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Authors: Tony Butler

Different

BOOK: Different
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Mystic Moon Press
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Different

By: Tony Butler

ISBN-978-0-9800164-8-6

All rights reserved Copyright © Jan. 2008,
Tony Butler

Cover Art copyright © Jan. 2008, Stella Price

Mystic Moon Press, LLC

Santa Fe, NM 87507

www.mysticmoonpress.com

No part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared by any electronic or mechanical means, including but not limited to printing, file sharing, and email, without prior written permission from Mystic Moon Press, LLC

*NOTE* This book was edited conforming to UK spellings.

~Dedication~
To my wife Sue, for putting up with me.
Chapter 1

Wales 2012

Breathing easily, eighteen-year-old Jay Williams jogged down the steep but familiar narrow trail that wound down from the Conway Mountain, around the old slate quarry, and to the village of Tragowen at the foot of the valley. Jay was enjoying the cooling sea breeze that flowed over the mountain when one of her trainers caught on something and she fell. Hitting the ground on all fours, she barely had time to register the pain in her hands and knees before her body started to slide feet first down the steep grassy slope, which ended with a sheer forty-foot drop to the floor of the quarry.

Desperately she clawed at the clumps of grass on either side of her but; they came away in her hands. The lip of the slope was only a few feet away from her when Jay rolled onto her back and screamed in terror as her legs went over the edge.
I'm dead
, she thought.

In a reflex action her right hand shot out, and it wasn't until her fingers wrapped around it, that she registered the rusted iron post projecting out the slate-rock. Her backside plunged into space. Jay thought her arm would be wrenched out of its socket when it took the full weight of her body. She almost lost hold when her side scraped painfully against the rock to leave her hanging by her right hand, high above the quarry floor.

"Help!” She screamed.
There's no one around to hear you,
her mind's voice seemed almost audible.
You're dead!

Desperately she searched for a crevice or outcrop, anything at all that would help to take her weight off her arm. She couldn't hold on any longer.

As though it had read her mind, her hand began losing its grip on the post.

"No,” she screamed, expecting to plunge to her death.

But then she felt her fingers tightening its grip on the post. A tingling sensation coursed through her arm. Amazingly, and acting of its own accord, her right arm flexed and started to bend. It hauled Jay up until she was high enough to grip the post with her other hand. Using both arms, it required hardly any effort at all to pull herself back up onto the slope and to safety.

It must have been some kind of adrenalin rush
, she thought and then stared at the post in surprise. There were finger-sized indentations in the iron where her right hand had been, and when she wrapped her hand around the post again, her fingers fit them exactly.

Her knees felt sore and she had torn a fingernail, but otherwise except for feeling shaky and more than a little spooked, she was okay.

Jay carefully climbed back up to the trail and looked at her watch. Over ten minutes had passed since she had slipped off the path, but that was impossible, she couldn't have possibly hung by one hand for seven or eight minutes? It didn't make any sense, but she hadn't time to worry about it, because she was going to be late meeting her friends, in Tragowen.

Jay started to jog again, replaying in her mind the weird things that had happened to her. But the sudden strength in her arms and the marks in the post just didn't make any sense.

* * * *

When she arrived in the village, Jay looked at her watch again. At first she thought it must have stopped, but no, the second hand was till bouncing its way around the face. It was impossible she knew, but according to her watch, she'd done the fifteen-minute jog down through the quarry and into Tragowen in less than three minutes. Come to think of it, she couldn't remember much of her journey because her thoughts had been too engrossed with her fall.

"Hi, Jay!” David was walking towards her, looking puzzled. “How come you got here first?”

"Oh, don't ask!” Jay snapped her mind still in turmoil.

"Hey, there's no need to bite my head off,” he said. “Come on, let's go to the cafe and wait for Mary."

The cafe hadn't opened for business yet, and Mary's Aunt Pauline, a cheery attractive woman, whose long black hair had yet to show a single strand of grey, made them both a cappuccino.

"I'll make Mary's tea,” she said. “She should be on her way. Sausage sandwich is it, David, and toast for the girls?"

"Yes, please,” they said it together and laughed.

Aunt Pauline disappeared into the kitchen just as Mary came in.

She smiled when she saw them and came over. “Jay, are you entering the talent competition?"

"Yes, I'm going to have a go. I think I stand a good chance of winning."

"That would be great but, I want to ask you two a favour. I'd like to enter too but, none of my clothes would be right for the competition. I was wondering if you two would help me choose something to wear. I've got thirty pounds left over from my birthday.”

"You, enter the talent competition?” David looked at her in surprise. “I didn't even know you could sing. Did you, Jay?"

"No, I mean, well you never get up to sing on karaoke nights."

Mary shrugged. “Yes, but you know me. I'm not really into pop. Country and western, hymns and ballads that's my sort of music."

"A ballad or country and western should be ok, but I'd forget the hymns if I were you,” Jay said.

"Go for it,” David said. “But don't either of you ask me how I voted afterwards."

Jay was beginning to feel a lot better having recovered from her fright, her knees weren't bothering her and neither was her fingernail. She looked at her nail, and then looked again. It was fine and showed no sign of being damaged.

Excusing herself, Jay went into the toilets to take a look at her injured ribs and knees, but just like her nail, they were fine. There wasn't even a scrape mark on the skin where she'd grazed her ribs.
What the hell's going on? What's happening to me?
Jade felt chilled by dread. There was only one logical answer; she must have imagined the whole thing. Was she going crazy? But then she noticed a smear of dried blood on the side of her bra, and almost cried in relief. She wasn't mad, it really had happened, but how and why to her?

