Better Left Unknown
Vancouver Island is harbouring a pair of dangerous criminals, but each horrid crime is disguised as an accident. Disguised so well that no one suspects a thing. The sadistic pair must be stopped. In a small town on the outskirts a curious girl and her best friend become just a little bit too involved in a game of spying. A new family moves into town and Callie Hennesy is determined to find out just what the elusive family is hiding. But some things… some things are Better Left Unknown. Post-Breaking Dawn, from Callie's and Bella's POV.
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3. Chapter 2--Silver Van, Black Car
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I knew I should try to force my dog to walk with me past the house, but I was feeling more than a little irrational. I stood for a while to calm down, and knelt down to pet Tide while I waited for the flood of suspicion and confusion to recede. I was again grateful that it was so early, that there wasn’t a chance I was being watched, because it now meant that no one could have witnessed the embarrassing display.
Tide was still edgy, but we made it past the house by staying across the road and moving fast. He nearly pulled me over in his hurry to escape. Whatever he was afraid of, it was bad.
I crossed the street after we passed and couldn’t help but shiver as I looked into the thick trees surrounding the house. Why the property hadn’t been quartered off and sold before now I had no idea. The pink monster lay only five hundred meters from the water’s edge, where ours was closer to three hundred, but where the distance on our side of the road was open, sunny and inviting, on this side there was something a little frightening. The grass was long and the forest seemed to wrap itself around the house like a shroud of secrecy, hiding everything inside from prying eyes. Even so, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was so off kilter. Maybe it was the closeness of the trees, I don’t know, but I didn’t like it.
Had Shayla been with me, I’d have asked her to slap me. I was acting so dumb. Trees were good. I liked trees. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the trees. Nothing at all.
Once I could no longer see the house or the forest over my shoulder I relaxed into my run. By the time I reached the Steele’s I felt much better. So did Tide. He seemed to have completely forgotten his fear and aggression.
I knocked on the door, breathing quickly. No one answered for a few seconds. I knocked again, a little harder. It would be just like Shay to forget to set her alarm. I was about to head around to the back door, when I heard the deadbolt grinding. Shayla’s littlest sister pulled the door open.
“Mikayla? What are you doing awake so early?” I asked the bright-eyed girl who ushered me in. She began to pet Tide.
“I was awake before the sun! I am the only one that could wake up by myself so early and I sat on that windowsill.” She flipped around and pointed into the kitchen. “I watched the sky go purple and red and pink and yellow and it was so beautiful!”
“You’re the only one awake?”
“Yep. And, oh Callie! The whole house is so quiet it’s giving me goosebumps!”
“Then why on earth did you open the door? If you’re all alone?”
“Oh—Don’t worry! I peeked through the peekhole! I don’t know what it’s really called but you know what I mean, that thing. If it wasn’t you I would have ran back to make breakfast. I started it—but I still have to finish, I decided to make toast! But I knew you were coming so wasn’t scared to let you in.”
“Will you keep Tide company for a minute? I need to go dump some water on your lazy sister’s head.”
“Don’t do that, Callie! You know if you do she’ll be grumpy all day long!”
“She’s going to be grumpy anyways, getting up this early,” I said. “Silly girl. She should’ve known better than to sleep in this morning.”
Mikayla continued petting Tide, who rolled over in a show of pleasure. I slipped past them into the kitchen and, seeing smoke rising in little wisps, popped the toaster. I almost wished that it had set the smoke alarm off. It was a gallant effort to make breakfast on Mikayla’s part, but the toast had been completely blackened. I grabbed a glass out of the cupboard and poured a small bit of water into the bottom, more at home here than almost anywhere else.
Shayla and I had always joked that we split our time evenly, half at her house, half at mine. When I was twelve I withdrew a lot from our friendship. It was the year my parents had died. But after a while we were friends again, and closer because of it. The house I’d grown up in had been sold and Jared and I moved in with our Auntie Chriss and Uncle Damian. Even after nearly three years, I nearly felt more comfortable here than I did there.
I tiptoed into Shayla’s room with the cup of water, careful not to wake her. I almost laughed when I heard the radio blaring away. She did turn her alarm on… it just didn’t wake her up.
I poised the cup high above the bed. I wasn’t so mean as to have put cold water into it. It was lukewarm. There were only a few droplets anyways. Hardly anything at all.
I tipped the cup.
