BY MATTHEW WHITEHOUSE

CHAPTER 1

Do you believe in luck? In another being looking down upon you and giving you a little help in life, is there such a thing in having good or bad luck in this world and do you believe it happens to you or someone you know? Well whether you do or don’t, it is a question regularly asked by us all at one point or another during our lives.  In our tale, we travel to a place that does indeed believe in luck; in fact it depends on it, a place where it is believed by the majority of a large but very close and proud town of Lakewood in England. Speaking of Lakewood, our story begins on a cold autumn’s morning, a time of year that everyone, said goodbye to their barbecues and day’s out to the beach and instead put on their wooly jumpers, turned up the central heating so they wouldn’t be frozen by just sitting in their living rooms and counted down the days one by one to Halloween and Christmas.

It isn’t arrogance or having a huge ego that makes this town worship luck at all, quite to the contrary actually. Was it good luck that Lakewood was where the lowest recording of deaths had occurred anywhere in England over the last decade? The lowest crime rates and the town had the most sunshine in all of Britain each and every single year since the 1800’s, was it all a coincidence?

You would think that all of this was wonderful and all but the cherry on top of the cake was most definitely Lakewood Academy. The town of Lakewood had the highest achieving school outside of London; many local townsfolk had gone through the academy doors and gone on to have fantastic careers and lives. Everything was always going right here, if you made it here, you made it anywhere you could do no wrong in the town of Lakewood, or so they thought, as with everything in all of existence, there is always one exception.

Laura Phillips, a fourteen year old is that exception that is always talked about in town and the one to watch in this story. She is your typical everyday teenager, nothing really out of the ordinary at a first glance. She was a thin, rather tall young woman and she had long flowing blonde hair that would always stretch down all the way towards the ankles on her legs, which would always be quite the messy situation, it would often end up all over the place and at times cause quite the fuss. No one could understand why she never did anything like tie her hair back or even have it trimmed but Laura was adamant that her hair was never to be touched or so she would tell everyone when she was asked about it. However, the truth of the matter was that she did have her hair cut, all the time in fact but strangely it would always be right back on her head the very next morning, it was a mystery as to why it would suddenly grow back to the same length it would be before Laura cut it herself, it was almost like magic.

Every day, when Laura woke up from her bed, the first thing she would always remove the flowing locks of hair that was covering her face; it was sort of like a mask for her when she slept, only it got into her eyes and caused her immeasurable discomfort.

This was not the only strange thing to occur with the troubled teenager, far from it. Laura lived in a town where accidents were very rare, no one hardly ever fell, got assaulted, robbed or murdered, the worst accident to be recorded in Lakewood in the past twelve months was little Johnny Harvey tripping up and grazing his knee on the way to school but this was quickly dealt with by a plaster and a kiss better from his mummy, problem sorted.

However, there was a dark secret that everyone was trying to hide and contain from the public’s eye and that was Laura. The teen was always finding trouble, where ever she went; it seemed to follow her like the plague.

‘She cycled past the market, right past my stall and sneezed very loudly, suddenly my stall fell down and all my produce was ruined!’

It all seemed like speculation as Lakewood considered any kind of accident and misfortune to be a problem, it was only that it was always Laura at the heart of it all, every time in fact.

‘That girl looked at me funny the other week and the next thing I know, my cat’s hit by a car!’

At first it wasn’t such a problem but when it kept on happening time and time again, people started to get fed up of it all and somehow came to the conclusion that Laura Phillips must be cursed with the one exception to good luck, bad luck.

‘Laura Phillips is the only loose screw in our perfect town!’ said the mayor at a meeting.

This was a nuisance to the townspeople; it was a major concern that Laura’s horrible luck would ruin their reputation throughout the land they weren’t prepared to let that happen again.  What’s one person causing mischief and mayhem on a daily basis when it can be ignored by everyone else?

Saying that one girl was behind a towns downfall was very extreme and understandably unfair, not everything single tragedy to befall Lakewood was down to the troubled teenager, there is one example of bad misfortune in Lakewood that can’t possibly be tied to Laura Phillips in any way or manner, it was the one event that almost destroyed a town’s reputation and nearly ruined one of the country’s finest academy’s and it goes like this.

On a cold but sunny April morning, a middle aged man was taking his everyday walk through the Lakewood woods, owned by the town’s academy with his dog. It was the first day in ages that rain had stopped and the sun was out again, meaning that the ground in the woods wasn’t wet and muddy to walk in. The pair was going along the main pathway towards the old abandoned building that the school had chosen to leave behind, it was the turning point in the woods where all walkers would turn around and head back up the path to the academy grounds. At first, it was your average walk, when all of a sudden, his dog stopped and sat on the path and began to bark loudly, his owner looked down and saw a look of disdain in his pets eyes but before he could say anything, his pet ran off its leash down the path towards a nearby tree where it began to circle about it a few times before it began digging a hole in a big patch of open space. The man seemed bewildered by this at first but also curious as to why his dog would suddenly seem very much panicked then it started to dig a hole in the woods.

After various minutes of digging, the dog came to a pause and started to bark once again, his owner slowly made his way over to the hole and what he saw sticking out of the ground would send shivers down any man’s spine, he walked up to the hole and knelt down to have a closer look, slowly removing little bits on dirt off an object he saw lying there, he began to recognize what it was in the ground. The man had discovered that a single thin arm and hand was sticking out of the ground, it was pale white, the colour completely gone and it looked as if it had been there for quite a while. In a panic, he grabbed his canine friend and ran all the way to the gate at the front of the woods and down the hill, all the way to the town where he gathered alerted the police.

The next few months were revolved around the woods being overrun with people from the town who had heard what had happened, they all came to see the arm and rumours immediately flew about as well as concerns. Some people claimed that it was a tragedy, especially if others found out about it. Before long, the woods were shut off by police and the academy closed down as the body was carefully removed and identified by forensics. It was a teenage girl that they removed from those woods and she didn’t look any older then fourteen years old, her face wasn’t that disturbed, and there were no marks anywhere on her body except for one very noticeable one, it was on her forehead and it indicated to the authorities that it was a blow to her head that had killed her. No possessions or anything on her gave a clue to her identity but she did have a tattoo on her chest with the letter L on it but this didn’t lead to anything. Her sudden discovery was the focal talking point for the town for many years to come afterwards although no one was ever able to identify her, her name, origins and how she ended up here were a complete mystery.

The body was mentioned in the news and in papers nationwide and it had a bad effect on Lakewood shortly afterwards as previous to this discovery, the town was known for its good fortune and success, a body and a suspicion of murder raised questions over the stability of the people there and the lack of a conclusion to the mystery raised even further suspicions. People began to ask questions and before the town realized it, students were being pulled out of its academy, it was a dark time for Lakewood as there business, educational and tourism trades fell dramatically however after time had passed, the discovery of the body became a distant memory and everyone moved on, the academy pushed for the body to never be mentioned but in the back of everyone’s mind, the mystery of who the girl was, where did she live and how she ended up there haunted them but it did teach the town one thing, they were determined to never let their town come close to destruction ever again, they became obsessed to be the very best, good luck would be there only drive, nothing bad was allowed to ever happen again .

***

With a shudder and a whimper, Laura sat up in her bed and heavily panted, she was on the receiving end of a recurring dream, it was one she had always had since she was a child but couldn’t understand what it was all about but it always ended up the same way and it was a haunting sight that she would always wake up at the same time before it got any further.

‘That face’ she muttered to herself ‘who does it belong to?’

In the present day, it was a beautiful day in Lakewood, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and everyone was preparing for the end of the summer break.  On Glynwed Drive was a small red house that looked rundown and uncared for, the look of it would appear unsafe and unlivable to most people but it’s where Laura did indeed live. Stood outside, hanging out the laundry whilst brushing her hair to the side was Laura. She was struggling to keep her hair out of her face, as per usual and because of this, her job was very difficult to do well and as she worked away, she noticed her little drying line start to shake about and wobble but there wasn’t a strong breeze about or anything so this was very strange.

‘Please don’t’ she muttered to herself. ‘Not today’

Just as she finished speaking, all of the clothes that she had carefully hung out to dry flew off the line and spread all over the garden, a pair of knickers landed on her face. The neighbours next door, sunbathing on their sun beds found this to be hilarious and weren’t afraid to show that they found Laura’s torment to be funny.

‘There is no such thing as good luck in this world!’

‘Oh dear love, can’t you do something as simple as laundry?’ Laura’s grandfather grunted

Walking up to the annoyed teen was an old man with a walking stick in his hand and coughed loudly as he slowly lifted the washing line up at notice Laura on the ground picking the thrown clothes up; this was Laura’s Grandfather who was a rather big beefy man with a rather noticeable moustache. He was someone who didn’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo that Lakewood did, he didn’t believe in good luck whatsoever, he was all about hard work and believing in one’s self, which was all that you needed in this world. Laura knew that her grandfather was a hard grafter and that he was always being honest with everyone. He never flipped a coin, prayed to a higher power or wished for anything good to happen to him, in his mind if he hadn’t earned anything then he didn’t deserve it. He had brought up his granddaughter Laura to believe this, to work hard in whatever she did, so as to not resort to being lazy by asking for something to be done or to happen to her.

‘Silly girl’ he said out loudly.

‘But I-

Before Laura could finish, he grabbed her by the arm and dug his nails deep into her arm, she gasped in pain but he ignored this and simply dragged Laura back inside the house, locking the door quickly behind him. Laura felt the rush as she was whisked away from the garden and into the darkness of their hallway, the lights in the bulbs were completely out and it had left the house in complete darkness.

‘Granddad I-

‘Don’t you think we go through enough hardship because of you?’ he snapped at her.

Dropping her arm, slamming the house keys on the table and walking away down the dark hallway, the old man stormed into the living room and stumbled into an old worn out armchair and stroked his moustache and sighed. He felt rage building up through himself but tried to keep his cool in order to not create a scene.

‘You have no idea how hard you make life worth living sometimes’ he said angrily.

Laura stared at her grandfather and felt bad for what she had done which might not seem that bad at all but in Lakewood, even the simplest of mistakes were frowned upon, it was a place that was difficult to live in if you weren’t a believer of wishes and good luck.

‘I’m sorry’ said Laura ‘I’m so sorry that I’m a constant embarrassment to you granddad’.

‘Granddad, can I ask you a question?’ Laura asked as she rubbed her arm after he let her go once they were behind the front door.

‘What is it girl?’ he said uncaringly whilst stepping away from the mirror hanging on the wall by the staircase, slipped off his shoes and instead carefully putting on his purple fuzzy slippers.

‘Why do you make me do the laundry if you know I can’t do it?’ she asked him. ‘It’s too hard’

He rolled his eyes and tugged on his moustache whilst grinding his teeth. Laura put her hand over her mouth and watched her grandfather’s face turn deep red with anger.

‘What a stupid question’ he baffled ‘I’ll take it your like all the other delusional idiots in this town then?’

‘What do you mean?’ Laura asked him. She felt confused by her grandfather’s stance of Lakewood’s beliefs.

‘It’s simple Laura, Lakewood is famous for its good luck and if you ask me, good luck is nothing more than a pile of horse shit, simple as!’ he said begrudgingly. ‘It’s what sheep believe in!’

‘Sheep believe in it as well?’ Laura who felt very confused by this statement asked him.

‘Not an actual animal, I mean people are sheep, you stupid girl! I mean people who follow a fad’ he barked with authority ‘now go and wash up the dishes!’

Stroking his moustache, he wandered into the dining room and sighed as he noticed the darkness, down to the light bulb dangling over the room fizzling out.

‘I’m cursed, aren’t I?’ asked Laura in a morbid way, she couldn’t have sounded more depressed if she tried.

Laura’s grandfather rose up from his chair and in a rage, grabbed Laura and slapped her hard across her face, she winced in pain and tears fell from her eyes to the holey carpet bellow.

‘You just aren’t trying hard enough!’ he snapped at her ‘Don’t give me that hocus pocus crap!’

Laura backed away to the doorway and covered her face; the stinging sensation was too much to bear for her. Slipping to the ground, she curled up into a ball and cried her eyes out.

‘Listen, I’m sorry that I struck you but you know damn well how I feel about that luck talk!’ he reluctantly apologized. ‘Get back up and give me a hug’.

Very reluctantly, Laura listened and did what she was told. Laura was a very vulnerable teenager who was used to receiving abuse from others for her clumsiness and apparent bad luck, people would shout verbal abuse in the street and students at her school would sometimes play tricks on her during the day but what she hated the most was how her grandfather treated her.

‘Do you forgive me?’ he whispered into her ear.

Laura didn’t say anything but slightly nodded her head.

Bob Phillips wasn’t Laura’s real grandfather as he had passed away when she was a baby; however her grandmother remarried but had never taken kindly to the rumours spread about Laura in the town or more to the point, he believed each and every single one of them and his behaviour was based off that.

‘I want to ask you a question…if that’s alright’ Laura said in a nervous way, she hid her mouth behind her hands although it was dark and no one would have been able to see anyway.

‘If you must’ he replied as he sat down at the head of the dinner table, placing a big bib around his neck.

‘Before I ask you my question, where’s grandma?’

‘Your grandmother is probably upstairs trying to figure out online shopping again’ he grumbled ‘Fucking delivery charges piss me off’

‘Can’t you just go to the supermarket yourself? We have a car?’ Laura pointed out

‘And what, risk having a million questions about you?’ he shouted. Laura stepped away a bit and shivered in fear, she always got scared when her grandparents yelled at her. ‘More rumours about the cursed brat of Lakewood!’

‘I’m sorry, please don’t hit me!’ Laura pleaded as she cowered in fear.

‘Oh get up you wimp’ the old man sighed ‘It’s pathetic!’

Laura carefully moved back into the room and slowly sat down on the sofa. Laura tried to avoid eye contact with her grandfather but this was not easy as she was also scared that he might suddenly strike out at her again and she felt the urge to always be on her guard when she was home.

‘Ask your damn question!’ Bob suddenly shouted.

Laura shot out of her chair and stood up, legs shaking and all, her granddad just rolled his eyes.

‘Well, I know you don’t believe in good luck or anything and that people should believe in their own abilities but if that’s the case, why do we live in a town where good luck is at the center of everything?’ Laura asked her grandfather.

‘Do you want to really know the answer to that?’ he asked her back.

‘Yes, I would’ she said hesitantly. Laura was beginning to feel a little nervous about continuing this conversation with him. The reason being was that Laura’s granddad was a champion arguer and would not stop until he had cleanly defeated his opponent or they had gotten bored with whatever they were arguing about and had given in to him.

‘I have no idea’ he answered.

Laura’s eyes widened and the confusion settled in even more, what kind of an answer was that?

‘That’s not an answer’ said Laura.

‘Did you just speak back to me?’ he asked her as he rose out of his chair.

Laura closed her eyes and whimpered as Bob moved towards her but as he came within striking distance, footsteps could be heard and as soon as Bob noticed, he darted back into his armchair and grabbed his newspaper.

‘Are you two arguing again?’

Stepping off the bottom step and with the flash of a torch into the others eyes was an elderly thin woman with short grey hair and a humped back, she groaned in pain as she wobbled over to the table.

‘How’d the shopping go?’ he asked uncaringly as he flicked through the paper.

‘How do you think Bob?’ she replied slowly as she pulled out a chair and made her way to sitting down.

Bob rolled his eyes and folded his arms in frustration. Laura looked at her grandparents and the damp dining room with its peeling wallpaper; kitchen utilities being used to catch drips from the ceiling and the coldness as the family were behind paying their heating bills, due to neither of them having a job.

‘Well it’s the only one I can give you’ he said. ‘Any chance of dinner coming before I die of starvation?’

‘Be patient dear, Rome wasn’t built in a day’ Laura’s Grandmother called out from the kitchen.

‘You’re not cooking for Rome, your cooking for your starving husband and twittering granddaughter!’ he answered back. ‘Hurry up Barbara!’

Barbara rolled her eyes and went about putting the finishing touches to the dinner. Laura, felt quite neglected at this point, she knew that she wasn’t exactly the apple of her grandfather’s eye but still, she deserved a little better than this.

‘Excuse me Granddad!’

‘Yes, what is it now?’ he sighed.

Laura gulped as she felt his intense stare upon her. She wanted to feel brave but it was very difficult when you lived with a man who constantly shot down any ideas of her having any sort of hope or ambition.

‘Is there, something stuck in your throat? Hurry up and be out with it already Laura!’

‘Well, Granddad, do you think if I really tried my best that I might or possibly be able to get into Lakewood Academy this year?’

As soon as Laura had asked her question, Bob burst out in a fit of laughter, one that caused him to bend over forwards and hold his stomach, coughing aloud and struggling to breathe as he laughed away.

‘Absolutely not darling!’ he answered. He didn’t spend any time thinking of a response and his quick yet direct answer took Laura completely by surprise and his laughter made the blow feel even worse.

‘But I don’t understand, why not Granddad?’ Laura asked. ‘What don’t I have that those students do?’

‘Because you don’t have the talent to be there, they would eat you alive!’

‘That’s not very nice!’ said Barbara as she poked her head around the corner of the kitchen wall. ‘No wonder she doesn’t have any confidence if you always shoot her down!’

‘Why fill her head with lies Barbara?’ he asked her ‘Laura has no talent!’

‘You shut up you old fool!’ Barbara shouted ‘My granddaughter has spirit and can do just as well as any of those academy students!’

‘I’ll go and make dinner’ she sighed.

‘Yeah, you do that’ Bob smirked.

Barbara smiled at her granddaughter before making her way into the kitchen to make the evening meal. Laura sat and dangled her feet above the carpet floor as Bob sat there and stared right at her.

‘Give up this pathetic dream of yours girl, you don’t stand a chance’ he told her mockingly.

Laura put her hands over her ears to try and block this out but the damage had been done, all she could think about was her lack of talent as well as her terrible misfortunes in daily life.

‘Now then dear, I hope you’re not crushing our granddaughter’s hopes again’ said Barbara with raised eyes from the kitchen.

‘Why? We both know the caliber of students that attend that school every single year, winners and champions that go on to Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard, No Laura, I think Lakewood College is the best place for you’

‘I have talents, just like everybody else!’ Laura said in her defense.

‘Laura, let’s be honest, I have never seen you do anything that has ever wowed anybody before, you spend all of your days on that darn phone of yours’ he told her.

Laura said nothing about this but deep down, she agreed. As far as everyone was concerned, all Laura could do well was cause trouble for other people. It had been this way since she was a baby and had carried on all the way to the present day. It was unexplained how this had happened or why, no one could remember, all they knew was that Laura was a trier, just not a winner in life.

‘What have I told you about ringing her confidence down Bob?’ Barbara shouted.

‘It’s not like good luck can be written down and made to become true! No, we all make good things happen by making them so, I have never spent my days wishing for a mansion, a fast car or all the money in the world’ Bob ranted on to Laura ‘I spent my childhood working in the mines, earning very little before I married your grandmother, moved to Lakewood and spent the next fifty years being a postman before the unfortunate bite of 87’ Bob looked at his left hand and squeezed it gently with a look of regret in his eyes, he gasped after a moment as pain shot through his hand.

‘Leave that hand alone Mr’ said his wife ‘you know that it still causes you bother’

‘That was just bad luck darling; everyone in town knew that dog was mistreated by its owner’ said Barbara.

‘Nonsense, I agitated that stupid dog, it was my own fault’ her husband disagreed.

Bob was a very proud man who could never accept making a mistake, rather if he did he would punish himself for having a flaw, the man was not like anyone else in the town, he wasn’t someone who relied on luck to solve his problems and he wasn’t like his granddaughter who believed that she was cursed with bad luck. No, her grandfather would accept nothing less than one hundred per cent effort, no more no less but most importantly, he would never succumb to temptation of wishing for some fortune like the rest of the town had done in the past.

‘If this god forsaken town just put some effort into the town then this whole thing would feel a lot more honest’ he admitted.

‘Oh darling, what’s the harm in people thinking that coincidences occur for them on a daily basis?’ his wife asked.

‘It’s bollocks though; just because nineteen people in the town have won the lottery doesn’t mean that good luck is a real thing!’

‘That’s enough Bob! It’s talking in that manner that got us living in a house with terrible wallpaper, no proper lighting or any television that works!’

‘I speak the truth Barbara! Laura isn’t one for doing much now is she?’

‘I am here you know’ Laura pointed out to the pair of them.

‘Now then Bob, don’t start another one of your tirades on luck again’ Barbara sighed as she dished out dinner.

‘I could never go to a school as amazing as that, although it would be amazing to get the chance but really Granddad, if I could just have the chance to try then I should’

‘Why when you know you will fail at it!’

‘False hope is better than no hope at all, to be able to believe that luck could be real is a lot better than living everyday thinking that it doesn’t exist, to me that sounds like a miserable life to have Granddad!’

‘Poppycock, absolute dribbles that is!’

‘Where are you going?’

‘I need a release, I’m going for a cig!’ he shouted from the hallway in frustration, the door slammed behind him and the two girls sat at the table, unsure what to say.

‘He’ll be alright, he just listens to rumours a little too much’ Barbara reassured her granddaughter who didn’t look too convinced by this.

‘He hates me, he thinks I’m trash’ Laura wept.

‘Things will get better darling, they have too’

The typical dinner time for the Phillips was one that happened often, Laura would dream about doing better for herself and her so called grandfather would always shoot her down with her grandmother trying her best to keep the peace between the two. It was something that was getting worsened by the years.

***

Lakewood’s jewel in there crown was the Academy; it was a very prestigious school, located on the edge of the town, nestled on the bank of a lake. Lakewood was a school not like others, it wasn’t for everyone however, it wasn’t a school where only the rich could go, and it was a special place where only the most talented individuals could enter its walls. The town of Lakewood was proud of its long heritage of producing extremely talented individuals as well as attracting students from all over the world to come and study there.

‘Two more Japanese students have gotten in this year’ Bob pointed out as he flicked through the newspaper one morning which caused Barbara to rush over from her seat at the table and dig her nose into the story as well .The main reason that Lakewood was so renowned around the country and the world was its highly praised success stories from students who had made a difference in the world.

‘There you are two more points for Lakewood’ he said cheerfully.

Laura made her way over and quickly noticed the article her grandfather was so interested in, it indeed that what he had said. The town was celebrating that they had been able to convince the highly intelligent Japanese twins Chiyo and Mitsuko Takashi to come to Lakewood. It explained their talents and what they had achieved so far in their lives, needless to say for Laura; she was out of their league before she had finished reading their names.

‘That will make our Woman’s football team unbeatable, take that Grantchester, you smug lot’ Bob cheered as If he were actually at a football match.

‘Now then Mr, let’s not pop the cork off the champagne just yet’ Barbara sighed.

‘Well that’s how high the praise our academy has dear’ said Barbara ‘we always have students from Asia, America and from all over the place coming to our town’.

Laura looked on feeling insecure, hearing about the success of others. She wanted to do just as well as any renowned talented individual or celebrity that was beloved by the general public, who wouldn’t want that.

‘Why do so many people like to come here and go to the academy?’ Laura asked.

Both of them paused and looked at her with confused faces, they couldn’t believe that after all the time she had lived in Lakewood that she would have no idea why it was such a good school to be at. Her grandfather cleared his throat and put his paper down.

‘Now you listen up young lady and you listen good, It is a well-known fact that every single student from Lakewood has gone on to have a very successful career in what they were talented at, without fail we have a one hundred per cent record for having Lakewood’s finest make our world a better place to be.

‘Why doesn’t Laura ever fill out a form?’ he asked.

Laura looked up from her dinner plate and felt a rather uneasiness about herself. Lakewood Academy was the school of her dreams, she would give anything to just be able to explore it, let alone be a student there.

Laura however wouldn’t quite fit the school’s criteria; in fact she was the furthest person in Lakewood from it. Her reason being for this was rather simple, her only talent seemed to be having the worst luck in the world. She studied hard and always did her work at school but her grades never seemed to match this

‘If you want to go to the academy then you have to earn your way in!’

‘I can’t, I don’t have any talents!’ Laura answered back.

‘Well you won’t gain a talent sat here complaining about it all, get a hobby and work at it!’

Before Laura could respond to this, the two of them were suddenly interrupted by the slamming of the mash potato dish onto the dinner table.

‘Will you two pack it in!’ said Barbara who was not pleased that Laura and Bob were in quite the heated argument.

For Laura, living in Lakewood was an absolute nightmare. Everyone believed that if you wished for something good to happen then it would happen but nothing liked that ever seemed to happen to her, quite the opposite actually. Laura was well known in the town for having the worst luck that you could possibly imagine. Now you would imagine a friendly town to being quite understanding and forgiving but not so much for Laura

‘All I am saying is that the academy would never take her in, unless ruining an entire festival and towns reputation in one fell swoop becomes a class’ he laughed.

After hearing this, Laura quickly got up from her place, causing her dinner plate to fall and smash on the ground. ‘I hate you’ she said to him, and then feeling upset Laura left the table and proceeded to run upstairs to her room, tears in her eyes.

‘What did you go and do that for you idiot?’ Barbara snapped at him

‘I only speak the truth, that girl is the reason why we can’t show our faces in public without grief anymore!’ Bob yelled.

‘She’s still our granddaughter, think of what she’s had to go through all of her life, put you in her shoes!’

Quietly opening her bedroom door, her grandmother stepped inside and saw her little Laura crying her heart out, the sobs and the tears were almost too much for her to bear. Barbara sat down on her bed, she then gently started to stroke the crying Laura’s hair to try and calm her granddaughter down.

‘Darling, ignore what your grandfather says’ Barbara smiled ‘He’s just not a believer in any sort of luck, never has been and he probably never will be’.

‘Why did he have to mention that day, to blame it all on me?’

Barbara sighed and rubbed her face as Laura slowly sat up and curdled into a ball, hugging her legs on her bed

‘It wasn’t your fault dear, how could it have been?’

‘How was it not my fault?’ said Laura in disdain ‘I’m cursed with bad luck grandma, it follows me around and it always will’

‘Don’t be daft now; you couldn’t have known what would happen on that day’

‘The whole town hates me for it!’ Laura cried. ‘They utterly despise me’

‘Now you know that isn’t true, why would Lakewood hate you so much?’

‘Don’t you remember?’ Laura asked.

***

CHAPTER

THE COSTLY TRIP

What Laura and her grandmother are talking about is an event that had taken place during the previous summer break, a time that was very different to now. Laura was a much happier and confident young girl who had everything that she could possibly want. She had many friends at her school, long flowing blonde locks that weren’t a mess and all over the place and her grandfather could stand to look her in the face without having to force out a smile, for Laura it was bliss.

On a regular spring morning where everything nice, safe and normal, Laura Phillips was to be bestowed an honor that would change her life and it couldn’t have come any sooner for her or her family. It all started as she entered her school, the local one where everyone who couldn’t go to the academy, not because of grades or wealth but more down to not being at the levels of talent that the academy expects, in other words your crap at sports.

Feeling somewhat happy, an energetic Laura walked over to school but not by herself, in a group of other young girls who greeted her and chatted away as if they had been friends for years but when they all arrived at school; they would normally all attend the morning assembly, Laura went instead down the opposite path that led to the main building and to the headmaster’s office.

‘Laura, we have selected you to award the visiting Prince with the bottle of champagne’ he said happily ‘Will you do it?’

‘You really want me?’ she said as she pointed to herself, her lower lip shaking with excitement.

‘We couldn’t do this without Jane’s daughter’ he said back to her.

