Series 9 Episode 4
Gently rubbing his eyes, Freddie tried examining his surroundings. He wasn’t in the dorm. In fact, he didn’t know where he was. How did he get there? His mind was hazy. His thoughts were jumbled. His vision was blurry, though slowly coming around. He felt disorientated.
“Good morning,” a delightfully calm voice greeted. It was chirpy and melodic, like a song. Freddie started to remember. Collecting his stuff. Driving for what felt like ages. Spending the whole evening with Summer. It felt so comfortable. So easy.
“Hey,” Freddie smiled, rolling onto his side to match eyes with her. Freddie couldn’t believe his luck. Summer was the most gorgeous person he’d ever laid eyes on. He didn’t deserve someone so perfect.
“This is so cosy,” Summer smiled. The bed was quite small for a double, but it wasn’t exactly a big room either. Freddie had driven them to a small house outside Crystalshaw, one he knew was owned by Ed and used for witness protection. The same place Brett and Johnny stayed at to hide from David. It was the safest place Freddie could think of.
“I’ve never been here before,” Freddie commented, “There’s not much around. No supplies.”
“We’ll cross that bridge later. All we need is each other,” Summer assured, “No family, no friends.”
“Well,” Freddie paused. Nobody knew where they were. Dylan would undoubtedly be worrying, “Maybe I should tell George.”
“No need,” Summer stated, looking directly into his eyes. Instantly, Freddie’s cloud of worry lifted. George wasn’t his concern, and neither was Dylan. All he needed to think about was Summer. He wasn’t sure if he’d make it back to college, but Freddie didn’t care. Everything he needed was right in front of him.
Dylan hadn’t expected to be back at the
lakehouse so soon after starting college. He hadn’t seen Crystalshaw town since
moving into the dorms, so being back was a strange feeling. It was nostalgic,
in fact, despite not even being gone a couple of weeks, but so comforting to
see the familiar places and faces.
Freddie’s disappearance had spooked the entire pack, and Dylan had wasted no time in gathering everyone to help. Oscar, Yasmin and Josh were searching the campus and surrounding area, while everyone else was at the lakehouse, ready to be assigned roles.
Among the worry and discomfort, Dylan was pleased to see Caroline again. Though he’d spoken to her on the phone every night, he hadn’t seen her in person since move-in day. He only wished they were reunited under better circumstances.
Already, Caroline had searched the Drummond household. Freddie’s room there was completely untouched, ruling one place out. However, Dylan knew that if there was any hint remaining of the old Freddie, he would have gone somewhere he could be found by the pack.
“Are we all here?” Dylan checked. He was in charge, and they couldn’t afford to waste time.
“We are now,” Sammi poked her head round the door, Jeremy following sheepishly behind. Dylan caught eyes with an unimpressed George. The break-up between Sammi and Freddie was clearly still fresh in George’s mind, but Dylan didn’t care about the past. He was thrilled to see Sammi, because it meant she still cared. The pack was stronger together.
“Hey,” Mia smiled at Sammi. George was still intent on Mia not knowing the truth about supernaturals, which made Dylan’s job unnecessarily tougher. That said, Mia was an extra pair of eyes; one they couldn’t afford to turn down.
“Okay,” Dylan began, “We need to split up to cover everywhere we can. Mom and I will check Freddie’s old house. Jono, Lily and Alex, take the treehouse. Everyone else needs to stay here, because he might come back, and if he does, we don’t know what state he’ll be in.” Carefully, Dylan avoided mentioning the siren, but it was getting tougher to avoid details to protect Mia alone.
“Wait,” Sammi was confused, “Are you sure you want us here?” She was obviously not keen on spending time with George, but that was the point. Dylan wanted them to talk and hash it out.
“Yes. Come on, let’s go,” Dylan motivated, not giving her a chance to argue.
On his way out, Dylan glanced at George again. He looked sullen and wrecked. He and Freddie were extremely close; they were the only family each other had.