She started upright. One droplet made it’s way quickly to her chin. She blinked, and then glared at me.
“You can go back to sleep if you want, Shay. But I thought you wanted the exercise,” I said.
“Is there anything I can say to get you out of that bed? Or should I get Tide to come lick you?”
“No…” What question was she answering?
“I know a word that will definitely do the job.”
“I don’t think so Callie,” she said into her pillow.
“Derek…” I whispered, mindful of her aversion to anyone else knowing about her crush.
“I think I hate you right now,” she said, but she got out of bed anyway.
“No, you aren’t capable of hating anyone.”
“Sure I am.”
“Whatever,” I said. Then I remembered Tide. “Want to hear something weird?”
“Is it about the people across the street from you?”
“You don’t want to hear it?”
“No. You’re being silly about it. Besides, we’ll be meeting them today.”
“I know, but this isn’t really about them… It’s about Tide.”
“Huh?” She was still sleepy, so I took advantage of the one-syllable query.
“He got really, really scared when we tried to walk by the house this morning. He freaked out on me. It was so bizarre, I have never ever seen him act like that. He even tried to bite me!”
“Tide tried to bite you?”
“He never bites!” She is waking up, I thought.
“He never gets afraid either.”
“Very,” I agreed. “And there’s only one thing that’s changed since the last time we walked by.”
“They moved in,” she frowned. Then threw the light bag containing her school clothes at me.
Our run back to my house was a lot slower than I’d hoped. We were running late. Tide did not react this time as we ran by the house, but I made sure we stayed on the opposite side of the street. Shayla was gasping and we were both sweating when we burst through the door, prompting a smile from my uncle.
“Did something scare you girls?” He asked lightly.
“No,” I answered, because Shayla probably couldn’t talk if she wanted to. “We were just running.”
“You must have been running pretty hard then.”
“Yeah… Just thought it would be nice to get some exercise…”
“Why didn’t you go after school? You aren’t going to have thatmuch homework, are you?”
“I don’t know… I guess it’s better to get it over with. Jared always picks Shay up on our way there, it’ll save time this way.” I clicked Tide’s leash off as I talked.
“But you get to spend less time in your beds getting your sleep.”
“Just what I was thinking,” Shayla grumbled.
“It’s more time together though!” I chirped, pulling Shayla with me around the corner and past the living room.
“Why is he awake? Isn’t it still really early?” She asked, sounding at least a little curious.
“No, it’s already well after seven…”
“Oh snap! We’re late!”
“Yeah. Are you going to shower?”
“Well, do you think I can? I need to wash all this sweat off of me and have a chance to do my make-up and hair.”
“Go ahead. I’ll just wait until this evening.” It gave me some time, while she got ready, to do what I really wanted to.
I ran into my room and very quickly dressed for school. Jeans and a clean tee shirt. Just like every other day. I pulled on some clean socks and found an elastic band. Whipping up my thick dirty-blonde hair into an untidy ponytail I flashed a smile at my reflection. I looked so much better than I had at one point.
Where I was once hardly able to force a smile, the one gracing my lips now was natural. Once I’d had perpetual bags under my eyes; they had disappeared with the fading of my nightmares. I didn’t look like I was dying anymore. I looked okay. I was strong. I was proud of myself. I made it through.
Even though I’d just wanted to throw myself in front of a speeding vehicle and die, I didn’t. I lived, I moved on. I had no parents, but I was coping. I was okay.
Jared was strong too. He’d been the lucky one. He just went and tackled anyone who got in his way. On the field, that is. Jared threw himself into football, and I drowned myself over and over in an attempt to learn to surf. It’s harder than it looks, and definitely constituted enough of a distraction for me.
But we were better now. We could both joke and laugh, everything was okay again.
I picked up the family picture on my nightstand and took a careful look at each face before I leapt up and ran outside. I had that picture burned into my memory. I would never forget what they looked like. I ran straight to the tree house with Tide on my heels.
“Don’t worry, buddy,” I said to my black and white shadow. “I promise I’ll get you up there someday, somehow. Just not right now, okay?”
He waited as he always did, curling up in the sun, while I clambered up the swaying ladder. I immediately grabbed the binoculars. Just to check. There were lights on in the house and I saw a little flicker of movement behind one of the curtains, but that was all. I wondered abstractly if they were nervous. Getting ready for the first day at a new school must be hard. I would be petrified.
