent of iron. We get to the ground hallway and take the back exit. Within the same second, we’re running down the stairs. I don’t think I’ve ever run as fast in my life. Even though we are on the ninth floor, we all make it down the stairwell incredibly quickly.

My feet continue making a rhythmic beat as I continue to propel myself away from the building. I continue running into the woods outside of the dorms as I follow the girls in front of me. I can’t bring myself to stop, until I think about Brooke. Did she get outside of the building in time? I quickly halt. I can’t run back in there, it wouldn’t do anything. I need to get help. I pull out my cellphone. “I gotta call the police.” I try, but there’s no signal out here in the woods. “I don’t have a signal, what about you guys?”

Their silence wasn’t giving me anything, so I have to lift my head to see both of them. They weren’t doing anything to try and call for help. “Calling the police won’t help, anyways. He’s part of the police.” The first girl that grabbed me tosses back some of her long amber hair that got all in her face while running.

“What does that mean?” I ask still a little out of breath. However, the fresh air of the woods is working hard to revive my lungs.

“It doesn’t mean anything.” Cuts in the other girl. She’s a little out of breath too and takes a breath to breath before she continues. “I’m sorry you got caught in the middle of this. I don’t even know who you are.” She seems a lot calmer than me. Like a suspicious amount of calm.

“My name is Destiny,” I respond with slight hesitation. Something is wrong about these two, I can feel it. “And listen, I don’t know ya’ll either, but I’m not dying here. We need to get somewhere safe, and with a phone signal. If we can’t call the police, I need to at least warn my roommate before she gets home.” Obviously, I’m lying. Of course, I’m calling the police as soon as I can. I just don’t want them to know that since they seem to believe that the police won’t help.

“We do have a place we can go to,” says the girl with short ginger hair. Her azure eyes widen as she stares at her friend, who is looking off in the distance thinking. She waits for her friend to speak up.

Her friend finally comes to agreement with her. She pulls up her hair in a pony tail so it’ll stop getting in the way. “I guess we don’t have a choice,” she sighs as she points towards the direction in front of us. “It’s deeper in the woods, but we can communicate there, and warn your friend. Maybe we can find help, but it’s unlikely. Usually we’ll just wait them out.” Usually? Okay, I don’t have much of a choice, but to go with them, but I certainly don’t trust them.

“But he saw our faces, Scarlet…” the other girl says very quietly. She is small and has a timid appearance that matches her voice. She looks innocent. I don’t think it’s her I’m worried about. Her friend, however, could bench press John Cena, and she scares me.

“We’ll talk about it later, Frankie” replies Scarlet as she smacks a bug off her shoulder. “Right now, let’s just get to safety and decide from there.”

Thousands of question stream through my mind as we walk through the woods. I interpret every brush of a flower, or shadow of a tree as the mysterious man. I remain vigilant as I repeatedly look behind me and to the sides, even though I only see normal forest stuff like squirrels. I’m just worried about not only me, but the other people that live there. Especially Brooke, she’s one of my best friends. I couldn’t forgive myself if something happened to her.

 Why am I even following them? Why trust them? Well, I don’t think I have much of a choice. Everything happened so quickly, and now I’m stuck. In the distance, I can see the front of a small wooden cottage. The front porch looks dilapidated as ivy crawls up it in hopes of completely overtaking it. There’s a couple pieces of wooden furniture that I can see better once we get closer. They’re dusted with cobwebs. No one has lived here in years, or if they do they don’t go on their front porch very often.

We take a step onto the porch and I’m especially cautious as some of the planks look ready to give out underneath me. “Will we really be safe here?”

“Yeah, we hang out here all the time,” says Scarlet as she opens the door. A cloud of dust blows out from inside the room as the door creaks open. I cough and try to swipe the floating particles away with my hand. Once the dust has cleared and I stop coughing I can see the room clearly. A rustic old fireplace was in the left of the room while a desk sat on the right. Between those major pieces of furniture were boxes, upon boxes of junk.

The whole room has a musty smell and taste. You know when things just have this old aura around them. That’s what this place has. I don’t know how often Scarlet and Frankie hang out here, but it’s clearly not enough. This place hasn’t been disturbed in a while.

