Vala sighed, ran her fingers through her long auburn hair and checked her watch. Under normal circumstances, Vala enjoyed her Friday afternoon biology class but today was Halloween and she was counting the minutes.
Vala glanced at her best friend, Jelly. Jelly’s real name was Kathryn, but to her friends she was known as Jelly, owing to her appetite for Jelly Babies. Jelly also seemed distracted, gazing out of the window, twirling strands of her long blonde hair. Vala wished she could send her friend a text, but if she was caught using her phone during lessons, it would be a case of ‘use it and lose it’, as the school frequently reminded them. Vala’s gaze drifted to the window; it was already becoming dark and the wind was picking up, lifting autumn leaves into the air and propelling them into a chaotic yet strangely graceful dance.
The end of school bell sounded and Vala quickly packed up her belongings, heading for the lockers to collect the rest of her things and meet up with Jelly and Max. Max was the third member of their little ensemble. The three of them had been friends since primary school and had since stayed close, though Vala was acutely aware that this would be the last year they were all together like this. Next year Vala would be reading Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Magdalene College in Cambridge; Jelly would be at a drama school in London and Max, like Vala, would also be in Cambridge at The Institute of Astronomy studying astrophysics.
“So, are my favourite girls ready for adventure tonight?” Max asked, placing an arm round Vala and Jelly.
“Somehow, Max, you manage to make the most innocuous comment sound pervy,” Jelly replied, rolling her eyes. “But to answer your question, I think we’re pretty much prepared.”
“Did you manage to get the EMF meter, Max?” Vala asked.
“Absofreakinglutely!” Max grinned. “And an infra-red camera. Also a night vision camera for each of us, should we actually spot anything.”
“So guys,” Vala said, “we’re meeting at my house 9pm sharp then heading over to Rise Hill Cemetery. Max is bringing the equipment, I’m bringing the grub, and Jelly’s bringing drinks—right?”
“Right!” Jelly and Max said.
“Can we nab a lift home with you, Max?” Jelly asked, kissing him on the cheek.
“Flattery will get you everywhere!” Max beamed.
Vala suspected that joking aside, Max’s feelings for Jelly ran deeper than friendship and that Jelly was aware of it too. She knew Jelly was in love with Max, but neither of them seemed able to openly admit their feelings, at least to each other. They simply carried on with flirtatious banter and gestures that never led to anything more complicated. Vala surmised that both Jelly and Max were apprehensive about taking things further in case it jeopardised their friendship.
The trio stepped out of the school building into the crisp air. Vala shivered as the dampness in the air clung to her skin, chilling her. The wind roared tempestuously, seeming to encircle each of the friends, grasping them in its icy clutches as though trying to engage them in a wild frenetic dance.
Vala looked up at the darkening sky beckoning to them ominously. Grey clouds were clustering together, forming an oppressive blanket that appeared, from Vala’s perspective, ready to bear down on them in mordacious hunger at any moment. Vala looked away, shaking her head in an effort to banish the unsettling thoughts and feelings that had started to surface.
Jelly looked at her friend, noticing her unease. “Are you alright, Vala?”
“Yeah, fine,” Vala said. “Let’s just get going.”
The two girls climbed into the back seat of Max’s cherry red Lexus Hybrid, while Max settled himself in the driver’s seat and started the ignition.
“Think it might be prudent to bring macs and wellies, girls,” Max said. “Assuming you actually own any practical clothing!”
Jelly reached over Max’s headrest and playfully swiped the top of his head.
“Aw Jelly; Max is going to be such a good daddy one day!” Vala said and laughed, before also taking a swipe at Max's head.
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Genre - YA Fantasy
Rating – PG 13