Laura stepped through the double doors and entered the hall, sat there was the entire school and as she stepped in, the hall erupted with applause and cheers from the other students, Laura felt like she was on top of the world with this sudden rise in popularity. It was a rather odd feeling as she was normally not considered to be all that popular with her classmates although for the life of her, she couldn’t remember why that was.

As the day came to a close, Laura ran all the way home and dived into her home. The excited teen squealed and shouted with delight as her grandparents wondered what all the excitement was all about.

‘Do you mind, my ears still hear pretty dam well and your screaming is like a nail down a board!’ her grandfather complained as he held his head in his hands.

‘Never mind that, I have great news!’ Laura yelled.

‘STOP YELLING!’ Bob shouted.

‘I’m greeting and welcoming the prince that’s coming to our town next week!’

Her grandparents gawped in shock, Bob dropped his cup of tea all over the carpet and her grandmother almost collapsed to the ground. A moment of silence passed before Barbara herself got excited, much to the surprise of her husband.

‘That’s amazing’ said her grandmother ‘I’m so proud of you dear’.

It was a long time since the entire household was smiling like this, everyone was so happy with the news that after all these years, the townspeople seemed to be letting go the death of the Phillips and were ready to make their daughter there next banner child, to further their name worldwide.

‘Our Laura, moving up in the world…try and remember us when your famous’ he winked happily.

‘I’d never forget you two’ Laura laughed. ‘Without you, I’d be in some orphanage’.

All seemed perfect for Laura and her family, they were happy and the talk of the town. Everyone wanted to be friends with the Phillips family again, all because Laura was the daughter to the famous Jane Phillips who had led there swimming team to victory and trophies, even winning the nationals. The little teenager was to be the center of attention when she would convince the Prince to be a Lakewood Academy student and if successful would cement herself as Lakewood’s favorite daughter, she would not be able to do anything wrong.

Over the next week, Laura spent every single waking moment of each day practicing and rehearsing just what she would say to the prince, how to be always polite and not rude one bit. However, this proved to be difficult as every second of the days that flew by were also spent being asked to come to parties, social events and sleepovers by her classmates who all wanted to be Laura’s best friends. It was hard for Laura to say anything other than yes.

Finally, the big day arrived and Laura woke up as early as the sun rose into the sky. She had struggled to get any sleep from her excitement.

‘Rise and shine dear’ her grandfather gently whispered as she stretched her arms into the air and then brushed her hair to the side

The drive into town was a hectic one, no thanks to the large traffic increase.

She couldn’t explain it but as she walked forward, her foot gave way and she fell forward, the bottle fell out of her hands and before anything could be done, the impact happened.

Shortly after, an ambulance would carry the prince away from the stunned people of the town who couldn’t understand what they had just saw happen before them, one second they were celebrating a world renowned man agreeing to come to their academy, the next they were being destroyed by the media for what had just happened on their doorstep.

‘Laura blinded the prince, she’s doomed our town!’ someone cried out from the crowd.

She had no idea how she was able to escape the angry mob of townsfolk but as she stood on the hill that overlooked the town, she would breakdown into tears. It would be four long days before Laura reappeared in the town but it wasn’t something that she would ever talk about to anyone, not her grandparents, not her teachers or Emily but Laura was brought back home by the police after being found sleeping in an alleyway in a neighboring town.

‘I’m never leaving this house again!’ she screamed ‘I wish I was dead!’

She had climbed to the top of her ladder, being the most popular person in the town, appearing on the news with a prince to have it all crashing down around her, now she was on the bottom with a very long climb back up.

‘It wasn’t your fault that you tripped up, mistakes happen’

‘All I had to do was shake the Prince’s hand, not fall over, bash his head in with a bottle and then make the entire stage collapse!’ Laura cried.  ‘He said he would never set foot in our town again!’

‘The media made a meal out of it, called me trippy Laura and called me a nutcase’

‘Yeah but the media always make a meal out of whatever they can get their hands on’ said Barbara.

‘I wouldn’t worry, people forgive and forget eventually’

Barbara turned out the lights and quietly closed her bedroom door. Laura lay awake for quite some time after this, reliving the events of that day over and over again. She felt terrible for blinding the prince with the glass from the bottle but as she thought about it again and again, she couldn’t come to a conclusion as to how the glass was able to smash and all land straight in his eyes so perfectly, not to mention that the way she fell should not have been able to bring down the entire stage like that.

‘It’s been far too long now; I can’t go on beating myself up for what happened!’

She was certain that although her situation was dire and very bleak, it wasn’t impossible to make things right and redeem her family name once and for all.

‘I can’t let this beat me, no matter what I can move on and I can get into that academy’

***

CHAPTER

‘Hey up loser, watch your step!’

It was the first day of a new school year and after a long summer break, which by the way had come to a close and boring halt for Laura as it had dragged on for what felt like an eternity watching paint dry It wasn’t another moment too soon. As the break was finished Laura was relieved and terrified of having to go back to school where she knew she would be bullied again. Laura was fed up of continually staying indoors each and every day but it was still better to all of the verbal abuse she knew she was going to get. She was picking her bag up from the floor, and Laura ran out of the main entrance and down the pathway to jeers from a group of female students.

‘Watch you step!’ one student laughed.

‘We wouldn’t want you falling over and knocking anyone important over, now will we’ another student sniggered as Laura ran by.

Come to think of it, Laura was already wishing she could be right back home.

Laura knew that the applications for the academy were to be handed in at the very latest by the end of the day by anyone from the town and she had a copy in her bag.

‘Just make it out of the school and run to the Academy’s registration office, I can do this!’ she said out loud but she forgot to take in the fact that a bunch of students had heard her say this and the sudden laughter could not have been louder, they laughed and jeered at her as she stood her staring down at the ground and wishing that it would swallow her up as her habit for speaking out loud had landed in a deep pool of bother.

‘You, a Lakewood Academy student, don’t make us laugh!’

‘Leave me alone’ Laura muttered.

‘Does we all a favour and get lost, will you?’

All of a sudden, her bag was snatched off her back by a group of girls and she was held back by a boy as they opened up her bag and poured out its contents to the floor, this was met with cheers.

‘Look at this everyone, an academy application form!’ a boy jeered.

The group passed the form back and forth between each other as Laura desperately tried to get it back but to no avail.

‘Give me it back!’ Laura pleaded.

‘Ask nicely’ they said back to her.

The form was ripped apart right in front of her very eyes, she watched her dream turn to shreds and the echoing laughter from the other students brought tears to her eyes.

‘I hate you all!’ she yelled.

Leaving her back on the ground, Laura turned and ran out of the school. Her feelings were all over the place; her one little mistake had affected her way of living and made Lakewood believe that she was nothing more than a bad luck nuisance that would destroy all that they had worked for. The troubled teenager’s means of escaping this tirade of verbal abuse from her classmates and the people of Lakewood was spending time alone in the library. However, the librarian seemed to be the only person in town, who had taken a liking to Laura, it didn’t matter to her that a little bad luck seemed to happen every now and then.

Lakewood Library was located on the other side of town on yet another hill that isolated the place along with the other three hills that stood at each side of the area. However, the hill that the library was on had a documented past that always managed to draw tourists in and that was because of the rumors of an entire building hidden inside the hill.

‘Laura, why are you crying?’

The librarian, called Emily was a gentle and kind young girl with real beauty, her long blonde locks and blue eyes were always enough to draw in people to the library, particularly young men but she was single which was the biggest mystery of all. Emily, who was about the same age as Laura didn’t go to school but was Laura’s only friend in town, or at the very least the only one who would speak to her, they would spend hours in the library talking about life and things that have happened to Laura, for her it was a release. No one could quite explain how a girl her age was able to own a library but it was a good, vibrant place for the community so no one ever asked too many questions about it.

‘I don’t want to go back to that school, I hate it’ Laura would often say.

‘What’s happened this time?’ Emily sighed.

As she was carrying a large pile of books at the time of Laura’s arrival, she decided to postpone her careful reorganization of the religious section and placed the books on her desk.

‘I just wish I didn’t have to go to that horrible place’ the teen moaned.

‘Don’t you worry child, one day that sunshine will shine on you and you’ll have everything that you’ve ever wanted’ she would often say to Laura when she was upset.

‘You always say that’

It was a place of escape for the teenager, in a town that relied on good fortune; they couldn’t afford someone with bad misfortune to ruin their reputation so no one ever made a fuss when Laura shut herself away in the library. With this in mind, Laura walked through town and made her way inside the library which was not your average one. This library was one of the largest in the country, vast space full of book cases that seemed to stretch on for miles. If you didn’t know your way around, it would be incredibly easy for you to get lost, there were rumors that people had disappeared in the endless corridors that this place seemed to have, not even the Librarian had any idea how many aisles there really were, it truly fascinated Laura coming here and it was really one of the only reasons that she hadn’t tried to leave Lakewood, she could be herself here.

‘Don’t let them get to you’

‘That’s rather difficult when you’re the girl who blinded the prince’

‘Where was he the prince off?’ Emily asked out of curiosity.

‘Lord if I know’ Laura answered.

The two girls would often wander about the various floors of the library talking mostly about Laura’s issues with the school and the town but sometimes that included her grandparents who Laura said didn’t always support her.

‘It was my one chance to get into the academy and they took it away from me’ Laura cried ‘Tore the form right in front of me’.

‘Can’t you fill out another form?’ Emily asked.

‘It’s too late, the deadline has passed’ Laura explained. ‘It looks like I’m stuck there for the foreseeable future’.

‘Chin up Laura, things could be worse’

The look of disappointment was clear in Laura’s face and Emily looked troubled by this. To see one person be surrounded by so much hate for one simple mistake, despite its seriousness was a bit unfair. They moved across the second floor and sat down at one of the various desks. All the desks were available as the entire library was empty, this was down to Emily sometimes purposely closing down the building when Laura came around just so they could interact and talk to each other.

‘Lord knows what has stopped me from getting up one night and just leaving this place once and for all’ Laura admitted.

‘Please don’t do that, running away isn’t the answer’ Emily told her.

‘Why not then? It’s not like anyone would miss me’

‘Listen up and listen well because I will only say this once to you’

‘What is it?’ Laura asked.

‘Now you might be shocked at first but what I’m about to tell you is real’ Emily explained.

‘Ok then’ Laura said confused.

‘Follow me’ said Emily.

The two girls began to walk through the Library, passing aisle after aisle and walking down various staircases. Laura noticed it feeling a bit colder each floor they went down and the feeling of the building got older and more out of date as well.

‘Emily, how many floors does this Library have?’ she asked.

‘No idea but it seems to go on forever doesn’t it’ Emily answered honestly.

They stopped on a floor that had no clear lights on and also didn’t have any windows. Emily pulled up a chair and sat down on it, Laura would do the same but she was cautious as she didn’t feel safe being in the room, something just didn’t feel right.

‘Why have you brought me so far down?’ she asked slowly ‘What’s going on?’

‘I need to tell you a secret and I don’t want anyone else hearing it’ Emily explained.

Silence fell as Laura was starting to have regrets coming to the Library. As sweet as Emily was as a person and a friend, she also had her weird moments which scared Laura.

‘There is a legend in this library, one that has been sought out by many but never discovered or as far as I’m aware it hasn’t’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘I’m talking about a book my dear Laura…one not of this world’

‘A book, is it a special book?’

‘I just said it’s not of this world, isn’t that special enough?’

Emily stood up from her chair and walked down an aisle and shortly returned holding a map in her hands, it was a long but dusty piece of paper with a crude drawing that was a map of the lower floors of the library.

‘A very special book indeed’

‘What is that, an old book that’s meant to be able to do something spectacular for me?’

‘It is rumored to be located on a floor deep within the old caverns’ Emily explained ‘Legend has it that the Romans once built a library in our town but once they left it was forgotten about and a castle was built into the hill instead’

‘And, how does that help me?’

‘I’m not finished yet!’ Emily replied ‘No one kept a record of the old library so when a new one was built in the library, they did so on top of the old one which had succumb to sinking underground, so the legend says anyway’

‘Sinking underground?’ said a confused Laura.

‘Marsh ground’ the librarian said quickly.

‘One more question then’

‘What dies the book actually look like?’ she asked ‘It might help if I know the title of it, the colour or at least the shape?’

‘How would I know, it’s not as if I’ve ever seen it before, it’s just what the rumor is’ Emily sighed.

‘I don’t believe it, not for one second’

‘It is your choice whether you choose to believe that something as simple as a book can change your life or not Laura, I can only tell you something that I believe can help you’ Emily explained.

‘But, to send someone into the abyss…for a book’

‘Would you prefer it be an e-book?’ Emily asked mockingly ‘Sometimes the simplest items are the most beneficial ones!’

‘This book is said to grant who ever writes in it, the most good luck that any human could possibly imagine, a life can be changed with the scribble of a pen with only black ink.

‘Only black ink, why is that?’

‘Apparently, it’s not fond of blue ink, has an odor to it apparently’ Emily explained.

She looked upwards towards the top of the case and out of the corner of her eye, noticed a book that looked like it just didn’t belong there. After a moment had passed, Laura slowly began to walk away down the aisle but her curiosity of the out of place book was enough to keep her from turning the corner

‘Here, you’ll need this’ the librarian explained.

She reached for a book inside her bag and handed it out to Laura. The blue cover was very dusty and as it was opened, the dust flew into the air and caused both girls to begin sneezing uncontrollably for a short moment.

‘It’s a map that I found here’ she explained calmly.

‘And this as well’

The librarian then handed over a torch to the troubled teen

‘Every single time I’ve tried to go in, I’ve never ever been able to see my own hand up close, let alone the steps!’ she explained.

‘Are you sure about this?’ Laura asked frightened ‘It seems a bit farfetched if you ask me to assume that a magical book could really be down there!’

‘Well it’s up to you, others have tried, only to never-

‘I don’t need to hear the rest thanks’ Laura stopped Emily from finishing her sentence as the last thing that she needed to hear was the high chance of her death happening somehow down there.

‘Good luck’ Emily waved from the staircase and before Laura could say anything else, she was gone.

‘Wait, what about the name of the book?’ Laura called out.

‘Oh that? The book is called the good luck book!’ Emily replied cheerfully ‘Now then, good luck down there, don’t die on me now!’

‘What am I doing?’ she asked herself.

CHAPTER

THE BOOK OF GOOD LUCK

The map she had been given was crude at best, many parts of it had faded to the point that they were barely readable but nonetheless, that was not going to put Laura off travelling down into the unknown. With a deep breath and a quick brush of her hair, Laura made her way down the first stairway. The railings were rusty and there were a few gaps that were big enough for a human to fall to the bottom quite easily. As she slowly made her way down the staircase, Laura looked down to the floor and saw that the steps were covered in layers of dust that danced about whenever Laura made a sudden movement, it would result in Laura slipping down a couple of steps, landing on her right arm, she gasped before she was able to get back onto her feet and continue. It was clear that it was going to be a long journey for the teen and she was aware of this but the troubled teen was also certain from the look of her surroundings that she was the first human to set foot in this section for a very long time. There was no telling whether it was safe or not to go much further, after all this was just the first floor and according to the map, she had at least four floors to travel down but that didn’t matter to her, she was that desperate to change things for herself and her family, no matter what the cost.

‘Is that a door I see?’ she said out loud after a while. Her voice echoed in the air before slowly vanishing off into the distance. The air was very cold and Laura would often rub her shoulders with her arms in order to keep warm.

Making it to the bottom of the first staircase and catching her breath, Laura did indeed see a door in front of her, it had a doorknob and a glass window so Laura immediately thought that the floor she was on wasn’t that old or anything, adding to the confusion as to how it ever got into such a bad state.

‘A child’s room is cleaner than this place’ she muttered to herself.

With quite a struggle, the teenager was able to shove the door open, so much that it flew off its dusty hinges and collapsed to the ground, much to her surprise.

told her off the floors that had been discovered but as she read on about how to find the stair case that led to the indicated floor but she then noticed that the floor before the one marked in red by Emily had a different way of entrance to it, not accessible by stairs as it was explained in writing to have been destroyed.

‘It doesn’t have stairs to it, then how am I supposed to get the bloody book?’ she said out loud.

She read on and slowly was becoming unconvinced of there even being a book there. If no one had ever made it to the floor then how could anyone really know? It all seemed like a trick being played by Emily who Laura was starting to question if she was really her friend or not, after all she was the same age as anyone in her school year, what if they had asked her to make up the entire thing.

Laura climbed up the ladder, all the way to the fourth from the top shelf and she noticed a rather bad looking book pulled out the book from the case and read the cover but she quickly discovered that this book had nothing on its front or back covers, it was completely blank. Out of curiosity, she opened the front cover and saw that the page was also blank

‘Hello there dear student’

Laura jumped back out of fright, throwing the book down to the ground and cowering by the shelf. How could the words just appear out of thin air on the paper like that? It didn’t any sense and it couldn’t be real, could it?

‘Is this a dream or is it a nightmare?’

Laura reluctantly stepped away from the bookcase and knelt down to pick the book back up, opening the cover once again, she saw more words slowly appear on the blank page.

‘Now that wasn’t very nice, I do have feelings you know!’

Laura was unsure but she was thinking that the book had just told her off. She picked up her pen and wrote down an apology on the blank page

Hesitantly, Laura picked the book back up and began reading.

‘Do you desire anything?’ The book asked.

‘I wish I was a Lakewood Academy Student’ Laura wrote down. She watched the ink slowly fade away off the page, the excitement rushed through her as the anticipation of her wish was too much for her to hold in, and she smiled and jumped up and down in the aisle, giggling away to herself.

She waited for a moment for something to happen, she looked around the aisle for a sign, for her wish to come true but as the seconds ticked away nothing had yet happened and as she was beginning to wonder, could there be an amount of time that she had to wait before something happened? After another moment had passed, still nothing had changed; she was still in her school’s library. Laura then quickly realized that nothing was going to happen.

‘It’s a fake, too good to be true’ she said disappointed.

She paused and reflected on how silly she must be to believe that there could possibly be a magical book in the world that could simply fix someone’s live just like that, it was just too good to be true for her. Placing the book back on the shelf, Laura picked up her bag and set off home. It took her what felt like an age to get back out of that maze of a building but as she finally stepped outside, it began to rain upon her. She raised up her hood on her jumper but the harsh wind would instantly knock it back down again and again, she eventually conceded and walked back home with her long hair constantly going into her face.

Returning home and drying herself off from the horrendous downpour, Laura said goodnight to her grandparents and headed up to her bedroom, locking her door behind her as she wanted to be alone.

Laura was feeling silly for thinking that something like a wish book could possibly exist and be able to just make any of her wishes come true.

‘Something like that would just be too dangerous, what if someone who wasn’t nice was able to have their wishes granted?’ She said to herself.

Laura didn’t want to admit it but she had a habit for talking to herself, a lot. This was simply because of her lack of companions to speak to, all apart from the librarian of course but they rarely ever saw each other, in fact Laura suddenly realized that she had never even seen Emily outside of the library.

‘It’d be so much easier to wish things away then to work at them by myself’ she admitted.

Feeling that there was nothing else to stay up for, Laura prepared herself for bed. As she led in her bed, staring up at the ceiling, she couldn’t help but wonder just how different things really would be if she could wish for whatever she wanted, could she become rich or be the most popular person in school or speaking of schools, could she wish for herself to be a Lakewood Academy student although she quickly forgot about this as she knew that wishes weren’t real and just made up to give people false hope. In reality, you either work hard and earn your reward or do nothing and wait for the improbable to come along to you.

***

CHAPTER

LAKEWOOD ACADEMY

‘LAURA, WAKE UP!’

Immediately sitting up in bed, heart skipping a beat, Laura’s eyes flew wide open, the terrified teen then brushed aside the hair covering her eyes to see her grandfather stood by her bedside but this time, he was not stood there looking as miserable as sin as he normally would.

‘Well don’t just sit there young lady; you have your first day of school to get ready for!’

Laura could not help but notice that her grandfather had a rather rarely seen smile on his face. She watched as her grandfather approached her and gently kissed her on the forehead before smiling once again and then leaving the room, he looked like he had just won the lottery, either that or he had successfully opened Barbara’s impossible pickle jar without cheating.

‘First day, what does he mean by that?’ she asked herself.

‘Are you talking to yourself?’

‘No Granddad’ she replied.

‘Good, you should be getting up and getting ready for school!’

As soon as her door was closed, Laura dived into her school bag and tried to retrieve the book before remembering that she had placed it back on the shelf at the library, had she missed something amongst its blank pages like rules or anything on those lines but as she flicked through page after page, she could not find anything what so ever.

‘It…worked…how that can be, I have no idea?’ she asked.

She held the book and wondered what was really going on, one minute she was a student at the local school that she despised to no end, the next she was suddenly been told that she had been a Lakewood student all along, it was all so hard to register and take in but as she thought about, she began to feel as if she was forgetting about being a student at her old school, it was almost as if it was slowly leaving her mind.

‘What is going on?

‘What has happened book?’ she wrote down in a hurry.

Seconds passed before she saw a reply appear on the same page that she had badly written on.

‘What you asked for, you are a student of Lakewood Academy’ the book told her.

‘Why can’t I remember being a student at Lakewood High that much anymore?’

‘With every wish, comes a consequence, you wished to be a student at the academy, henceforth you are but in order for this to happen, your past is altered slightly, e.g. you never went to Lakewood High’  the book explained in detail.

After reading what the book had said, she noticed hung up on her wardrobe was a uniform but it wasn’t her usual uniform, this one came with a black skirt that look like it was made out of fine material, it all seemed too good to be true but it was true, it was all true.

‘I don’t understand this at all, how this could have happened, I have no clue?’ she said out loud ‘This book can’t be genuine, can it?’

Zipping up her new skirt and tying back her hair, Laura stood in front of her mirror and looked at her new uniform, she could help but slowly break into a squeal of delight and excitement, the clothes she had dreamed of wearing were really on her and it was an amazing feeling.

‘Emily was right, the book has changed my fortunes, I’m lucky, I’m very lucky!’

However, as soon as she finished this thought, Laura heard her grandparents both shout for her to come downstairs. Laura quickly dashed out of her room and as she went along the corridor towards the stairs, she couldn’t help but notice a slight change.

‘The wallpaper’s purple now?’

It was indeed purple and not only that, it wasn’t cheap, tacky wallpaper that was hanging off the wall like it was before, it was neat and presentable.

Laura was surprised even more as she went downstairs in her new uniform, she was welcomed by her grandparents who were both stood in the middle of the dining room, arms around each other, looking as happy as could be. They had prepared a marvelous breakfast for Laura that contained Bacon, eggs, sausage and baked beans along with a coffee and toast.

‘What’s all this?’ Laura asked in shock. ‘You’ve never made a fry up before’

‘We need to build up your strength darling, so you can knock them all dead on your first day’ her grandfather Bob winked ‘I spent ages preparing that for you today so I hope you really enjoy it’

‘You made me my breakfast?’ Laura asked. ‘Is this a wind up?’

‘Sure did, I have given your grandma the morning off’ he smiled. ‘Poor girl needs a rest’

Laura was more taken back by the fact that she hadn’t wished for her grandparents to act happy or be nice to her, it had all happened on its own and it was an amazing feeling as she struggled to hold back the tears.

‘This is such a nice surprise, I-

Before she could finish, her tears took over and she wept into her sleeve. Her grandparents looked on with smiles before they all went to sit down for breakfast.

After Laura had finished her breakfast and gotten ready for school, she set off from the house and down the street to the bus stop where she saw other students wearing the same uniform as herself, all talking amongst each other. They all looked well-mannered and polite but Laura felt very nervous about approaching them as she had been used to this situation in the past where she would approach a group of people, only for them all to ignore and pretend that she didn’t even exist.

‘Come on Laura, it’s now or never’ she told herself in a self-confident raising speech to herself.

‘Good morning’ she waved at them all.

Nothing really came about of this, a few of them looked up briefly from their phones or friend’s and looked at her but soon after went back to what they were doing. Laura felt a little uneasy by this as it wasn’t the reaction to the start of her new life that she was expecting.

‘Are we all looking forward to a good start to school?’ she asked them.

Once again, not much came from her question, one girl nodded briefly but didn’t look at Laura, and apart from that, nothing happened. Laura then wanted to ask another question but felt hesitant as her old nerves kicked in and made her want to stand alone in the corner which she eventually did and Laura stayed in the same spot besides the bus shelter before the bus arrived.

‘Are we all going to have a great year at the academy?’ a girl cried out amongst them all.

Much to Laura’s surprise, everyone started to cheer at this and the group all suddenly looked energized and positive. They all boarded the bus cheering which made Laura feel somewhat confident again and she too got onto the bus full of excitement but as she got on, she discovered a full bus with no free seats left.

‘Sit down please’ the driver called out.

Laura nervously walked down the bus, all the way to the back where the only seat left was in the left corner, near a group of girls who looked at Laura like she had the plague; they bundled up close to each other and stayed that way until Laura finally sat down by herself and looked down to the ground, feeling sad.

‘So much for a new life’ she muttered to herself.

In all of the time that Laura had been alive, she could not tell you what it was like to be able to go out and spend time with a friend, be able to create memories that would last a lifetime or anything along those lines. The simple reason for this was Laura did not have any friends whatsoever, no one wanted to be near her and her sudden admission in Lakewood Academy had not changed that.

As the bus began the long climb up the hillside, rumors were already afloat that she had done something devious to get herself into the academy, including one that said she had threatened to kill the headmaster if he wouldn’t let her in. They did the best she could to come up with the most devious rumor imaginable and Laura could hear all of this happening from her seat, yet didn’t understand why but more to the point for Laura, why had the wish book only made life better for her with her grandparents and no one else.

The opening ceremony was not one that Laura really enjoyed. She arrived at the arranged seating in the center court, in front of the main building and found most of the students sat on the raised seats, talking away and making new friendships

‘Right, time to start a new life for myself, I won’t let that shaky start stop me from changing things for the better, I do have good luck on my side, I just know I do’

Although it was a spectacular performance by all of the teams that represented the academy such as the Football team, Swimming, Athletics and Equine teams presenting themselves, Laura couldn’t help but feel left out by the entire student body during the entire performance.

‘Can I sit here?’ Laura asked many people in the stand and their response was always the same ‘Sorry but that seat is taken’.

No one wanted to speak to her, look at her or even acknowledge that she was there. Almost conceding that she was going to get nowhere right now, Laura slowly began to turn and around and went to head away from them all but as she took her first step, a loud siren rang aloud and flashing lights diverted her attention as loud noises like explosions and fireworks took over on the stage.

Just as she turned back and noticed all of this, she saw a band begin to play their instruments in front of the stage and as they began blowing those trumpets, drums and violins, a mass group of cheerleaders wearing white and purple outfits burst onto the stage and began a well-organized dance routine that looked well-rehearsed and choreographed.

After the girls had finished their dance and were met with a thunderous round of applause from the stands, they all stepped back and ushered in a man wearing a black suit and grey tie, his hair was grey and short but he appeared to be full of spirit.

‘Welcome everyone to Lakewood Academy’ said the Headmaster ‘my name is Simon Lock but you are to call me Mr Lock’

The students clapped and some cheered as they all knew that the headmaster at the school was well known not just at the Academy but throughout the entire country for his achievements and talents. It was to be an honor to be under the tutelage of a fine human being like Simon Lock, it was like you were handed a guaranteed winning lottery ticket by coming here.

