A group of children gathered around the front of the school. The sky was empty and the weather calm.
“Fight! Fight! Fight!” the children yelled.
“Look at her. She’s so weak,” one girl said.
“She’s pathetic,” another girl replied.
“Stop it, please,” Alice cried, her blue dress covered in dirt and blood that ran from her hands and legs. “Stop.”
“Why? It’s not like anyone cares enough to help you,” the girl said as she kicked Alice in her stomach. A cry of pain echoed the courtyard of the school as others gathered around to watch.
In the dark alley behind the school, a shadow grew from the ground. It grew and took form as it walked out of the alley. A smile crept from its face before walking through the crowd of teens surrounding Alice. “That’s enough.”
Alice opened her tear-filled eyes and looked up. It was a boy with dark black hair and dim red eyes. He wore a black shirt with dark jeans that had small holes in them, someone she’s never seen before or has never recognized in the small town. The girls looked at him with disbelief.
“Why?” one girl said as she picked Alice up by her collar. She seemed to be the leader by the way the other girls followed her. “It’s not like anyone cares about her. She’s just a waste of space.”
“Oh, believe me. She is more important than you will ever be. Tell me, how are things with your father?” he replied.
All the kids look at the girl as she stands in shock. She drops Alice and walks away with her two goons quickly falling in behind her. The rest of the kids stare at the boy for a moment before carrying on with their day.
He bends down to Alice and holds out a hand. “Are you okay?” She considers his eyes and feels comforted by his words. Alice reaches her hand out into his as he helps her onto her feet. She stands up with weak knees and falls into him.
“Easy there. You took quite a beating,” he said holding her up. He noticed her scraped up knees and the blood that dripped from her lip. He pulled up his sleeve and wiped the blood away.
“Th-thank you,” she replied.
“What’s your name?”
“Alice. That’s a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. Mine is… Daniel.”
“Daniel.” She looked in his eyes as her face began to feel warm. She winced in pain from the kick to her stomach.
“Here, allow me to help you,” Daniel said. He helped hold Alice up on her feet like a human crutch. “May I take you home?”
Alice nodded as he helped her down the sidewalk. “I’m not too much of a burden, am I?”
“Not at all.”
Alice smiled faintly. “Do I know you from somewhere?”
“I guess you can say I’m new to town.”
“It’s in Michigan,” Daniel said with a chuckle.
Alice laughed. “Oh, I see.”
“It’s rather far from here,” he continued. “It’s quite a famous place. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but it grows on you.” Alice looked down as she felt her heart beat faster.
“My house is right here,” she said. Alice couldn’t take her eyes off him. Something about him seemed hypnotizing to her, almost as if she was entranced. As they reached the front door, Alice grabbed the door handle for support and turned to face Daniel. Alice looked down to see his hand still around her waist as she pushed her hair back.
“Well, Alice, it was a pleasure to walk you home. However, I should get going,” Daniel said as he turned around to leave.
“Wait,” Alice quickly blurted.
Daniel grinned as he turned back around to face her. “Yes?”
“Are you... are you doing anything tomorrow after school?” Alice hesitantly asked.
Daniel paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. “My schedule seems empty.”
“Would you want to hang out or something tomorrow?”
“Sure. Sounds like it would be fun. Plus, it will keep those annoying girls from giving you trouble.”
Alice smiled as she opened her door. “I will see you tomorrow then.” Alice started to close the door.
“You can bet on it,” Daniel said as Alice closed the door. Daniel walked down to the end of the sidewalk before turning back around to face the house. “More important than they know.” Alice leaned against the door with a smile filling her face. She ran upstairs to her room, closed the door, and flopped down onto her bed as her heart raced, filled with excitement.
That night, Alice dreamt about their upcoming day. They walked down the sidewalk of the park talking and laughing. He reached for her hand and held it in his. She looked down at their hands and smiled. When she looked up at him, his face was deformed and demonic-like. Before he attacked her, Alice woke up breathing heavily. She looked around her room, then laid back down.
