“He’s kind of cute.” Lucy’s drawling voice broke me out of my thoughts. I turned to see a guy, dressed as Rocky from Rocky Horror, staring over at me. She nudged my side, wriggling her eyebrows, and I forced myself to smile at her as I turned away from the guy.
“Luce, I’m really not interested.”
“Aw, babe, come on! Those dreams haven’t got you that freaked out, have they?”
They were getting worse. A lot worse. Not really dreams, either. More like nightmares. All the kind of crap you see in horror flicks. Monsters and ghosts. Made me shudder just thinking about it.
“I just don’t feel like it, Lisa.”
It was Halloween, and Cardiff was packed. Down on Mill Lane, I felt totally out of my depth. These were not my kind of people. People riding the waves of cocaine, people willing to chuck over six quid on a double and mixer. I just couldn’t deal with it. But the guy Lisa was interested in, dressed as Dracula, was inside and she had wanted to go here. So, I wasn’t going to complain. But I was going to desperately try to get hold of the girls I knew would be down on Womanby Street, dancing to ska and punk and classic rock. That was my kind of music, my kind of people and my kind of prices.
Soon as she found this guy, I was off.
Lisa grabbed my hand and yanked me in past the bouncers. I glanced behind me, down towards St David’s, and spotted a figure down the road, just standing there as others went past them. No one brushed against them or knocked into them, but groups seemed to part without giving the figure a second glance.
I turned to flash my driver’s licence, and when I looked back, the figure had gone.
“Adelaide,” Lisa drawled, stretching my name out as much as possible. “Come on!”
She yanked me in, and we handed our cash over to the girl and got stamps on the back of our hands. Lisa, dressed, of course, as a cat, was practically skipping up the stairs. No idea how she could do that in heels.
I followed slowly, cringing at the heavy thumping music from upstairs. I didn’t get the whole dressing slutty thing on Halloween. I never did it, though buying a costume always meant there would be some element of sluttiness to it. Tank tops and leggings came in handy for that.
This year, I’d got myself a dead Snow White outfit. Blood splattered the yellow skirt and blue top, and I’d added some fake blood gel on my arms and face. I loved the stuff. Looked awesome once it dried, caking over the skin for that added effect.
Lisa glanced over her shoulder at me, grinning as I came up the stairs. They circled around to another flight, before we came into the club itself. A bar stretched across one wall, with archways either side leading off into further sections of the club. Around us, people grinded against each other. Guys sucked the faces off girls, moving back and forth and knocking into other dancers.
She pulled me through the crowd to the bar, eyes scanning the people around in an attempt to find this guy.
“What do you want?” she asked, shouting to be heard over the God awful music.
“Vodka and coke.”
She nodded and turned back to the bar, leaning over it to show the barmen her cleavage. I backed up a little, giving the people around the bar a little more room. I loved Lisa, I really did, but sometimes she just got so wrapped up in herself, and in guys, that it felt like I became little more than an accessory.
I glanced around.
There was a raised platform nearby, with booths for people to sit down. All of them except one were full, and there were people standing there not dancing, so why weren’t they sitting in the practically empty booth?
There was a girl there, with no drink, long blonde hair shining as it caught the light. She wasn’t looking at anyone, just staring at the table.
She raised her head slowly, lips parted, and turned her head in my direction. Her eyes widened when they locked on mine. She opened her mouth further, stood up, and took a step towards me.
“Here you go!”
I turned to Lisa, accepting the drink she held out to me. Her eyes were still darting around, and I glanced back over my shoulder. Not even sure why I did, but something about the girl just seemed to draw me.
She was gone.
I scanned the crowd. Nowhere to be seen.
“Addie? Are you okay?” Lisa’s hand fell on my shoulder and I jumped, blinking at her. “You’ve gone really pale.”
“I’m fine,” I muttered, though my hand was shaking as I plastered a big smile on my face. “Just fine. You seen the guy yet?”
She pouted, shook her head.
“Well, let’s dance,” I suggested, taking her hand and leading her through one of the archways and onto the dance floor.
Most of the guys had gone for some kind of gory or creepy look. Most girls were dressed as slutty versions of something or the other. Witches, vampires, cats. Then there were the maids, fire-fighters and prisoners.
Yeah, real terrifying.
We danced to some remixed pop song, Lisa’s eyes never staying locked on one place for long. Eventually, we finished our drinks, and Lisa gestured to the bar. I nodded, followed her back through and bumped into her back when she came to a complete standstill.
“Oh, God,” she muttered, voice wavering. She turned, looking desperate for an escape, and only then seemed to realise I was there.
“Lisa? What is it?”
Tears shone in her eyes. Her mouth opened and closed and the tears won out, tumbling down her face as her shoulders began shaking.
Looking back to where she had been staring, I thought I could the see source of her sudden change. Between the bar and entrance was a tall, good looking guy wearing a black cape. His body was angled so I could just about see his face as he pulled away from the girl he had been kissing. He brushed her hair back and smiled down at her.