* * * *

A few days later, Jay was in the schoolyard and waiting for David and Mary to arrive.

"Hey! Williams. I'd forget about entering the contest on Friday, if I were you.” Alex Matthews, who was eighteen, swaggered over towards her accompanied by his best friend, Carl Smith. “Sophie's entering and I wouldn't like it if someone beat her,” Alex said. “So why don't you back off? You can say you've got a sore throat or something."

"Do it, Williams,” Carl said. “Unless you want...” he slammed his fist into his palm making their message plain, for Jay knew they wouldn't hesitate to beat her up. They were bullies, and anyone who crossed them always got beaten up. Should the victims’ parents complain, then they would more than likely find a house-brick had been thrown through their windows. Alex and his crowd had intimidation down to a fine art.

"No, I'm entering,” she said trying not to sound scared. “You can't stop everyone..."

"Don't need to,” Alex smirked. “I've only got to stop you, there's no one else who might beat her, and so the rest of the jerks don't matter.” He extended a hand and ran the back of it gently down her cheek and closed in on her. “You're quite good looking, Jay,” he murmured. “Why don't we be mates? You haven't got a boyfriend, have you?"

She shoved him away from her. “Leave me alone!” she said. “I'll tell...” The remainder was cut off when Carl grasped her throat and slammed her against the wall.

"You tell on us and you're dead!” he said. “We know where you live and you'd better remember that.” He let her go and the two boys, after giving her a final threatening look, walked away.

Badly shaken and frightened by their threats, Jay reluctantly withdrew her name from the list of contestants. She didn't want to tell anyone about the threats, because she was fearful of what might happen if she did. David would confront them, and it would end with him being beaten up. If she went to the schoolteachers it wouldn't help, because as soon as she mentioned Alex's name they wouldn't want to know. They'd given up on trying to discipline him.

Jay lived with her grandparents, her mum and dad had been killed in a car accident a few months after she was born, and her granddad would insist on doing something. He might even go to the police and that would mean real trouble, smashed windows, car tyres slashed, and ultimately, sooner or later, Alex and Carl, would still get their hands on her. No, it was better to just pull out of the competition.

They were waiting for her when she came out of the hall at lunchtime, each taking her by the arm; they led her around the side of the steps that led up into the main building. There the steps screened them from the school's CCTV security cameras.

"Well?” Alex demanded.

"I've done it. I've crossed my name off the list,” she said.

He smiled and let go of her arm. “I know,” he said. “I saw you."

Carl nudged Alex with his elbow. “Tell her about our date, Alex."

"Oh yes. Listen up, Jay. You, Carl, Sophie and I are going out as a foursome on Saturday night. Carl really fancies you, so tell your Gran that you're going out with Mary. Ok?"

"In your dreams,” she said. “I'm not going out with him. He's only after one thing."

Carl scowled and grabbed her hair, yanking her head back. “Watch it, Williams. You're asking for a smack in the mouth.” He let go of her hair and stepped away from her. “Anyway, we were only joking, you're not my type. I like girls with tits, not straight up and down like you."

Alex laughed. “Yes, who'd want to have it off with a bean-pole?"

"Good,” she said. She pushed past them and back into the safety of the yard. She realised she was feeling angry, not afraid. The thought of either of them kissing and groping her made her feel sick, let alone letting them hump her. She was still angry when she re-entered her name on the competition's entrant's list.

* * * *

On the night of the contest, the girls were getting changed and putting the finishing touches to their make-up when Sophie Anderson came up to Jay.

"I didn't know Alex and Carl had threatened you, until today,” she said, lowering her voice so as not to be overheard. “I told them straight, that I don't want, or need that kind of help."

"Thanks Sophie, I wondered whether you knew what was going on. Obviously it was Alex and Carl's idea, so good luck in the competition."

Sophie winked at her and smiled. “You too,” she said. “But you'll need more than luck to beat me, and that's a promise."

Jay watched her walk away, envying the girl's looks and figure. No wonder she didn't believe Alex would make a move on another girl.

Jay walked onstage and was acknowledged with applause and cheers as she sang the opening few lines of her favourite, Kylie Minogue song. When she finished, the accolade was even louder.

"You were great,” Mary said, when Jay returned. “Let's see Sophie beat that!"

Jay listened to Sophie singing a version of a Brittany Spears hit, in wonder.

"She's sensational,” she murmured in amazement.

Mary indicated her agreement. “She's really good,"

When Sophie came off stage, Jay caught her arm.

"That was megga, Sophie,” she said. “You'll win easily."

Sophie looked at her uncertainly and then gave Jay a quick smile. “Thanks,” she said.

"You weren't so bad yourself.” Then, as though embarrassed by their conversation, Sophie walked towards the changing room where drinks were laid out.

"Mary, I'm dreadfully sorry but we don't seem to have the music to your song.” Miss Hollinghead, the music teacher said. “I know the tune, but not well enough to play it as an accompaniment, can you sing it without music?"

"I guess so,” Mary said.

After the teacher had left, Jay looked at her friend. “You can't go out there and sing without music,"

"I'll have to,” Mary sighed. “I have to sing, Jay. You know they're giving us all a copy of the recording of the contest; well I want it for my dad's birthday tomorrow. My mum, used to sing this particular song with Dad playing the violin, and sometimes I'd sing along with her. He's been feeling so rock bottom recently, it's been two years now since she passed away, and I need to sing it, for him."

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