After a restless sleep, the first thing Juliet did when she woke was send an email to Mr Thomas thanking him for including her in the dig. She paused for a moment and bit her lip before continuing to type. My cousin Corey is staying with us for the summer. He is into archaeology and would love to come with me, if that’s possible? She had no idea why she did this, it was just an impulse. Then she wrote back to the boy calling himself Corey. Ok, so we had the same dream,” she wrote. So what? It is probably some movie we saw years ago and we are just remembering it. Anyway, for all I know you could be some axe murderer.”
She would wait for his reply and see what he had to say. After all, he could be some pervert who had heard about the castle and using it to lure some unsuspecting girl to her death. Her parents were always warning her about talking to strangers on the net, so she was not taking any chances.
Juliet spent the rest of the day in a flurry of packing and unpacking. Her mother sat on the bed and watched as she rifled through drawers and opened boxes to find what she was looking for. A large rucksack lay on top of the quilt. Juliet threw an assortment of underwear, socks and pyjamas towards it and her mother folded everything neatly and packed them inside.
“Are you taking a dress?” Her mother asked.
“It’s going to be all work and no play,” Juliet assured her.
Her mother sighed and sat back against the pillows. Juliet stopped and looked over at her. Despite the country air, her mother’s face looked gaunt and dark shadows swooped beneath her eyes. There had to be something other than the move worrying her.
Juliet had no idea how many times her mother studied her face and wondered what went on behind her daughter’s tilted, green eyes. What quality Juliet possessed that made her so different from her sister. My fairy child, her mother sometimes thought of her. She would miss her so much over the coming weeks.
“Found it,” Kim came running in followed by her father.
He carried Juliet’s rolled up sleeping bag.
“Can I have your laptop while you’re gone,” Kim jumped up and down on the bed.
“No, I’m taking it with me,” Juliet said and turning to her mother asked. “Don’t let her in here while I’m gone, will you?”
Later, everyone had gone to bed and the house settled for the night. Juliet sat at her dressing table and listened to the sounds that once frightened her. The groans of the floorboards settling and the fluttering of bat wings from the attic no longer held any terror for her. Her stomach did somersaults when she thought about the following morning and the journey ahead. She could not wait to meet some of her school friends again. Her stomach felt the way it did when she was a child on the night before Christmas; that excited, expectant feeling wondering what the morning would bring. Mr Thomas wrote and said her cousin was welcome to come along. All she had to do now was wait for a reply from that Corey guy. The mirror shimmered before her eyes and she blinked, blaming tiredness. She leaned closer and peered into its depths. Her eyes were dark pools in the dim light of the bedside lamp, and she held her breath and watched as shadows skimmed across the surface of her pupils. A figure appeared in the glass. At first, she was not sure where it had come from. She spun round, to see if it was behind her. When she turned back it was still there. It looked like her. The hair was the same colour, the eyes a little less slanted than hers, and the clothes it wore were beautiful and from another time.
“Are you real,” she asked the reflection. “Am I really Juliet Wilson?”
Her shadow-self shook its head before disappearing.
“I’m asleep,” Juliet whispered. “I’m asleep and dreaming all this.”
Out in the hallway someone switched on the bathroom light. The familiar sound of muffled footsteps on the carpet and the clicking of the door latch, told her she was wide awake.
Outside, in the garden and hidden by the trees, a dark shape looked up at Juliet’s window. If what he heard was true, then the girl who lived inside might be the key to bringing about the downfall of the hidden world. He drew back his lips in a feral grin and faded into the night.