‘This is a school for the gifted and the talented individuals who have a goal to drive themselves and become champions for the future, I hope that each and every one of you sat in these chairs today have the drive to be the best and further this great academy’s legacy!’

‘Now, I would like to lead you all in the academy’s pledge to the world, if you would all stand up please’

Everyone began to stand up, minus Laura who had been standing throughout the entire ceremony.

‘Lakewood Academy, the school of dreams

A place where you can make all of yours gleam

Where but all of the teams we have always been winners

And upon all else, we have the finest school dinners

From Football, Rugby, Horse Riding and Golf teams, name the sport and it is here

We even have a nature forest full of the finest deer

Please be assured that your talents are welcome, in fact we beg you to show them off

In fact, with us, the world will love you a lot

With us, you’ll travel the world and become a success

And then you will become great, you will be amazing

And Lakewood will grow

But only if you put in the work and show us

That you have what it takes

Although, this you should know so listen and listen well

Fail to live up to our standards

And you will not be welcome at Lakewood no more

But let’s not end this pledge end on a low, let’s finish high

Everyone stand up and chant for Lakewood Pride!

As soon as he finished reading off his stack of sheets, every student cheered, screams and some even cried, all of them clapping and chanting for Lakewood pride. Laura joined in as well; she clapped and cheered, despite the dirty looks she received from anyone who had no choice but to stand near her due to lack of seats.

‘Go Lakewood!’ they all cheered.

‘And now I’ would like to hand over to our Assistant Head teacher, a man that I trust with my life and more, a ten time football winner and the most successful captain in football we’ve ever had, please welcome Mr Whitham!’

Walking slowly onto the stage and being greeted by the cheerleaders, a bald headed man with a great bushy beard stepped forward in a robe and a graduation hat in his hands which seemed strange to Laura. Before he spoke to the students, he suddenly cheered loudly and threw his hat up into the air which made its way towards the stands.

‘How are we all doing today?’ he roared passionately.

‘Amazing sir, we are all amazing!’ Laura cried out with pride in her voice, she clapped and cheered so much that she had failed to notice that everyone had stopped and were all now staring at her.

Laura was met with looks of disdain from everyone around her; she looked down to the floor and felt like she was being a burden.

‘As I was saying, I’ve been here for twenty five years and I can honestly say that this is the place to be if you’re a student wanting a better life!’

Cheers and claps quickly followed along with Lakewood chants.

‘I’ve never had an unsuccessful football team perform, being 2nd place is being the first loser and I’ll be damned if this school gets a reputation for being losers!’

‘I would like to introduce you all to our current teams that we have here at the academy, all of which you can sign up for at the end of the opening ceremony’ he told them all.

Mumbles and discussions broke out momentarily about this and Laura remained sat by herself, wondering just what she was doing wrong to make everyone want to ignore her. She considered pulling out the book and writing a wish down but it seemed too risky to do it out in public with so many people near her.

‘First up, we have the swimming and athletics teams, both winners last year’ Mr Whitham introduced them.

Out onto the stage came two sets of teams, first wearing blue trickiest and a white top was the athletics team, the girl at the front carrying a golden trophy in her arms. Behind them was the swimming team and each member had a medal around there necks, it was something that made Laura feel inspired as they all looked successful and accepted which was what all that she really wanted.

‘Now please help me welcome The Equestrian team who I believe have just returned to us from the states!’

On horseback came along a group of teenage boys and girls, all wearing medals and there Horses had medals around there necks as well. The riders who all looked like they were models and athletes waved and saluted the audience who just ate them all up with their applause, each one had very neat hair and sparkling white teeth, enough to make any individual envious and jealous but they were met with applause as they rode by.

As team by team were introduced, Laura had decided that she would get out her book and quickly write a wish down, one that would make everyone want to be her friend; it seemed like a full proof plan.

‘I wish that everyone at the academy would be my friend’

After ten seconds passed, the book replied simply with.

‘No!’

Laura felt flabbergasted by this, what did the book mean by no? Writing the wish down again and again didn’t achieve anything as the book replied with no time and time again. Laura gave up and decided that if she was going to make friends, she would have to do it herself.

‘Excuse me, is anything sitting there?’ Laura asked a girl nearby her.

The seat was indeed empty but the brunette haired girl took lone look up with a smile, saw that it was Laura and the smile was instantly gone.

‘What’s it to you?’ the girl asked uninterested whatsoever once she had fathomed who it was asking.

‘I just saw a seat and thought I might be able to sit in it, if that was alright with you?’ she asked politely.

‘Oh, whatever’ the girl muttered under her breath.

As Laura took her seat however, the girl suddenly got up from hers and moved across the row to another empty one near a group of girls who sniggered as she did this. It wasn’t that surprising to Laura, she was used to it from her old school, people singling her out and trying to make her life unlivable.

‘Before we close up here, I would like to introduce you to a couple of students that we here at the academy are proud to welcome here’ Mr Whitham announced.

This caused everyone to stop talking and to pay full attention; they all stared eagerly at the stage for what was going to come next.

‘These two new students join us from the land of the rising sun, Japan’ he explained ‘They are both very bright and intelligent so I wish you all to welcome them into our family, please say hello to Chiyo and Mitsuko

After the ceremony came to a close, everyone dashed down the steps and went to sign up for the clubs, all with the ambition to win trophies, medals and the respect of their colleagues, all for the gain of a better future, one where only good things would happen to them and they would be rich, powerful and respected. Laura tried to make her way through the crowds, it was like Christmas shopping on Christmas eve, people were falling over and standing on top of each other, it was mayhem but that’s what you get with first come, first serve.

‘Move out of my way!’ Laura shouted.

She was then met with a shove and she fell to the ground. As she groaned in pain, she narrowly avoided others stepping on her and falling on top of her as she moved away from the scene and with a reluctant look, decided that she wouldn’t join a club after all, putting a massive dent into her plans for her new life but not only that, it seemed that the book couldn’t help her in her time of need.

THE RULES

‘Morning class, my name is Mrs. Winkle and I would like to welcome you all to a new semester at Lakewood Academy.

‘What are the rules of usage for this book?’ she carefully wrote down neatly.

Laura would then wait and wait on her bed for the book to respond to her and for a moment, nothing happened at all, she would stare in anticipation and hope as to learn what rules she would have to follow, what if she had a limit of usage on the book or what if there were certain things that she couldn’t ask for. After telling her grandparents that she would be right down for breakfast, she sat back down on her bed and noticed out of the corner of her eye that black ink was starting to appear on the blank page.

‘The writer who takes it upon themselves to write a desire in these pages must write down their desires very carefully in neat handwriting and in full detail, write how, when and where they want to have their written requests come to be. This is important as it helps you obtain your wish faster this way. If a specific time is not written down in the wish then the request shall take place immediately upon the stroke of midnight.

‘Why is it always midnight?’ Laura sighed.

Everything seemed so unreal and false, how could simply writing down a wish in a book make it so? Laura couldn’t help that this was all someone or something’s idea of a practical joke

‘However, there are certain boundaries that the writer must not cross when writing down a wish’

‘I should have known that this was coming’

‘You may not bring back the dead, that is strictly against the rules’

‘You may not wish for someone to fall in love with you’

Any written wish in this book will not be reversed unless you write it to be so within the first year that it is written or the wish cannot be reversed’

‘You cannot wish for money’

‘And finally…you may not use this book to kill a living being’

‘If this is someone’s idea of a joke then it’s a well thought out one’ said Laura amongst herself as she lifted her new dress down and proceeded to get changed into it.

She rushed up to the gates and she couldn’t believe just what was happening to her, she was really a student at Lakewood Academy,

No one could understand just how Laura had been accepted as a student there when they all knew that she didn’t really have any talents to show off to win competitions but no one dared to speak out otherwise that could jeopardize the selection process and if the media got wind of it then the Academy would be a laughing stock.

‘Time for a little experiment’ she thought to herself.

Laura pulled out the book from her schoolbag and had a thought. She needed to test just what she could do with this instrument. She had a thought about what to wish for, she could pretty much have anything apart from money or love but was able to think back to a thought that she has always had during her childhood, it was one that many girls at that age want but wither grow out of it or they pursue it.

‘I wish that I had a beautiful Horse in my house by the time I get back home’ Laura wrote down with her black ink pen.

***

CHAPTER

Laura couldn’t help but run back home that day, hardly taking the time to pay attention to the roads as she dashed across them, at one point narrowly being avoided by a delivery van.

‘Sorry!’ she yelled as she ran past the terrified driver’s window.

Laura was able to make it back in a quick time, although she was completely exhausted from the sprinting. As she open the front gate and took a step inside the house all seemed normal at first, but just as she thought that nothing had happened, Laura heard a shriek from the living room, a cry of terror from her aunt and uncle from the dining room.

‘Could it be?’

Laura immediately rushed through the living room and stepped into the kitchen, her first sight was her grandparents cuddled up together in the corner of the kitchen. As she turned, Laura then saw standing opposite her family, a tall, grey Horse. She gasped out of excitement and covered her mouth with her hands; she couldn’t believe that her wish had come true.

‘There’s a Horse in our kitchen!’ Bob shouted.

‘Wow, I don’t believe it’ Laura said happily.

All this could do was utterly confirmed that the rumor was very much true. Laura Phillips had a great power in her hands, one that she was able to do what she wanted with it.

‘What the bloody hell is that thing doing here Laura?’ screamed Barbara in fright. Both feeling scared that a Horse had suddenly appeared in there house without a single explanation, it stood there staring at them both, probably feeling just as confused about the entire situation as they were.

‘How can that be in here? The nearest Horse like that is at least ten miles away!’ Bob pointed out.

‘What about the stables at the academy?’ Laura asked.

‘Their normally on top of what they do up there, I doubt they’d let an animal like this wonder so far astray’ Bob replied to this.

Bob or Barbara didn’t dare move a muscle as the tall Horse continued to stare at them, although it would often move its head to look at its new surroundings and would often snort which made Barbara jump up every time.

‘This is just amazing, he looks so beautiful, can I keep him?’ Laura asked. ‘He looks just like a cloud; I think I’ll name him Sky’

‘Absolutely not, we don’t have that kind of money’ Bob said terrified ‘get rid of it now!’

‘I wish that I had stables that Sky could stay in with all the food and water it could ever need in the next ten seconds’ Laura wrote down. ‘I also wish that my grandparents would let me keep Sky’

She immediately looked at her watched and on the dot, after ten seconds, Bob and Barbara’s attitude towards the new house guest seemed to alter somewhat.

‘Laura, put your damn Horse in the stable will you?’ Barbara asked rather annoyed ‘I’ve told you before that it can come into the house’

‘I know you’re at Lakewood Academy now but that does not let you bring your bloody Horse into the house’ Bob sighed.

‘I’m sorry Granddad’ Laura apologized.

After a minute of persuasion, mainly with the use of a carrot that her Grandmother had reluctantly given from her vegetable draw, Laura was able to lure her horse Sky out of the house and down the garden path, much to the confusion of her neighbors who couldn’t help but wonder why a horse would be inside a house, of all places.

‘Come on boy, that’s it’ she whispered gently whilst dangling the carrot in the air.

Laura could not believe it, the book was the real deal. The possibilities of what she could do with its powers seemed endless, so many thoughts ran through her brain, she squealed in delight which caught her grandparents off guard, being completely out of the loop by this sudden look of happiness.

Laura took her new prize Sky outside and she immediately spotted the new addition to her yard. At the bottom of the garden which was bigger by the way were the stables that she had asked for.

‘Here you go Sky, your new home’ Laura said excited.

Sky seemed to whinny happily upon hearing this as it wandered about its new home. Laura was gleamingly happy, it had been her childhood dream as a little girl to have her very own Horse but money expenses and the cost of learning to ride was too much for her family so it never really happened but now that she had a book that granted wishes, that was all t=in the past for her.

‘I can do what I want with my life now; I don’t have any set limits anymore!’

As she closed the stable door behind her, Laura had a long time as to what her next plan of action was. If she could wish her a physical being to come into existent, what was stopping her from creating a talent for her? Or from pretty much doing anything that she wanted to do, the world was in her hands.

CHAPTER

A NEW RIVALRY

‘Where did you steal those from then, the circus?’ Mitsuko called out from the crowd of students making their way to their morning classes.

‘Don’t be mean to her sister’ Chiyo advised ‘We should know better than that’

Mitsuko, the girl genius from Japan that everyone was excited to have attend the academy was now in possession of the book, she held it in her hands and looked boastfully as she saw Laura look scared by this, although she failed to understand just how a simple book with blank pages on it would make a girl so scared.

‘I’ve been watching you very carefully today, and from what I can gather, you shouldn’t be here now should you?’ she asked curiously. ‘The mystery girl people call you here’

‘Could I have that back please?’ Laura asked nervously.

‘Now why do you want this stupid thing back, it’s worthless?’

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ said Laura in a nervous manner. She felt terrified that someone else apart from her was touching her book, holding it in their hands, the thought of what could happen ran through Laura’s head again and again, it start to drive her over the edge, sweat ran down her forehead as she watched Mitsuko carelessly messing around with it, having no idea what power she held in her grasp.

‘You Laura, you and your little sidekick always wondering about the school with that book every day!’ Mitsuko said, pointing to the said book in her hands.

‘He’s not my sidekick!’ Laura yelled.

‘Whatever, it’s not like I care’

‘Mitsuko, just give her the book back so we can leave’ Chiyo pleaded with her twin sister.

‘Don’t ruin my fun sister, I have told you to not butt in!’ Mitsuko spat back at Chiyo.

‘What happens if I write something in here then?’ Mitsuko asked curiously. ‘Ruin your precious book?’

‘Oh nothing, it’s just a book that I bought in town today’

‘Rubbish, I’ve seen you writing in this thing all term long!’

‘It’s just a note book, nothing more!’

‘I have seen you write in it but there’s no entry anywhere, how can that be?’

Laura felt nervous, it was like Mitsuko was catching on to her but surely even a genius couldn’t come to a conclusion that would be a book from another world being the answer, could she?’

‘You use invisible ink!’ Mitsuko called out.

‘Are you kidding, I never wanted to come to this stupid place’ Mitsuko shouted ‘Let’s go Chiyo!’

‘Please, give me that book back’ pleaded Laura.

With a mocking grin, Laura watched Mitsuko throw the book onto the floor but before she did this, she tore out various pages and tore them apart. Laughing about this, the long haired twin turned and walked away feeling satisfied that she had brought the mystery girl to her knees.

***

Feeling upset about what had happened; Laura wandered about the school grounds feeling dazed, looking for her friend Dean. She had barely seen him all day but she had only just remembered what she was doing before, which was trying to see Dean Leave school because lately, he had always disappeared before they could walk home together and he wouldn’t have an excuse for this when Laura would see him the next day.

‘Where is that boy, I need him?’ Laura said to herself.

Needing to see a friendly face, Laura conceded that she wasn’t going to find her friend today so she set off towards her place of solitude besides her bedroom or stable where she would stroke Sky and talk to him. Laura walked through town and entered the town’s library for a look around for Emily but as she entered the main doors, Emily wasn’t stood at her desk where she usually was.

‘Where is everyone today?’

So Laura wandered about the Library, going down two floors and exploring the floors for the strange library and eventually, she was able to locate her friend down the amphibian section alphabetizing the books on the shelf whilst humming a tune quietly.

‘Where have you been?’ Laura asked.

Emily had no idea that Laura was in the room, she was in her own little world so jumped up and screamed when she heard Laura’s voice speak.

‘You almost made me jump out of my body!’ Emily said terrified as she struggled to catch her breath.

‘Sorry about that but I’ve been looking all over for you’ Laura explained.

‘Whatever do you mean?’

‘I haven’t seen you in months!’ Laura said bewildered.

‘It’s true?’ Emily asked ‘There is a book that can grant you wish?’

‘That’s right and it is amazing’ Laura smiled

‘You say that but your face says something else’ Emily explained ‘Are you not completely happy with it?’

‘Well…there are some rules that I have to abide to and it can make things hard sometimes’ she explained.

***

It’s almost the New Year; could you at least try and smile?’ Dean asked as he sipped his drink.

‘I’m sorry but it’s hard to feel happy right now, when people despise you for something that happened so long ago’ said Laura who wasn’t looking at her friend

‘Kiss me Laura’

Her eyes opened fully and she almost choked on her drink. Dean looked concerned as he watched Laura stand up and begin to slowly walk away.

‘Come back Laura, where are you going?’

Quickly rising to his feet, Dean made his way down the slope after Laura who was walking down it but was soon stopped as Dean grabbed her hand.

‘Laura, why did you walk away like that?’ he asked slightly offended.

‘Did you just say that to me, really?’ Laura asked unsure.

Laura didn’t look Dean in the eyes; she preferred to hide her terrified face as she struggled to catch her breath.

‘Yes, I said that and I meant it as well, have I upset you Laura?’ Dean asked.

She hesitated from answering for the moment as she was unsure whether his words had really made her upset or whether she was afraid of how she would respond to it.

‘I…I don’t know’ Laura answered half-heartedly ‘It seemed like such a bad thing to say, why did you say that so suddenly?’

‘Dean, you caught me off guard, it’s not everyday someone wants to kiss me’ she explained.

‘I apologize; I must have misread your signals’ he said half-heartedly.

‘You’ve made tonight feel weird’ said Laura as she curdled up into a little ball and faced away from Dean again.

They didn’t say anything to each other as they faced away, looking down different sides of the hill at Lakewood, they saw bonfires burning across the town and could hear the faint sound of people singing in the town square, it was a wonderful sight which both couldn’t fully enjoy as the mood had been thrown up in the air.

‘I…I don’t know?’

‘Surely you know how I feel about you?’ Dean asked.

‘I’ve been hurt too many times by people, I don’t know if I can expose myself like that to anyone’ she confessed ‘I don’t want to be hurt again.

‘I know how you feel, I’ve been hurt in the past but with you being here with me on this beautiful night, and I think it’s going to be different’ he explained ‘I know that we could make this work because I love you, I have since the day I laid eyes upon you for the first time!’

They both slowly moved towards each other and as Dean placed his hands on her shoulders, she hesitated for a moment but Dean reassured her by gently stroking her cheek. Laura began to calm down and move even closer towards him, her heart beating faster than usual and her lips trembled, was this going to be her first kiss with someone else.

‘Are you sure about this?’ Dean whispered.

‘I don’t know but if I don’t try then…’

Their lips gently touched and Laura did feel like pulling away but as she tried to do so, she felt motionless and was unable to move.

‘What is this feeling I’m feeling’ she wondered to herself.

She felt a flick of tongue from Dean as his hand found its way into her hair, it stroked it gently which she found to be comforting, her eyes slowly closed and she felt relaxed and safe in Dean’s arms.

‘That was nice’ said Dean

‘Yeah’ Laura muttered.

Laura sat down and curdled up once again, facing straight ahead to the fireworks. Dean couldn’t help but feel that the kiss didn’t really mean anything to Laura and that made him feel bad.

‘Are you ok Laura?’ he asked.

‘I’m fine’ she answered back quickly.

Dean sat back down and looked somewhat annoyed at Laura’s lack of interest and he contemplated on just going home.

‘We…we could give it a try’ Laura smiled.

***

‘I’ve figured it out or I think I have at least!’ Laura said in a frantic panic, her voice was going like a bullet train.

‘Figured what out?’

‘Luck, it can’t exist, it’s determined by another being, it doesn’t just happen on a whim!’

‘I don’t think I quite follow’

‘I’m not cursed, I can’t be!’

‘There has to be another book, if there’s one then why not two or three or more?’  She asked, feeling that she was on the verge of a breakthrough.

‘I need a paper and pen so I can write this down’ Emily said in disbelief. She seemed distraught that Laura was in such a way, to see her friend be at the end of her rope was too much for the young librarian, for as she rumbled about her desk for a pen couldn’t find the will to say anything else as Laura continued to plead for her help.

‘Where did Dean go?’ Laura asked in a panic.

‘No idea’ said Emily in an uncaring manner ‘Maybe he’s toddled along to the cinema or something?’

‘The question is…who and why?’ Laura contemplated

‘Have you asked the book who’s trying to kill you?’ Emily asked out of the blue.

‘I…I actually never thought to do that’ said Laura in disbelief.

‘I’ll write down my thoughts in my little book’ said Emily out of the blue

All time felt like it had frozen for her. It was as if all of a sudden, things were beginning to fall into place. There was only one person who could have caused all of this to happen; only one other individual in the entire town knew about the book’s existence apart from herself or Dean.

‘Laura?’

Laura turned around very slowly

‘I’m right here Laura’

CHAPTER

THE MIGHTY PEN

‘Dean…how did you get in here?’

‘Oh, I just used the front door like everyone else, why do you ask?’ the head spoke

‘Where’s Emily gone now?’

‘Oh, I’m sure she’ll be back’ Dean smiled as he rolled towards Laura who slowly spotted this, her mind was still registering that his head without the body was talking to her. Something seemed different about Dean to Laura, he appeared a little more arrogant than he normally was around her and just as she began to sass something wrong, she looked down towards the ground and felt horrified by what she saw.

‘But your leg, your arms and your head, I saw you being eaten alive?’

‘Oh…it did hurt a lot in fact’ he laughed unconvincingly ‘So much that I think I need to do something about it to get this sore feeling off my chest!’

She watched Dean’s head roll about the ground and before another word could be spoken; his legs, arms and body magically reappeared before her very eyes, like magic. Laura gasped as Dean moaned and groaned before her, he sounded like he was in a tremendous amount of pain, the aches that had befallen him earlier were visible on his body, the cuts and gashes were there to be seen and almost immediately, his throbbing veins appeared on his head.

‘You look surprised my love’ he gasped ‘I thought you’d be happy to see me in one piece after you abandoned me to die’

‘You’re alive, how is that possible?’ she gasped in horror.

‘Still as selfish as ever I see’ he sighed ‘after all these years; I really thought you’d have changed your ways’

‘STOP IT!’ Laura screamed ‘don’t do that, please, you’re messing with my head!’

‘Shut up and pay attention!’ he yelled.

Laura stood there, frozen. It was unreal what she had witnessed, she had watched Dean been ripped apart and even eaten by the angry crowds in the town but there he was, stood before her, body and all and he was mad.

‘Dean, what’s going-

‘I told you to be quiet!’

Laura quickly noticed a sudden change in Dean’s voice, it sounded more of a higher pitched than it normally had been before, it was normally a lot deep sounding.

‘You wanted this book and you risked all for it, even my life meant nothing to you’ he explained angrily ‘you’ve taken my life twice and I won’t let that happen ever again!’

‘What are you doing Dean, this isn’t you?’ Laura screamed in terror. She couldn’t understand who would possibly be there standing and looking completely fine after his ordeal, his legs and arms had been torn off and devoured, he shouldn’t be alive, This wasn’t the friend that she had gotten to know over the year, the one person she could talk to about anything, even the book, she had no idea who this man was.

‘Who are you, you’re not Dean?’ Laura accused him off.

‘Why do you care? You’ve never cared about hurting my feelings before in the past, all you’ve ever cared about is that stupid book so why should you care what happens to me or who I am?’ Dean asked as he gritted his teeth. Blood dripped out of the sides of the torn apart skin that was holding the leg onto his body somehow.

‘What are you talking about? We’re friends Dean, why wouldn’t I care about you?’

In a fit of rage, Dean tore his leg off the bone and a fountain of blood spouted from the hole left behold, it was indeed a sickening sight for any human to witness but amazingly, all Dean could do was laugh uncontrollably as Laura couldn’t bear to look anymore but after she turned away and reluctantly looked back after a brief moment, she was shocked to see the leg back on his body, like magic.

‘What is going on here?’ she demanded to know.

Dean grinned and looked amused by Laura’s confusion; he made his way over to her and placed his arm around her shoulders. She felt uncomfortable and wanted to get away but quickly realized that she couldn’t go outside, what If she ran into the angry mob?

‘I have waited so long for this day’ he smiled. ‘To have you standing there, all alone and vulnerable with a broken spirit’

Laura felt horrified that Dean looked unhurt at all; it made no sense as to how he could be standing there, not after what he had gone through. More to the point, she couldn’t understand anything that he was talking about.

‘You’re lying; you were never hurt were you?’ she accused Dean.

‘You’re no fun, you were once’ Dean admitted.

A shining beam of light flashed throughout the room, it was blinding and Laura couldn’t see a thing so she covered her face and screamed in pain from the sheer brightness.  All of a sudden, high pitch laughter entered the room and it echoed about the bookcases.

‘I see you have my book with you, may I have it back please?’ the voice asked kindly.

Laura didn’t say a word, she was still blinded by the flashing lights about but as it died down, the teen slowly opened her sore eyes and was bewildered by what she saw. It was not Dean stood there anymore, more to the point, it was the friendly Librarian Emily who was there instead, adding to Laura’s confusion even more.

‘Surprised to see me?’

With a click of her fingers, pages emerged from the book behind the counter and flew about the open air space, clear and visible to them both, they enlarged in size and writing slowly appeared, sentences that Laura was able to understand and recognize.

‘Emily, what the fuck are you doing here, where’s Dean?’ she asked.

‘How was the Horse that you wished for…oh that’s right, it died didn’t it, how tragic was that, am I right?’ Emily asked, ignoring Laura’s question.

The two girls stood across the room, looking at one another, one feeling cocky and amazed at how she had caused so much confusion and everything was slowly coming to fruition.

‘Emily, it was you?’ Laura uttered very slowly. ‘You really did that to me?’

Emily didn’t say anything to this; she just continued to stare, right into Laura’s eyes. The troubled teen felt frozen by this sudden change as she wondered where Dean had vanished too but as she thought this, Emily wandered over to the reception counter in the centre of the room and pulled out from under one of the desks, the item that Laura had travelled all the way for.

‘My book, you found it!’

Emily smiled and at first appeared to hold the book out for Laura who wandered towards the librarian but as she got closer, her vison was impaired momentarily due to a sudden red flash in front of her face. Laura fell backwards and fell to the ground and as soon as she was able to, she opened her eyes, only to see small traces of paper flying through the air, drifting to the floor.

‘What have you done?’ Laura screamed in horror.

She dived for the pieces of paper and heled them in her hands, realizing that the wish book had been destroyed before her very eyes. As this happened, the enlarged pieces of paper also disintegrated and fell to the ground.

‘There, do I have your attention now?’

Laura was distraught, her one chance at happiness and acceptance gone in a fireball. She wanted to cry and looked at Emily’s face, it was one that was mocking as she smiled at Laura but as she did, the troubled teen had a thought, one that hadn’t come to her at any time before, except for one time. It was a time that would reoccur on most mornings as Laura woke up, she would always remember a face that had haunted her dreams for a very long time now and as she looked at the librarian, she put two and two together.

She didn’t want to believe it but it quickly made perfect sense to her but she couldn’t understand how she hadn’t figured it out any sooner, it should have clicked straight away. As she stood there, mouth a gape, she remembered where she had seen Emily’s face from before, it all made sense to her.

‘Emily, you’re the girl I always see in my dreams, aren’t you!’

‘I’m surprised you didn’t figure it out sooner’ Emily admitted. ‘I’ve waited a long time to hear you say those words’.

Laura sat on the ground and put her head in her hands and tried to remember the face in her dreams, why were Emily’s eyes always closed, as if she was in a deep sleep and why did Laura always feel guilty about it afterwards.

‘I’m confused; explain to me how I wasn’t able to remember you Emily?’

Emily pulled out from her pocket a blank book and much to Laura’s surprise, it was a very familiar sight for her and her eyes widened as she realized just what it really was.

