The Shadow Lurkers
Lucy sat up in her bed groggily, and immediately shielded her eyes from the incoming light from the window. That frame was always too bright with the raggedness, she thought. Which reminded her- she needed to buy new ones today. Hearing muffled yells from down below, she opened whatever was left of the curtains, only to find that no one was there.
Rubbing the crust away from the corners of her eyes quickly, she swung her legs off the side of the twin-sized bed and begrudgingly got up.
She headed downstairs, expecting to be met by the aroma that was her sister's cooking. See, mom usually wasn't awake at this hour though the sun was up, and dad was probably at work- which left her younger sister by two years to take care of Lucy, herself, and their youngest sister- Olivia, in the mornings.
She continued to make her way to the kitchen to find out that her sister wasn't in there. In fact, it was completely barren- no food, no cooking instruments, no other sorts of utensils; nothing. She threw a glance towards the dining section where the breakfast table was to find that not even Olivia, who normally would be munching on dry cereal of some sort while quickly finishing homework from the night prior that was due that same day, was there.
She trudged back upstairs to knock on her mother's door. She figured the woman was probably still be deep in slumber, but Lucy needed to know wether or not she's been left home alone and why.
Slowly and ever so slightly creaking open the door to steal a glance over towards the bed with whatever little light came threw the small crack. She opened it even further to see that no movements were coming from under the covers- not even the gentle ups and downs of a person's breathing. She didn't even hear snoring, so she went in all the way to pull the sheets away from the mattress.
Well, she was right. Nothing.
She rushed herself downstairs and stood in the living room. "Hello?" She inquired to no one in particular. "Hello?!" She asked a bit louder. No response.
So she was home alone.
Lucy did a double take- it was a Saturday, right? Wasn't it? She sped into the kitchen once more to check the calendar.
Yeah, Saturday the sixteenth.
'It's a weekend, surely someone should be here.' She thought, 'Mom should be sleeping, Lily should be cooking, Olivia should be being a nuisance… Heck, even DAD should be here since he has Saturdays off!"
This was getting weird. Or, maybe it wasn't? Maybe it was just her paranoia acting up again. She tends to do that sometimes- overreact over nothing. Yeah, just paranoia.
She figured she should brush off that silly feeling in her stomach that was paranoia and get dressed and ready.
'One more time now, Lucy,' she thought, 'up these cursed steps.'
She made her way into the bathroom near her bedroom and got out a hairbrush, easing it through her dirty-blonde hair. She looked over at the shower behind her.
Nah. She took one a couple days ago and she's not that greasy yet.
Finishing brushing her hair, she raced into her room and took out a pair of light-blue, ragged shorts and a purple tank that looked good over her black bra. After putting those clothing items on, she felt the sudden desire to go outside in the back. It wasn't even a want, it was a necessity. She felt some strange force pulling her to that destination.
She was outside now, but she still felt like she was forgetting something. What was it that she had to do?
Now that she's had a good look around, she doesn't see anyone.
Where is everyone?
She tilted her head in different directions as to look around in hopes that she would find what she needed to accomplish.
Accomplish something, then?
What was it that she needed to accomplish?
She continued to look around eagerly when she spotted a lone figure exiting their respective house.
"Hey!" Lucy yelled in that direction, hoping to gain the stranger's attention. "Dude, come over here!"
The stranger didn't seem to pay any mind to the girl's constant plea for acknowledgement, for he got on his bike and rode down the street until he passed her.
Well, there goes that idea.
There was a certain fwooshing sound coming from up high so she turned in that direction.
Up on the second story of one of her neighbors' homes, she could see curtains opening. She could also make out a figure behind the window. It seemed as though they'd just woken up.
"Hey!" She called, "You up there!"
Just as the figure turned to look out the window, someone came up from behind Lucy and held a hand over her mouth while keeping her arms down, and dragged her away.
Muffled yelling was coming from behind the hand and had been still until Lucy and whoever this weird stranger was arrived at the park.
"Okay, I'm going to release you, but you've gotta promise not to run," they said in a hushed yet quickened tone, "trust me on this, please."
They let go of Lucy with hesitant hands.
Of course, Lucy's first thought was to kick whoever this was where the sun don't shine and make a break for it, but when she turned around she saw sincerity in the stranger's eyes. Pleading and telling the truth.