Frustrated that there was nothing new and impatient to meet the family, I rocked back on my feet and dropped the binoculars. I snatched up one of the many pieces of loose paper and scribbled down every detail I could remember about what happened this morning in front of the pink house. I tugged on a drawer and slid the page into the file labeled ‘Random Occurrences’.
Shayla and I, convinced that this was the perfect place for a top-secret headquarters, had disassembled a nightstand. We’d carried it up in pieces and then put it back together. The three drawers it contained now served to hold all of our confidential files. Over the first few months of the semester, we had created profiles of nearly every student attending our school. Each folder contained everything we could find out, including middle names, hair colour and eye colour, number of siblings, number of pets, favourite foods, favourite colours and practically everything between.
Sometimes we’d ask questions, but usually we would just sit quietly, watch and listen. No one had ever said anything to us, but I wondered if they’d noticed as we silently collected information from them.
We already had a file for the short girl we had seen the other day, one for the father (we knew that he was a doctor, but not much more), and another, which was empty of information, with the name ‘Emmett Cullen’. The last one we were able to create was because Auntie Chriss had heard the name mentioned at work as one of the children of Dr. Cullen.
I looked at the three measly files, the biggest of them didn’t even have a name on it, just a brief physical description, and somehow felt even more excited to get to school.
When I grew tired of watching their curtains sway in the wind I went back inside. Jared still hadn’t gotten out of bed. Auntie Chriss hadn’t come home from work yet, she’d taken a night shift at the hospital from one of her co-workers. Uncle Damian was watching the morning news. It seemed another driver had wrapped his vehicle around a pole. This time it was a fence post. The reporter actually called it fortunate, because this time only two people had been in the car, Michael Weittzer and his girlfriend, Carman Kolm. I shuddered. How could they call it fortunate? Two people had died last night. I wouldn’t call that fortunate at all. I would call it a tragedy.
This tragedy, however, had been repeated again and again on the morning news. It had become predictable. Every week, usually Saturday or Sunday night, several people from the island died in an accident identical to this one. Everyone had begun to wonder about it. This kind of accident wasn’t usually common unless there was some sort of concrete reason why they had crashed. Usually alcohol.
People had begun to call it Vancouver Island’s ‘curse’. Like there was a curse on the city… If that was true, I could only be glad we lived in Tofino. I moved into the kitchen, trying to ignore the burning fear that the news story had planted. Something wasn’t right about it. Maybe it was a curse.
I heard the water turn off upstairs and knew that Shayla would still be twenty minutes before she considered herself even close to presentable. If she was very fast we might only have to wait fifteen.
I pulled the bag of baby carrots out of the bottom drawer and made two small bags of them. Then I proceeded to pull out two frozen yogurt tubes, and two cereal bars. I cut two oranges and made four sandwiches. Good enough, I thought, and slapped everything into our two lunchboxes.
We really should have just taken money and eaten at the school cafeteria, but my mom had always wanted to make sure we were eating healthy. At the time Jared and I had both wished that we could just eat there like everyone else. After Mom died, though, we didn’t want to change it. Eating out of a lunchbox reminded us of her.
I tried to smile, but I felt the tears begin to sting my eyes. I was grateful when Jared came into the kitchen.
“I just finished packing our lunches,” I said to distract myself.
“What’d you put in?” He asked.
“Uh… There’s two sandwiches, a bar, a yogurt tube, some oranges, and some carrots in there.”
“Sounds good, thanks Cal!” I smiled for real then.
“You’re welcome.” He was about to walk away, but I called him back. “Jared?”
“Do you think that you could do us a favour today at school?”
“What do you want me to do?” He asked.
“Well… we are trying to learn as much as we can about the doctor’s family…”
“Yeah—for your files, eh?”
“Yeah. If any of them are in any of your classes do you think you could help us out?”
“Maybe… What do you and Shayla want to know?”
“Thanks! And… uh… I guess just whatever you can figure out. Descriptions, personalities, that kind of thing. Names are important today too, we don’t know anything at all.”
“Okay little sis, I’ll keep my eyes wide open.”
“Thank you!” I said again.
We all climbed into Jared’s little green car, which really wasn’t green anymore because of too much exposure to the wet atmosphere, and headed to school. I was so giddy I could barely contain my excitement. Shayla kept twisting her hair around and around in her fingers. Jared thought that we were hilarious.
