Book cover of “Surviving After Dark“ by Samy

Surviving After Dark

  • Genre: Romance
  • Age: 18+
  • Status: Ongoing
  • Language: English
  • Author: Samy
"So? I'm a big girl. I'm not scared of the dark." My Aunt halts at my words. She's frozen, facing into the living room, and I'm glaring at her back so hard that I'm surprised she can't feel holes burning through her ribcage. Finally, ever so slowly, she spins to face me. Her green eyes are piercing, and I take an involuntary step back from her. S... 

Chapter 1

I’ve never had one of those huge, life-altering moments before.

You know the ones that are always talked about on TV and in the movies? Those moments that the character looks back on and says that’s when it all changed.

I always envied them; they had experienced something so amazing, so mind-blowing, that their monotonous, everyday lives flipped one-eighty, never to be the same again. Of course, for them, it was always something good. Something fantastic that set them on the path to everything they’d ever dreamed of. They always have a happy ending.

I wanted that.

Sure, I knew it was fiction, but I struggled to see the line between real life and fiction. I’m sixteen now, and I still struggle sometimes. The line blurs and I wander off into my little fantasy land.

Mum calls me her little daydreamer.

My life has always been boring. Boring and predictable. I wake up to the same alarm at the same time every day. Sit around the same table, eat the same breakfast, and have the same conversations with my mum and dad. Then I walk the same route to the same bus stop, before sitting in the same seat for the same twenty-minute ride through east London to school. Every single day.

Until today. Nothing will be the same after today.

Someone is talking to me. I hear their voices, but not their words. My heart is beating too loudly in my ears, and my blood is rushing through my veins like it’s trying to escape. Because that would be easier. To just collapse. To bleed out on the rough, blue carpet of the office. At least that would take the pain away.

I can’t focus on the man sitting behind the desk in front of me, or the police officer at his side, both with their eyes trained on us as we sit on the cold, hard, plastic chairs. Their shapes are just blurred, like ghosts, there but not there, on the very edge of my vision. Instead, I look past them, and out of the window that stands proudly in the background. A portal to another world.

It’s a sunny day, which feels out of place now. The sun shines so unashamedly in the sky as if it’s daring anybody to question its right to be there and to cast such a brightness across everything. Forcing the shadows away.

But it all feels so wrong. I see the sun; I see the shimmer of heat waves in the distance outside of that window... and I feel cold. Icy cold. I long for the shadows. For them to envelop me.

I doubt I’ll ever feel warm again.


I hear my name, but it sounds distant. Not like it’s coming from someone in the same room as me. Maybe I’m not really in the room at all. Maybe I’m the ghost, and I’m just observing, hovering between two planes. A mere spectator, unable to intervene.

I jump at the feel of a hand touching mine. Fingers clasp around the fist I’m clenching, and my head turns to face the boy sitting next to me, his ash brown hair unruly as always and falling into his eyes. He doesn’t try to move it, instead, he’s using it as a shield to hide his own emotion, but I can almost feel the pain radiating from him.

“Cass?” He says gently, and the careful tone of his voice, that edge that tells me he is fighting back tears... I feel it like a stab in the gut.

I meet my brother’s eyes; I see the shimmer of tears pooling there, and it’s all I can do not to turn and bury my face in his chest and sob. But I don’t. Instead, I just swallow as the head teacher speaks again.

“Cassandra, do you understand?” Mr. Nichols is asking, and I blink as his image sharpens again in my sight line, along with that of the uniformed officer, standing stiffly beside him. I force myself to nod, although I’m not sure that I do understand. If I’ll ever understand.

Mr. Nichols pauses a moment before his lips twitch, not quite acceptance, but acknowledgment. He’s willing to accept my nod, at least for now. He glances behind me at the woman standing in the corner, and she steps forward. “This is Rachel Johnson. She’s a social worker, and she’s going to be looking after the two of you, okay?” He explains.

Rachel Johnson comes in to view. She’s maybe in her late thirties. Plump, but not overweight, with blonde hair that’s pulled back in a neat ponytail. She has a kind face, I note, but she’s wearing a sad look upon it as she walks to the side of Mr. Nichols’ desk. No, more than sad, and pitying, and it makes my stomach churn. I tense, and my brother feels it, and his hand tightens on top of mine, willing me to be calm as Rachel positions herself on the edge of the desk. I think it’s an attempt to look more approachable. More like she’s on our level, not standing behind the desk like Mr. Nichols and the police officer. She’s trying to connect with us, but it doesn’t work.

“Elijah, Cassandra.” She uses our names as a greeting. “I’m so sorry for your-”

“It’s Cassie.” I interrupted, finally finding my voice. Rachel looks taken aback. So does Mr. Nichols, and I regret saying it. It’s a stupid thing to be hung up on right now. But only they called me Cassandra, and it stings to hear it from anybody else’s lips now.

Rachel nods slowly and bites her lip before she makes a note on the clipboard she’s holding. Then she gives me a small smile. “Cassie. I’m sorry. I know this is a lot to take in.” That’s an understatement. “I’m your assigned social worker, and I’m going to help you as much as I can, okay?”

Elijah and I both mumble an agreement, and she nods to the police officer, who excuses himself, closing the door ever so gently behind him as he leaves the office. As if the sound of a door slamming might startle us or send us into a fit of inconsolable grief. I suppose it might have, if not for the fact I feel much too numb to react at all.

Somehow, the room feels smaller with fewer people in it. Like the walls are closing in on me.

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