"Alright…" Lucy said, suspicious of this guy, but willing to hear him out for at least a couple minutes.
"Thank you, thank you!" He said still quiet. "A million times, thank you!"
"Cut to the chase, why'd you take me and why're we here?"
"Ah, yes, I suppose I should explain myself," he started, a little more relaxed now that was sure she wasn't going to flee, "it's a long story, but you've got to believe me… Perhaps instead, I should explain on the way- it'll take a while."
"Wha-," she cut herself off, "On the way? On the way to where?"
"Please," the stranger pleaded, "you've got to trust me, I'm trying to keep us safe."
Lucy narrowed her eyes at this weirdo, "What do you even mean by that? We're not in danger or anything…" She thought for a second, "Well, at least I'm not."
He threw her another look of worry.
Lucy sighed, "Fine. Where are we going anyway?"
He lifted his head up with a lightened expression, "I'll show you!"
Taking her hand, he began to run towards the forest. He looked over his shoulder at her and flashed a smile,
"The name's Arthur, by the way."
Arthur and Lucy had finally arrived to a spot in the forest Arthur'd mentioned was 'sacred' or some crap like that.
Lucy looked around, "This place, huh?" Her eyes flickered to the young man, "What's so special about this place?"
Arthur took a seat on a tree stump that happened to be near, "Here, they can't find us."
Lucy's eyes widened, "W-What? Who?"
Seeing the expression on the blonde girl's face, Arthur chuckled and waved his hand, "Oh, haha, nonono- not like that. The bad people can't find us, if you can even call them that."
"What, 'people'?" She tilted her head.
"Yeah, they're not so much… human, really."
"Oh," she said, "okay."
Arthur took a pop-tart from out of his cloak pocket and began munching on it.
"…" Lucy stared at him in disbelief. Who the fudge carries a pop-tart around in their pockets?
He took note of the silence and looked over at Lucy, "Oh! I'm sorry- do you want some?"
Her stomach started grumbling, then she remembered that she hadn't had breakfast yet. But that pop-tart… she swore she could see some kind of fungus on it, maybe it was lint. That doesn't make it any better, though!
She sighed in defeat, "If it's not too much of a bother." Lucy grimaced as she glanced at the moldy treat.
"Oh! Not at all- here." He handed her a chunk of chocolate filled pastry. She looked at it reluctantly, but it'd be too rude to decline now. Taking the tart out of his hand and into her's she slowly took a bite out of it.
'Not too bad, I guess.' She thought.
It satisfied her hunger, minimally, at least.
As Arthur munched on his half again, Lucy realized that it was only now that she got a chance to take in the features of the young man.
He had blonde hair, a bit lighter than her's, but definitely messier- probably from the hood on the cloak. He had green eyes that matched perfectly with the trees surrounding them. And… Very large eyebrows. One could mistake them for large caterpillars if they didn't know better. He kind of ate like a rabbit, holding the food with both hands and taking just little bites at a time…
"So, what's your name, then?" Lucy was snapped out of her examination of the blonde lad.
"Huh, I was kind of expecting you to already know, since you said you picked me out specifically, we came here for a reason."
"No, I was just snooping through out the shadows of the buildings in your neighborhood- when I saw you. You seemed perfectly healthy with a tired expression on your face. Plus, you were there at all. Just from this, I could tell they hadn't gotten you yet. I was shocked to see someone else, in all honesty." Arthur looked at Lucy and sighed.
Lucy was taken aback, "What? You mean no one was in the neighborhood… because-"
"Before you question anything more, you didn't answer my previous question."
"Oh, right," she said voiced, "It's Lucy."
"Lucy?" Arthur asked, "As in Lucinda?"
Lucy dead-panned, "No." She told immediately.
Arthur looked a bit surprised at the suddenness of her answer, "Oh," he murmured, "well, it's a very lovely name either way…"
She felt a bit sad that she had given him such a sharp answer, perhaps he had taken it as her snapping at him. "Sorry," Lucy muttered under her breath, "thanks, though. Arthur's a nice name, too."
His face lightened as he looked back at her from his gaze at the ground, "Thank you."
"You know," she mused, "you're quite the gentleman for someone who keeps pop-tarts in his cloak and napped someone."
"Oi, I didn't nap you," he argued, "I merely didn't have time to explain the circumstance that we're in." "And what exactly is the circumstance that we're in?"