And I was filled with a deep seated rage. I wanted to pummel the guy, wanted to storm over there, grab him and just land my fist directly in his face for making Lisa look like that. Instead, I calmed my breathing, knowing getting pissed off wouldn’t help any of us, and turned back to Lisa.
“That the guy?”
She nodded, lips clamped tight as a small whimper came out.
“Come on,” I said, grabbing her hand. “We’re going somewhere much better.”
“Can’t we just go home?”
“Nuh uh.” I shook my head and began pulling her towards the door, skirting around dickhead and the slutty bee. “We’re going to have a good night, Lisa. Promise.”
Back down the stairs, back out into the cool, fresh night air. I checked my phone, glad to see the others were where I thought they’d be. Lisa didn’t say anything as the bouncers wished us a good night, and she remained silent as we headed down the street and turned onto St Mary Street.
It was Lisa who grabbed my arm when I almost fell, attention locked on the middle of the road, currently blocked off from any cars. There was a man there, tall and wearing clothes that were more than few decades out of date. It was Halloween, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised by the gaping head wound. He was just standing there, not doing anything, and like the figure I had seen on Mill Lane, people seemed to just about be missing him.
But as I watched, he faded completely from view.
I rubbed my eyes, turning to Lisa. “Did you see that?”
“See what?” She pushed her face close to mine. “Addie, you really don’t look well.”
What if I was going crazy?
No. No, that couldn’t be it. I was not going down that path. I was not the same person as her and I was not going end up like her.
It was just lack of sleep, that was all. The nightmares had buried themselves into my mind and sheer tiredness, mixed with the alcohol, was making them come to life before me.
“I’m fine,” I reassured her, another big smile on my face. “Really. Come on, let’s get to Womanby.”
She nodded, though her gaze didn’t leave my face as we carried on walking down St Mary Street, me desperately focusing on the road ahead and not daring to glance anywhere else.
Womanby Street was packed. A long queue stretched from Welsh Club, and there was a massive crowd smoking outside Full Moon and Fuel. Everyone was dressed up, and this time, it was more gore, more creepy. A guy in a Jigsaw mask wandered about. A girl who looked creepily like a china doll stood talking to a guy with elaborate wounds all over his arms and neck. I smiled to myself as I spotted dead Jack Sparrow, a zombie and a nurse wielding a big hatchet, blood all over her costume.
The zombie spotted us first and waved.
We headed over, the nurse turning and flashing a big, red lipped grin. Fake blood smeared her face, making her look eerily pale.
“Addie!” she called. “Lisa!” She jogged the few paces to us and threw her arms around my shoulders, hugging me tightly. “I love Halloween,” she squealed, before moving back, hands still on my shoulders as she looked my costume up and down. “You look awesome.”
“Thanks, so do you.”
She winked at me before turning to Lisa and flashing her the same friendly smile.
“Oh, hell yeah. Please tell me you’re still single. There’s a guy inside the boys were talking to and I think you’d totally love him.”
Lisa and Nikki had only met a couple of times before, but they’d always hit it off. And Nikki was a born matchmaker. Nothing made her happier than setting people up.
“Sure thing, hon. Come on.” She pulled us to the zombie and pirate, the guys greeting us happily before dropping their cigarettes to the floor and putting them out under their shoes. Together, with the guys complementing our outfits and us responding in kind, we headed inside.
Lisa’s eyes lit up when Nikki introduced her to the guy. They were soon chatting away happily, standing close together to be heard over the music. Nikki stayed close to me, the pair of us dancing and enjoying the looks of the men around us watching.
I caught the glimpse of something not quite solid over Nikki’s shoulder. It disappeared and I swayed, Nikki’s hands landing quickly on my shoulder.
“She’s been off all evening,” Lisa said, suddenly in front of me. “Come on, babe, let’s get some air.”
“The guy…” I muttered, head spinning, feeling faint.
“He can wait.” The girls took me outside, one either side, and led me away from the crowd. My breathing was coming heavy and I soon moved away from them, finding a spare space on a nearby wall and leaning against it.
This really couldn’t be happening to me.
The girls caught up to me, were saying something I couldn’t quite hear as my head kept spinning, the sounds becoming muffled as, suddenly, the crowd doubled. They’d come from nowhere. Most just stood around, staring around blankly, while others stood close to people, to real, solid people, seeming to overlap against them and looking like guardian angels or something else ridiculously not real.
Some were solid, blending in with everyone else but with an odd glow to them. Others were pale, including their clothes, or just white. I shuddered, turning my head to stare at where the street connected to the road by the castle.
Just outside Dempsey’s, I saw him. The boy from my dreams. The boy who always arrived at the last second as the monsters moved in for the kill. His eyes were locked on me, and I knew he was there for me. There to help me.
I opened my mouth to say his name, the name I had said so many times in my dreams that even before tonight he felt real. I stepped forward, but removing myself from the wall turned out to be a bad idea.
Lisa screamed my name and I felt Nikki catch me as I fell, eyes rolling into the back of my head as I blacked out.