I press the top button of my phone and quickly dial 9-1-1, but all I get is a beep. “Darn, still no signal. I thought you said there would be one?” The building creaks around us and suddenly I become a little more aware of my surroundings. I’m in the middle of the forest with two girls I don’t know in a possibly haunted cabin and I have no communication with anyone in the outside. I need to remain calm towards them since I don’t know anything about them or what they’re capable of.

“I didn’t promise a signal. I promised communication.” Scarlet opens up one of the boxes sitting on the desk. “I have someone on the outside that I can contact. I haven’t had to use it in years, but somewhere in these boxes is a pager. You’re old enough to know what that is, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Then help me look.”

There’s no point in doing anything but helping. I grab the nearest box and sit on the floor while I dig through it. Upon opening it, I notice it smell very musty and dusty just like everything else in here. There were so many strange things in this box. I pull out a silver hairbrush with a cursive R engraved into the backside. I throw out a deck of cards that are yellow with age and have suspicious red stains on them. The biggest thing taking up space in the box is a teapot. It has these intricate designs of a tea party. I assume the one from Alice in Wonderland as the central character with a large top hat is serving tea to an anthropomorphic rabbit in a tie. I sit it also to the side. Finally with that out of the way, I can see the smaller trinkets at the bottom of the box. One of the first things that catches my eye is a golden key strung on a necklace.

I touch it lightly with my finger. Unlike the other objects in this box, it isn’t rusted or coated with dust. It’s still smooth as if it was brand new. I pick it up gently and bring it closer to my face to examine it. Once firmly in the palms of my hand, it glows golden and vibrates with a faint hum noise radiating from it. It didn’t look electric. I flip it over to see where the batteries go.

I hear Frankie gasp. I look up in confusion to see what she’s look for. Instead our eyes meet. Hers are wide with fear, and I just look back at her in confusion. What’s her deal? I just found a necklace. I’ll get right back to looking. I just got distracted, no big deal right? “Destiny! Your skin!” She points at me.

“Huh?”

 “It’s glowing!”

“What?” My hand comes into my line of sight and I can see that it’s surrounded by these golden particles. “Oh my god! What’s going on!” I try pushing them away, but they swim around me, as if they’re coating me. “I don’t know how to stop!”

They don’t hurt me. I don’t really know how to describe how they make me feel. I feel faster like my lungs and heart are having a race inside my body. I try to shake it off, but nothing works. I look up to see that Frankie and Scarlet are staring at me. Scarlet finally realizes that it’s the necklace. She grabs it to ****** it away, but as soon as she touches it, she pulls her hand back in pain as if it burns her. Her skin melts away to reveal a gray fur underneath. Her flesh fades away like dust and is replaced with this bipedal wolf-like creature. Was this me?

The creature stares at me with its piercing golden eyes. It starts to realize where it’s at. It shakes its loud snout making an awful snapping noise as its canine teeth clamp together. I don’t make a sound although I’m internally screaming. I try to stay as still as possible to keep it from noticing me. It takes on look at me and shuffles back; I think it’s scared of me.

The creature glows a deep violet as it stands still. It’s fur shrinks back into it’s skin. The light grows brighter and just as quickly as Scarlet faded away, she comes right back. She has a look of fear on her face. “I’m okay,” she reassures. “It’s just my true form.” She still stands back from me.

I can’t take it anymore. I can’t stay here with them. They’re not even human. I take this opportunity to run. I dig my hands into the wood and launch myself up to run past Scarlet and out the door. I ram into the door opening it, and I take off into the forest. I don’t look behind me to see them, but I can hear them call after me.

I run without any direction, and in a hurried frenzy. I don’t know where I’m going to go. For now, I just want to get away from them. I guess I can go to another building on campus. There I might be able to get a signal to call for help.

Bushes and thorns scratch my exposed ankles, but I don’t have time to pay attention to them. Tree roots also attempt to trip me up, but I do my best to dodge them though I still stumble over them. My hands grip tightly, until I realize that my right hand is still gripping something smooth. Wait, am I still holding the necklace? I look down at my hand and sure enough it’s still tightly clenched in my grip. I feel connected to it like a magnet. Something’s unnatural about this though. Should I get rid of it? No, maybe I should keep it.

*******************************************************************************************************************************

Choose the ending:

Does Destiny keep the necklace?

Or

Does Destiny throw it away?

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