‘The book, how can that be? But I thought you said you had burnt it!’ she gasped.

‘Oh I did burn the book, yours anyway but there was always more than one’ Emily explained.

‘I’m the one who told you about the book, remember!’

‘That’s right but that doesn’t answer my question!’ she yelled angrily ‘Tell me now!’

‘Oh please, there never was a Dean’ she snorted.

‘You were Dean?’

‘And the last horse gallops over the finish line’ Emily proclaimed mockingly.

‘Why? And how on earth could you?’

‘Oh, I lied about there being rules in the book’ Emily admitted happily ‘There’s no restrictions to it at all, if anything you can do whatever you want with it’ she then explained, much to Laura’s horror.

‘I’ll give you an example’

‘Thomas, Amelia, Mitsuko and Chico’s flesh shall all burn slowly in the Lakewood Woods and Laura Phillips shall have their blood on her pathetic hands!’ Laura slowly read out loud as Emily laughed away.

‘I had those students killed’ she laughed ‘And it was jolly good fun to hear them scream as there flesh burnt!’

‘You got me expelled and made Lakewood think I was a murderer!’ she shrieked in anger.

‘Emily’s little trip will cause much hatred, disdain and Lakewood will look bad in the eyes of the country’

‘This wish is my particular favorite’ Emily winked.

‘All eyes in Lakewood will always despise and hate Laura Phillips, no matter what she does to win them over, this wish can never be reversed!’

‘How could you?’

‘Quite easily actually’ she answered uncaringly ‘that’s what you do when you want your revenge, you don’t care how you get it’

‘What have I done to make you hate me so much?’

‘I just wanted to be accepted by everyone, to not be hated anymore’ Laura wept. ‘And you’ve been behind everything bad that’s happened to me’

‘That’s right; I happily confess all of my sins to you Laura Phillips’ she confessed.

‘But…you can fix it all right?’ Laura asked out of the blue.

‘Excuse me?’

‘You can take all of those wishes away, make everyone forget that anything happened and all can return to normal, you can do this for me?’ Laura asked almost in a begging way.

‘And why on Earth would I reverse everything after I spent so long trying to make you suffer?’ She asked in a rather amused manner.

‘You had everything that you could ever want and just when you thought nothing bad could I ever happen to you, I took it all away without a second thought’.

‘I thought we were friends’ Laura wept. ‘You were always there to comfort me when things got tough’

‘Yeah, I imagined that you’d be gullible to fall for every word that I said to you’ Emily sniggered.

‘You couldn’t even say thank you to me’ said Emily bitterly. ‘How rude of you to be so selfish’

‘Why are you doing this Emily?’ Laura asked.

‘I felt sorry for you Laura, all of that sorrow in your life, I chose to give you such a precious gift to make it all go away but you took advantage of that kindness and now you’re going to pay for it’

‘Silly girl, did you really think that there was only one book in existence that could make wishes come true?’

‘I’ve been ruining your life for such a long time now

‘When the ink disappears, where do you think it goes?’ Emily asked ‘Directly to mine!’

She then opened her book and before Laura’s eyes, all of her wishes began to slowly appear before her.

‘A book can’t grant you a wish, you stupid girl’ Emily laughed ‘I’ve been giving you what you want all along and you believed that life could be altered to any way that you desire just like that?’

‘But why, I don’t understand, how did you really do this?’ asked Laura in desperation for an answer.

‘In denial already, do you want me to show you?’ she asked as she extended out her arm, as if to invite Laura along to an adventure.

‘Show me what though?’ she asked, half scared of the answer.

‘Why, I can show you the night, the event that began it all, if you so wish?’ she laughed.

‘Take us back to that night on the 11th of November 2012’ Emily wrote in big letters in front of Laura’s face. They both stared as the pages started to glow. Laura felt herself lift up from the floor and before she could say a word, the book sucked her and Emily thought a vortex into its pages.

CHAPTER

THE BETRAYAL

***

One second, she was stood inside a burning Library where everyone around her had been ablaze but now, she was in a cold alleyway in what appeared to be Lakewood but it felt different.

‘We don’t have long in this time, we’ll be sucked back into the present as soon, I want you to see what you’ve done’ Emily explained with a grin of pure malice.

‘What have I done, I don’t remember ever meeting you before the library?’ Laura tried to explain.

‘That’s what I wanted you to think’ she replied.

Emily grinned at the sight of Laura’s concern. The two girls moved away from the alleyway and down the street. Laura looked up to the sky and saw that it was snowing gently over the town and everyone they saw was all wrapped up in coats, hats, scarfs and gloves. A festive feeling came about Laura who also noticed various Christmas decorations here and there.

‘We’re not here for you to enjoy the sights of Christmas’

‘Look Emily, if this is some kind of trick then it can stop now…this has gone on long enough!’

Laura was determined at this point for all the nonsense to stop. She stepped away from the floating librarian who was staring back with looked like evil intent; the grin on her face said the whole story.

‘Your ignorance amuses me’ Emily smirked ‘You’d really think the burning library or the younger you would be convincing enough but I guess I must go further to prove my point’.

‘If you’re dead then how am I seeing you right now?’ Laura asked scared.

‘Surely you’ve heard of ghosts?’ Emily asked.

‘Yeah but I don’t think there real’

‘I’m floating in the fucking air!’ Emily yelled ‘What more proof do you need!’

The troubled teenager felt gob smacked, it was starting to feel like everything that had happened up to this moment in time had indeed taken place, and it was all real.

‘Emily, are you really not of this world?’ Laura asked with a gulp.

‘True, I am dead but who ever said that ghosts weren’t real?’ Emily laughed manically.

Another click of the ghoulish librarian’s fingers and fiery flames emerged from the floor once again, Laura screamed and covered herself but as soon as the hellish flames appeared, they were gone.

***

‘Get away from me!’ Emily screamed

Both of the girls had returned to the present day and time and as soon as the book closed, Laura tried to run away from Emily but the librarian was too fast for her. By a click of her evil fingers, she reappeared in front of Laura, blocking her path to freedom. The troubled and terrified teenager was not one for picking fights, she knew an uphill fight when she saw one and a fight against her former best friend with a book that could grant her any wish that she desired was too one sided for her.

‘And where do you think that you are going?’ Emily asked maliciously.

The librarian grabbed Laura by the throat and lifted her up into the air, squeezing tightly, her nails digging into the side of her neck as she did so.

‘How is it possible for you to have the book?’ Laura desperately asked.

‘Wouldn’t you like to know’ Emily smiled as she licked her lips with delight.

‘Look, I know that you won’t believe me when I tell you this but it was all an accident; I didn’t intend to kill you that night!’ Laura said with a struggle.

‘Oh, that comforts me so much, knowing that you didn’t mean to do it’ Emily said sarcastically.

‘I can’t breathe Emily, let me go!’ she gasped in pain.

‘That fills me up with sunshine and fucking rainbows!’ the librarian Emily laughed.

The room was becoming more engulfed in flames again. Books and paper alike burnt together as the wooden cases collapsed and turned to cinders. What was left of the library from the previous fire was doomed to suffer the same fate. The blazing inferno sent about is suffocating fumes that had no effect on Emily but as for Laura, she continued to struggle to breathe.

‘This building, it was about to be cinder and ashes?’ Laura pointed out. ‘How can it look brand new all of a sudden?’

‘It’s simple really, this library is my very own wish, I made it and I can make it burn and repairs itself as I see fit’ Emily explained.  ‘Your little book is no longer here so you are powerless to do anything’

‘Please, stop this’ Laura asked faintly as she coughed violently.

After a moment of thinking Laura’s request over to spare her, the librarian reluctantly loosened her grip and threw her to the ground. However, the flames grew taller and reached the ceiling of the library and engulfed it all, all that was visible was flames and smoke, not a single book or shelf could be seen by Laura anymore and she began to lose hope that she would make it out of her situation alive.

‘I hope that you are as uncomfortable as possible as you lie there’ Emily whispered ‘your final moments are at hand’

‘Get away from me you dog’ Laura spat back as she tried to catch her breath and crawl to safety.

Emily’s face changed from a hopeful one to an enraged one, she dived onto the troubled teen and kicked her furiously around the sides of her stomach.

‘You have no right to call me a dog, you’re the murderer in all of this, and you started it all on that cold winters night!’

‘Lies, I would never do such a thing…you made that whole thing up to spite me!’ Laura yelled in fright, her body unable to move out of terror from Emily’s ghostly image about her.

The ghostly librarian started to glow a deep blood red colour suddenly, her eyes glowed with rage as she grew madder by each and every sentence that Laura shouted at her, she was becoming very offended by what she was hearing and this was because Emily was taking this matter very seriously.

‘You Laura, you are the reason why I have taken it upon myself to create all of this, all of the buildup of the past year was for this moment, the moment where I get my revenge, you ruined my life and I hate you!’ she screamed insanely. ‘You will die by my cold deadly hand of justice and your soul will burn with Beelzebub!’

‘Stop it!’ Laura pleaded. ‘This isn’t the way!’

For nothing more than pure fun, Emily pulled back her kicks and watched the injured teen try to struggle away.

‘Crawl away girlie, go and be free’ the ghost said mockingly

‘What are you talking about; we’ve never seen each other out of this library!’

‘Of course you would day that, how on Earth could I expect you to remember what happened?’

‘I…I had no idea, why can’t I remember that happening’

‘Simple, I wiped your memory clean of that night’ Emily explained with what sounded like joy in her voice, ‘As far as you were aware, you were just some girl with horrible luck when in truth, all of your misfortunes were down to little old me’

‘You were my best friend Laura, or I thought we were at least’

‘I’m trapped forever on the other side, all because of you’

‘I have one more thing to ask the book’ said Laura as she laid there on the ground.

‘All of those people, couldn’t you win them over with your new possessions, what went wrong?’ Emily asked mockingly.

‘You know that it was all a lie, you gave me all of that stuff then you took it all away slowly to mess with me’ Laura moaned ‘You set my Horse on fire!’

‘Oh yeah, that was rather funny’ Emily giggled ‘The look on your face when you saw it die before you!’

‘You are completely insane!’

‘Enough talk, now you die!’ Emily smiled.

The ghost rushed towards Laura and descended on top of her, her white arms reached out and swung for Laura’s face but Laura didn’t move straight away because she thought up a thought that Emily was a ghost so therefore, she couldn’t hurt her at all physically, how wrong she was as the white fist connected with her cheek, sending Laura crashing to the floor.

‘Just kill me, I can’t bear to live anymore’ Laura wept.

‘Not yet…I want to see you suffer some more!’

Laura wanted it all to end, she couldn’t take anymore, her hair had been almost cut off completely, her ribs broken and as she struggled to stay on her feet, leaning against a bookcase, she felt woozy and light headed.

‘Very well… but I am willing to keep you alive for just a while longer’ Emily laughed in an almost like demon way, it was as she was possessed by pure evil.  The librarian Emily then clicked her fingers again and as soon as she had, Laura’s body froze up and all of a sudden, she was falling to the floor, the bookcase she was leant against stumbled, causing several heavy books to fall down on top of her.

‘I can’t move!’ yelled Laura in fright.

The teenager tried to move her arms and legs but as hard as she tried, she could not do it, she was stuck, trapped as Emily’s victim.

‘Well, why not just sit and have a little lie down on the floor Laura, it’s like your just inviting me to kill you?’

‘Shut up’ said Laura coldly. She tried to turn away from Emily but was unable to do so. She felt the tears drip from her eyes as the realization that her end may very well be near. All she could think about were those cold dead eyes that she had caused, that she had made happen.

‘Feeling guilty are we?’ Emily asked with a laugh ‘You have no idea how long I’ve waited to see that face of yours’

Laura couldn’t look her in the face, she kept her eyes closed and tried to escape to a happier place but that was quickly interrupted by another sharp kick to her abdomen by the ghostly librarian.

‘You look me in the eyes when I’m tormenting you!’ Emily yelled with intent. ‘I want to watch those eyes of yours fade away with your final breath!’

‘You’re nothing more than a heartless bitch!’ Laura gasped as she caught her breath although this was much more difficult when she couldn’t move.

‘I remember the first time I found this book, I had no idea what it was for, a diary perhaps?’

She wanted to block her words out; she couldn’t bear to hear them.

‘The last book owner was me!’

‘I wanted your heart but you wouldn’t have me’ she explained ‘You broke my heart and took my life so I want to break yours and make the score even!’

‘Why would you make me forget all of that?’ Laura asked, she wanted to know every detail of how and why Emily would want her to forget her horrendous actions

‘It’s simple Laura, you killed me in cold blood, stuffed me into a bin  and after you buried my body in the woods, my very soul abandoned my body and floated down into the fiery depths of the netherworld’ she began to explain in detail as Laura hung onto her every word ‘There I was told that I was not allowed to rest in peace until righteous justice was served to me, my life was wrongly taken so it was only fair to get revenge but they told me that it would cost me my chance to descend into heaven if I were to murder you’

‘You put the book down in the depths of that horrible Library!’

‘Elementary Watson, what other obvious facts do you wish to tell me?’ said Emily sarcastically.

‘After I died that night, my soul left my body behind but I discovered that I could not ascend to Heaven or descend to Hell’ she explained ‘My body was trapped in this realm to wander amongst the living forevermore unless I exact my vengeance on the one who wronged me, even if the cost of revenge is eternity in the depths of Beelzebub’s dungeon!’

‘There was never any Roman library down there, I mean how stupid are you people in this town?’

‘I did all of this, I made you trip up on that stage, I made the townspeople hate you, I made them believe in good luck and I’m the one who burned down the woods, it was like I was the sheep herder to you all’ she said mockingly ‘I tell you what to do, what to believe in and you follow me like the gullible sheep that you all are’

As Laura gasped, Emily resumed her assault on the troubled teenager, her kicks stung her and her punches smashed her ribs. Laura tried to defend herself but despite all of her best efforts, the books power was too great and she remained frozen on the ground.

With a click of her fingers, the flames died down and eventually evaporated into the air

‘Do you want to see my first entry into the book dear Laura?’

‘No!’ she shouted

‘Oh, don’t be a spoilsport now; you’ll ruin all of my fun for me’

‘Get away from me!’ Laura pleaded.

‘I WISH LAURA PHILLIPS WOULD DIE’

‘You can’t! The book says you can’t take a life!’ Laura pointed out with a somewhat smile on her face. Laura slowly began to feel a bit of relief about it as she realized that Emily’s plan was foiled by that one rule in the book.

‘That is true, very well done Laura, my entire plan is ruined because of that little rule in the book’ said Emily in a sarcastic tone.

‘So, you’ll let me go and we can stop all of this then?’ Laura asked. ‘I swear I won’t tell a soul about you, I’ll never come back here again!’

‘I guess so, after all what would be the point of all of this if I couldn’t kill you with the book?’

‘So then, I could leave and never talk about this with anyone, you can even have everyone hate me still, if that would make you happy that is?’ Laura suggested.

‘I’m only joking!’ Emily laughed out loud ‘Have you never heard of sarcasm baby, it’s a very common thing?’

‘Stop this Emily, please let me go!’ Laura cried.

‘Not happening, unless it’s you being carted off in a coffin then you’re not leaving this place!’

Laura was amazed in fear as all of a sudden, the ghostly image of Emily began to grow up. Her hands grew and large claw like nails grew out of them as well as on her feet. Her teeth grew and sharpened to appear like shark ones and her hair grew longer and became wilder.

‘Poor little Laura, nowhere to go, nowhere to hide’ Emily said to her face ‘I’m going to enjoy this!’

‘If you wanted to kill me then why didn’t you do it straight away?’ Laura asked ‘Why prolong it?’

‘Now then, what fun would there be in killing you quickly?’

‘Your pure evil Emily, why would I ever love someone like you?’ Laura asked.

Emily seemed unfazed at first but Laura saw a split second of pain in her eyes. It was clear to her that despite everything that was happening; despite Emily’s murderous intent…she still loved Laura.

‘Your actions made me this way, you broke my fucking heart and you took my life, I have every good reason to take my vengeance on you and nothing will stop me!’

‘I wish Emily Oswald would be able to rest in peace’ she wrote down quickly.

‘Haven’t you been listening, you can’t kill anyone with the book!’ Emily screamed. Her hair raged with blue flames as her eyes stared right through a gulping Laura. ‘When I kill you, I’m going to tear out your fucking heart and eat it, blood dripping and all!’

‘What I should be asking you Laura is have you been listening?’ Laura asked. ‘If you stopped rambling on about murder and vengeance then you might have realized that you’ve missed out something important and that is your downfall’

‘How dare you, I set up this entire plan, I have made no mistakes!’ Emily barked.

‘You told me once that a human can’t kill another with the book, correct?’

‘Yes, that’s right, what’s your point?’

‘You aren’t alive so if that’s the case then why can’t I use the book on you?’ she asked.

‘You’re already dead so how can I kill you?’

Suddenly, beams of blinding light began to spring forth from the ghostly girl who shrieked in fear.

‘Don’t you dare think this is over? You’ll die one day and when you do, I’ll be waiting for you on the other side!’

‘I love you Laura’ Emily whispered into her ear.

Laura felt a small tear land on her cheek as she watched the ghostly figure vanish into thin air as well as the entire burning building. Everything vanished before her eyes in a sudden flash and after she reopened her eyes, Laura discovered herself to be sat on her back in the middle of what looked to be an old graveyard which was at the top of the hill, where the old library used to be.

‘Tell me, why are you called the book of luck?’

THE END

***

‘Come to think of it, you’ve never mentioned either of your parents’ Dean pointed out to her ‘Aren’t they famous in Lakewood?’

‘Well they were…until I ruined their legacies’ Laura said in a disappointed voice.

‘I’ve always wanted to know what they were like, I guess.’

Laura had been told about her Mother and Father, they were very well known at the Academy when they were her age but that was already a well-known fact but what Laura had no idea about was what where they like as people?

‘Why not ask the book then, it can’t hurt?’ Dean suggested.

‘Wait, aren’t you going to come with me?’ she asked.

Dean got up from Laura’s bed and grabbed his coat hanging on the computer chair.

‘I’m sorry but I have somewhere to be’ he told her.

‘I thought you told me you were free all day?’ asked a very confused Laura. She really didn’t want Dean to go.

‘You can tell me all about it at school, ok?’ he suggested.

‘I guess so but it won’t be the same if I have to go it alone, what if something happens?’ she asked curiously.

‘You’re a bright girl, I have faith in you’ he winked back in response to which Laura began to blush.

‘What happened to my parents?’

A flash of light burst through the room and engulfed everything. Laura fell back and covered her eyes but the blinding light was too much for her to handle and she gave in to it. Laura was swallowed whole by the book and it fell back to the ground and closed its cover.

***

The journey felt like a theme park ride, the swallowing by the book was the ride to the top before she was thrown back at a great speed towards the ground only that the impact was a lot more of a hard landing. Darkness shrouded Laura’s vision, where she was, she did not know but as she came to, Laura felt a prickly feeling on her back and her legs, the teenager slowly opened her eyes and her vision was blinded by her blonde locks of long curly hair.

‘Where am I?’

Slowly sitting up, Laura removed the troubling hair from her face and was greeted by the sunlight of a clear summer’s day.  The troubled teenager carefully began to observe her surroundings, had the book indeed fulfilled its obligation and brought her to the time that her parents were still alive? She was sat on a hillside, a steep one at that with a little creek at the bottom of it with a pond full of frogs sitting on lily pads; it all seemed familiar to her but wasn’t a place that she immediately recognized, it somehow felt a little different to her.

‘I TOLD YOU, GET BACK TO CLASS YOU MISERABLE SODS OR FEEL THE STING OF MY CANE!’ Laura heard being called out.

She looked about for the source of the voice. Mr Whitham came into view and to Laura surprise, he was chasing a group of students and he was dressed in black robe and had a black square hat on his head although it looked like it could fall off at any minute, in his hands was a long cane that he was swinging about in an attempt to capture these students.

‘Get back here at once you little bastards!’ Laura heard him call out as he disappeared around the corner.

‘I’m back at the academy, aren’t I?’

Laura decided to follow the path that Mr Whitham had travelled down and as she walked down it, all the familiar sights came into view including the woods and the athletics track and before long; she was stood in the centre of the academy grounds.  The great big building in front of her looked a little like the outside of the main building but there wasn’t a fountain there and the little stone pavements weren’t there either but as for the main building, it was stood right in front of Laura, just the way that she remembered it.  The old styled windows only that they weren’t as old that she remembered, the cracks in the glass were gone and they were a lot cleaner as well. The building was no longer an eggy white colour, instead the bricks were red and the cement marks were a lot more visible.

‘Why did the book bring me here?’ she said out loud. ‘I thought I’d be sent to our family home or something?’

As she slowly came to terms with where she was, Laura began to notice other people moving about, they were academy students and it was an everyday schooldays but from what Laura could see, it wasn’t anywhere as busy as it was in the present day, it almost seemed quiet to her.

‘Where are the bustling crowds of eager students rushing to the next class?’ Laura asked herself.

As she finished talking, she was rudely barged through by a male student who didn’t seem to have seen Laura stood in his way but he didn’t knock her over, it was more like he walked right through her.

‘What the fuck was that?’ Laura asked. ‘Hey you, Watch where you’re going please!’

The boy didn’t seem to hear her at all, he just kept on walking away from her which frustrated her to no end, she began to pray that she was somehow still hated by everyone, even in the past which didn’t seem to make any sense at all but Laura was just that self-conscious.

Laura looked at her hands first and saw that they were very much see through, she then dug out a mirror from her bag and saw that her whole reflection was ghostly; she almost screamed but refrained from doing so, in case anyone could hear her but just not be able to see her.

She watched the student walk down the pavement which was along a big car park, one that Laura didn’t recognize at all. The layout looked very different indeed and it made the first few minutes a very confusing time indeed.

‘Ok, so I’m definitely in the past…this must be before the school got all rich and famous’ she told herself.

She wandered about the place for a bit, trying to get a feel of the place. The academy looked nothing like the present day one which made Laura feel quite confused as she had read and had been told that the academy had always been a vast set of buildings and clubs that were the envy of everywhere else in the country, yet the way that it looked to Laura, it was no more better than her present day school in the town that took in anyone who was rejected by the academy.

‘It doesn’t look that special to me’ she sighed in disappointment ‘Why would my parents come here?’

Just as she finished saying this to herself, she was suddenly walked through yet again by another student and this was quite irritating for Laura who waved her arms in the air in protest but of course, this could not be seen by anyone over then herself.

‘Excuse me but could you please tell what day it is?’ Laura kindly asked the male student.

A moment passed and he didn’t even look in Laura’s direction, he just scratched the back of his head, yawned and walked away, it was as if Laura wasn’t even there.

‘Weirdo’ said Laura who felt rather disappointed that she was being ignored again.

‘Jane, I’m over here!’

The mere mention of that name caused Laura to turn around excited and as she did, what she saw next caused her jaw to drop. A young lady in her academy uniform strolled along the path, happily chatting away to another student.

‘Is that you mother?’

Laura’s mother who was called Jane was a very beautiful young woman with a thin figure, sapphire blue eyes and flowing blonde hair that would often get into her face; this made Laura giggle a little bit. She was the most popular student at Lakewood Academy as she was the leader of the swimming team at the time and had just led the academy to their fourteenth victory trophy in the national swimming league; it was a record that everyone was proud of.

Another popular detail about Laura’s mother was that she was the most sought woman in all of Lakewood. Every male and even some females were after her heart and although many tried to impress her and be her partner but only one would be successful.

‘Jane, darling’ Laura heard from behind her.

Running up the hill, passing right through the ghostly image of Laura was a rather average built teenager with short brown hair who didn’t have many muscles and from what Laura could see, wasn’t in that great of shape either.

‘Dad was a great runner but he doesn’t look like he could run a marathon’ Laura told herself. ‘More like he’d pass out after ten seconds of running’

‘Don’t you forget that it’s all thanks to this bad boy’ Jane winked.

Out of her swimming bag came out a book that immediately seemed familiar with Laura. The cover was blank but didn’t look as tattered as the book that Laura had. She pulled out her own book and made the match, there was doubt about it, and Laura’s mother did indeed have the wish book.

‘It can’t be can it? How is that even possible?’ Laura said in shock.

‘Make another wish?’ Luke suggested. ‘How about a brand car for me, I did just pass my driving test’

‘Easy there stud, I have an exam to prepare for tomorrow and I can’t be bothered studying for it, I think I’ll wish for the highest score in school again’ Jane said confidently.

‘I was only kidding, I can buy my own car’ he smiled.

‘Ok there Mr all high and mighty’ Jane said mockingly ‘It wasn’t long ago that you were desperate to use this book and now, you barely talk about it to me, you used to be cool but now…you’ve got a little boring’ Jane admitted coldly.

‘Doesn’t it feel a bit wrong that we’ve cheated our entire way through everything the last three years?’

‘What do you mean?’ Jane asked in a confused voice.

‘Well it’s just that I don’t feel like I’ve ever earned any of my victories in the marathons or competitions for the school, I know that I’m a good runner and could do well without the use of that book’ he said assuring Jane who didn’t seem interested at all.

The two of them walked through the grounds of the school and as Laura floated behind them, she quickly was able to see how different the school looked thirty years ago. It was a lot smaller then it was in her time, there was no rugby field or football field and the stables were only just finished being built.

‘This must be when the academy starts to get noticed by the rest of the country and it looks like my mother and father had a big part to play in that’ Said Laura as she came to that quick conclusion but as she thought of that, the realization to their success became apparent again as she watched her mother write in the book from afar.

‘There we go, a hundred out of a hundred waiting for me’ she squealed in an excited manner.

Luke looked at her with disgust in his face; he was not a fan of using the book anymore as he had seen how much it had changed Jane’s life. She was once a kind and gentle individual but ever since discovering the wish book, she had become more selfish and calculating; all she cared about now was getting her own way.

‘Can you really say that you’re proud of cheating?’ Luke asked her honestly. ‘Once, you would never ever cheat at anything yet now that’s all you ever do’

‘You weren’t saying any of this when it was you writing wish after wish down!’  Jane accused Luke.

‘I did once but I haven’t done so for a long time now and I don’t think you should either!’

Jane looked ticked off by this, she clinged onto the book and held it tight to her chest as Luke looked on with a look of annoyance about him.

‘All of those new clothes, the sudden money you needed to pay your rent and those so called famous running shoes that you always wear, all came from the book!’

‘Don’t go soft on me now, we’re both so close to become legends at this stupid place’ Jane said after she dragged a confused Luke behind the stables at the newly opened equine centre

‘I can’t take this anymore!’ Jane screamed ‘It’s my fault that she died’.

‘You didn’t do anything, you just cowered in the corner’ Jane yelled in his face.

‘Without me, you’d be that loser that no girl wanted to speak to; do you remember those days Luke? Or have you forgotten what everyone in Lakewood used to call you?’

‘You keep your mouth shut about this book pizza face!’ she said before laughing at him.

‘Listen, I’m sorry baby’ Jane said as she wrapped her arms about Luke’s neck and went in to kiss him on the lips. The two kissed for the next minute before pulling apart, Jane smiled and giggled at Luke who blushed back.

‘I’m going for an evening walk about the woods later on if you’re interested, you could come along and we could even see that stupid building that they abandoned last year?’ she suggested.

‘I’ll go anywhere that you go’ Luke said happily, he was like a love struck puppy, nipping at the heels of his master.