Outside the house, a shadow grew by a tree. It grew and took form with an evil smile. “All in due time,” it said before vanishing.
The next day at school, Alice walked down the halls with a big smile and warmth in her heart. The girls that bullied her the other day left her alone and no one teased her. There was no way that her day could’ve been ruined. After her classes, Alice ran outside and saw Daniel waiting for her with a grin on his face.
“You seem happy to see me,” Daniel said.
“I guess you could say that,” Alice replied. “So, what are we gonna do today?”
“Well, I have a few ideas,” he said, holding out his hand. “Would you like to join me?”
She hesitated but looked back in his comforting eyes. She reached her hand out and put it into his and they walked down the sidewalk. They laughed and talked as they made their way to the park. As they entered the park, Alice stopped and saw a familiar face.
“Jess,” she yelled.
Jess turned around and saw Alice and ran towards her. She greeted her best friend with a big hug. “Alice, I didn’t expect to see you here.”
Alice turned to Daniel and motioned him to come over to her. As he walked over to her, Jess looked over at him and her mood immediately changed.
“Um, Alice, who is this?”
“Jess, this is Daniel,” Alice said. “He saved me yesterday from the bullies.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Jess,” Daniel said as he extended his hand out.
Jess reached her hand out to him and felt an uncomfortable feeling overcome her. She immediately pulled her hand back. “Alice, can I have a girl talk with you?”
“Sure. I will be right back,” she said.
“I will wait here for you,” Daniel replied as he kissed her hand, making her blush a bright red. Jess rolled her eyes and grabbed Alice and pulled her aside. Daniel watched the girls walk away as a frown burrowed onto his face.
“Alice, do you know anything about him? Like, at all," Jess asked with worry in her voice.
“Well, he is new to town. He’s from Hell.”
“Oh,” Jess paused. “Well, doesn’t he just seem a bit odd?”
Alice looked back at Daniel. Daniel waved at her as she waved back before turning back to Jess. “What do you mean?”
Jess looked over at Daniel as he looked back at her with his piercing red eyes. Jess felt a sharp pain in her as she looked back at her friend. “Alice, he seems like trouble. I don’t trust him at all.”
Alice laughed. “Jess, you’re being overprotective. I will be fine. Trust me.”
Jess sighed, then hugged her friend and put something in her pocket. “Keep this with you always.”
Alice reached in her pocket and pulled out a silver cross necklace. She looked back up and saw her friend run off. She turned back to Daniel who waited patiently for her to come back and reached his hand out for hers. As she walked back, she kept turning back at her friend and thought of their conversation. Daniel reached his hand out to Alice. As Alice grabbed his hand, he pulled back and winced in pain.
“Oh god, what’s wrong? Did I grab your hand to hard?”
Daniel looked at his hand and watched a cross brand vanish from his hand. He frowned then looked back at Alice. “No, I just wasn’t expecting something to be in your hand.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot it was in my hand.” She put the cross back in her pocket and looked at Daniel, worried. He looked at her as they walked to the fountain at the middle of the park. He sat down on the edge and motioned her to sit next to him. Alice hesitated and sat down.
“So, Alice, what would you like to do?” Daniel asked.
“Well,” Alice began. She paused thinking about what Jess had said as it ran aggressively through her mind. “I would like to get to know you more. I know where you come from, but what do you like to do? Where are your parents?”
“My parents are back in Hell.”
“So, they let you come here all by yourself?”
“They think I’m responsible enough so they aren’t too worried.”
“Oh. So, why did you...”
“Alice,” Jess said, running to them. “I need you to come with me.”
Jess grabbed her hand and pulled Alice with her as they walked to a tree. “Alice, listen to me. He is trouble. He may have saved you, but as your friend, you have to listen to me.”
“Jess, trust me. I know what I am doing.”
“Do you, Alice?”
“Why would you ask that? I’m not some fragile child!”
