Authors: T.M. Mendes
Please feel free to send me an email. Just know that my publisher filters these emails. Good news is always welcome.
T.M. Mendes –
Sign up for my blog for updates, info and freebies.
By: T.M. Mendes
T. M. Mendes
Table of Contents
Dedicated to Erin, my long time cheer leader from the beginning of my writing journey.
"Move it!" a nasty voice rang out in the hall of the high school.
Wendy turned around, making her blonde hair swirl around her like a fan. She bit her lip to stop the retort burning on the tip of her tongue. Standing there was the school's popular girl named Denise. She walked past Wendy, purposefully bumping her shoulder enough to hurt. Casting her eyes downward to hide the tears threatening to spill over from her blue eyes, she silently moved further toward the walls littered with various high school posters made by the cheer squad.
"Don't you just love her?" Wendy smiled when she saw her close friend Jamie was next to her. She saw her friend’s eyes were on the popular girl with anger and contempt in them. Jamie was protective of her smaller friend. Always has been since they met each other in the sand-box. She towered over Wendy's small frame at only 5'5" while Wendy herself was only 5' even.
Wendy shook her head and pushed her black framed glasses up even more, since they were slipping from her pert nose. Everything about her screamed fragile and pixie-like. Jamie threw her flame-orange hair in a messy ponytail while they stood there.
"I think she's just misunderstood."
Jamie looked at her with disbelief on her freckled face. "You're too nice for your own good. C'mon, let's get to class."
Clutching her books even closer to her frame, Wendy agreed and they both took off for their first period, which happened to be her favorite, English.
When they reached the shabby classroom, they went to take their seats in the back. Even though they were both classified as nerds by their peers in the school, they each found homework tedious and mundane. Although, Wendy will actually do her work, whereas Jamie will do her work at the last minute, while she was in class, making her barely pass subjects with a C- average. Soon, the class filled up with far more students than there were seats available. With budget cuts, all classes were overfilled. Unfortunately, this class included Denise and that always brought a sense of dread to Wendy. She sent a silent prayer that in this class she would not notice her, even though that seemed in vain thanks to this morning's incident. Without wanting to, she was now on the girl's radar.
"Good morning, class. Please settle down!" Mrs. Rush came in looking slightly disheveled, which without a doubt had to be due to being late by five minutes. Wendy and Jamie both liked this teacher since she left them alone in the back, never asking them questions.
Plus Mrs. Rush was a quirky sort of person, always getting overly excited about what subject she was talking about. Her hair was always in a very messy bun atop her head and it always came loose the more animated she became during class. "Today we're going to read about… treasure!"
Some students did perk up about that and it made Wendy smile to herself. This teacher could make a ball of yarn seem enthralling. Said teacher perched herself on her tall stool and opened a small booklet.
"Many years ago, here in our town of Mossy-Rock came settlers for the first time. They came from England in hopes of finding prosperous land and good fortune. It was slow at first, until one day, a man came into the small community wearing expensive garb and walking with confidence. His presence demanded respect and the townsfolk here knew, he was very rich.
“They wondered what was a man like him doing in their humble little town. Many fathers already began to think of marrying off their daughters with respectable dowries, but he turned them all down. Eventually, people left him alone. The next day more men came in to do this rich man's bidding, making the townsfolk that much more intrigued. Then the men and 'the mystery man,' as the town dubbed him, went off into the woods and disappeared for the next twenty days."
She was interrupted by a delicate snort from Denise. "Miss, this is stupid! When is it going to get good?" Her voice took a keening sound from the whine in her voice. It made both Wendy and Jamie cringe.
"Patience. Now let me finish. Ah, where were we? Oh! Here we go… nearly a month later, the mysterious man came back into town and started to converse with the townspeople! They soon learned he was off building his home in the far woods. It was a home grander than anything anyone in town had ever seen! They now knew why he brought all those men to help him build such a place."
