Predators in the dark, rain, mud, lost iPhones and a stolen kiss. It’s all going down today! ^_~ (If you are just catching up, awesome! You might like to start here…!)
The Festival. Night two. When the rain came down. JR Manawa.
Rain exploded from the sky with baleful vengeance, and for Charis there was nowhere to hide. Kelly and Nick were both taller than her, and while she hid in their shadow for a bit, it was the drunken ginger-bearded man behind her insisting she wear his hat, who finally gave her some respite from the slating sheets of water that cut into the crowd.
Judas Priest owned the rain like it was part of the show despite the fact that by the end of their set both they and the vast majority of the crowd looked like drowned rats. The only people who seemed blissfully unaware were the boys in front of Charis who had started off licking crystals out of a tiny plastic bag. Within a relatively short period of time they were licking each other’s faces instead and trying to make out with anyone who came too close to them, male or female.
Nick, Kelly and Charis made the decision to walk back to their camp site to dig out wellies and ponchos before the final act of the night, Slipknot. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, as both Kelly and Charis were shivering, and they were all soaked to the bone.
By the time they made it back from their tents to the security check at the main stage the storm had swallowed twilight whole. The world was dark and thick with water, and the sky overhead had coloured up like a bruise.
“Shit,” Kelly muttered suddenly as she opened her bag and riffled through it for the security guard. He looked up at her in surprise, “Sorry,” she laughed apologetically, “I’ve just realised that I must have left my phone up at the tent,” her dismay was impossible to hide. Leaving an expensive phone in an unlocked tent was not the hottest decision.
“You didn’t drop it on the way here?” Nick asked dubiously.
“I bloody hope not. I’m going to have to go back and check, aren’t I?” she let out a growl of frustration, and looked up at Nick, “You guys go on ahead–I know how much you want to see Slipknot.” She planted a quick kiss on his lips before turning and dashing back through the crowds and the relentless rain that was fast turning the earth to mud.
Nick pushed forward into the swell of the people around them. Slipknot had in the darkness drawn the crowd to capacity, and the field around them already felt like a sea of fan masks and orange prison jumpsuits. The tension in the air was so tangible Charis felt she could breathe it in around the droplets of rain. The music began, and the crowd surged forward like one being, faster and more forceful than Charis or Nick had expected. Mere seconds of the first song had passed before Charis realised that she had been separated completely from Nick, and there wasn’t room to move about or search, there was simply the press of bodies about her and the violent explosion of music in her ears. She wondered briefly how August and Peter must be feeling under the claustrophobic press at the front of the pit, but guessed they were probably loving it. Songs came and went in a whirl of flying hair, mud and sweat. After a few songs, Charis pulled further back in the crowd, up to a vantage point in the field where she could see the full stage, and then ‘Spit It Out’ began, and Corey Taylor was asking the whole crowd to get down on the ground, to crouch low in the mud.
“You know what time it is!” His voice echoed out across the field of eighty thousand people, “I need to see all of my people get down on the ground right f#@king now!”
And everybody got down.
Up on the big screen, Charis could see the singers eyes, wild and excited behind the mask he wore, “Now when I say Jump the f#@k up, what are you gonna do?”
JUMP THE F#@K UP! The crowd roared.
“But not until I say, is that clear?!” He repeated his instructions in roaring, explicit detail several times before he said, quite calmly, “Then on my signal, unleash hell.”
Eighty thousand people, with their hands down in the mud, strung with enough adrenaline to resurrect a small army, bellowed their agreement. The lights when down, and the drums throbbed out into the hearts of the horde on their knees, then the chorus struck out hard once more.
Charis, obediently crouched low, bit her lip and clutched the muddy grass in her fist as she waited for the words.
JUMP THE F#@K UP.
The response of the crowd was almost melodic in power as they roared, and jumped up. Everyone went wild on a whole other level that Charis had not experienced before. Hair and limbs flew, and Charis was fairly sure in the madness she punched a few people who got too close. For her, just as much as everyone else, it felt too good not to let go.
Her feet dropped to the earth finally as the chorus moved on, and she looked up toward the stage, raking the rain and hair from her face. But she found herself looking straight in the cold green eyes of Peter, August’s friend. He stood in the rain unmoving and facing away from the stage, staring straight at her. His clothes were soaked through, and water ran down the smooth brown skin of his face and chest in rivulets that he didn’t seem to notice.