“We’ll find him,” Dylan assured. He wasn’t going to rest until Freddie was safe again. George simply nodded. Mia had her hand clasped tightly around his. The support network George had was second-to-none, and was surely somewhat reassuring. After all, Dylan knew exactly how it felt to be separated from his loved ones, and he would never have allowed it to happen to his friends too.
Three laps of the college campus had brought no luck, and Yasmin was starting to panic. She knew Freddie inside out, and there was no way he’d have run off with a girl like that. Not in his right mind, anyway.
Yasmin felt guilty, too. She’d been so wrapped up in herself that she’d hardly noticed Freddie’s unusual behaviour. She should have spotted it. She should have known the signs. She should have signed.
Though she had Josh and Oscar by her side, there had been little attempt at conversation. Josh was in full focus mode and he was teaching Oscar how to focus his senses, leaving Yasmin to wallow in her own mind, her guilt wiping out any desire for conversation. Nevertheless, they all had a common goal. They needed to find Freddie, and quickly.
“Let’s check the lake again,” Josh suggested.
“We’ve checked there five times now,” Oscar groaned.
“This is hopeless. He’s not at the lake, and he’s not on campus,” Yasmin sighed. They were wasting time, and Freddie’s life was on the line. Every second mattered.
“Do you have any better ideas?” Josh questioned bluntly. He wasn’t intending to be rude; emotions were running high and they all felt stressed. Yasmin appreciated that Josh was trying his best.
“Walking around aimlessly won’t solve anything. We need a break, it’ll give us time to think,” Yasmin considered. Josh sighed. He knew she was right, but Yasmin understood his frustration. He was so hands-on. Their approaches were polar opposites, but to find Freddie, they needed to find a middle ground first.
Yasmin led the way into the study room, stopping at the hot drink machine first. There was nothing a cup of tea wouldn’t solve, but Josh was getting antsy. Slowing down didn’t compute to him.
“I’ll be back,” Oscar mentioned. Yasmin looked up; he noticed someone waving at him across the room. Someone from the LGBTQ+ society, she assumed.
“I feel like we’re treading water,” Josh confessed, between the two of them, “I know Dylan’s doing so much, but I feel helpless. I want to be out searching everywhere. I owe that to him.”
“We all do,” Yasmin reassured, “We all want Freddie back as soon as possible. We just have to cover all bases.”
“Hold on,” Josh paused, “I think I’ve got an idea.”
“Okay,” Yasmin tentatively waited. Any idea was worth considering at this point.
“We could ask for help,” Josh said, “Well, when I say ‘we,’ I mean you.” Yasmin wasn’t sure she liked the sound of that. The pressure had landed on her.
Tensions had been running high between the pack, understandably, but Oscar needed a breather. Laps of the campus hadn’t proved even slightly fruitful, and the dorm remained empty every time they checked back in. It was difficult to remain motivated when they were obviously making no progress.
Naturally, college life had taken a pause. Freddie was their top priority, and Oscar wanted to help find him. After all, Freddie was one of the first friends he made in Crystalshaw. However, Oscar felt somewhat sad to have missed the LGBTQ+ society meeting. He’d been looking forward to it all week, partly to crush on all of the cute guys that attended the first meeting.
Therefore, when he noticed Alora waving at him from across the study room, he had to go and speak to them. They were a friendly face and a reminder of normal life, and Oscar appreciated that. They were sat with another lad, someone Oscar recognised from the meeting. Someone cute, too, but his name eluded Oscar.
“Fancy seeing you here,” Alora greeted, clearly in high spirits. They had a textbook open in front of them, but their notebook page was empty. Clearly, socialising was higher on the agenda.
“Hey, sorry for missing last night. There’s a lot going on,” Oscar vaguely replied, sitting down next to them.
“I heard about your friend. I hope you find him,” Alora assured. Oscar appreciated the thoughts, even if the details were clearly thin on the ground.
“Thanks,” Oscar smiled, “We’re just taking a break, gathering ourselves.”