I was so eager I almost didn’t notice when a sleek, low black car with dark tinted windows pulled out of the trees behind the pink house. Right behind it came a silver van, which also had tinted windows. They both looked like very nice cars to me, but I didn’t think much of it until I noticed Jared staring through his rearview mirror at the small black vehicle right behind us. That must mean something; Jared knew cars.
Watching the smooth cars slide effortlessly behind us I felt a small thrill. The mysterious family was in those cars. The tint, even the front window was dark, was a little eerie. Like it was hiding something sinister. Or something exciting, I thought.
It was a little weird to know that someone was behind the windows, and probably at least the driver of the black car, if not both drivers, watching us. Jared’s old car wasn’t tinted at all. Anyone outside could see right in to the car; could see us clearly. Weird.
The only parking spots left were the farthest few from the school, because we were late. I was a little surprised when both vehicles tailed us all the way into the school. Wasn’t the van large enough to hold six students?
I jumped out quickly and pretended not to care while I was really studying everything carefully. Shayla followed, finally as excited as I was. We pretended to start a conversation. But we both knew that the other was paying no attention. We did it when we wanted to listen in or watch something without being too conspicuous.
Jared looked as us, a little tiny bit annoyed, and waited. He probably wanted to be in out of the rain, but I didn’t care. It was just a drizzle today anyways. It could be much worse.
The first one to step out of either car was the driver of the efficient-looking black car. He didn’t turn to us, but I did not think he looked young enough to still be in high school. The man was moderately tall, with blonde hair and a striking physique.
Then the doors of the silver van all opened and four younger looking people stepped out. Out of the passenger seat came the tiny girl we had seen from our tree house. The driver of the silver van was also tall, and also white blonde, although his hair was closer to the colour of honey and was a messy sort of mop on the top of his head.
He crossed around the front of the vehicle to speak quietly with the pixie girl. The height difference between them was shocking. He must have been a foot and a half taller than her. She had to tip her head up very high to even see his face.
While they spoke my eyes took in the other two who’d come out of the van. The boy caught my eye first. He was massive. Taller than either of the other men, who both looked over six feet tall, he was also wider and muscular to the extreme. There was a certain playfulness to his face, however, as he helped his companion out of the vehicle. She made me gasp, despite myself.
I tried to throw myself again into my fake conversation with Shayla, but it was hard. She was just as blown away as I.
This girl also looked older than the average high school student, they all did, except maybe the short pixie girl. This girl was also tall though not nearly so bulky as the boy how lifted her hand as she stepped gracefully out of the vehicle. Her every movement was beautiful. Her blonde hair curled lightly and elegantly framed her face. She appeared to be the most beautiful person I had ever seen. Rivaled only by her sister. She disgraced any model in any magazine.
The four of them mixed together into one group and stepped towards the man who’d first stepped out. I heard several words as the tall blonde spoke to him. He said something about the hospital and I also heard ‘drop us off’ mingled with words I couldn’t understand. I growled a little. We were too far away.
Why had only five shown up? Was the first man really a student? I wondered. Before I could think any further, however, the biggest one knocked on the back window of the tiny car. He said something I didn’t catch and then burst into uproarious laughter.
Whatever he’d said, no one else seemed to think it very funny. He got a glare from the model girl, but none of the others even reacted.
The door he’d tapped on opened then. Another boy stepped out; he looked to be the youngest among them, his hair a burnished bronze. He turned immediately around as another girl alighted from the black car. She had long brown hair that waved almost to her waist and a slight figure. She was the only one who seemed to be average height, for even the youngest boy who’d alighted with her was fairly tall and the only one who was short was freakishly so. She was astoundingly beautiful as well.
After another half of a second the whole troupe set off towards the school building. I wondered aloud, once they were out of earshot, about how none of them looked at all alike. They had all been wearing light colours, and jackets that would afford them some protection.
Their every movement as they crossed the was effortless, completely belying the fact that they were walking across an uneven lawn. Just as I noted this as something to jot down later, the uncanny grace and smoothness of all of them, I saw the youngest boy slip a little. He tottered to the side and looked like he would have fallen had his sister not grabbed his arm.
The girl with the brown hair held on to his arm, like she was afraid he’d fall again. Most of the others turned to watch him with bewildered expressions, except the tiny dark-haired girl. She began to laugh at him for being a little clumsy. The biggest one joined in.