“Hello Charis,” he said, his voice a whisper that somehow travelled above the growl of Corey Taylor’s voice amplified through a hundred speakers.
“Peter!” Charis gasped in surprise.
“Did I frighten you?” he asked, innocently.
Charis laughed unsteadily as the song came to a close. She wished that Nick was still nearby, though she wasn’t sure what it was about Peter that made her so uneasy.
She shook her head, “How was the moshpit?” she asked.
“Rejuventating,” he replied, with a cat-like smile, viewing her up and down intently. Internally Charis shuddered, Peter was attractive enough to make her heart skip a beat without her giving it any thought. He was all cut muscle, sharp lines, and smooth planes that visually drew her into the cold green pools of his eyes, but somehow his beauty was the kind she would have attributed to a panther before it lunged, predatory and deadly.
“Rejuvenating? From what I saw it looked like people were being smashed to bits down there,” she laughed, and the poncho she wore crinkled like a plastic bag as she clasped her hands, searching the crowd for Nick as casually as she could.
He shrugged in response, “I got out in one piece,” he held his arms out, showing off his immaculate form.
Charis forced a laugh of agreement, as the next song started and the crowd began to move again. She realised there were others placed amongst the crowd behind Peter, others like him with cold eyes who did not move to the music, who stood facing her and watching with silent, intent expressions.
She frowned. In a crowd of eighty thousand, what did she really have to fear?
“You brought friends,” Charis pointed out, making it clear to Peter that she had seen the others watching in the crowd. There was a horrible feeling twisting in the back of her stomach that their intentions toward her could not possibly be for any good, though she couldn’t imagine to what end, or for what reason.
“Them?” Peter asked with a calm smile, halfway glancing over his shoulder. Charis could see at least six of them, and perhaps more further back that were not visible clearly through the mass of moshing bodies.
She nodded in answer to his question, trying not to make it obvious that she was searching the crowd for the smartest escape route. She definitely didn’t intend to stick around long enough to find out what they wanted from her. Carefully balancing more of her weight onto her back foot, and testing her grip on the earth, she prepared to make her move.
Peter sensed her intent to flee and took a step closer to her. His voice still travelled easily to her ears over all other sounds. “They are just curious,” he told her with an indolent shrug, “they want to see what happens, and they want to make sure you behave.” There was no longer a question in Charis’ mind, she knew why she could compare Peter’s physicality and beauty to that of a predator. It was because she had become the prey.
“Are you expecting me to misbehave?” she asked carefully.
Peter frowned for a second and tapped his chin before he said, “I think I would be disappointed if you didn’t,” and then he moved, crouching low with a fluid grace that was almost too fast for Charis’ eyes to follow.
Her own brain responded faster than she would have anticipated. Calculating the speed and mannerism of his movement, her heart went cold, realising that Peter was one of the dark shadows she had seen swoop down on the boy with the mohawk. The boy with the massive gash in his neck who had turned up dead in the morning.
In that same moment she also recognised her attempt at flight would be futile, and her ability to fight back limited with potentially fatal consequences. With her weight favoured to her back foot, and Peter crouching low to the earth, she made a split second decision, and swiped her foot hard across the ground as he lunged, sending a cascade of blinding mud up into his face.
He was right, she would misbehave. She waited with curled fists and closed eyes for the impact of his body to take her down, but instead a dead weight, hard as stone, collided with her right side and sent her crashing and sliding across the field in the mud.
She was sure she heard a snarl as Peter realised what had happened.
The dead weight was August, who had curled his entire body over Charis like a cage on the ground. She looked up at him in horror and wonder as he released her, dropping her onto her back in the mud before he lifted a hand to stroked it down the side of her face and neck.
He let his hand come to rest on her collar bone, and then suddenly he was kissing her, on the ground in the mud and rain in the middle of the crowd. It was a gentle, teasing kiss. Too gentle for the force with which he had sent her crashing to the ground. But it was over before Charis even realised he had stolen it. He pulled back and grinned at her before springing lithely to his feet and turning back toward Peter.
But Peter was gone.
Part four will be coming in the next seven days! If you liked this, why not catch up with my sweet newborn vampire in Be My Bloody Valentine -more of her story is coming soon!