All of a sudden, Laura saw another flash and before she could do anything about it, it blinded her line of sight and she closed her eyes and blocked her face. As soon as the light diminished and faded away, the time traveler opened her eyes and discovered herself no longer stood in the Academy grounds, rather she was stood in the Lakewood woods.

It was night time and the moon was out to full view in the night sky. Owls could be heard hooting and the creaking of the trees was evident as well. She saw two shadowy figures approach the sight and before long, Laura was able to make out that it was her mother and father walking side by side along the pathway, holding hands.

‘Were you happy with my little surprise?’ Jane asked Luke with a little cute voice on.

Luke was very red and seemed to be very shy by this question, the only clue to this that Laura could tell was how messy Luke’s hair was, it appeared scruffy and like he had been rolling about for quite some time, not only this but they both appeared filthy with mud down there legs and clothes.

‘We could leave the school and move in together?’ he suggested with excitement.

Laura watched on from the doorway to the old building and could see Jane not look so excited by this idea and that Luke had not spotted this, in fact every time that Luke had looked away, Jane had pulled a face that suggested that she wasn’t happy at all which seemed strange to her.

‘I will never give up the book, are you crazy?’ she asked in a defensive manner, she followed this with a slight shove to Luke which took him by surprise

‘We didn’t know what the book was capable off! We didn’t fucking know!’  She yelled.

‘We have a daughter to think of, let’s not do anything stupid here’ Luke pleaded with his wife

‘Darling, put the pen and book down!’  He yelled

‘I DON’T NEED YOU ANYMORE; I DON’T LOVE YOU WHEN I HAVE THE BOOK SO LUKE I WISH YOU WOULD FUCKING CHOKE TO DEATH AND NEVER DARKEN MY SIGHT WITH YOUR PRESCENCE!’ screamed Jane

A mysterious figure wearing a hood and a long, dark coat emerged from the darkened building and walked through the ghostly figure of Laura before grabbing a very surprised Luke, with straining him from being able to move at all and whilst this was going on, Jane opened up the wish book and with an evil smile on her face, began to write down her desire into the blank page.

The book had consumed her mother, taken over her life and forced her to think that nothing else was important in the world and as far as Laura could tell from afar, Luke didn’t seem that important anymore either. Looking terrified, Luke tried to laugh off Jane’s wish but just from looking at the seriousness in his former lovers eyes, he suddenly gulped and backed away before turning and running as fast as he could away but after  seconds had past and he’d made it across the courtyard, Luke started to struggle to breath.

‘Please no!’ Laura yelled.

His face started to change Colour as he grabbed his throat in an attempt to relieve what force was upon him but it didn’t do him any good as he went purple, soon afterwards, he lay on the cold ground, motionless.

Sure of his demise, Jane walked up to his body and began to scavenge through his pockets, possibly for anything valuable but Laura collapsed to her knees and cried ghost tears but of course no one could see her doing this.

‘Oh, is this an engagement ring in a tiny box? Well, as much as I liked you, as if I’d marry a loser like you’ Jane laughed as she pocketed the engagement ring in her pocket.

Laura watched her mother uncaringly walk away from Luke’s dead body, she rushed over to him and attempted to hold him in her arms but her ghostly hands could not hold in, they just slipped through his head. Her eyes came about with tears as she struggled to hold them back as there was nothing she could do to prevent this from happening.

‘Dad, please…don’t die!’ she wept uncontrollably.

Unaware of her presence, Luke breathed his last breath and passed away. Laura saw this and broke down onto the ground, she punched the ground and screamed out loud, it was all just too much for her to see and all she could think off was the stories that she had been told by her grandparents years ago, about them both being good and kind people but this was not the story that she had been told, it was the complete opposite. Her grandparents had told her that her parents adored and loved each other, they got married and had her as their daughter but unfortunately, her mother’s death came about in a horrible car accident and her poor father died of a heart attack due to stress sometime after but in truth, it was as far from a car crash or a heart attack as it could unnaturally be, it was plain and simple, using the wish book, Laura’s mother had murdered her father.

‘My mother had the book at one point and she killed Dad with it?’

Things were starting to get better for Laura. Her classmates were kind of not being as rude to her as they normally had been, they weren’t talking to her or anything but they also weren’t singling her out purposely or constantly giving her evil stares so that for Laura was something. Walking along the grounds, along the path was Dean who spotted Laura heading away from the fountain by herself, looking happy which to him seemed odd so he caught up with her and was taken aback by her lack of interest to engage him in conversation.

‘Sorry Dean but I have plans’ she said happily before skipping casually away, much to Dean’s shock in her sudden change of attitude.

The long haired, muscular captain of the academy’s Rugby team had sunk himself into her mind; he was all that she was able to think about, day in and day out.

‘I wish Thomas Robinson would fall in love with me’ she would often find herself writing into the book, where she would always receive the same reply.

‘I can’t do that for you, you cannot force anyone to fall in love with you’ the book would always explain.

It was something that she was failing to understand; all of a sudden a boy was taking an interest in her but how and why.  But as it turned out, Laura didn’t really care what the reason was, all she cared about was the most popular boy in the school, the captain of the Rugby team wanted her to spend some time with him.

On an early January morning, after the town’s festivities to celebrate the New Year, everything was slowly returning to normal. Snow was slowly decreasing but the temperature was still below freezing and the local townspeople were under the rule of the sudden January shopping sales, causing many traffic delays, crashes and the odd riot over stores being able to keep up with stock and customer demands.

Laura was not interested in local festivities or the odd crisis at the local supermarket, her head was elsewhere. Her little kiss with Dean as the clock struck midnight and the run in with Thomas Robinson had caused quite a stir at the academy, gossip was quick to spread and as she entered the grounds on the first day back, whispers and fingers were pointed at all three individuals.

‘We are all going on a little walk around the grounds tonight, fancy coming along with us?’ Thomas asked politely.

‘Of course I will’ Laura said gleaming.

‘Is your boyfriend going to be coming along?’ he asked with a smile on his face.

‘Who, Dean…is he coming? He’s not my boyfriend and no I don’t think he’ll be joining us’ Laura laughed off however a small blush was visible on her cheeks.

‘I see, well that’s a shame’ said Thomas

‘I could ask him if you want me to.’ Laura suggested.

‘Don’t worry about it, if it would make you feel uncomfortable’

‘I don’t really know anyone else who’s going though’ she pointed out.

‘Don’t worry about that, you can walk with me and we can have a chat’ he said with a sparkle in his eye.

‘Yeah, if you want’ Laura replied nervously, her hand over her heart.

‘Awesome, I’ll see you after school then’ he winked back.

Her heart skipped many beats that day she could only concentrate on her evening due with Thomas, the captain of the rugby team, the boy that every girl wanted to be with suddenly wanted to spend time with the most hated person in the school. Whereas most people would now start to think that this idea sounded a bit dodgy, Laura didn’t seem to care one bit.

‘Come on three o clock, hurry up!’

As for Dean, he struggled to get any sense out of Laura for the entire day. She hadn’t mentioned anything about their kiss and Dean was unsure where he stood with her and he felt like he had a right to know whether the kiss really did mean anything to her or whether she was going to toss him to the curb for a new, better looking model.

‘Laura, do you think we could go somewhere private and talk?’ he managed to ask her at lunchtime.

‘Sorry Dean, I don’t have time, maybe another day’ she replied quickly before dashing out of the classroom somewhere. Dean felt alone and didn’t bother trying for the rest of the day.

As school finished, Dean rushed out before Laura even noticed but she didn’t seem to care when she looked at his empty desk. Laura dashed outside onto the path and waited patiently for Thomas to come and meet up with her.

‘Hello there’ he waved from the gateway.

Laura approached nervously to the group of people waiting for her. The twins Mitsuko and Chiyo were amongst the group, much to her dismay as she remembered there last encounter and it wasn’t one she would like to relieve; the book was still cross with her for losing some of its pages to the Japanese genius.

The path that led into the woods was dark and barely visible but no one minus Mitsuko seemed to mind this, to them it just added to the mystery of the adventure.

‘How about we tell each other scary stories?’ Thomas suggested.

‘How immature’ Mitsuko replied in a snotty way, she felt above the need to talk about anything scary in the middle of a dark wood, to her it made no sense whatsoever.

‘I’d love to hear you tell us one Tom’ Laura said nervously, her voice whimpered part way, much to Mitsuko’s delight.

‘The story goes that fifty years ago on this night, an old caretaker was in charge of leading a group of badly behaved students through these woods to an abandoned building to do some work as punishment but what everyone didn’t know was that this caretaker had a different agenda in mind, he was angry with the schools headmaster for reducing his pay, all because the caretaker had fought bravely in the war but had lost his leg in the fight, he needed a stick to walk but this slowed his work down so the headmaster had reduced his hours’ Thomas explained.

‘So he was angry, what does that have to do with the students he is leading into the woods?’ Mitsuko asked.

‘Mitsuko, please try and be nice to everyone!’ her sister Chiyo pleaded with her.

‘Why did we even have to come on this stupid walk with all of these stupid people?’ Mitsuko asked in an annoyed tone of voice.

‘Thomas asked me and I asked you to come along with me and you said yes so don’t complain’ Chiyo pointed out to her sister, much to her annoyance.

‘As I was saying, no one knew the woods better than him; he was an expert to all the paths and wildlife that lived within the grounds, even some paths that were off the books as it turned out’ he explained.

‘What happened next?’ Chiyo asked before Laura had a chance to which in return, she shot an evil stare towards Chiyo.

‘Well as I said that the caretaker knew all of the wildlife in the area, he would even feed them’ Thomas explained.

‘Get to the point already!’ Mitsuko yelled impatiently.

‘Easy girl, a good horror story cannot be rushed’ he explained calmly.

‘It was said that he had purposely not fed any of the wolves in the wood for a long time and he knew that they were so hungry that they would even resort to eat whatever wandered down their pathway’ Thomas explained. ‘As they got close to the building, the caretaker suddenly complained of his leg playing up and told the students to go on ahead down the remainder of the path by themselves but he knew damn well what would happen to them’.

‘What…what did happen?’ Chiyo nervously asked.

‘Well all I’ll say to you all is that the story goes that every year on this very night, the terrified pleas and screams of students being eaten alive can always be heard if you walk down the correct path at the right time’

Laura screamed and clenched her eyes shut. She heard scurrying around for a moment and when a moment had past, she couldn’t hear anything anymore. Laura opened her eyes and found herself stood all by her on the path; she looked about and upwards towards the full moon set in the starlit sky.

***

If things could have gotten worse for Laura then she didn’t want to believe it but that sadly was the case. Laura was indeed now all alone, even though she continued to cry out for everyone in her group, in a desperate attempt to find someone, deep down she knew it to be true, no one was going to come back for her.

‘It was all a trick wasn’t it’ she said out loud to herself ‘You didn’t really want to be my friend at all’.

It wasn’t a complete surprise that people had done this to Laura but nonetheless it still hurt her that despite all of her changes, all the wishes she had made, it hadn’t made any difference with the people around her, and she was still the most hated person in Lakewood.

‘I thought this book was meant to make things better!’ Laura yelled feeling agitated.

It was starting to anger Laura for it seemed to her that no matter what wish she had, bad things would still come out of it. However this was not the time to start an argument with a book, it was pitch dark and Laura had no idea which way to go so deciding to give it another go, she looked about her bag for a pen and when she found one she started to write.

‘I wish I had a torch to so I could see where I was going’

Soon after she had written her latest desire down, Laura opened her bag pack and surely enough, there was a torch there.

Stood on top of the slope, with a full moon behind it was a creature

‘Back off wolf, I’m not being your dinner tonight!’ Laura shouted full of fright.

The wolf pounced as Laura ran for her life down the darkened path, not knowing where she was going but it didn’t matter, just as long as she lost her hungry little friend.

‘I wish I had the means to defend myself’ Laura wrote down desperately.

All of a sudden, with no warning, Laura’s bag pack caught on fire. The flames engulfed it whole as Laura screamed; she managed to take it off just in the nick of time without causing any harm to herself as it fell to the ground. The flames caused by reasons not quite known were slowly starting to spread on the ground, burning up the various fallen leaves from the trees which caused it to spread faster, like a knife spreading butter on a slice of toast. In a panic, Laura began to run but as she went down the pathway, the wolf once again was able to corner her, it growled ferociously, gnashing its teeth at her, however the creature had failed to take the fire seriously and just as it prepared to leap at the terrified school student,  the flames rushed in their direction, catching everything in sight as it did and as Laura started to feel trapped and began to lose hope, the wolf which had closed her down and was only meters from her had changed its mind and fled, running down the path, being able to leap over a fire wall which had developed in the process, Laura was now truly all alone.

Not wanting to hang around a burning wood, Laura ran as fast as she could down the path, where it led she did not know but anywhere was better than being here.

She tripped over a stuck out branch on the ground and smashed her face onto the forest floor.

‘Oh no, where’s the book?’

All around her, everything was now on fire, the smoke made it very hard to breathe and stay focused but Laura continued to search about the ground for her precious book, it meant absolutely everything that she found it.

‘I can’t lose you; I don’t want things to go back to the way they were!’

She wanted to collapse and rest but the woods were screaming in pain as the fire spread from tree to tree, nothing was being spared from its destruction.  As she tried to regain composure and think straightly, she suddenly heard what sounded like teenagers screaming in the distance. Laura suddenly came to a quick conclusion; the other students were still in the woods.

‘Thomas, Chiyo!’ Laura screamed.

She wanted to run back into the woods, find them all and save them but as she thought about it, an explosion blew apart the trees that stood alongside the only pathway and Laura watched in horror as the giant sleeping wood lords fell on their sides, completely blocking off the only safe way for anyone to enter.

‘I can’t just leave them!’

She started to move forward towards the wall of flames, she was determined to save her classmates but as she got closer, she heard just one scream this time and it was recognizable to the terrified teenager.

‘Thomas!’

The scream became distant and soon afterwards, she could no longer hear anyone panicking or calling out for help, Laura assumed the worst and slowly backed up the path towards the academy.

‘I wish I had the book with me!’ she called out.

As expected, nothing happened, the book never appeared in her hands like magic, she had no idea what had happened to the book but that was the last thing on her mind now.

‘I can’t be seen here!’

She started to run all the way back home as fast as she could.

Laura ran through the town Centre and was amazed that no one was doing anything about it at first; it seemed that not many people had noticed the sudden orange glow in the sky. It was bad that the academy was not visible from the town Centre as it sat in top of the hillside that looked over the town.

‘Hello, I need a fire truck, Lakewood Woods are on fire!’ she yelled emotionally down the phone.

Before anyone could reply, she hung up and continued running back to her home, tears running down her face as she knew that this could possibly be the worst thing that she had ever done.

Finally making the long run home successfully, Laura slammed her front door shut and locked it behind her, after making sure that she had locked it, she put her head in her hands and panicked, all kinds of horrible thoughts ran through her distraught mind, had the wolf followed her scent home? She had no idea but she couldn’t sleep at all that night, all she was able to do was continually look out of the window. From the top of the hillside she could just about make out the rising embers from the orange glow in the sky. The constant sirens from fire trucks that whirled by set the seriousness of what was really happening to Laura and it her hard, the wood was on fire and it was all down to her wish.

‘What have I done?’

***

After a long night with no sleep, Laura had been able let her guard down at last as she would no longer stare out of the window to watch the wood burn to cinders and ashes.  Her grandparents were surprised to come down stairs that morning to find her curdled up in a ball on the living room carpet, mumbling to herself. As she made her breakfast in the kitchen, her grandparents had turned on the local news and were shocked to hear about the news that Lakewood woods had completely burned to the ground overnight.

‘How did we sleep through that?’ Laura’s grandfather asked.

The news was all that the town could talk about thereafter, it dominated every discussion anyone had for days afterwards. The academy announced that it would be closed for the foreseeable future as fire crews and forensic detectives moved into the area to investigate and whilst Laura remained behind doors in her room, the town was trying to come to a conclusion as to just how did the fire start?

Eventually, after three horrible weeks later, the all clear had finally been given and the school reopened its gates. Many students were reluctant to return straight away and this caused attendance to be somewhat low for the first few days but no one was more scared to return than Laura was.

‘Don’t you have school today?’ her grandparents would ask her.

‘I don’t feel so good, I need another day to rest’ Laura would always respond.

Eventually, Laura couldn’t use that as an excuse anymore and had no choice but to return to the academy which was not the easiest decision that she had to make.

‘Everyone, I’m afraid that I have some bad news to tell you all’

‘Four students have disappeared and not been seen since the day of the fire, we fear they may have gone into the woods, if anyone knows anything about their whereabouts then please tell someone right away’

Laura’s heart jumped, she grabbed her chest and felt awful, she knew just what had happened and didn’t know whether she should speak up and say something but she was terrified that everyone would just react the same way that they all had done the last time Laura had caused a catastrophe in the town, she wasn’t sure if her family could take another one like that and survive.

‘Didn’t Laura go into the woods with them?’ someone called out.

All eyes then turned to Laura but they weren’t a look of concern that she might be hurt, no these eyes were ones of hate and disdain and as for the girl in question, she was starting to wish that she really was invisible. Into the school the two students entered, one by choice and the other by force. Laura pulled the confused cheerleader Alexis through the hallway by the hair, not caring how much pain she was going through, that didn’t matter to her as she had had enough of her bullying, her taunts and her threats.

‘What do you think that this will accomplish, all you’ll do is confirm what an absolute psycho everyone thinks you are!’ Mitsuko gasped.

‘You don’t have that in you ‘Alexis laughed mockingly in her face. ‘You’re a complete pushover who has let this town destroy her way of life for years now’

‘If that’s what you want’

Pushing Alexis into the basement like classroom in the disused part of the school, Laura forcefully shoved her through an old wooden door and she smashed through it onto the hard wooden floor. A cry of pain came from the poor cheerleader but Laura could do was smirk at her misfortune.

‘Oh, I hope you had a nice trip’ said Laura mockingly.

Alexis didn’t respond to this but as Laura stood there smirking, Alexis tried to stand up but the fall had grazed her knee and this was not an easy feat to do.

‘What’s the rush? We have so much to discuss’

Laura tied up the cheerleader on a chair and as she started tom struggle about, Laura walked to the other side of the room and pulled out her book with a pen.

‘I wish I had a knife in the next ten seconds!’ Laura wrote down.

‘What are you doing loser?’

‘That’s none of your business!’  she yelled back as she quickly put the book back in her bag and stormed back over to the tied down Alexis who for the first time, had a hint of fear about her.

‘You know what, maybe I owe you an explanation cheerleader’ Laura said out of the blue.

‘I’ve lived in this stupid town for a long time now, all in an attempt to regain the honor that my family once had but because of my little misfortune, I dragged it through the mud and burnt it’ Laura said in a disappointed tone which made Alexis smile but that was only briefly as Laura looked up and grinned, pulling out a kitchen knife from her coat pocket as she did so which made Alexis eyes widen in shock.

‘But when you’ve been through what I have, all the suffering, hate and abuse if an entire town for so long, you start thinking ‘what have I got to lose anymore, why should I let them tell me how to live?’ she explained and as she talked, Alexis got the sense that Laura was really enjoying all of this and it was a little bit scary for her.

‘So tell me Alexis, if everyone already hates me and I can’t do anything worse than what I have done in the past, why should I fear any of you?’ Laura asked Alexis as she grabbed the cheerleader’s hair and pulled tightly on it, making her scream.

‘You’re hurting me loser!’ Alexis cried.

‘Yeah, keep calling me loser, do it one more time and see what happens!’

Alexis went silent.

With this said, Laura threw her foot into the stomach of Alexis who fell back down to the ground and started to cough uncontrollably in discomfort.

Laura’s mind was past the snapping point, she had now had enough of the hate towards her, she wanted answers and her plan was to learn the truth but at the same time, being the one to dish out the pain and torment felt too good to pass up.  She had tied down Alexis in the chair and made the tie tight.

‘Loser, untie me this instance!’ she screamed furiously.

‘Shut up, you’re not going anywhere until you answer some questions for me’ Laura shouted.

‘You won’t get anything out of me you loser!’ Alexis spat.

‘Just you wait until Daddy finds out what you’ve done, he’ll have your hated family ran out of this town once and for all and that’s a promise’.

‘Why does everyone still hate me?’ she asked.

‘You know why’ Alexis answered.

‘See, I don’t accept that as an answer anymore’ said Laura ‘that was a long time ago and I’ve more than made up for that’

‘By what, winning a competition?’ said Alexis ‘You really think that everyone would forget what you’ve done?’

‘Tell me!’

‘I don’t know!’ Alexis yelled.

‘Tell me or I’ll cut your fucking throat!’ Laura screamed as she kicked over the chair, sending Alexis onto the ground. Before the cheerleader could do anything, Laura dived on top of her and held her down with a small kitchen knife in her hand.

‘I mean it, I have nothing to lose so tell me why you all hate me so much or I’ll cut you!’ she threatened.

‘Someone’s interested to know the truth, aren’t they?’

A scared Laura had no choice but to resort to violence, she went ahead and slapped Alexis hard across the face, A stinging sensation flew through Alexis’s cheek but all she did in response was laugh.

‘Is that the best you have?’ she smiled.

‘Shut up, I can go much further!’ she said as she dangled the knife in front of her.

‘Your only talent ever seems to be writing in that stupid book of yours, is it a diary?’ Alexis asked mockingly.

Laura ran towards Alexis and her hands grasped her neck and she squeezed hard.

‘TELL ME!’ Laura screamed into her face

Suddenly, the side door flew open and the twins Mitsuko and Chiyo dashed in

‘What are you doing to her?’ Mitsuko screamed.

‘She’s still alive but she needs to go to a hospital!’

‘Stay where you are!’ Laura yelled as she pointed her knife.

‘Get in the corner now!’

‘Are you mad; this girl needs to see someone now?’ Mitsuko yelled impatiently

‘I said get in the corner!’

Not wanting to argue or cause something stupid to happen, Mitsuko reluctantly complied and with her twin sister, moved over to the corner of the room.

‘Wake up!’

Laura continued to slap the unconscious cheerleader again and again, so much that it became a very uncomfortable situation for everyone in that room.

‘She’s not conscious, leave her alone!’ Chiyo yelled.

She knew that this wasn’t her, she wouldn’t hurt a fly but as well as this, she had been bullied, assaulted and made to wish her life was meaningless for far too long now, enough was enough.

‘We don’t know why we don’t like you’

‘What do you mean that you don’t know?’ Laura asked.

‘The truth is that no one has any idea why we all can’t stand you!’

‘Start explaining, right now or I swear you’ll die where you’re sat!’ a distressed Laura demanded.

‘When we first saw you at the speech, we didn’t know why but we couldn’t stand being near you, it was like you had the plague or something!’ Chiyo admitted.

Laura ran away from the academy with tears in her eyes, the feeling of dismay and hate running through her. The run back home felt like an eternity to her as she heard the words play through her mind again and again

‘We don’t know’

She couldn’t understand how no one knew why she was the most hated individual in town. A reason would have been acceptable; after all she had traced everything back to the day that she ruined the town’s reputation with her fateful fall.

As she arrived home, she noticed that all of the lights were off, it looked as if no one was in which didn’t make any sense to her as it was night time and her grandparents never went out at this time, not for anything, something wasn’t right.  With this in mind, Laura walked up to the front door and tried to open it but to her surprise, it did in fact open.

‘Grandma… granddad… is anyone home?’ Laura called out but had no response; she tried again and again as she slowly wandered about but eventually conceded that the house was dead. Laura quickly thought about how Alexis would be doing, had she been taken to the hospital in time, would she die from her assault? It was all too much to take in; all of this misfortune had been caused by her, if people didn’t have a reason to hate her before, than Laura would have just handed them a very good reason to do so. Still feeling exhausted from her eventful evening, Laura took of her bag, wiped her eyes and went to make a coffee in the kitchen, all the while trying to think of a way out of her mess that she had created, all because of that book.

‘It doesn’t make any sense, how can anyone not know the truth…it’s almost as if-

Suddenly, just as she sat down on the sofa, a massive explosion engulfed the room in flames, Laura screamed and tried to run but it was no good as her body fell to the flames.

The two teenagers entered the house quietly and after carefully removing their footwear, the two of them made for the stairs. Her grandfather was sat in the living room with a smoking pipe in his left hand and a cup of coffee in the other, he was busy watching his daily horse races to really notice anything else and Laura’s intention was to go upstairs to her room without letting her grandparents know that she was home, it was too much of a hassle for them to know about Dean.

‘Be quiet when you go upstairs’ she told Dean quietly.

As he stepped on the first stair, it creaks loudly and Laura knew straight away that the game was up.

‘Laura, is that you?’

She froze as she heard her grandfather’s voice call out from the living room, she heard him get out of his armchair and move towards the hallway.

‘Granddad, I’m just going up to my room to do some work’ Laura called out as she quickly ran for the door and took off her shoes at the front door.

Bob stuck his head into the corridor and saw Laura standing there but almost fell over onto the ground as he turned right and saw Dean, a boy stood there, in his home. Laura rolled her eyes and feared the worst was going to come.

‘Who’s this then?’ he asked confused. ‘Another person making fun of you, eh, is that what this is Laura?’

‘He is just a friend granddad’ she said back quickly. ‘That’s all he is, I swear!’

In all of his years of looking after her, Bob had never seen another young man come near his house intentionally so it was quite the surprise to see one suddenly in his hallway with a grin from ear to ear. Laura stood there trying her very best to not show any sign of feeling nervous or she would never escape the barrage of questions from her grandparents later that evening.

‘Is that so?’ he asked his granddaughter.

‘Yes, we just met at the academy and he’s here to help me with some homework, that’s all!’ she said in an annoyed tone.

A moment past and he didn’t say a word, he just stared directly at Dean with his judging eyes before a grin slowly appeared on his face and he chuckled to himself.

‘Very well then, you had best get a move on and start, your grandma will be waking up from her nap soon enough’ he told them.

Laura began to climb up the first few stairs; feeling satisfied that her grandfather had believed what she had told him.

‘We’ll make sure to be quiet’ Laura promised Dean when they reached the top of the stairs.

‘And you boy!’ Bob called out from the bottom of the stairs.

‘Yes…sir?’ Dean said slowly, with a gulp in his voice.

‘If you’re going to have sex then you fucking better wear a condom or I swear to god I’ll smash your head in if she gets up the duff! He yelled at him.

‘GRANDDAD, THAT’S ENOUGH!’

‘I see, well don’t be getting up to no funny business you two’ he said plainly before turning back around into the living room.

With that done, Laura grabbed Dean by the arm and dragged him up the stairs and into her room, making sure to close the door firmly behind her. Dean imminently started to look around her room, staring at pictures of her and the various items that she had scattered about.

‘Well, here we are then’ Dean smiled. ‘Your room’

‘You’re making all of this sound weird’ Laura sighed ‘It’s only my room, not Buckingham Palace!’

‘All alone, with no one to disturb us’

‘Wishes beyond wishes, we can do whatever we want’ he said full of excitement.

‘You’re so interested in me, aren’t you?’ she sighed sarcastically ‘Here we are in my room, alone and secluded yet you don’t seem the least interested in kissing me’

Dean jumped up from the bed with a freaked out expression, he seemed to be taken back by Laura’s sudden interest in kissing one another.

‘Talk about jumping the gun, we haven’t even gone on a date or anything’ Dean said in shock

‘I know that I said that but…I also thought we might get on with some other things, you did say I was beautiful, right?’ she asked innocently.