“We’ll distract you,” Alora confirmed, “This is Cody, by the way, from the meeting.”
“Nice to properly meet you,” Oscar coyly smiled at him. Cody looked relaxed and calm, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He wasn’t even pretending to study, his phone being the only thing laid on the table in front of him.
“You too,” Cody raised a small smile, sweeping his loose, shoulder-length red waves out of his eyeline. As far as Oscar was concerned, the distraction had been a success.
Four episodes down, Freddie was settling into the Netflix-binging lifestyle. He didn’t have a care in the world. Summer was by his side, and she was the only thing he needed. Of course, though he thought about George and all of his friends, they weren’t a concern of his. College was equally unimportant. Only Summer mattered.
Freddie was snuggled up closely to Summer, resting his head on her shoulder. He’d never felt so comfortable before, and he’d be happy staying there forever. That was the only future he dreamed of.
“Hold on, I’ll be back,” Summer smiled, slipping off the couch from under Freddie’s resting head. Left alone momentarily, Freddie checked his phone for the first time that day. He had a flurry of notifications. Missed calls. Facebook messages. WhatsApp messages. Texts. Every social network had a ridiculous number of notifications, all from his friends trying to get in touch. Thirty missed calls from George. Twenty-two from Dylan. Even sixteen from Sammi.
Immediately, the comfort and ease in Freddie’s mind slipped away. It was replaced by concern. What had he done? Why had he abandoned his loved ones? Why did he not even care them? The more he thought about it, the more Freddie realised there was one common denominator: Summer.
Thinking fast, Freddie knew he had to alert Dylan. They were surely already looking for him, but without a location, Freddie was a sitting duck. Summer must have had some sort of effect on him, and he had to protect himself.
Calling someone would be too risky, Freddie thought. Summer wasn’t far away and the hut wasn’t big, so she would surely hear his conversation. Texting was the answer. Opening up the chat with Dylan, it felt ridiculous to see their message history. They usually sent each other memes and jokes, and it felt so flippant now. Times changed so quickly.
The message had to be vague. If Summer saw it, she would surely react badly, and the whole plan would be a bust. Freddie simply typed one word. “Hut.” That should have been enough for Dylan to know where he was.
Footsteps. Summer was coming back. Rapidly, Freddie hit send and shoved his phone back into his pocket.
“Hope you didn’t miss me too much,” Summer smirked playfully. Oddly, her face was wet, as if she’d splashed it all with water. Nevertheless, Freddie smiled back, but the magic wasn’t there. Nothing was the same, and Freddie needed to get out.
Approaching Freddie’s old house, Dylan’s mind immediately flooded with memories. The house looked just the same as it always did, paint chipping away from the outside wall and a few dead garden plants decorated the patio; he was fairly sure they were leftovers from George and Freddie.
So much had happened at that house. Most notably, it was the place Freddie was bitten at. Dylan could never forget the awful, stomach-churning sight of his bloodstained sheets from that night. It changed Freddie’s life forever, but perhaps Dylan would never have grown so close to him otherwise?
Dylan flashed back to the night Yasmin returned from New York. Naturally, she visited then-boyfriend Freddie first, but Dylan’s jot at her surprise return was second-to-none. That short time without Yasmin around was difficult. Dylan cherished her friendship so much. She was the first friend he made in Crystalshaw. Without her, the entire pack would be so different.
“Is the coast clear?” Caroline checked. Dylan wasn’t used to going on werewolf missions with his mum. He felt somewhat self-conscious. Unusually, he was the more experienced of the two.
“Not a peep,” Dylan listened carefully. There were no heartbeats coming from inside. The new owners weren’t home. Sensibly, though annoyingly, the front door was therefore locked. No easy way in.
“Need this?” Caroline held up a key. The front door key.
“How did you get that?” Dylan was impressed. His mum had clearly learnt a thing or two.