"Well," he stared at the ground again, "I'd explain it all now, but we really have to be on our way- get this all over with as soon as possible."
"I see," Lucy said, "where to now, then?"
Arthur gave somewhat of a solemn look, "Follow me."
The two individuals walked through the forest, dodging any fallen trees that lay in their path. It was about… What- ten, eleven? Twelve o'clock? It must've been pretty late by now, seeing as though much time has past since this morning and they'd been walking for a while.
"Haha, no way!" Lucy laughed while walking, looking over at Arthur.
"Yes way." He said proudly and smiling at her, walking along, too.
"How did you even manage to catch a toad in the first place, let alone sewing wings onto it?"
"Ah, well," Arthur said, sweat-dropping and rubbing his neck, "it didn't live much longer after that."
"Aha," Lucy said realizingly, "right, I don't know what I'd expected."
They continued to walk for a while before Arthur stopped abruptly and extended an arm in front of Lucy as to cease her walking, as well.
"Sh," he shushed her even though she hadn't spoken prior, "stay still- and quiet your breathing."
"Hm." She made a sound of acknowledgment.
"Follow my exact steps and be very careful." Arthur mentioned in a hushed voice.
He took her hand and began walking in an odd, what it seemed like, a weird diagonal path. This continued for the next few meters before he finally spoke again, on the outside edge of the woods.
"Alright, we can converse again, but keep it in a hushed tone." He whispered.
"Okay, Artie." She said quietly, and winking at him playfully since she used her nick-name for him.
"Don't call me that," he muttered, "it's disrespectful."
"What ever." Lucy rolled her eyes. "So, I know it's… unsafe for me to leave you, but you have to trust me again. I need you to stay right here and hide yourself the best you can with leaves and twigs or whatnot."
"W-What?" Lucy stuttered, "You said yourself that the whole reason you got me to come along is to keep my, including yourself, safe! And you're going to leave knowing it's dangerous? Where to anyways?"
"Sh!" Arthur put a finger to her lips, "Please, you need to keep quiet. And I won't be gone for long- just be sure not to get too much in the shadows, that's where they hide, you know."
"Who, Artie? Who exactly? I need explanations!" Lucy demanded.
"You'll get the answers you seek for soon enough, we just need to get through this first."
"…" Lucy sent him a death-glare, but her gaze softened as his forest-green orbs looked into hers pleadingly. Maybe he knew what was for the best. "Fine. Just be sure to make it quick." She whispered.
"Righty-o, m'dear," he flashed another smile, "I'll be off then, and I promise to hurry."
Arthur, after saying this, headed off in a muted sprint despite the leaves and twigs on the ground beneath his running feet pushing into the earth.
"Hurry up, Artie." Lucy whispered to no one in particular, then proceeded to silently cover herself with some large, dry leaves.
There was the sound of crunching branches that worried her, somewhere off to her left. She turned her head carefully to the source of the noise with worried eyes. The noise came again. "H-Hello?" She whispered in that direction, disobeying Arthur's wishes for her to be laying low.
"Hello there!" A somewhat cheerful voice replied.
"Aah!!!" Lucy screamed, standing up abruptly.
"Hey now, hey now," the voice soothed with a slight giggle in it's tone, "no need to get all wound up, I'm not going to hurt you or anything!"
"Yeah, like I believe you- show yourself!" She yelled.
"Alright, then, sweetie!" It responded.
The rustling of branches became louder and louder until the sound was right next to her. She backed up a bit, wary.
From inside the forest came a tall figure that wasn't well lighted since it was quite dark out. It drew nearer and she back away more.
"Well, you're the one that told me to show myself and here you are backing away from me! A bit rude, don'tcha think?"
Lucy stopped in her tracks and the figure came closer.
"W-Why are you in the forest?" She asked, looking up. Although it wasn't too good of lighting, the moon shone down and she could get an okay look at the guy. Jet black hair swept to the side and covering a part of his right eye. His eyes… They were a strange hue of blue, or so she thought. It looked more like purple to her. Deep purple. He towered at least five inches taller than her, he was rather thin. She could make out freckles, too.
He was relatively handsome.
Well, it dawned on her, Arthur was relatively handsome in retrospect. This guy was über gorgeous.