Dean blushed slightly but turned away from Laura as he did so. The two of them spent a moment sat in silence, both feeling awkward about the situation. Laura’s hand went into her hair and started curling it about in her fingers as Dean focused on the carpet, he was desperate for the awkward moment to pass.

‘Look, maybe we should just talk about the book?’ he suggested.

‘Yeah, that might be best’ Laura replied awkwardly.

‘Are you really sure about this?’ she asked.

‘Why else would I be here?’ Dean said back.

‘Charming…’

Laura stood up from the bed and reached out for her school bag and unzipped it open. Dean watched as she pulled out the book in question before sitting back down alongside him and placing the book on her lap.

‘Is that it, is this really the book that can grant you any wish that you desire?’ he asked with curiosity.

‘That’s right, this is the book’ she answered.

Dean stared at the book with his mouth wide open, there it was, and it was all so much to take in that such a thing could exist in the world, a tool with so much power and potential, something that you would read about or watch in a movie but there it was, sat on Laura’s lap, a book with the power to grant any wish, anytime, anywhere.

‘What good luck I must have for this to be brought to me’ he said full of excitement.

Hearing these words, Laura pulled the book off her lap and placed it on her side of the bed, out of Deans grasp.

‘Remember that the book is mine Dean’ she sighed.

Dean’s reaction was one of a child having their favorite sweet taken away from them, he looked at the book like a man would at his lover, he wanted to hold it and take care of it, even though he had only just seen the book properly for the first time.

‘Your right but I can’t help it; I mean any wish you want, that doesn’t come along everyday of your life!  You can’t blame me for being excited!’

‘Listen, I trust you Dean, enough to talk to you about the book but know this, once I show you what it’s truly capable off, there’s no walking away from it’ she explained rather darkly to him.

‘I understand, you have to watch out for yourself and can’t afford anyone landing you in it, trust me when I say I’m fully on board’ Dean said with a big smile on his face.

‘No one else can know about this Dean, it just has to be me and you…if anyone else was to know about this book, they would try to take it away and use it for their own gain’ she explained.

‘Don’t worry, I won’t tell a soul about it’ he said back to her.

Laura didn’t look convinced by this, it wouldn’t have been the first time in her life that someone had said that they’d do as she said; only to go back on their word later on; this made her find it difficult to trust anyone.

‘That’s not enough, you have to promise me that you won’t tell anyone!’ she said forcefully.

Dean felt uneasy at this sudden force put onto him, he had only just learnt about the book and he was finding it hard to keep it all contained to himself.

‘Who would I tell anyway?’ he asked her ‘I hate this town!’

‘What do you mean?’ Laura asked.

‘I’m bored of people in this town, there all so obsessed with being the best that the spirit of competition no longer exists here, if you screw up then they abandon you and leave you far behind, it’s like exile’

‘Yeah, I know how you feel’ Laura replied quietly, wrapping her arms around herself as she did so. The bad memories of her past in Lakewood ran through her mind and made her feel like Dean did about the town, it was not a friendly place for anyone who couldn’t live up to its expectations, it would chew them up and spit them back out.

‘As you already know, this book has powers’ she started off with.

‘Your right, I’ve seen you in action but explain in more detail for me?’ he asked, feeling eager to learn, he moved closer to Laura to get a better look.

‘This book seems to have some sort of power that can grant anyone a wish’ said Laura ‘It’s a big responsibility and I’m not sure that I can go ahead with this’

‘Are you crazy? Who on earth would give something like this up?’ Dean asked her.

‘So, let’s write something cool down!’ Dean suggested in a rather excited manner. ‘We have a book that lets us have what we want so why not use it for something fun?’

‘We can’t, there are rules that we have to abide to’ Laura explained.

‘Like what?’ Dean asked.

‘Look, when you became my friend, you said that you wouldn’t be interested in this book!’ Laura reminded him.

‘How can you blame me for not being interested?’ he asked her honestly.

‘Let’s wish for an army of robots to blow up the town?’ he suggested.

‘No way, I don’t want world conquest or revenge!’ Laura yelled.

‘But you hate this town?’ he asked confused. ‘Like me right?’

‘But I don’t want to go about killing people, this book is all about making good things happen and not starting a genocide!’

‘A billion pounds perhaps, we could split it and move away?’

‘You can’t wish for money’ she explained.  ‘Believe me, I’ve tried’.

‘How about we-

‘And you can’t bring back the dead’ she sighed.  ‘So no army of zombies or anything that you men are into’

Dean and Laura would spend more than an hour debating over the rules of the book and would end up getting nowhere as one wanted to have as much fun with the book as they could whereas the other one wanted to do small wishes to see the extent of the books true powers.

‘Then what can you do with it?’ he asked as he rose up his arms and let them flop back down out of frustration.  ‘Not much if you ask me, all you’ve done so far is wish for a Horse!’

‘But he’s so gorgeous though’ she said with delight, much to Dean’s annoyance.

‘I thought that you were going to be a little more fun with that book of yours’ he sighed.

‘I will do, I’m just trying it out first, and you know I was giving it a test drive’ she explained.

‘Well maybe we should step it up a notch, what do you say?’

‘Maybe, I don’t know?’

Laura rubbed the back of her head and felt uncertain about taking it up to the next level, for her it was enough that she had gotten into the academy and Sky was just a bonus, she didn’t really want anything else apart from being able to put right what she had caused to go wrong in the past.

Laura remembered the librarian’s words of warning about abusing the books powers. Having too much of something that is too good for you is bad.

‘Is that all your bothered about?’ Laura asked him cautiously, her nerves were starting to kick up.

‘No, of course not, it’s just not every day that something like this comes along is all, we might only get one shot at this’

‘Your right, it has to be returned at the end of the school year’ Laura told him.

‘All the more reason to have some fun then’ Dean smiled. ‘If we only have a year than we need to get as much done as possible!’

‘Perhaps but for now, I need to just take it slowly and we have school and all that’ Laura said in her defense.

‘Screw school!’

‘How can you say that about the best school around? With its reputation, we could both have a better live!’ she tried to explain.

Dean was beginning to lose interest in the whole thing or so Laura thought he was. She looked into his disinterested face and for some reason felt badly about the whole thing. She then began to feel rather panicky as she didn’t want to lose her new friend; she had begun to feel somewhat attached to him.

‘Well, maybe after I’ve done a few more test wishes then we could perhaps start to have a little bit of fun with it?’ she tried to suggest. ‘But please don’t make me forget about going to the academy, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do’

‘They knew my parents’ she whispered.

‘A long time ago my Mother died in a car crash’ she explained.

‘Where’s your Father at then?’ Dean asked.

‘I was told that he died of a broken heart shortly after my Mother passed away’ Laura explained.

‘There well known in Lakewood for all of their accomplishments at the academy, they both pretty much put our town on the map’ she explained proudly ‘I’ve always wanted to follow in their footsteps and succeed myself…but who am I kidding, with my luck I’ll only diminish there fame by being there cursed daughter or something’ she finished off with depression in her voice, she tried to have a smile on her face but it was no good.

‘I barely know anything about either one of them and it’s been driving me crazy for so long now’ she explained.

‘I’m sure we’ll find something out, trust me’ he winked at her.

As Dean left the room, Laura grabbed the book once more and considered asking it one more time regarding her parents but as she thought about and she did for quite some time, she decided against it at the last moment.

The next day at the academy, Laura didn’t see Dean at all. He was nowhere to be seen at all and on a day where she really needed the company, the talk about her parents had brought her down somewhat. At lunch time, Laura headed outside and sat at the fountain to have her lunch as it was a rather nice day for it.

She was in hope that Dean would perhaps show up late, it would be better than nothing so as she sat under the sparkling water spewing from the fountain, she kept a good lookout out for her only friend.

‘I wish I could see my Mother and Father’ she wrote down in neat hand writing. She watched the ink disappear but was met with a very quick response.

‘That is strictly against the rules!’  It told her.

‘Can’t you make an exception?’ she asked the book.

It wasn’t long before Dean and Laura saw the book respond yet again.

‘It is forbidden so do not ask me for this again!’

‘Well, it was worth a shot…there goes my zombie army idea’ Dean sighed with disappointment.

‘You said that the book could make things better for anyone who wrote in it right?’ Laura asked.

‘That’s what the rumor was or so I’ve heard over the years, why do you ask?’

‘It’s just…it gives me whatever I want, whenever I want it’

‘Yes, isn’t that what you wanted?’ Emily asked.

‘I don’t know?’

‘Well you’ve seemed to changed your tune young lady’

‘I think it’d be better if I tried to get everyone to like me without having to wish for expensive, flashy items’ Laura said to the librarian.

‘Do it all by yourself? But what happened to wishing your troubles away?’

‘You see, I’m starting to believe that they can’t be wished away just like that, it takes effort and hard work’ Laura tried to explain.

‘You said that you weren’t that interested in a book that can make a wish, you said you wanted to be my friend, were you lying?’ she accused him.

‘Of course I want to be your friend and that’s the truth but can you blame me for being curious about that book?’ he asked in his defense.

‘Yeah but…I’m not sure I feel happy about it’ Laura admitted.

‘I have my grandfather who believes that hard work is what makes what you want to happen whereas I have a book in my hands that can make anything I want to appear before me like that’

Tests, I’m not prepared for a massive test like that!’

***

The sudden tests were being conducted all over the school. They were taken so seriously that all societies were cancelled for the week which wasn’t a popular decision at first.

‘But we have a big game on in a few weeks, we have to practice’ the football team whined.

‘We can’t be expected to master these dressage movements in such a short amount of time, this is so unfair’ The Equine students complained.

Some students took this to the next level. They felt the need to have a small protest outside the Headmaster’s office window on a wet Friday morning, they chanted and waved banners together to display their feelings of this unfair decision but it was then at an emergency assembly the next Monday that all students were put in their place by their assistant headmaster.

‘It’s fair to let all you students know that if any of you receive a single grade under the mark of C to consider studying elsewhere, we have a reputation to protect after all’ Mr Whitham announced.

With that said, not a single bad word about the closure of all clubs was heard for the rest of the week. Laura on the other side was more concerned about doing well in any of the tests to be bothered about what the other students thought.

‘Are you still studying?’ her grandfather asked.

‘Of course, the tests are tomorrow!’ Laura said before she let out a big yawn, she was exhausted as she had studied nonstop all week.

‘You don’t need to study, you’ll ace every single test that school can throw at you’ he said confidently.

Needless to say that Laura didn’t get a wink of sleep that night. She did consider just wishing to become really smart and she would have no issues with the tests but it was something that her grandfather would always say to her that stopped her from wanting to do that.

‘I’ll try my hardest and that should be enough, I’ve revised really’ she told herself as she stared up at the dark ceiling in her room. Her book and a pen were right beside her on her bedside table but she resisted the urge to have magic solve all of her problems, just this once and as the sun rose the next morning, she felt determined that today would be a successful day.

The day of the tests was the longest day of all time, in Laura’s mind. The rooms were they were conducted were under very strict rules that everyone had to comply to or they would suffer immediate expulsion.

No Phones

No talking to other students

No eating food

Black Ink only

You must have your own rubbers and equipment for the Mathematics test

Harsh but fair was the teachers attitude to this. They all knew that there were students begging to be let into the academy and a few rebels who broke the rules would be easily replaced.

It would be an entire week before the results came back and on that day, no one was looking forward to it. Everyone was so nervous that not one person had called Laura a scumbag all day which completely surprised her but she was also too worried to even notice this.

‘What if I failed?’ she said to herself.

Laura Phillips Test Results

Mathematics – E

English- D

Science- F

Physical Education- F (Also a tad lazy)

Teacher Notes- You are required to report to Mr Lock’s Office this Friday for a serious discussion

From what Laura could gather from the look of happiness on everyone else’s faces, Laura had received the lowest grade in her class which was horrible news as they all knew that any grade bellow C was very bad, you might as well start packing to go home the minute you see a D, let alone an F.

‘I wish that I Laura Phillips got the highest grade in the entire school’ she wrote down.

With that written down, Laura happily lay down in her bed and went to sleep, confident that by tomorrow, everything would be resolved, after all, that’s what the book was for.

The twins Mitsuko and Chiyo were beyond flabbergasted as to why Laura was still a Lakewood Academy student after what happened the day before.

‘She’s not talented at all, she’s a fraud!’ Mitsuko shouted full of disbelief.

‘I’m afraid that she got the highest grade in school

‘That’s enough girls, have a seat’ said Mrs. Winkle.

The month of October was a frightfully chilly one, to say the least.  As the temperature fell from mildly warm to quite cold, the town of Lakewood began to prepare it’s self for its annual Halloween celebrations. Laura on the other hand was in a bit of a panic about her future at the academy. She may have gotten off with her lack of a talent once but she couldn’t expect to keep doing that and getting away with it.

‘What are you up to?’ Dean asked her curiously.

‘Nothing, I’m just doing a little light reading, that’s all’

‘In the corridor though?’ he smirked

‘If you’re really that interested then I’m trying to think of some sort of talent to wish for but I have no idea what to go for?’

‘Come with me, we’ll talk’ he told her as he guided her down the hallway and out onto the grounds. They started making their way along the path and as they walked along, Laura began to have a good long think about what sort of place she would belong in more.

‘Well Lakewood has a lot of societies to choose from, what do you like?’ Dean asked her.

‘Well I have a Horse from the book…perhaps the Equine Club; do you think that would be a good idea Dean?’ Laura suggested.

Dean looked at her funnily when she suggested this and this Laura feel confused.

‘Can you even ride it?’ He asked her.

‘No but I’m sure I could learn’ she said positively.

‘I thought you said that you had no interest in riding?’ he asked her whilst scratching the back of his head, Dean was feeling really confused about it all.

‘I know that I said that but I could learn, if it meant I could join a society then I’d do it’ she admitted although it didn’t sound very convincing to Dean.

‘You can’t learn how to ride a Horse competitively in time for the next competition which is in a week by the way, it would be a disaster to you and the school’ he pointed out to her.

‘Don’t be such a downer Dean, I could simply wish for the ability to ride a Horse competitively?’ she suggested ‘That way, I could become a champion for sure’

Dean looked unsure about all of this and his looks gave this away. Laura saw the look of concern on his face and didn’t really care as all she could think of was being able to wish her problems away and things would get better for her, they had to.  The two friends slowly made their way down the slope that led towards the football and rugby fields but felt like they had to stop part way so they stepped off the path and were on the grassy slope.

‘You can’t wish for talent?’

‘Why not then, why shouldn’t I just wish for it?’ she asked honestly.

‘Because it’s wrong Laura, life isn’t about getting what you want by cheating?’ Dean tried to explain to her but Laura wasn’t having any of that.

‘Why shouldn’t I get a spot, don’t you think I’ve earned one?’ she asked desperately as she was failing to understand why Dean would suddenly be so against her wishing for anything that she wanted. After all, he was the one who once had persuaded her to go crazy with her imagination, was he suddenly having second thoughts?

‘That doesn’t matter with the Equine club and besides all of that Laura, I heard it’s full’ Dean told her.

‘How can it be full?’ Laura asked ‘And how do you know that?’

‘It just its, trust me’ said Dean as he rolled his eyes. ‘I’m sure there’s a society that you can get into fairly around here’

‘Then I’ll wish for a spot to be open!’ Laura declared out of the blue, it was clear that she was starting to ignore anything that Dean was saying. She went for her bag to retrieve her wish book but as she was about to pull it out, Dean gave her a stern look and forced the book back into her bag, just as she pulled it out into the open.

‘What did you do that for?’ she shouted. ‘I was going to use that!’

‘Think about it will you,  stupid girl, that would result in someone losing their place and the book said you couldn’t wish for anything that affects something that someone already has!’ he reminded her.

‘So what, why should I care about that Dean, care to tell me?’ Laura asked him coldly. She looked down to the ground and sighed, it was like she was being spoken to by a parent.

‘Because it’s wrong Laura, That’s why!’ he told her plainly.

Dean folded his arms and looked at the troubled teen that looked like a child who had been sent to her room. The two stood in silence for a minute, unaware of their surroundings and how some other students had started watching them talk from down the hill. They were bewildered at how Dean and Laura had been stood in the same spot for some time now and the talk appeared to be getting quite heated.

‘I’m sorry as well’ Dean smiled

‘Well that helps’ she sighed ‘How about the swimming club then?’

‘Look, can I be honest with you?’ Dean asked.

Laura’s expression became one of worry; she didn’t like the sound of this and was reluctant for the conversation to continue.

‘Go on then’ she sighed.

‘I doubt any group would let you join them, unless a spot becomes available then I don’t think it will happen at any time soon because everyone joined clubs on the first week of the term’ he admitted and went on to explain to Laura who didn’t like a single word that he had to say.

‘I don’ care about that, I can make them!’

‘But that’s not fair Laura; it’s a school to show off your talents not cheat by asking for them!’ he yelled.

Heads turned as the two students shouted at each other in front of the academy’s water fountain.

‘Your being a real jerk today Dean, I thought you were here to help me!’ she yelled angrily.

‘I’m not going to help you cheat!’ he yelled back.

Whispers immediately followed by the other students who were in an earshot of their conversation, the word cheat sparked it all off and Laura immediately caught on to their gawps and stares, it was an uncomfortable feeling to have so many people staring at you at once.

‘Do we have to do this here?’ Laura muttered under her breath.

‘Which you are not being honest about’ Dean reminded her ‘if making a wish by writing it into a book to make it come true was without rules, you could wish to be in a club and someone else who had worked hard to be there would be unfairly kicked out, you’d be the leader of said club if you wanted’

Laura grabbed Deans and dragged away from the academy and down the hill, all the way in fact into the centre of Lakewood and to the town square where they both sat down on a bench.

‘Shut up’ Laura muttered as she sipped her smoothie.

‘Excuse me?’

‘I said to shut up Dean, your blabber mouth almost got people to ask questions about me’ she whispered worryingly.

Laura suddenly had the knowhow on

The daily newspaper was shoved through the letterbox and what seemed strange to Laura was the force that it was shoved in, along with what she spotted enclosed in the first few pages of the paper was a little note written in red pen that stated.

‘FOR THE PLAGUE RIDDEN FAMILY’

The report on the Lakewood Academy fire outbreak is said to have started in the centre of the woods, located on the school grounds. Nigel Fernandez, editor to the Lakewood Times has learnt that Laura Philips has since confessed to starting the fire at around 7:30 pm

Troubled teenager Laura Phillips has since been expelled from Lakewood Academy but this will not bring peace to the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy but hopefully this will restore some pride back into the academy’s historical walls and we as a town can move on from this dark chapter in our history.

It would perhaps be best if the Phillips family moves on from our town and settles in elsewhere because we want to make it perfectly clear, YOU ARE NO LONGER WELCOME IN OUR TOWN!

Suddenly, the paper fell from his lap and onto the carpet bellow, Bob stood up and wandered towards the wall on the other side of the room slowly, he gasped out loudly and his granddaughter watched on in shock as he began to look more and fainter with each passing second. He grabbed his chest and cried out in pain before collapsing onto the floor, his breathing increased as he cried out in agony.

‘Grandma, something’s wrong with granddad!’ Laura cried out.

Within seconds, Barbara poked her head around the kitchen wall and she witnessed the faint look in her husband’s eyes, she could tell immediately that everything was not alright.

‘Bob, what’s wrong?’ his wife cried out who dashed from the kitchen into the living room.

‘It’s…my heart… woman’ he gasped ‘Call an ambulance already!’

At that moment, he fell back down to the ground and didn’t say another word as his wife desperately rang for an ambulance as Laura tended to her grandfather. The phone rang and rang but there was no response straight away and this caused Barbara to panic, she groaned and panted heavily as the phone continued to ring, the seconds past and this got worse before finally, she made it through and as she began to pour out her heart and plead for an ambulance to come straight away, she heard the lack of care in assisting them, like they had a vendetta.

‘I’m sorry but the nearest ambulance to you is located in Gloves borough, it is being dispatched and will be with you in due time’ the voice down the phone said.

The call then came to an abrupt end and as Barbara slowly put the phone down, Laura watched as her grandmother almost collapsed onto the ground in shock.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘It’s coming from Glovesborough…it’ll be here in half an hour’ she said in a devastated manner.

‘Why isn’t the Lakewood hospital taking him in?’ Laura shouted dramatically as she held her granddad in her arms. ‘They have to, don’t they?’

‘I don’t know but I can only assume the worst from them’ Barbara whimpered.

Laura reluctantly led her grandmother towards the sofa and made her sit down. She marched up and down the living room, desperate to come up with some idea that would be able to solve everything for her but as she tried to come up with one, her mind would always focus on to the safety of her grandparents who seemed to be some sort of target.

Her grandfather’s hospitalization had come as a great shock to them both and as they waited for the ambulance to arrive, they both came about to lift Bob onto the sofa and talk to him and to not let him fall asleep.  Eventually, an ambulance from another town arrived and as soon as it came, it left with Laura’s grandfather inside it.

Laura wasn’t allowed to travel with her grandparents to the hospital; instead she was left alone at the house which to her, being alone in it was rather creepy as it was very rare that she was ever alone in the house. In order to have some sort of noise, she turned on the television, just to be desperate to not to start to think about the little sounds that she would often hear from time to time and while some people would leave it down to random noises coming from the outside world.

The next few weeks that passed by in Lakewood were ones that were pure torture for Laura, ones that she wished that she would never have to endure again in her lifetime.  She was forced to watch her grandmother slowly succumb to depression over the hospitalization of her husband due to a heart attack but not only that, the realization of Lakewood’s’ lack of empathy or assistance on the night, it was the lowest point of the relationship between the town and the Phillips family.

The lack of communication between Laura and her grandmother became apparent over these weeks as Barbara spent most of the day at the hospital in Glovesborough whilst Laura remained behind closed doors at home and when she her grandmother would return home, she would always head up straight to bed, without saying much to Laura which was strange considering their close relationship.  The troubled teen slowly began to feel like she was really cursed.

***

JOB

After a month had passed since Laura’s grandfather’s hospitalization, Laura had come to a point where she could no longer sit at home and do nothing as her family slowly broke apart. More worrying then there distance expansion was the alarming pile of letters in the hallway for unpaid bills, this was all down to Barbara’s attention being drawn away from looking after the house and hence, bills had begun to pile up.

‘At this rate, we won’t have a house to stay in anymore’ she said to herself as she flicked through the bills, one by one with a look of disdain on her face.

The next day, after her grandmother had left early to be with her husband, Laura made sure that the coast was clear before she went upstairs into her bedroom and pulled out her old school bag from under the bed. Taking a deep breath, Laura zipped open the bag and slowly pulled out her wish book.

‘I never thought I’d be using you again but I don’t have a choice anymore, I’m desperate to ask for your help’ she said to the book before she gently banged it against her forehead, she was reluctant to use it for anything anymore, especially after the last time she had used it, the screams of her classmates still haunted her dreams and caused her a great disturbance as it also brought up her old nightmare that she still could not understand.

Pulling open the book and grabbing a nearby pen from her desk, Laura sighed and began to write down a wish that she had come up with, one that would be able to help her family keep a roof over their heads, at least until they had found a new town to live in, hopefully one as far away from Lakewood as they possibly could.

‘I wish I had the appearance of an 18 year old woman’ Laura wrote down in a moping way, she was determined to go through with her little plan but wasn’t planning to get carried away with her wishing like she had done previously.

Expelled from her school and neither of her grandparents able to work anymore, she felt that she had no choice but to find herself a job so they could still pay bills and live a decent life but with the way things were in Lakewood, no one would touch any of them with a fifty foot long barge pole, let alone give either of them a job, especially Laura.

As far as she was concerned, the neighboring city of Glovesborough seemed to be a gateway of opportunity. No one knew who she was and that played into her favour but what didn’t was that Laura would have to make her way there; therefore she would have to walk to the bus stop which meant she would have to leave the safety net of her home and venture outside.

‘Are you alight gran?’

‘I don’t know, your grandfather is a very proud man and he won’t just stay there in that hospital…even if he is in a critical condition’ Barbara cried.

‘He’ll pull through, he has too’

‘Their keeping him away from the other patients for his safety but even the doctors are reluctant to do much for him, I’m amazed he survived the heart attack!’ Barbara cried out.

‘After he gets out of there, we’re moving to another town’ she told Laura ‘I can’t stay here anymore, it’s just too much!’

‘How can we move, we don’t have any money to buy a house or even rent’ Laura explained.

The two girls were depressed and looked to the other for an answer. Laura wanted everyone to respect her family and not hate her anymore whilst Barbara just wanted to get away from Lakewood once and for all.

‘It’s my entire fault, my bad luck caused him to have a heart attack!’ said Laura.

‘Now don’t you dare start blaming yourself?’ Barbara yelled at her. ‘He is a proud man and he always hides away his true feelings…everything just got on top of him and his heart gave way!’ she explained.

‘Where are you going dear?’

‘I need to go for a little walk, some fresh air…I’ll be back soon’ Laura lied to her grandmother.

To Laura, it felt like she was a spy on a secret mission. Sneaking out of her home in a disguise, well a purple scarf over her mouth and nose and black sunglasses with a big, thick coat on, Laura went through the garden, out of the gate and quietly down the street into town. The sun had not yet risen and night was still upon Lakewood but as Laura was soon to discover, a few people were moving about the streets and this made her very scared for her safety.

‘If any of them find out it’s me, I’m finished’ she thought in terror.

Making it onto the bus, Laura took a deep breath and sunk into her seat as she made her way along the main road to the hill that led out of the hate filled town, towards the nearby motorway.

The room was full of adults sat about at desks, either talking to advisors or clicking away on computers, presumably for jobs or social networking sites. All faces looked uninterested and bored; it was a feeling that was depressing for anyone starting out looking for their first job.

‘I want to speak to an advisor regarding getting a job’

‘Have a seat; someone will be along to see you shortly.

Shortly turned into three hours as Laura sat there waiting and waiting for someone to call her over but as time passed by, she found herself being ignored and others were been seen before her, even those who arrived after her but eventually, the name she had given in was called out.

Feeling nervous, Laura pulled up her scarf to recover her mouth and walked over to the desk. Sat on the other side was a rather large woman with a pig like nose and short ginger hair. Her spot filled face looked very bored and she had already stretched out for a yawn, picked her nose and passed wind repeatedly before Laura had taken her seat, it was an uncomfortable feeling for the teenager.

‘Linda Phillips is it?’ the woman asked.

‘Yes, that’s me’ she smiled confidently.

‘Alright, don’t sound so cheerful love; this isn’t a happy place to be’

Laura sat back in her chair and felt tongue tied. She had barely said anything and had already had her head bitten off for it.

‘Have you had a job before?’ the woman asked.

‘No, I haven’t’ Laura answered.

‘Would you be willing to do some work experience or a zero hour contract job if it helped you gain a job in the future?’ the woman asked next.

‘I guess so, I think?’ Laura answered, not fully understanding the question.

‘That’s good enough for me’ the woman sighed as she scribbled down on a note form on the desk.

A few minutes of silence past as the woman behind the desk mumbled to herself, stared at Laura and constantly wrote down before repeating the process time and time again, making the troubled teen feel very uncomfortable.

‘Ok then Mrs. Phillips, if all goes to plan then you should have a job in no time’ smiled gleefully.

‘I will require you to come here every single day for the next fortnight, starting tomorrow’ she told Laura in a dull, plain robot voice.

It was as if she had told various people the same message over and over again, to the point that it had lost all meaning to her, after all she didn’t care what happened to these people, she could give benefits and take them away just as easily for the smallest of reasons.

