This story is by AJ Hunter and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
It was late, or early, depending on how you looked at it. The quickest way back to my flat took me through a stench-filled alley. My mates would be in bed and my boyfriend… a guitar riff played on my phone and I laughed. Speak of the devil, the screen lit up with a message: Nox: Saved you dinner. If the guys didn’t eat it.
A voice echoed clear as day in my head interrupting my thoughts, “Let me in!” Normally I could only hear the thoughts of people nearby but there was no one here . Dismissing the voice, I returned my attention to the text and typed out a reply. My phone clattered to the ground as if someone had knocked it out of my hand. The mysterious voice sounded again. “Let me in!”
“Let you in where?” I looked around checking for anyone around me muttering to myself. “Who or what are you?” I bent down to pick up my phone trying not to look like a crazy person talking to myself even though I saw no one. A blue ghostly face reflected on the screen. I dropped my phone and looked up where I’d seen the reflection. The overcast sky shed no light from stars or moon and the yellow street lamps didn’t cast a blue glow. Nothing could make that reflection
I looked down again, the face in the reflection echoed, “Let me in!” and touched my temple with a spirited finger.
I shuddered at the touch. Bad things happened when you let shit in; the scar on Nox’s cheek came from a ghost who had possessed a little girl, a demon possessed Dee and made her do horrible things but I asked the reflection. “How do I know you won’t kill the world if I let you in?”
It said, “Trust.”
I laughed. “That’s what a demon might say.”
“No take! Let me in!”
I was still learning about Nox’s world, but I had picked up a few things, like demons and ghosts didn’t ask for permission. They took what they wanted. Could this be an angel?
The reflection nodded with a faint smile. “Yes. Let me in!”
“Fine,” I sighed, “but I’m staying in control.”
I picked up my phone, and the angel touched my chest and a cold chill enveloped me. I understood things I hadn’t known before. Like her name was Lailah, and she wanted me to take her to Nox. She insisted we go talk to him now. I realized then she’d been following me to get to him.
I walked into the brownstone where Nox lived. I had a key even though it wasn’t my house. Nox danced around the kitchen making breakfast with ear buds on so he didn’t disturb the others. I stood in the doorway and watched his body move for a few moments until he turned around and stopped cold. He stared with a curious look and then asked, “Why are you here?”
I sighed. “Would you believe me if I said I came for breakfast?”
He grinned at me, “Not talking to you, lover.” His features had relaxed. He looked relieved I was still me.
“Her name is Lailah, and she needs to talk to you.”
Nox sat down with a plate of food and pushed it into the middle of the island. “Talk, Lailah. And then let Dev go.”
I sat down with Nox, picked up the offered fork and ate from his plate. It wasn’t dinner, but anything Nox made was bloody brilliant. “Little girl needs help,” she said with my voice. It was odd being in your own body, hearing your voice but not being in control. Lailah relayed the problem to Nox in as few words as possible. I watched Nox pick at the food on his plate as he listened. I didn’t pay attention to the conversation, only him.
Out of nowhere, I found myself in full control of my body and all alone. Nox grinned at me. “What?” I asked.
He laughed and shook his head. “Nothing. I have a little girl to save, you want in?”
“I need a nap first.”
Nox shook his head, “No time, lover.” I frowned, so much for sleep, I thought as I took his proffered hand. It felt warm in mine, and I wasn’t looking forward to venturing outside again.
“Why did she need me?”
“The wards around the house kept her out with the demons and the maras,” he said.
I nodded. It would keep ghosts at bay too. Maybe I should move in with them.
Nox appeared to know his destination. He grinned at me like he was reading my mind, but that was my talent. We walked down into the subway station. Nox moved a barrier with ease and we stepped into a restricted area.
We walked down the dark creepy tunnel along the service walkway and found a nook filled with blankets and cardboard boxes. Nox stopped and my heart leapt into my throat, a kid was living like this. I moved the boxes in a hurry to uncover who was underneath as Nox bent down and pulled at the blankets. I jumped backwards when the pile moved. Nox grabbed my shirt and kept me from tumbling to the rails below as a tiny face looked up at him with sterling grey eyes. There was something special about her.
She looked up at Nox and her face lit up. “I knew you would come,” she said.
He scooped her up into his arms and pressed his lips to her forehead. “I got you.” He said. She entered a brand new world. A world I was still getting used to myself. One filled with love and mystery and unexplained phenomenon.