"Well, I could be asking you the same thing, couldn't I, darlin'?" He grinned bubbly down at her frightened vibe.
"I-I suppose, but I asked you first." Her voice shriveled.
"Haha, yeah, ya' did. Well, I suppose it doesn't really matter, after'all. Why're ya' hidin', then, sugar? Can I ask ya' that?" He tilted his head to the side.
"A friend told me to." "Do you know why? Where are they?" Curiosity gleamed in his opal eyes.
"U-Uhm," she started, "he just went over there for a minute, he'll be back any second now." She pointed over towards the opposite direction of where Arthur had run off to. "Huh," he stared blankly, almost seemingly through the darkness. "Alright, then. Well, we can talk for a while, right, honey?"
Lucy eyed the suspicious lad, "As long as you refrain from calling me nicknames, I guess."
The black-haired stranger pouted playfully, "Aw, well, that's no fun."
"Keep it or beat it, buster." She hastily replied. Sure, she took the chance of coming across mean, but she didn't necessarily trust this guy.
"Hm," he hummed, "alright. The least ya' can do is tell me ya' actual name, then. Must be something' beautiful- just like ya'self." He smiled expectantly.
She blushed, but tried her best to conceal it with her hair, "…Lucy. My name, that is."
He gasped, back to his normal boisterous self rather than speaking in a serious tone, "That. Is. The. Most. Beautiful. Name," he paused between each word, "and I was right- perfectly suited for such an amazing gal." He added wistfully.
"Mm," Lucy responded, "thanks, I guess." "No problemo, pumpkin!"
"What'd I say about calling me names, weirdo?!" She snapped at him. Okay, maybe she was being unnecessarily rude now, but she was thoroughly freaked out.
"Hey, hey- easy now! A guy can forget. I don't know why you're so defensive about harmless little pet-names. I think they're cute!" He squeed.
"Yeah, okay, whatever…" She muttered under her breath.
"So, if ya don't want me asking' 'bout ya'self, can I ask why ya' friend's doin' out here so late?"
"I guess," Lucy hesitantly replied, "you see, because I was the only one he could find, he thought that 'they' hadn't gotten me yet and I guess he was right since I'm here. He brought me to the park, then the forest, and then here. I don't know why, really." "Okay, okay, wait up now," he said quickly, "ya' have no idea how many questions I've got for ya- first of all; does this mean you two only met today?" He cocked a brow, "'I was the only one he could find?'" He quoted her.
She nodded, "Yeah."
"And who are 'they' exactly?"
"I don't know."
The young man looked confused, "What do ya' mean ya' don't know?"
"Arthur said he would tell me when he got the chance." She shrugged.
"Ah," he said with a slight thinking face, "so Arthur's his name. So, since ya' two just met… But ya' said that ya were waitin' for a friend?"
"Well, I mean," Lucy said, caught off guard, "he's kind of my friend- we met early this morning."
"Mm," he hummed once more in acknowledgement, "Alright-y, then. Second- why was he looking' for people ya' neighborhood in the first place?"
"Well," she began, "he wasn't really looking per se, but apparently every where else was empty, lacking people, so he was surprised to see me."
"Alright," he thought for a moment, "well, whoever 'they' are, they must be bad or something', right?"
"I should think so." Lucy stated.
"Did he mention anythin' else?" He prodded.
"Hm…" She raked her brain for a minute, "well, he said that the one place, the 'safe' place, where 'they' couldn't find us was that one spot in the forest."
The deep purple orbs of the attractive boy inflated as he sucked in a gasp of air.
"What?" Lucy queried.
"I know what you're talkin' 'bout now…" He whispered, staring at the ground with wide eyes.
"W-What? You do?"
"Yeah, I'm one of the few who know about them and keep up defense against them," he looked over at her and scarcely said- barely above nothing, "I was wonderin' why every place was so barren, but I was hopin' that it wasn't so…" His eyes flickered to the ground, "'The Shadow Lurkers…'"
"Is that what they're called?" She whispered to him.
"It's not what they're addressed as, more like a code name to reference them by. They're actual name is too horrid to even say."
"What's their actual name…?"
The stranger looked at her with tears welling in his eyes, "the smelly poopies…"
and then lucy realized she had been talking to her half of the pop-tart after taking the first bite out of it and she imagined the whole thing
and then a skeleton popped out
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