‘Well, could you tell me why I have to come in every single day?’ she asked.

‘How the fuck am I supposed to know that, I don’t own the place, I just come in and listen to you people shout abuse at me when I have to take your benefits away!’ the woman said very uncaringly.

‘It just doesn’t seem beneficial if I have to come all the way here every single day if you don’t know why I need to’

‘You’ll be told all that when you speak to your advisor tomorrow but not before’

‘My right to live my life then, is that what you’re telling me?’  Laura asked in a very demanding voice.

‘Look, it’s an opportunity for you to find some paid work and become a respectable member of society’ the ginger haired woman tried to tell her although her bored voice made this very difficult.

‘It’s more like a gun to my head, you mean’

‘If you want to look at it that way then fine, either turn up or you’ll get jack shit from us and you never will if you keep up that attitude!’

‘This isn’t fair, you can’t mess around with my life like that, and I have a family who depends on me to bring in an income!’

‘This meeting is over, either come in tomorrow morning or you’ll get nothing from us, good day!’

‘If you don’t come in then you will be sanctioned Mrs. Philips, it’s as simple as that’

Before she could say anything else, the woman had left her desk and made her way into the back room. Feeling defeated, Laura left the job centre and made her way carefully back home, feeling very uncertain about whether this was going to work or not. On the bus she pulled out the wish book and felt obligated to write some sort of wish to make things better but as she sat there thinking about what to wish for, a troubling thought entered her head.

‘No matter what I wish for, it just makes my life harder…it’s almost as if the book is teaching me that only hard work gives you what you truly want, cheating takes you down all kinds of paths but never the correct one’  thought Laura.

Over the next fortnight, Laura continued to sneak out of Lakewood on the morning bus. The only person who would continue to grow suspicious of her disguise was the bus driver who every morning would ask question after question regarding her identity but with cunning and the use of the book, Laura was always able to bypass this and make it to Glovesborough safely and on time.

‘So, you’re telling me that I either do as your say or my family has to leave our house and give ourselves to those vultures!’ Laura screamed.

‘Where have you been?’ he whispered ‘I’ve been calling round to see you every day!’ he explained.

‘It’s a long story Dean; get in here before you’re seen!’

Closing the door behind him, Laura pulled Dean through the hallway and into the living room

‘Be quiet, my grandma’s asleep upstairs’ she whispered.

‘I had an idea that I needed to tell you about’ he explained.

‘Look Dean, I told you that I’m not going to use the book anymore for anything like that ever again’ she sighed ‘All it ever did was bring more misery to me and my family then before I found it’

‘Where did you get this book from?’ he asked.

Laura felt confused and didn’t understand why he would need to know where the book came from or why he would even care but she did realize that she may have forgotten to mention that at the start.

‘The library on the other side of town but why on earth do you want to know that Dean?’

She only went as far as mentioning the building but not the secret of the lower floors hidden within the hill, it just seemed too unreal to try and make it sound real.

‘If it has a place of origin then there might be more to learn about it’ he explained ‘you could get more understanding of how to make things work more in your favour’

‘It’s too risky’ she said in a doubtful voice ‘I don’t want to find myself in a situation where the people get a hold of me or my grandparents’

‘If we’re careful then we can get there, I’m sure of it’

‘There might not be anything there and then what will I do Dean, can you tell me that you have another plan in case of this wild theory of yours ending up being just that?’ she asked him rather demand idly.

‘Don’t you trust me?’ he asked in a cautious manner.

Laura hesitated at this at first but deep down, couldn’t help but feel weak and cave into not resisting him anyone. Regardless of what had happened between them recently, she still had feelings for him.

‘Of course I do’ she whispered happily ‘if you really think that this is worth a look then we’ll go’

‘This does seem like a waste of time Dean but I don’t have a choice…either I can find something else regarding the book or my families doomed.

Interrogation

If Laura thought that things couldn’t possibly get any worse than they were right now? Then she was dead wrong. It had been a whole month since Lakewood had been opened but feelings of the events had not being forgotten by anyone at all and the sudden revelation of Laura being amongst the four missing students on the night of the fire had unleashed a months’ worth of anger and frustration. Laura looked towards Dean who was sat at the desk beside hers but he wasn’t looking back at her, if anything he was ignoring her, she wasn’t going to get any support or sympathy from him now. Mrs. Winkle had taken her through the entire length of the school, all the way to the headmaster’s office on the top floor where they sat outside and didn’t speak to one another but Mrs. Winkle did shoot a lot of evil glares toward the terrified student.

‘Mr Lock is ready to see you now’ she couldn’t have sounded angrier at Laura, her eyes looked like daggers stabbing her in the face.

Upon stepping inside the office, Laura saw a rather neat and tidied room with many statues from what appeared to be models of Roman goddesses.

‘Don’t touch that, it’s the statue of the goddess of Jupiter and it is very precious’ Mr Lock pointed out without turning from his window.

She backed away from the statue immediately without saying a word.

‘Have a seat’ he said rather quietly.

Doing as she was told and without saying a word, a scared Laura took a seat and feared the worst for her future.  She could sense that the feeling in the room shared by the both of them was not mutual, not one bit. Laura had no defense or any idea of how to do so at all because all she could think about was that it was all her fault that the fire started in the first place.

‘I wish I had never found that stupid book’ she whispered to herself.

‘Did you say something?’ Mr Lock asked rather suspiciously.

Laura didn’t say anything; she just stared down at the ground in silence. Her mind was too busy reliving the past events to hear the headmaster speak.

‘Miss Phillips, as you will be aware of this already I’ll cut to the point and cut out the small chat’ Mr Lock began with. He was faced away from Laura staring out of the window, looking over the smoky ashes in the distance of what were the grand woods of Lakewood Academy.

‘Sir, I have no-

‘Silence, you don’t get to speak yet Miss Phillips, not while I’m speaking!’

The Headmaster turned to face Laura, hands behind his back with a face that looked like sorrow; he slowly made his way over to his desk as Laura cowered in her seat.

‘There are a lot of accusations coming your way Mrs. Phillips, a lot of the students have recalled seeing you with Thomas Robinson an hour before the fire was reported to have started,  so that makes you the last person to have seen him alive’ he explained.

‘I-

‘I’m not speaking Mrs. Phillips!’ Mr Lock shouted whilst slamming his fist down on his desk, sending papers flying all over the place.

‘Not only is Mr Robinson still absentee but Adrian Pickles, Mitsuko and Chiyo Takashi have also not been seen since that night, that makes four students that we are yet to find’ he yelled ‘However, you were able to make it away from what remains of those woods unscathed, so explain to me how out of five students, only one was able to get out?’ Mr Lock asked.

Laura felt like she was in an interrogation, her nerve felt shot and all over the place as her head was riddled with guilt. She couldn’t look the headmaster in the eyes and no matter how hard she tried, it always got too much and she diverted her gaze towards the wall or floor. Mr Lock watched carefully and noticed this happen every time Laura almost looked up at him.

‘Do you not take any of these allegations seriously young ladies?’ he asked in a curious but angry tone of voice.

Laura slowly looked up from the floor, gulping in the process.

‘Yes sir’ she said weakly.

‘It’s been a month and no one has seen or heard from any of them’ he explained ‘This school has suffered major setbacks in all departments and because of this tragedy, we’ve had to send more than half of our foreign students back home with their tuition fees refunded!’

It was like all of her energy was being slowly drained from her body, she didn’t feel like she had any right to say that she had no part in the fire starting. Deep down, she knew that it was her wish that had caused the fire to begin but she never wished for a fire but for a means to defend herself from the wolf.

‘I know you won’t believe me when I say this but I didn’t kill anyone’ Laura said with a whimper in her voice, her legs felt like jelly as she rose from her seat.

‘Miss Phillips, we can’t even claim insurance because the fire was started by one of our very own students on purpose, you can’t stand there shaking and tell me that the fire was started by accident!’

‘I DIDN’T DO IT!’

‘YOU’RE A LIAR!’

Mr Lock had risen from his seat and with a face like thunder restrained himself from doing anything that he would regret. He took a very deep breath and slowly sat back down in his chair.

‘I don’t know what happened to them, I swear’

‘You were the only person to make it out of those woods alive that night; it’s a miracle that the school itself isn’t in ashes as well!’

‘We got separated by the old abandoned building that was the last time I saw any of them’

‘Explain immediately!’

Laura tumbled and twiddled her thumbs but no matter what she thought of saying, she couldn’t keep up with her charade, her conscious was too big to bear anymore.

‘I didn’t start the fire, I swear!’ she pleaded with him in a last ditch attempt.

‘Your lies won’t work here Miss Phillips; not since we have the proof that it was indeed you that started the fire’ Mr Lock explained.

What he did next almost brought the young school girl to tears. He brought from under his desk, a slightly burned school bag which Laura immediately recognized but she couldn’t understand how a part of the bag could still be around when she remembers seeing the whole bag being engulfed by flames, how was it possible.

‘It took three weeks to recover it but we found this bag lying on the ground in the middle of the woods with a wrapped torch, a box of matches and a blank book inside of it’ Mr Lock angrily explained to Laura who despite breaking down in tears was also in shock as he pulled out the book and she quickly recognized it to be the book of hope, completely unharmed and no burnt marks on it whatsoever but how could that be?

‘Sir, that bag isn’t-

‘Do you deny that this was your schoolbag that you were seen wearing on the day of the fire and we have had more than enough students testify that this was your bag’ he went on to explain.

‘They would say that, everybody at this school hates me!’ Laura yelled at the Headmaster.

‘Of course all of these items are to be confiscated for further use’ he explained.

‘Tell me, for further use in doing what with them sir?’ Laura asked him.

‘I’m afraid that I have no choice to not only expel you from our school but to also notify the police of this arson attack!’

‘I can’t do that for you’ responded the book

‘Let it be known Miss Phillips that you are by far the worst student to have ever set foot on Lakewood soil, May you never return here’

Just as the meeting was about to conclude, the door suddenly flew open as the assistant headmaster, Mr Whitham came rushing into the room with quite the pale look on his face, it was like he had just seen a ghost and with a deadly stare from his wide open eyes, the bulky man almost broke into tears.

‘What is it Kenny, has something happened?’

‘Sir, I’m sad to tell you that they’ve found some bodies in the woods’ Kenny told them tearfully.

‘You are a murderer and I’m calling the police right now!’ Mr Lock yelled as he reached for the phone

Not a word was uttered between the three of them as eyes read from line to line of the letter.

Dear Mr and Mrs. Phillips

I am writing to you both today to inform you that Miss Laura Phillips has been expelled from Lakewood Academy and we wish her to never return within the walls of our great academy

I apologize if this letter is somewhat bashing and harsh

If I may also add on a more personal note, I have been the Headmaster of this fine school for more than thirty years and have seen many upon many bright students come from this fine town but upon meeting Miss Laura, I have to be honest and say that I have never met a more undisciplined trouble maker who if possible should receive a sentence in an institute.

Her actions on Lakewood have scarred your families’ reputation to a point that it is unrepairable. Not even John and Sarah’s magnificent achievements here are able to make up for the destruction of a thousand year old woodland.

You shall be hearing from the local authorities in due time and May the lord have mercy upon your guilty souls

From

Simon Lock

Headmaster of Lakewood Academy

***

Words full of hate and despair written all over the family home, sentences that told them that they were no longer welcome in Lakewood. Bob and Barbara couldn’t bear to face anyone in town, they remained behind there locked door with the curtains closed now, thinking of where they could possibly go to stay.

Laura was locked in her room and had been for a day. She had no stepped one foot out and that was simply because she had spent all of her time staring at the book of hope, nothing more and nothing less for an entire day. With a pen in hand, she finally built up the courage to write something within its pages.

‘How did you survive the fire?’ she asked the book.

Laura waited for a response patiently but after a minute had past, nothing had come up in the book; it was rather odd behaviour as it would normally respond in some way, whether it was saying no or granting one of Laura’s wishes but this time nothing happened. Was it ignoring her question for the first time?

‘Did you get that, how did you survive the fire? You were burning the last time I saw you’

Once again, the book didn’t reply to this at all and this started to frustrate Laura to no end.

‘I WISH YOU WOULD TELL ME HOW YOU SURVIVED THE FIRE!’ she wrote in big letters.

Her third time was not the charm as the book continued to defy her. After a long scream of despair, Laura grabbed it and hurled it across the room, it slammed against her dresser wardrobe and slumped to the ground as Laura buried her head in her hands and wept tears of guilt.

‘My grandparents didn’t do anything wrong, it’s not right that they should suffer the same fate as me’ she said to herself. Laura didn’t care that she was always speaking out loud to herself.

‘Erase my grandparents of their memories’ she scribbled down.

Laura could do nothing apart from running down the long corridors towards the doors and down the staircases in a desperate attempt to save her life as the flaming inferno followed closely behind her, eviscerating all that was in its path.

All around her, she could hear scribbling of a pen; it was like nails down a chalkboard as Laura held her ears in pain.

‘This book has existed throughout all time; it was here before the Earth and will be here long after this planet’ Emily’s voice echoed throughout.

‘All kinds of events are linked directly to us’ she laughed

‘Amelia Earhart was one, I recall really well’

‘But she disappeared, that doesn’t make sense’

‘That’s what the world thinks’ Emily pointed out ‘But have you found the plane?’

‘You’re making it up!’  Laura snapped angrily whilst dodging various flames around her.

‘Benjamin Briggs was another as well but he was a strange one, with his disappearing act and all’

‘Captain of the Mary Celeste, don’t tell me all of this?’ Laura pleaded.

‘Well you’re the one who read up on all of these people but back to the important stuff, burning off your flesh!’

‘Wait, why are you telling me this Emily, I don’t understand?’ Laura yelled. ‘What purpose does it serve to educate me?’

‘It’s just for fun really, I thought I’d be nice enough to tell you that you’re about join an elite group of wish believers’.

Laura felt like she running about in circles, she had run about the same floor various times now, desperately trying to dodge a flare, ember or a fiery wall of death as well as trying to breathe with all the smoke about the place but covering her mouth with her jumper was not working, her sight and concentration was slipping fast.

‘Lies upon lies, what else… are you lying about!’ Laura said out loud to herself slowly as she tried to catch her breath, briefly avoiding fallen book cases as ember and ashes scattered all around them.

‘Shut up already, I try and make this interesting and you have to do what you always do, moan and complain’ Emily’s voice groaned ‘Very well then, I hope you do keep running, those flames are just dying to burn some flesh tonight!’

Laura came out into the centre of the floor and with a wall of magical fire right behind her, dashed towards the computer desk and attempted to hide underneath one of them but to no avail as she quickly crawled back up with steam coming off her bottom, the floorboards had set on fire somehow.

‘You should know that you can’t hide from me, I’m here, there and everywhere so don’t insult me’ Emily’s echoed voice advised her.

‘Didn’t your parents teach you to never mess with fire?’ Laura called out.

‘Enough stalling, you’re going to die now’ she laughed coldly.

The walls of fire circling Laura got closer as Emily’s evil laugh filled the room, it was cold and malicious to hear and there was nowhere left to go for Laura to go, all looked lost.

‘Just lie there and let it happen, I promise it will hurt as much as possible!’

Laura started to feel that Emily was right, there didn’t look like she had a hope in hell of getting out alive, after all, the librarian had a magical book that allowed her to do anything that she could put her mind to, what did Laura have? Nothing but her bad luck on her side, it wasn’t looking good.

‘I won’t let it end this way, bad luck or not I have to at least try!’

Taking a deep breath before rising up to her feet, the sweat covered Laura covered her face and before she had time to rethink her plan of action, the troubled teenager ran and leapt through the surrounding flames, rolling onto the other side and crashing into a bookshelf that wobbled slightly, fortunately for Laura, it did not fall on top of her but some burning books did fall and barely missed her hair which was beyond a miracle to not have been scolded at all yet. She breathed a sigh of relief, only to start coughing from the smoke in the air. She was starting to feel very weak because of this and her train of thought was starting to fade.

‘I…wish this was all a dream’ Laura panted.

The temperature was now beyond reasonable, it was a feat beyond itself to be able to stay on her two feet, let alone walk but she was able to do so, despite the burning debris and various pieces of literature around her.

‘What’s the matter dear, are you falling asleep on me?’ Emily asked Laura with a glee of hope in her voice ‘You don’t make this easy you know’.

Unable to dodge one falling bookcase, Laura was knocked to the floor violently, her head smashing against the hard floor as she fell, only to be buried by a pile of books from the fallen bookcase.

‘Ouch, that looked like it hurt!’ Emily mocked

‘I don’t even have my book anymore to help me, there’s nothing I can do to fix things anymore’

‘I’m all alone’ she wept as she cuddled herself.  ‘It’s only a matter of time now’

The smoke from the flames filled the air and made it incredibly hard for Laura to stay conscious and breathe but the teenager was determined to not give in and let her former friend have her vengeance. With a determined look, Laura started to slow crawl from under the book pile and with a mighty push, was able to just about move the bookcase off of top of her, it slammed onto its side as Laura moved slowly away, coughing violently from the sulphur fumes.

‘Darn and here I thought you’d be crushed’ Laura heard Emily’s voice call out.

‘Leave me alone’ Laura shouted as she continued to crawl along the floor. The heat from the flames made everything boiling hot and the scorching heat made her scream as her stomach touched the ground.

In one desperate attempt, Laura crawl as fast as she could towards the door but the flames were coming mighty close to her and the smoke was starting to get the better of her, her eyes were slowly starting to fade and the dizziness started to kick in.

‘Die Laura, lie there and die!’

Not to concede defeat, Laura managed to make it to the door on the other side of the room but as she went to pull it open, the searing heat made any attempt to touch the door handle was next to impossible. She struggled to push it, pull it open so in a moment of madness, Laura stepped back quickly and with her last ounce of strength, kicked it down.

‘No, you can’t leave here alive!’

Using every ounce of strength that was left with her but was ultimately able to successfully close the big door behind her. She collapsed from exhaustion onto the cold hard ground, feeling relieved that Emily had not been able to get her as of yet. Taking every chance she had to regain her breath, she also felt her face and felt how sore it was, she groaned in pain from this but was just relived to be in the old staircase where she had begun her adventure to find the wish book in the first place.

‘What is that?’

The Cold Girl

It was a little girl sat all alone in the center of the room, curdled up into a ball, wearing nothing but shredded rags.

‘What the hell is going on now?’

As she looked more intensely, Laura was slowly able to recognize who the little girl was but she didn’t want to accept it, even though she knew that it was possible. The child was cuddled up with her head and arms around her legs, weeping away as if she was distraught.

‘Not again…please, have mercy Emily’ Laura whispered.

‘I know who you are’ said Laura in an unconvincing fashion.

‘Well you should’ she giggled ‘I’m you, well a younger you’.

‘Let’s get the formalities out of the way, it’s clear that you’re not here to find out what your future is going to be’ said Laura ‘

‘I want you to read this for me’

‘No, I’m not going to do that’

‘Oh go on, pretty please?’

Laura very reluctantly took the page from her younger self

Along the lines, it’s a scary thought

That you stare at your younger self and realize what it is you’ve lost

Your innocence of being a child, lost to the wind

As Lakewood wishes they could throw you in a bin

Now you struggle with the hardships of what it is we call life

But no one wants you around, here, there or anywhere

You have no Mother or Father, you were there very peak

As your dear Mother made your sweet cheating Daddy squeak

As a demon child you cried at their death, not even your parents loved you enough.

So now is the time for you to die

But don’t worry; it’ll be a quick demise

A horrible shriek came from the child’s mouth, one that terrified Laura to no end. It was a sound that was like many dead children all screaming at once in great pain, it was unbearable for anyone to hear. As she covered her ears to block out the sound, Laura looked at the child and saw live snakes slowly pouring out of her mouth.

‘You will die here tonight’ the child grinned. ‘I look forward to watching the soul leave your body’

‘Please…this isn’t the right thing to do’ Laura pleaded ‘Emily won’t find peace with revenge’

‘I don’t fucking care what you think, my mistress will have her vengeance and you will burn in the deepest pits of hell, I’m certain Beelzebub will be happy to see you’ the young Laura grinned with delight; she licked her lips and gasped.

The snakes slithered about the floor, hissing at Laura who felt paralyzed with fear.

‘There’s no point running anymore, your death has already been confirmed, it’s going to happen whether you want it to or not’

‘How, how on earth can you tell me that?’ Laura asked.

‘My mistress has already wished for it, that’s why I know’ the little child answered happily.

Laura felt disturbed how her younger self was able to sound so cheerful in such a situation. She was bleeding all over the place as snakes dangled on her arms; she started to feel dizzy and struggled to stay on her feet.

‘Don’t worry, you’ll be paralyzed soon enough’ she smiled ‘Then my mistress will kill you’

‘That’s not possible, she told me that you can’t use the book to kill anyone’ Laura said in her defense

‘When am I to die then?’ Laura asked as the blood dripped down her arms

‘Simple, when the clock strikes midnight’ the younger Laura answered innocently.

‘How will I die?’ Laura asked.

‘Simple it is but I don’t want to tell you’ the young Laura smiled manically.

‘Tell me!’ Laura yelled.

The little girl skipped happily away down the corridor, much to the annoyance of her older self who was fed up of being messed around with. She made chase down the endless corridor but as she did, she couldn’t help but feel that something was terribly wrong.

‘Why does this corridor feel narrower than it did before?’

‘Why isn’t it midnight now, I want you to die’

‘Perhaps I could break the rules of the book and kill you myself?’

‘Slice your throat with this knife?’

‘Look here, an entire section dedicated to medieval torture, isn’t that just fascinating’

‘Take the easy way out’ she suggested

‘No! I’m not going to just give up and let that bitch win

‘That bitch that you murdered, I’d watch my mouth if I was you’ the child replied angrily. Laura watched as the younger version of her self’s hair suddenly set aflame and rose higher up towards the ceiling

‘Ok, I won’t swear anymore, just calm down’ Laura pleaded.

DEAN

Rather surprised that she wasn’t the only student to miss the bus up to the academy, Laura felt the urge to engage him in conversation but as she attempted this, a sudden case of nerves came about her.

‘Well, see you’ Laura managed to blurt out.

Feeling embarrassed enough, the troubled teenager walked away from the bus stop as fast as she could.

‘There probably goes my last chance to make someone in this town from not hating me’ she sighed as she rested one of her hands on her forehead.

Now grumpy and rather annoyed at her for being a nervous wreck, Laura got a move on and ran through the rest of the town towards the hill. At the foot of the long climb, Laura began to notice a sense; it was like someone was closely following her.

‘Why are you following me?’ Laura shouted as she turned around. She found the same boy from the bus stop standing there, looking tired.

He was an average built teenage boy with messy black hair and freckles all over his face but what was most noticeable was that Dean had quite a goofy expression on his face, one that was close to making Laura giggle, despite her cause for concern, it was just that goofy.

‘Who on earth are you?’

‘You walked away before I could introduce myself’ he told her before she had a chance to walk away again.

‘I asked you a question! What’s your name?’ she asked him again.

‘The name’s Dean…Dean Thompson’

Constantly thinking that at any moment, some sort of trick would be played on her by this sudden interest in her by a complete stranger who wanted to talk to her, it was just too good to be true for her.

‘I wish that Dean Thompson would go away’ she quickly wrote down.

Seconds passed by but Dean didn’t move an inch, he stood on the pavement with an awkward grin on his face. Laura couldn’t understand why her wish wasn’t coming true; he was just stood there, staring directly at the book.

‘That book, it’s not a normal book is it’ Dean asked out of the blue.

Laura was taken aback by his words, how could he possibly know this? Had he seen her when she let her guard down?

‘I don’t know what you are talking about, it’s just a journal that I like to write down into every now and then, nothing more and nothing less’

‘Well you just tried to make me disappear and by the way your facial expression looks, it didn’t quite work now, did it?’ he asked her.

Laura in a moment of panic began to slowly back away but her foot slipped on the pavement and she nearly fell backwards onto the main road. A car screeched to a halt but Dean grabbed Laura by the arms and dragged her onto the pavement. By the time it had come to a complete halt, Laura had regained her balance and her sense. The annoyed driver said something very rude and drove off in quite a huff’

‘Well he was rude’ Dean moaned ‘Are you alright?’

‘I’m fine but I didn’t need your help!’

Laura sounded offended and without saying thanks, walked into the school grounds but Dean began to follow her closely once again, keeping a keen eye on the book that Laura was holding closely to her chest.

‘Don’t lie to me, I’ve seen written things in that book and then something strange always happens!’

‘Have…have you been spying on me, creep?’ Laura accused him.

Dean grinned and placed his hands on his sides and looking smug whilst he did it. Laura began to become quite fearful that anyone would have any sort of knowledge about the book. How was that even possible when she went through hell just to get her hands on it? With quick thinking, Laura reached for a spare pen in her pocket and scribbled away on a page, she was desperate for this boy to get away from her.

‘I wish Dean Thompson’s memory would be erased’ Laura quickly wrote down into the book.

Laura waited for ten seconds in silence and as soon as they were over, she felt convinced that another issue had quickly been laid to rest.

‘Well, I’ll be seeing you’ Laura said quickly as she turned and began to walk back home.

‘Hang on, you haven’t told me about that book yet!’ Dean called out.

Laura froze and felt like time had completely stopped. Her breathing increased and she held her chest in fear. How could he still remember, she had just asked the book to erase his memory, was there a problem or rule against this?

‘I already told you…it’s just a

‘Don’t insult my intelligence, you just tried to erase my memory didn’t you?’ he said smugly. Laura’s heart skipped a beat and sweat dripped down her forehead.

‘I don’t-

‘Please don’t start playing innocent’ He said calmly.

‘How can you remember who I am?’ Laura asked out of desperation.

‘I think that we can help each other out here’

‘Tell me all about your little book and how you obtained it?’

‘And what could you possibly give me in return for all of that?’ Laura asked back.

‘Simple, I’ll be your friend’ Dean answered.

Those words triggered a short moment of excitement in Laura, one that lasted for the next hour at least as the two of them walked all around town talking to one another but Laura’s plan was to see if Dean was being serious about what he said or whether it was just another trick being played on her but that wouldn’t explain just how Dean had any idea about the book.

‘Ok, stop!’ Laura said annoyed.

The rain poured and trickled down their faces but Laura didn’t care. Her secret was in jeopardy by a complete stranger and she wanted to know how, had someone told her, could Dean know Emily somehow?

‘What’s the matter?’ Dean asked.

‘Is this a joke?’

‘Excuse me?’

‘You heard me Dean, I want to know just how you know anything about my book and I want to know right now!’ Laura demanded.

‘I heard you mutter what you were writing in the corridor last week, you asked for school to finish an hour early so you could go home and after a few seconds, it was home time’ Dean explained.

‘Rubbish, you shouldn’t be able to know this at all’ Laura told him in a frantic panic ‘It’s a lie!’

‘Relax, I’m not going to tell anyone about the book’ Dean told her calmly.

‘I don’t trust you! Not one bit, you’ll just treat me like everyone else in this town does!’

‘I don’t hate you’ Dean said so suddenly.

Laura’s drink could not have come back up any quicker after hearing this. She coughed and gasped for air. She couldn’t take his words seriously because regardless of how genuine he sounded, Laura couldn’t help but feel like this whole thing was too good to be true.

‘Please, don’t lie to me!’ Laura said in a hurt voice.

‘I don’t!’ Dean said offended

‘What did you just say?’ she asked feeling breathless

‘I said that I don’t hate you’ he replied with a smile.