“Plant pot. Only stupid people leave a spare key in such an obvious place. I guess the new owners are a downgrade,” Caroline remarked with a cheeky smile. Dylan laughed – the sass levels were through the roof.
Inside the house, things were equally similar. Of course, the family pictures were gone, replaced by the new family’s special moments, but the beige walls remained untouched, and the carpet, fraying at the edges, was still in place.
“What are we looking for?” Caroline questioned.
“Anything from Freddie. He’s under mind control, but he’s still there underneath. I’m hoping he’s found a way to let us know where he is,” Dylan explained. His head told him it was a long shot, but his heart wasn’t letting him give up, “I’m out of better ideas.”
“You’re doing your best, sweetie. Nobody can ask for anything more from you, okay? Ed’s got every deputy out looking for him. He’s out there somewhere, and we’ll bring him home,” Caroline encouraged, “We all want to find Freddie. He’s family, and no-one knows that better than you. You’re the glue that holds everyone together.” Dylan had missed her wise words so much. She knew just how to make everything feel better.
“I’m worried, mom,” Dylan confessed. He was trying to stay strong, but there was so much pressure on him. It was hard.
“Worry means that you care,” Caroline reminded, hugging Dylan tightly, “Now let’s get to work.” Dylan nodded, refocusing his mind. The mission was ongoing. Dylan led the way up to Freddie’s old bedroom. In the past, that room would have been a chaotic jumble sale of clutter with no sense of organisation. Now, it was quite the opposite. A pink bedspread was the centrepiece of the room, and a series of toys adorned the edges, each one perfectly tidied away. All remnants of Freddie were gone.
“No luck?” Caroline commented. Sadly, it seemed Dylan’s wild theory was a waste of time after all.
“Wait,” Dylan froze, noticing a sheet of paper poking out from behind the dresser. It was a photo, in fact, and one Dylan hadn’t seen before. Freddie with Yasmin, Josh and Brett. It was super cute, and must have been left behind by accident when Freddie moved out.
Dylan’s phone vibrated harshly in his pocket. Much to his amazement, it was a text from Freddie. One simply word: “Hut.”
Then Dylan realised. He spotted Brett in the photo. Freddie was hiding. Brett and Johnny hid at Ed’s safehouse just outside town, and that was very much a hut. That’s where Freddie was, and he wanted to be found.
There was always an uneasy feeling in Jono’s gut every time he went back to the Chadwick house. Even at the best of times, that big house never felt very homely to him. He had everything a kid could wish for: toys, space and a huge garden. Perhaps the company made a difference, because Dylan’s smaller house always felt cosier. Jono was sure that was down to the atmosphere created by Caroline and Ed. Everyone was welcome, and family came first.
On the way in, Jono glanced up at his treehouse. His safe haven. It was the one part of this house that he truly missed. It was where he always felt at ease, after a bad day at school or an argument with his parents. Though college was going somewhat well, he could have done with a treehouse there to escape to for some peace and quiet.
Though Jono knew it was tough for him to return home, it was even harder for Lily. SO much had changed for her in a year, and facing her demons was an ongoing battle. Jono held her hand tightly, ensuring she knew he was there for her every step of the way. They’d both experienced the frayed relationships with their parents, making their own relationship more vital than ever.
“I love this place,” Alex commented, misreading the room, “The building, I mean.”
“Yeah,” Lily replied. She was quiet – far quieter than usual – and that was a giveaway sign for Jono.
“There’s no scent. He’s not been here,” Jono recognised. He didn’t want to spend any longer there than necessary.
“Jono! Lily!” an excited voice called from the doorstep. Jono sighed. He didn’t want to be spotted, but it was too late. Helen had seen them. Jono painted his best smile onto his face and approached sheepishly.
“Hey, mom,” Jono kept up appearances. To her credit, Helen had tried her best to make up for all the heartbreak and anger of the previous year. Jono had never known her to be so active and present in his life, and it meant a lot, even if the wounds were taking time to heal.