Alice ran back to Daniel. Daniel stood up and caught her in a hug as she ran into his arms.
“Alice, what happened?” Daniel looked up at Jess with anger in his eyes.
“Can we go to your house?” Alice asked. She looked up at him with her lip trembling.
“Of course.” Daniel held her hand and started walking away from the fountain. He turned back around to Jess as he gave her a look of anger, then back to Alice as they left the park.
They walked up the steps to the front door. He opened the door and lead Alice through it. The walls were painted a light brown. It was rather empty and small, but the place reminded her of her grandma’s small cottage.
“I’m sorry that there isn’t much here, but it’s something,” Daniel said.
“No, it’s fine. I like it,” Alice replied. As she walked further into the house, she felt a darkness flow through her. A chill went up her spine as her arms became covered in goosebumps. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned quickly.
“Is everything okay?” Daniel asked.
Alice felt a darkness flow through her as she looked at him. “I’m fine, but I think I’m gonna head home. I have a headache and I think I need to just lay down.”
“Oh. Okay. I can walk you home if you...”
“No, it’s fine. I can get home. I will see you tomorrow, okay?” Alice opened the door and walked down the steps. Daniel stood at the door as he watched her leave. Daniel closed the door and sighed. “Well, since I have the time, I should visit an old friend.”
Jess walked down the sidewalk feeling the night breeze flow through her hair.
She stopped to see a black cat down an alleyway. It looked like it was hungry and cold. Jess walked down to the cat. “Hey there, little guy. You look hungry.”
The cat turned his head as the alleyway became enclosed in darkness. Jess looked around as the darkness covered everything she saw and closed the entry. She turned back to see the cat, but it wasn’t there. She looked around as her heart raced then saw something pull out of the shadows. Jess started backing up as the shadow changed into a human form.
“It’s good to see you again, Jess,” the figure said.
Jess looked at the figure with anger. “Daniel. Why are you doing this to Alice?”
“You should know why. After all, we both know you saw the truth when you shook my hand. That’s why you were trying to warn her.”
Jess made a fist as her heart raced faster. “You monster.” She ran at Daniel and went to punch him. He dodged her punch and grabbed her wrist hard as his knee shot up into her stomach. Jess gasped for air as she fell to the ground.
“Now that was rude, Jess. You shouldn’t try to punch someone who you just met.” Daniel pulled her up and threw her up against the dark wall. She hit it hard with her back as she felt the wind get knocked out of her again.
Daniel walked over to her and grabbed her neck and lifted her off the ground. “You became a pain in my side very quickly. Quicker than I had anticipated. But I can’t have you ruining my plan.” He pulled his arm back and lunged it forward through her chest as blood covered his arm and splashed onto his face. Jess gasped in pain as she looked down and breathed her last breath.
Daniel pulled out his hand, holding her heart, crushing it as he threw her body. “Now then. Time to finish this.”
Alice woke up to the door closing. She could tell it was the front because of the squeak it made. She leaned up from her bed and looked at her clock. Who could be coming here at two in the morning? She stepped out of bed and threw on her slippers as she cracked her door open. The hall was dark and she couldn’t see a thing. She reached for her phone turning it on as a flashlight and walked down the hall.
She slowly walked down the stairs scanning the room. She saw a figure sitting on the couch and felt her hands tremble. “Who’s there?”
Alice turned her phone towards the figure and felt herself stuck where she was standing. “Daniel, what are you doing here?”
Daniel smiled as he stood up and walked towards her. “Alice, you seem surprised to see me.”
“Daniel, stay back.” Alice looked at his hand and saw blood covering his arm. Her lip trembled and her heart raced at this sight. “Daniel, what is that on your arm?”
“I’m surprised you don’t knowm considering you knew her for a long time,” Daniel said as a gruesome smile covered his face. Alice felt tears fall down her face as she looked at his arm.
“You bastard! Why would you do that?” Alice trembled.
“I know she was your friend, but I had to. She was catching on to my plans quicker than she should have.”