Wendy's mind drifted to the mansion that was in ruins, deep within the woods. She had stumbled across it as a small child and sometimes went there to think, sitting on the once grand steps to draw what her heart urged her to. The mansion looked like it had seen better days. Walls were missing and the steps she sat on have all but crumbled. She had never even shown Jamie her special place. The place where she feels carefree and light.
"Parties were held there through the months and the townsfolk now knew just how wealthy this man was. His name was Vincent Gilmore and he had women lined up by his door vying for his attention." The guys broke off in chuckles and fist bumped each other, "Swag!" A jock laughed, making everyone else chuckle. Even Mrs. Rush let a little laugh spill out. "Yes, he indeed had 'swag' as you called it. Back to the story… he paid them all no mind and life within the small community went back to normal. One cold night though, the town awoke from a scream. Lighting their lanterns, all gasped when they saw in the street lay a young girl, dead with eyes open wide with fright. Her skin was paler than the moon and two puncture wounds graced her neck.
“The people grew scared and knew it had to be a monster who did this. A young girl came forward, out of the crowd gathered around the body, and said she saw who had done it. Immediately, they began to question her. She told everyone it was Lord Vincent she saw attacking the young girl just moments before. People grew angry and lit their torches to confront the man in question."
Wendy's heart began to beat just a little faster and noticed everyone's eyes were trained on their teacher in apprehension and devoted attention.
"They barged into his home without invitation and saw him standing there looking confused, but they saw the blood on his clothing and wasted no time in binding him. The father of the girl now dead grew so angry he grabbed the first thing he saw, which was a silver candle holder, and struck Lord Vincent. The crowd gasped as they saw how it burned him. Some people rushed into their own homes to find all the silver needed to detain him. Lord Vincent pleaded with everyone to let him explain, but they wouldn't listen. Soon he grew too angry and let them see his true form.
“Black eyes gazed back at them in hatred and fangs protruded from his mouth that made the lesser of the brave scream. They bound him with rope and with it various silver items to his body, which had him screaming in agony. A carpenter quickly made a coffin and some other people tossed in their best silverware and jewelry that had silver in it into the coffin. Lord Vincent tried to fight them off, but he was too weak with all that bound him and screamed out once more when they placed him in the coffin. His skin sizzled and he couldn't move. All the townsfolk began to spit on him and cursed him to hell before closing the lid on him and digging him a grave. It is said that the grave is still here, in our town near his old home. A grave filled with the purest of silver that are worth millions. The townsfolk marked his grave with a rock that had 'Evil shall perish in the depths of hell' engraved on it." Mrs. Rush then closed the book and looked at her class with a smile.
"Whoa! Do you think it's true?" a boy asked from the middle of the room with wide eyes.
Mrs. Rush smiled at him and shrugged. "I can't say. No one has ever found his home. Now the assignment today is to come up with a treasure story of your own. I want creativity and I don't want to hear any whining, understood?"
The class nodded and she told them all to get to work. Wendy's heart was in overdrive. She knew where his old home was! She went there a few times every month! Her eyes glanced at her best friend and wondered if she should show her? Something in her told her not to and that confused her. That place was the only thing she felt belonged solely to her. It felt almost wrong to tell someone else about it.
Everyone got to their own stories, but Wendy was still too caught up on whether or not this story Mrs. Rush read had some truth in it. Was there treasure near where she sat constantly? She felt bad for the man in the story, if that part alone was true. Back in those times, they killed a lot of innocent people due to suspicion, and it was unfortunate that he was another victim.
"Mrs. Rush? She's not doing her work!" Denise pointed to Wendy with a smirk on her upturned face. Jamie scowled at her, but remained quiet since all eyes were now on the two girls in the back row.
"I would focus more on your work if I were you, Denise, and stop trying to tattle like a five-year-old," Mrs. Rush reprimanded her, making her face flush with barely contained anger. The teacher then walked to Wendy with a slight frown, but then turned to see the class watching her every move. "Back to work!" she instructed, making everyone reluctantly turn back to their own writing. Squatting down to look at the girl who had nothing on her blank page, her frown deepened. "Is something wrong, Wendy? You've never not done your work before..."