“I didn’t know you were coming home. Please, come in. Steve! The kids are home!” she called out, thrilled. Jono had never seen her so happy before.
“We can’t stay, sorry,” Jono felt bad. Freddie was his priority, but he didn’t want to let his mum down either.
“Not even a quick cup of tea?” Steve suggested, joining Helen at the door.
“Freddie’s missing,” Jono explained.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Helen realised, “I hope he shows up. Anything we can do?”
“Just keep an eye out if you could, please,” Jono requested. Lily’s grip on his hand was tightening. She felt anxious, and understandably so.
“Sure. Good luck,” Helen smiled, closing the door. Instantly, Jono checked in on Lily.
“All good?” he queried.
“It’s just hard,” Lily admitted, “Come on, let’s find Freddie.
“Hey, check your phones,” Alex advised, “Dylan’s got a location.”
Jono’s hopes immediately lifted. Freddie was one of his closest friends, and they had to find him as soon as possible.
There was nothing Sammi hated more than feeling useless. Though she may not have had the super-fast healing, or enhanced speed, she had time and time again proved her worth in the pack. Leaving her behind achieved nothing, especially when George and Mia obviously had the lakehouse covered.
Equally, Sammi knew Dylan wasn’t stupid. Even without a werewolf’s ability to sense emotion, the tense atmosphere between her and George was obvious. Dylan wanted them to heal the rift, but it wasn’t that easy.
Instead, Sammi and Jeremy sat side-by-side on the sofa, while George and Mia parked themselves on the dock. So much for healing the wounds. Sammi was more concerned about Freddie than his brother, anyway.
Keeping Sammi occupied was Felix, who keenly replied to every message she sent within seconds. She hadn’t told him what was going on, knowing it would be strange that she was so concerned about her ex, but he’d already sussed that something was up. There was no other reason for both her and Jeremy to be off school at the same time.
“You two have been cosy recently,” Jeremy commented. It was early days between her and Felix, so she hadn’t told Jeremy the details yet. Seemingly, it had already made itself apparent.
“I suppose,” Sammi coyly replied.
“You and Felix,” Jeremy laughed.
“Hey, what’s so funny?” Sammi playfully shoved Jeremy, “Besides, there is no me and Felix. Not yet, anyway.”
“It’s not funny as such,” Jeremy clarified, “But who would have called that a few weeks ago?”
“True,” Sammi blushed. Something about Felix was just so comforting. He was adorable.
“Yet you came here as soon as you heard about Freddie,” Jeremy mentioned. Darn. She’d been completely caught out. Though Sammi was enjoying her time with Felix, her mind was confused. She felt so worried about Freddie, and that told her one thing: she still cared for him, “You still have feelings for him, don’t you?”
Sammi fell silent. It was unusual for her to be speechless, but she truly didn’t know how to answer that. Her heart still fluttered when she thought of Freddie, but after all that had happened, did she have any right to love him?
“Go and tell George,” Jeremy advised, “I know how it feels to be away from my loved ones. You have a choice. I didn’t.” Jeremy spoke so wisely, and suddenly, everything made sense for Sammi. He was right, and even though she didn’t want to speak to George, she knew she had to.
Nervously, Sammi made her way outside. As soon as she spotted Sammi, Mia stood up and backed away. She knew they needed some private time. George looked less than pleased, though. He swerved eye contact and scrunched up his nose.
“I want to fight for him,” Sammi began. There was no point in small talk.
“Do you? You’ve got a funny way of showing it. Why weren’t you fighting for him before? Freddie needed you, and he wouldn’t be out there if you hadn’t given up on him,” George ranted.
Sammi was shocked. She’d never heard George speak like that before, but he was right. She’d been selfish. She was in the wrong.
“I’m sorry,” George calmed himself.
“No. I deserved it. I was thinking of myself only,” Sammi swallowed humble pie. She had to be honest with herself, after all, “I’m sorry it took me this long to realise.”