“Wha-what plans? What are you talking about?”
Daniel laughed sending chills down Alice’s back.
“I thought we had something. I thought you could make me happy,” Alice cried.
“Oh, Alice, you were always desperate for love and attention. It makes me laugh,” Daniel said. “But it strengthens me too.”
Alice’s eyes widened at what he said. “What do you mean ‘always.’ Who are you and how do you know me?”
Daniel sighed. “I suppose there is no point hiding my true form from you any longer.” Alice looked down as hands grabbed her feet and kept her pinned to the ground. She screamed and looked back up at Daniel as his skin started peeling off him. He ripped it off, revealing scars and burns covering his arms and face. He looked back at Alice with bloodshed eyes. “My name is Denial. Daniel, Denial, I’m surprised you never thought of it. Someone randomly coming to your rescue that you have never heard of and treats you like a queen? You never found it suspicious. You were so easy to trick.”
Alice struggled to get her feet free. “Why are you doing this to me?”
“It’s simple. I am one of your dark emotions. I want to completely free myself. The only way to do that is to destroy the only thing keeping me from freedom,” Denial replied as a grin stretched across his face.
Alice felt her knees shake in fear as he walked closer to her. “No, stay away from me.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t give you the same death that I gave your friend. I will do you one better. One that satisfies me more. But I promise, it will be quick.” Denial smiled as he reached his hand towards her. As Denial’s hand reached closer, he felt his hand sting and pulled away quickly in pain. Alice looked down and saw the cross that Jess gave her. The cross. She ripped it off her neck and swung it at the hands that were holding her with the cross. They soon sank back into the ground and she was free.
Denial looked at her, ignoring the pain. “You damn brat.”
Alice reached her arm out aiming the cross at him. He backed away slowly as he felt small jolts of pain flow through him.
“This is my body, and you have no place in it any longer,” Alice said charging at him. He stepped to the side avoiding her charge. Denial laughed at her then felt a pain in his chest. As he fell to his knees, he looked down to see black blood flow out of his chest.
He looked back at Alice and laughed again. “You should know that you can never get rid of the darkness inside you. I will always come back.”
She stared at him watching the blood flow. “I may not be able to get rid of you, but I can make sure that you never attack me again.” She charged at him again and stabbed him with the cross. Denial felt a sharp pain in his chest again as his eyes widened. He yelled an ear-piercing scream as his body phased and shifted. Alice fell to her knees as she watched Denial turn into a shadow and enter though her mouth. She gasped as she looked around to see everything back to the way it was. Denial, you will never escape again.
Alice walked down the hall to her class. She looked around, seeing eyes peering at her, watching her. As Alice continued to walk to her class, she became stopped by the girls that beat her up. The girl in the middle stepped closer to her and looked at her. She grabbed Alice, pulling her close, then hugged her.
“I’m sorry about Jess,” the girl whispered. She let go of Alice and continued to walk down the hall. Alice stood in place shocked at what had happened. She turned back to the girls and ran after them.
“Wait. Do you wanna sit together at lunch?” Alice asked. The girl looked at her and smiled, shaking her head. Alice walked closer to the girl before she ended up tripping and falling on the floor. She looked up to see one of the girl’s friends holding her leg out, causing her to trip. Tears started to fall down Alice’s face but soon stopped. The first girl pushed the other girl into the lockers.
“Don’t you ever mess with Alice again.” She turned back to Alice, holding her hand out. Alice widened her eyes at the sight she saw and took her hand. “My name is Kayla.”
As they walked to the cafeteria, Alice looked back to see the girl glare at her and flip her off. Alice turned back with disappointment on her face then looked back at her new friend with a broken smile.
Denial sat in his cell, staring at the wall, smiling. Carvings and symbols covered the wall and in the center of it, Alice. The cut across his chest healed quickly. He stood up and looked out his cell door. He walked over to the end of it and started laughing as dark tentacles flowed out his back and towards the door.