‘I’ll see about that’ she said in a unamused tone, she brushed her hair from her eyes and put her bag back over her shoulders before turning away from Dean ‘I want you to earn my trust before I tell you anything’ Laura told him.

‘I can do that; I’ll prove that I want to be your friend’

‘We’ll see about that’

Over the next week, Laura was always met by Dean at the school gates as he walked her into class, every single lunchtime, he sat with her and they ate lunch together and if you haven’t guessed by now, every day after school, he walked her back from the academy, much to the utter shock of everyone that saw them, student and teacher alike.

‘Ignore the stares, I don’t care one bit’ Dean admitted.

The two of them sat down on a bench facing the lake and let all of their trouble wash away as they began to chat. It had only been a week but Laura had now begun to trust Dean as more than the creepy stalker who wouldn’t stop asking about her wish book.

‘I’ve lived in Lakewood all of my life’

‘But…why aren’t you like everyone else?’ Laura asked him.

‘I haven’t had a real friend before, ever’ Laura admitted.

‘I had one once but…it’s too painful to really go into’ Dean admitted.

‘I had a friend a few years ago and she was my best friend, we would do everything together and as the months passed by, I…well I fell for her’ Dean confessed.

‘You fell in love with her?’

‘Yeah, I guess you could say that’ Dean said with a slight blush in his cheeks.

Christmas was fast approaching Lakewood; it was the month of December and snow had already begun to fall in the town, meaning that it had become very cold indeed. The hillsides in the distance were now covered in the whitest snow and the lake at the academy was completely covered in the thickest ice, safe enough to skate on. Every day the ground was covered in the slipiest ice which had made traffic a nightmare on the roads. As for Laura, the sudden change in weather hadn’t affected her at all who simply walked to the academy, past the long queue of traffic, humming away to herself happily knowing that things were finally going her way.

‘What else should I wish for this year?’ she asked herself.

As she was too busy thinking about her latest desires, she felt really happy, obsessed in fact to write more desires in the book, to be able to have all the wishes in the world. Laura was so infatuated by these thoughts that she had unfortunately failed to notice her friend Dean waiting for her at the end of the street. He stuck out his hand and waved at her kindly, hoping to talk about Christmas plans but she ignored this warm greeting and continued walking on towards the crossing.

‘Laura, are you alright?’ he asked her.

Dean caught up with Laura and repeatedly tried to say hello to her but was dumb founded by her lack of a response. He would wave his hand in front of her face, snap his fingers and make a loud banging noise but this didn’t have any affect what so ever.

‘Are you ignoring me?’ he asked.

With no answer to any of his questions, Dean began to slow down as Laura continued walking on. She reached the lights at the end of the street but to Dean’s horror, Laura did not stop at the lights, rather she continued walking forward, out onto the busy main road.

‘Laura, stay right where you are!’ Dean called out.

Into the middle of the road she went and as she made it half way, the lights were green and the oncoming traffic came towards her. The weather was snowy and it didn’t make it easy for drivers to always see everything clearly from their cars and as a result of this, Laura was almost hit by an oncoming car that was coming down the road at quite some speed. Just as the speeding car attempted to screech to a halt when she finally came in the sight of the driver, Dean managed to run out as fast as he could and get Laura out of the way just in time, they fell onto the pavement on the other side of the road. Dean slowly sat up and felt his arm, it had a cut along the side and a small amount of blood began to dribble down it.

‘What were you thinking?’ Dean yelled at her.

He was furious with her for being so stupid but he noticed that Laura either hadn’t heard him or was just ignoring him as she once again set off down the path again, without saying a single word of thanks.  The car driver had stepped out of his car and with a face like thunder; he stormed his way over to the pair of them.

‘You stupid bitch, you could have gotten us both killed!’ the male driver yelled as stepped onto the snow covered payment.

‘Sir, I apologize for what happened, my friend was-

‘Shut up boy, I want to hear this from her!’ the driver barked at Dean.

They stood there in silence for a moment, Dean looking nervous about the situation but to the driver’s and Dean’s  surprise, Laura had kept on walking without either of them noticing; it was almost like she hadn’t even seen or heard that she had almost died.  The driver stood there flabbergasted about this, he had never seen anyone show little care about their own safety for the sake of a book and Dean apologized for her reckless behaviour before running after the girl inside her own little world.

‘I’m so sorry about her, she-

‘That girl is nothing but trouble to this town’ he said out loud ‘you hear me, you’re cursed!’ the driver yelled.

After watching the driver angrily drive on and blow his car horn angrily as he drove past her, Dean started to run down the path and was able to catch up with Laura again and as he did so, Dean saw her mumbling away to herself and that the wish book was in her hands. She was scribbling things into it and squealing with delight.

‘Laura…hello, tell me if you’re in there or are you just being rude to me?’ said Dean as he waved his hand in front of her face as they walked.

For a moment, Laura didn’t say anything and kept on walking and Dean was really starting to get angry about this, she was being very rude, despite the fact that he had saved her life. He clicked his fingers and grabbed her shoulders and finally she came to a halt but kept on writing,

‘LAURA!’ he shouted.

‘Huh, Dean, when did you get here?’

Laura snapped out of her deep thinking and was very surprised to see Dean stood there, in front of her. She looked about bewildered and was surprised that she wasn’t where she was a couple of minutes ago.

‘Welcome back…did you enjoy your little dream then?’ he asked mockingly.

She looked at Dean and was rather confused about everything. Book still in hand, she clenched it tight and wanted to resume on with her wishing.

‘What’s up with you Dean? It’s like you’re not too happy to see me or something’

Dean sighed and went on to explain to Laura what had just happened and how she had almost caused a serious accident. However, her reaction was not one that he had been expecting. Rather than feeling bad and being worried, Laura shrugged it off and began to continue walking along the road once again.

‘You look cheerful, what have you wished for this time?’ Dean asked her.

‘I wrote out everything that I wanted for Christmas in the book’ Laura admitted in a very cheeky way, she winked as she did so which made Dean actually blush slightly.

‘Are you cold Dean?’ Laura asked him.

‘No…just got a bit of a fever, yeah that’s it’ Dean quickly replied to her but he snapped out of this and realized what Laura had done.

‘Can you really ask the book for presents?’ he asked with concern in his voice.

‘Yeah but It’s not that much fun when you know what you’re getting’ Laura admitted.

‘I thought the book wouldn’t do that-

‘Oh I don’t care about the rules in the book anymore, If I wish for something long enough the book normally caves in and gives me what I what’ she revealed to him whilst interrupting him mid-sentence, much to his surprise.

‘It doesn’t feel right though’

Laura then burst out in anger at him, she reached out for his cheeks and grabbed them tightly, he gasped and tried to break free but she dug her nails in his cheeks and he could not do so, the stinging sensation from her fingers made him want to scream in pain.

‘Oh, save your righteous speech about what’s right and wrong already Dean’ she said sternly to his face. ‘My entire family deserves to have a happy Christmas for once!’

He didn’t agree with what she was saying regarding wishes but agreed that she did at least deserve a good Christmas but he knew that he would just be wasting his breath by trying to get her to do the right thing. He took a deep breath and calmed himself down.

‘You know what, do what you want, I’m going home’ he told her.

Upon hearing this, Laura let go of Dean and felt unsure as what to say. Dean had never backed down from a fight before and for some reason, she was unhappy that he had done so but she wasn’t sure why.

‘What’s wrong with you?’

‘You Dean that is what’s bugging me, your lack of care for the boundaries of the book ’he said angrily‘ there are rules to that thing and you have recently lacked any sort of care for them’

‘You were the one who told me to liven up and live a little, wasn’t that you who told me to do that Dean? Laura asked with a somewhat grin on her face.

A magnificent turkey was the main attraction, Barbara proudly placed it in the centre of the dining table and was met with applause from the family as they gawped at the size and the smell as it entered their nostrils. Soon followed afterwards

‘How could you afford all of this food Barbara, none of you work if I still have that right?’

‘I found these books that you were asking for, no need to return them, their all yours now’. From Emily, your friendly Librarian

‘This present is a little gift from the afterlife, enjoy it and use it wisely’

Laura’s heart skipped a beat, she quickly looked about to see if anyone was watching her but her family were too busy drinking the mulled wine at the dinner table to notice anything suspicious. She looked puzzled as she began to carefully unwrap the Christmas present. She opened up and tossed aside the wrapping to find that she was holding a blank book in her hands.

‘What cheapskates your cousins are’ Bob sighed. ‘A bloody book, is that all they could really get you?’

‘I’ll give them a call they won’t forget, don’t you worry!’

***

The two girls watched from afar as their past selves wandered down the street, side by side, laughing away. The mood was tense, especially for Laura as she had no idea how things were going to play whereas Emily knew exactly where and when the events of the past would happen.

‘I love Christmas’

Emily seemed fascinated by the ruby around Laura’s neck.

‘It’s so beautiful; I can’t believe your Mother gave you something so precious when you were just a baby’

‘It’s all I really have left to remind myself of her’ Laura confessed ‘I’ll always wear it every day’.

‘I want to give you something myself’, said Emily as she scavenged about in her pocket. Laura watched as her friend pulled out a shell tied onto some string.

‘I made this for you when I went on holiday, it was going to be a surprise but I just can’t wait any longer to give it to you’ she told her gleefully.

‘I love it!’ Laura squealed with delight ‘It’s so beautiful

Laura tied it around her neck and it was right next to the ruby her mother had given to her. She felt so happy to have received so many fantastic presents but as she thought about Emily’s present, she couldn’t help but feel as if she had already received this at some time before but she couldn’t remember how or when.

‘Merry Christmas Laura’ Emily laughed happily.

‘If you rub it and give it a kiss then something good will happen to you’

‘No way, there’s no such thing as luck’ Laura laughed. ‘You know that my family thinks like that’

‘Don’t say that, luck is an amazing thing to believe in, it gives people hope in life’

Laura rolled her eyes and just sniggered at hearing this. She was so used to have long speeches over the stupidity of believing in luck, in how it shows weakness rather than strength that a human bring would need to ask for some other sort of being or object to make things work in their favour.

‘How could you not believe in luck?’  She asked Laura ‘It’s a basic human necessity to have some sort of belief in it’

‘I just don’t’ Laura answered. ‘It’s like religion Emily; I don’t have to believe in it if I don’t want to’

Emily stepped out in front of Laura and stopped her from going any further in her discussion; it was starting to feel a little intense between the pair as they continued to argue over beliefs.

‘Are you telling me that you’ve never wished for anything before in your life?’

‘No, I haven’t’ she admitted freely. ‘I’ve never had the chance to’

‘Have you never done anything like flip a coin before?’ Emily asked

‘No!’ Laura answered in an annoyed manner; she was getting fed up of the constant questions.

‘It just sounds strange to me that you’ve never been in a situation in your life where you’ve wished for everything to be ok…it’s not really human’ admitted Emily in a worrying tone. ‘Everyone does at least once’

‘Look, why is this getting to you Emily, it’s a beautiful snowy night and it’s Christmas and all you can be bothered about is whether I’ve ever flipped a coin for luck before!’

‘It’s like you’re saying that every Human that needs something to make their lives better are weak!’ Emily accused her off.

‘How about you and your little wish book then?’ Emily asked sarcastically ‘last time I checked, your life has become a lot better since I told you all about it!’

‘I don’t believe in wishing for things or that luck can change the way things happen’ Laura explained ‘Besides, I’ve told you how I was brought up, didn’t I?’

‘You’re my best friend Laura’

‘I have something that I want to tell you’ said Emily who had started to go pink in the face.

‘I love you’ Emily confessed.

Laura suddenly felt faint; her balance was becoming unsteady as she struggled to stay standing. Emily looked on feeling so scared that her friend was not reacting to her news the way that she had hoped.

‘This isn’t right, not right at all!’

‘I’m not like that; I don’t see you in that way!’

‘I can’t just turn my feelings off!’ Emily screamed in despair ‘

‘I didn’t want to upset you Laura, maybe I should go’.

‘I don’t want you to come around here again, you freak!’ Laura spat out.

‘Laura…’

The two of them stood staring at one another on the balcony, not a word was said in that moment.

‘Get away from me!’ Laura suddenly shouted out as she pushed out her arms.

Before Emily could respond, Laura had already shoved her friend backwards but what she didn’t count on was the slippy icy ground playing a factor into the next moments as Emily slipped; the force of the shove was enough to send her over the balcony.  Laura tried to reach out to grab her friend but it was too late, all she could do was watch as Emily fell out of sight.

‘EMILY!’

Running to the edge, she looked down and spotted Emily on the ground, motionless in the yard. Laura then ran out of the house into the street and then rushed over to Emily who was led out in the middle of the snow covered yard, not moving. A gash on her head which was dripping out blood, this caused panic to set in even more, what had she done

She watched in horror as Emily slowed struggled through the snowy road towards her.

‘I…

Not another word was then spoken as Emily collapsed into Laura’s arms. She couldn’t hold back the tears as she had just watched her friend die by her hand.

Blood poured from her forehead; Emily didn’t move or make a sound as the past Laura stepped back in horror, her best friend was dead.

‘What’s happening now?’ Laura asked from a distance.

Laura looked on as she watched her past self strangely look about, it appeared that she was looking out for any witnesses in the street; there was no one in sight on the cold winter’s night and what happened next made Laura feel sick to her stomach. Her younger self, in a moment of panic grabbed Emily’s body and began to drag it towards the side lane next to her house, the body was dragged through the snow which left a trail behind them.

‘What is she doing?’

‘Be quiet and watch!’ Emily shouted.

Laura and Emily followed the younger Laura down the alleyway and watched from afar as she tried to figure out what to do with the body. She didn’t call or look for help; instead she was trying to dispose of Emily’s body and in a discreet manner.

Laura took the wheelie bin and began making her way through the back alleys of the town, hoping to not draw any attention to herself which she was very successful in doing as she made it all the way through Lakewood to the hillside where the Academy was. Emily and Laura followed closely behind and noticed the look of panic on the young Laura’s face; she looked desperate to hide any evidence of wrong doing.

***

‘You didn’t even give me a chance that night!’ Emily yelled furious ‘You turned your back on me, crushed my dreams and ended my life, all in one swoop!’

‘If I could take back everything that I said that night then I would and didn’t mean to kill you!’ Laura explained.

‘What about burning my body in a bin?’ the ghost yelled.

‘I’m going to flip a coin Laura; I will give you a fair chance’

Emily pulled out a coin and held it up for Laura to see.

Laura’s house vanished around the corner and out of there sight of view and as Laura watched it completely leave her sight, she felt an uneasiness and suddenly wanted to abandon this crazy idea of theirs and turn back, get back inside and lock the door behind her forever.

The inferno’s gaze was visible from where they both where and Laura couldn’t help but shed a tear as she feared the worst for her house, what would her grandmother think if she was there at the time.

‘Maybe we should reconsider Dean?’ she suggested nervously.

‘We can’t back out of this now! Don’t forget that this could be the best chance we have to get that information’ Dean told her.

‘And this all might be for nothing; you do realize this, right?’

‘Oh yeah, so a magical book can exist in this world all by itself, nothing else that will have any kind of information on it whatsoever, doesn’t exist’ he rambled on sarcastically. ‘Besides all of that, we wouldn’t really need to go if you hadn’t left the darn book there in the first place!’

‘It was Emily’s idea ok; she said she’d keep it safe for me!’

‘Which way should we go then genius, back to your burning house where the angry mob is?’ he asked.

‘Bad idea, the police station is along there and like you said, angry mob’ she replied.

‘Let’s go down Clover Street then?’ he suggested.

Clover Street was perhaps the most watched street in the entire town; it was the longest street that connected various others together and led the main road towards the town centre. The majority of Lakewood lived on this street and it was also where they held their annual festival every summer. There were security cameras, placed securely on every lamp post and each and every hour of the day and night, a security van would always drive down and mounted on its roof was another camera.

‘Are you insane? What makes you think that we can make it down that street without being detected?’

‘Well it’s the fastest way to the library, so it’s our best shot’ he told her.

As all seemed quiet and peaceful in the little street at first as they walked down, completely lit up all the way at nighttime, Laura and Dean sneakily made their way along, not saying a word and not looking upwards, all they did was move forward and made no attempt to make themselves noticeable or out of place on any of the cameras staring in their direction.

‘You don’t think there watching us do you?’ Dean asked. ‘Watching us on those security cameras?’

Laura slightly looked up at Dean and went to whisper but almost forgot and as she started talking, covered her mouth up before anything could be detected.

‘I have no idea to be honest but we can’t start thinking like that Dean’ she said in an attempt to calm him down ‘We have a ways to go before we get there, not to mention that we have to break into the building’

‘And how were we planning to do that then you little vandal you?’

‘I don’t know, smash in a window maybe?’ Dean said sarcastically ‘How else do you break into a building discreetly at night!’

The two of them continued to argue all the way down the street about this, so much to the point that their whispers began to get louder to the point that they became shouts.

Voices could be heard in the distance; a rally of cries emerged from around the corner and before either Laura or Dean could say or do anything, lights suddenly flashed continuously on around all sides of them.

‘Don’t move!’ a voice cried out.

This bothered there line of sight a great deal as the flashlights and streetlights flickered in their eyes and faces; they both covered up in an attempt to cancel this out but still couldn’t see much because of this sudden development.

‘My eyes, I can’t see a damn thing!’ Laura yelled.

‘Just keep moving Laura, we have no choice!’

The two of them continued moving forward, unaware that they were wandering towards a group of people who were stood at the street end, waiting for them.

‘Where do you think you’re going?’

Hearing this, they both looked up and discovered that they were surrounded on all sides, each and every corner of the town centre was filled by a person and not a gap was left between the growing crowds of angry people, all with looks of disdain on their faces. As Laura stood there thinking of what to do, she noticed a feeling about herself, one that told her that the townspeople of Lakewood didn’t look the way that they usually did. There was something quite odd about everyone, on that didn’t feel natural.

‘We don’t mean to cause any trouble or harm’ Laura tried to reassure them all.

The small group of people started to grow as more came from out of the dark shadows of the night, all of them brandishing a weapon in their hands which varied from simple wooden sticks to stones and big, sharp knives.

‘Get out of our town!’ they snarled at them.

The people in the proximity closed the gap and moved closer to the pair. Dean and Laura were stood back to back, both unsure on what to do next.

‘What are you all doing?’ she asked calmly but couldn’t fend off a sudden urge of being terrified, there was a lot of them and they all looked angry, just by her presence.

‘We don’t want you here scum!’

‘Haven’t you done enough?’ she asked them with sadness in her voice ‘Can’t you just leave me alone?’

The torches in the crowd’s hands burned away as they stood on all sides of the town square. There rampage on the Phillips household didn’t seem to fill up their appetite for their brand of justice.

‘We’ve only just started!’ they replied with a mighty roar.

The moon was a blood like red colour, full in all its beauty as it dangled in the night sky over the town that was lusting for a little blood itself; the odd feeling that Laura was feeling was one of hatred from the crowd, pure unadulterated hatred towards her and her family. The townsfolk’s stares at Laura were ones of pure hatred as some licked their lips in anticipation.

‘What’s wrong with them?’ Laura asked Dean quietly ‘They look like they want to kill me’

‘I don’t know about that but they do look awfully pissed’ he told her in response. ‘We need to find a way out of here and soon’

‘They burned down my house Dean, of course there going to be pissed at me!’ she said angrily. ‘And how do you suggest we get ourselves out of this mess?’

She wanted to back away and get away from them all but she knew that as much as that was her main desire, it was impossible to go away from this; she was surrounded, trapped and isolated.

‘We could reason with them?’ he suggested.

‘I don’t think that will work darling’ Laura pointed out.

‘We have to try at least!’ he told her ‘I don’t know about you but I’m not prepared to lie down and give my life up so easily’

‘Let me talk to them girl, they might listen to me if I calmly talk to them’ he suggested.

‘But Dean-

‘Do you have a better idea of what to do in this situation, there armed to the teeth!’ he pointed out.

Laura nodded to this reluctantly but then had to quickly dodge an oncoming stone from the crowd, small laughs came about because of this and the troubled girl felt really scared.

‘People of Lakewood, lower your weapons and hear me out, please!’ Dean pleaded with them

This was met with a roar of no from the crowd, they raised their weapons into the air and started to chant words of hate towards them, it was like they were an invading army reaching the gates of their planned conquest and they were ready to knock down the defenses.

‘Please, I beg of you all too at least hear me out before you do anything rash’

Reluctantly and one by one, people lowered their pitchforks, scythes, hedge clippers and knives but did not put them down and there stares were just as sharp and dangerous as any weapon could be. Dean nervously stepped forward as Laura looked on, she couldn’t help but admire his bravery.

‘Now this young woman here might seem like she’s nothing more than a massive burden to each and every one of you people, she may seem to have caused so much misery for our town over the years and brought a world of horrific bad luck to our doorstep but-

The crowd then riled up and booed and jeered Laura, some even started throwing items including stones in her direction as she covered up her face from harm.

‘WAIT!!!’ Dean shouted.

Very slowly, the townspeople resisted the urge to pelt her but the looks on their faces were more than enough to terrify the troubled teen. They were not willing to wait much longer to have their vengeance.

‘As I was saying, this girl has been bad luck to Lakewood but is she really worth killing?’ Dean asked ‘Is this not a place where we look after one another, even in the worst of situations?’

They all looked puzzled at each other for a moment and Dean felt like his words had begun to sink in but this was all forgotten about seconds later as a voice from the back cried ‘no!’ and just like that, Dean was back to square one as they began to chant again.

‘What would murder really accomplish here, other than giving this place an even worse reputation than Laura’s actions have caused, what would the rest if the world really think about an entire town getting together and killing an irritation?’

They all looked about each other and with moans and groans coming from the crowd; it was becoming clear that it wasn’t a popular suggestion by Dean to let Laura off by any means.

‘Well, how about you all just let her family leave the town?’ he suggested calmly to them ‘they leave and go somewhere else and you all can resume your perfect lives, what do you say?’

‘We can’t let her leave!’ a voice cried out from the crowd.

‘W…why not people?’ Dean asked them

‘The Phillips family knows too much about us, about our town!’ a group cried out from the back.

‘What do you mean?’ Dean asked in a confused manner.

‘She knows too much, she’s seen our ways!’ another cried ‘The bad girl must die!’

A roar came from them all as their weapons raised high into the air

‘This is madness, you can’t do this!’ Dean cried out ‘This isn’t the 1500’s people, it’s the modern day and things like this aren’t accepted anymore! I am disgusted by each and every one of you for acting like spoilt children!’

‘Kill him!’ a voice cried out ‘The traitor must die!’

They grabbed Dean and surrounded him. Throwing him hard on to the ground, two muscular men held him down as a load of townspeople began pelting him with stones

‘Wait!!!!’

Laura screamed as she was being held down, she was desperate to save her boyfriend from harm, no matter what the cost, she had already lost too much to lose all that she had left.

‘Don’t hurt him, it’s not his fault I’ve brought you all so much misery over the years so hurt me and spare him!’ she cried as the tears flooded from her eyes.

‘We rid ourselves of an infection this way, it has been like this for centuries now’ an evil looking woman told them as she licked her red lips in a seductive manner ‘You’re just the latest problem that we must eradicate’

‘But why would you do this, can’t you see that it’s wrong? Why would people do this?’ Laura asked them desperately as she struggled to break free from her captors but it was hopeless, she was going nowhere.

‘You burned my grandparents’ home to the ground! What did either of them ever do to you to deserve that?’ she screamed with a voice full of hate and anger.

‘They harbored the infection, they let it grow in that place, it had to die and we only wish they were in there as it fell to the ground!’

‘What infection are you talking about, are you all insane?’ she asked them. Laura was irate at Lakewood’s opinion on anyone who made a mistake, it was beyond ridiculous to her and Dean but to all of them, a mistake was to be eradicated and all of this was just for being popular with the rest of the world.

‘You girl is nothing but a curse, you’ll be the downfall to our town…unless we do something about it here and now’

‘This is nuts, insane even…how can you all stand there with the intention of killing me?’

‘Mistakes cost us money you evil witch and we lose credibility as a good fortune town, without all of that, we’d be forgotten and taken off the map in no time’ an old man carrying hedge clippers explained ‘I’ve lived here for eighty five years and I’ll be damned if a bitch like you is going to destroy my way of life by burning down woods and murdering children!’

‘Enough lives have been lost because of your errors!’ a woman was heard to have said in the crowd ‘Your pure evil and we’ve come to extinguish your darkness!’

Suddenly as Dean prepared to speak in his girlfriend’s defense again, he was severely struck down by a stone thrown from the crowd of people, he fell to the ground and that’s when the crowd ran in and started punching and kicking at his body. He tried to defend himself by covering up his body but it was no use, there were far too many of them to hold them all off.

‘Leave him alone!’ Laura desperately tried to plead with them but they were having none of that. The people holding her down began to swing at her and she too tried to defend herself but to no avail.

‘Enough!’ he called out ‘This is mere child’s play; we all know what we have to do now!’

They cheered and chanted towards this man as he stepped forward to speak, they chanted and bashed what tools they had brought along with them.

‘That miscreant over there has brought shame to our town’ he accused her ‘Countless times we have been embarrassed and had to mourn losses suffered by her stupidity and evil heart!’ ‘I say that we teach her a lesson on this night by taking something precious to her, an eye for an eye they say!’

‘Eat the boy!’ they chanted repeatedly.

Bits of his flesh were ripped off him and eaten like a delicacy, it made Laura feel sick as Dean’s arms and legs were being yanked and pulled by various people so much that eventually, something had to give. A snap of bone of the body indicated this and Laura spotted saw his poor arms fly into the crowd, cheers erupted due to this and Dean screamed in absolute agony, he was blinded by the pain as blood poured out of his gaping wounds onto the ground.

‘DEAN!!!’ Laura screamed ‘Leave him alone you bastards!’

The shock of his arms being ripped off overwhelmed him, his mind went blank and blocked out the jeers and taunts from the savage crowd as they continued to tear at his poor legs, like pulling the meat of the bone. The townspeople close to Laura had now possession of his arms, Laura saw this and built up her rage and in a desperate attempt, kicked off her holders who had her pinned down, she was free for a second but as she stood up, the back of her head was smashed in by a brick, held by a member of the crowd. Losing consciousness, Laura collapsed to the ground and was helpless as one by one, people washed their faces with Dean’s blood from his arms whilst a few next to his body were licking away at the holes were his arms once were, it was a truly disgusting sight to behold.

It was either she stayed and tried to save what was left of her lover Dean, or continue on to the library and by some miracle, be able to discover the secret to the powers of the wish book and be able to fix everything. She had to quickly weigh up her options and despite the small chance of her finding anything, she had more of a shot of making everything right by going to the library, rather than taking on a massive crowd of pissed off cannibals.

‘Dean, please forgive me!’ she called out. ‘I love you and don’t you ever forget that’

With no other choice left for her, Laura very reluctantly decided that her family was more important to her. She quickly fled from the scene at a moment where all eyes were temporarily off her own as the crowd of angry people got excited from the smell of Dean’s blood; the aroma entered their nostrils and sent them all into quite the frenzy. They all circled around the dying Dean who didn’t have to strength to call out for Laura, his arms and legs had been removed and devoured; he laid down by the statue of a fallen veteran and cried out in pain with what little energy he had remaining. The craved people of the town moved in closer, all with a malicious desire to cure themselves of an infection.

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