Wendy looked down at her hands and let a small sigh escape her. Her thoughts were swirling with possibilities. If she were to somehow find this grave, she could answer her parents’ prayers. With her sick older brother in the hospital, her parents had to take out a second mortgage to pay the bills that were stacking up.
With a start, she realized her teacher was still waiting for an answer. "Um, I don't feel too well." Her lie was pitiful at best, but with the thoughts that consumed her, it left a paleness on her that made the lie believable.
Mrs. Rush nodded at her and quickly wrote out a pass. "Go on to the nurse then. I hope you feel better."
Wendy felt bad for lying, but she needed to see if she could somehow find this grave, and staying in school wouldn't put her curiosity to rest. She never thought about skipping and knew the school calls if you do, but she also knew her parents were at the hospital and would be all day with her brother, Markus.
"Text me later, okay?" Jamie whispered and looked at her with worry. The thought probably never crossed her mind that her petite friend would lie to a teacher, let alone do so to skip class. It made Wendy that much more sickened with guilt, but she pressed on. She needed to do this for her own sanity and possibly save her brother and her parents from the never-ending pile of debt. To anyone else, this would seem like a fool’s hunt, but it was the last bit of hope she had. Wendy nodded at her worried friend, gathered up her stuff, and carefully placed them in her bag. After a few minutes, she was out of the stuffy classroom and into the cooler hallway. The difference in temperature made goose bumps rise on her arms. She cursed herself for not wearing a jacket, forgetting that this old school had a faulty air conditioner and heater.
With hurried footsteps, she pushed the excuse note into the pocket of her worn-down jeans, making it crinkle in the silent hallway. Not wanting to be caught, she all but ran outside and didn't stop until she was in the outline of trees, all the while thinking someone must have seen her. Her heart was pounding in her chest and a voice whispered for her to turn back, this wasn't right. It was the voice that had always labeled her a goody-two-shoes. Not today, she thought with a determined nod and continued to her sanctuary.
She knew exactly how to get there from the school, or from anywhere in this small town. Her scuffed shoes brushed against dense ferns, and water from leftover rain on the plants soaked the bottom of her jeans. Her nose began to turn pink from the biting cold since it was still morning. Her ears picked up birds chirping up above the canopy and the rustle of leaves from the gentle wind.
Almost an hour of walking was done before she arrived at her destination. Her jeans were wet along with her shoes and her blonde hair turned frizzy from the humidity, even though it wasn't that hot. She worked up a small sweat from walking uphill to this place. Even though her body was small, she was by no means fit. So every time she came here it gave her a good workout, but that was the only workout she ever got. Even in her P.E. class she barely participated, if at all.
Her eyes took in the crumbling building and it brought a smile to her face. The blocks that once held up grand walls were now in piles on the ground and there was a large, thick oak door that still stood proud and tall before her at the top of the unstable stone stairs. She shook her head and reprimanded herself. She was not here for another of her daydreaming days. No, she was here to find the treasure. A delicate snort sounded from her at the silly thought. The whole idea sounded juvenile even to her! However, she was already here so might as well try.
For the next two hours, her eyes scanned tirelessly to find the grave, but came up with nothing. She remembered Mrs. Rush said it was near his home, but she couldn't seem to find it. Maybe it was just a story after all, she thought with a bitter frown. Wiping away the sweat that had accumulated on her forehead, she kicked a small stray rock and began to walk home… only to trip over a medium-sized boulder. A small yelp pierced the forest's dead calm as she landed in a heap on the dirt-covered floor. She hissed through her teeth as a stabbing pain began to radiate in her ankle. Tears sprang up in her eyes at the feeling of pain and failure resonated within her. She looked through slitted eyes, ready to yell at the rock that hurt her when her breathing stopped short.