Sammi’s phone buzzed. Felix had messaged again, but Sammi wasn’t concerned. Freddie was all she cared about, and now was her chance to prove it. A second message arrived almost immediately after. Sammi sighed, expecting more from Felix, but it wasn’t. This time, it was Dylan.
“The hut,” George said aloud, examining his phone.
“Let’s go,” Sammi encouraged. They were a team now, for better or for worse.
Though Yasmin was usually the best person for coming up with a plan, Josh enjoyed his own outside-the-box approach too. Yasmin was right – they were getting nowhere, so they needed a change of tact. Would his plan work? Josh didn’t know, and Yasmin seemed uneasy about the entire prospect, but it was the best idea they had.
“Ghosts?” Oscar was taken aback. Josh had attempted to fill him in on the situation, but he was struggling to comprehend. The three of them were stood by the river, where Freddie and Summer first introduced themselves to each other.
“Sort of,” Yasmin corrected, “But it’s not exactly new. I see dead people all the time.”
“Not Dylan’s dad, though,” Josh mentioned. This wasn’t normal in any way, and he wasn’t happy to pretend.
“It sounds kinda creepy,” Oscar wondered, “Can you see him now?”
“No, but he shows up when I need him,” Yasmin replied.
“Being real, I think we need him now. This is life or death for Freddie,” Josh insisted.
“He agrees,” Yasmin said, looking over Josh’s shoulder. Josh spun around, but he couldn’t see anyone. Oscar was right – it was really darn creepy.
“He’s there, right?” Oscar presumed. He seemed nervous; after all, he wasn’t used to supernatural goings-on. It was still new to him.
“He says hi,” Yasmin relayed.
“How can we see him?” Josh probed.
“I don’t know,” Yasmin shrugged, before pausing. She was listening, to the voice Josh couldn’t hear. Seconds later, she took both Josh and Oscar by the hand. Instantly, Josh’s perception shifted. The colours were tinted a strange, uncomfortable yellow, and a man had appeared in front of him. A man Josh had seen in pictures so many times. He had a good head of hair – making it obvious where Dylan had got his genes from – and a kind smile. Josh suspected he would have guessed he was Dylan’s dad even if he didn’t already know.
“Hi,” Josh nervously spoke.
“Hi Josh,” he replied, “Nice to meet you at last. I know Caroline cherishes you.”
“Likewise,” Josh smiled, “This is Oscar, by the way.”
“Martin Drummond, nice to meet you,” he greeted, shaking Oscar’s hand, “I wish it were under better circumstances.”
“A ghost hand,” an awestruck Oscar commented.
“Do you know where Freddie is?” Josh cut to the chase.
“I’m afraid not, but the siren isn’t your only concern. Yasmin, this shouldn’t be happening. Something is using the vulnerability of the power of three to break back into this universe, and ghosts are seeping through,” Martin explained.
“What’s coming?” Yasmin nervously asked. It was the question on Josh’s lips, too. They had to be prepared.
“I wish I knew, but I can help as much as possible,” Martin detailed, “I’ve seen Dylan in action, and I’m so proud of him. I want to help.”
Rapidly, the yellow tint faded into black. It looked as if night had suddenly fallen around them. A rush of wind scraped harshly over Josh’s face. He felt uneasy. Something bad was on its way.
“Get out. Let go of their hands,” Martin instructed, yelling over the wind.
“I can’t,” Yasmin whimpered. She was frozen to the spot. Suddenly, Martin vanished. The draught grew stronger and faster. Materialising in front of them was a dark cloud, almost smoky, but pitch black in colour. It grew taller. Faster. More fearsome. It was trying to assert some sort of dominance.
Josh looked at Oscar. He was horrified, and Josh concurred. This was bad, and only getting worse. Yasmin had lost control. She was the gateway, and whatever was forming in front of them had jammed it wide open.
Freddie was sick and tired of clock-watching. Netflix wasn’t enticing anymore, when all Freddie really wanted to do was get home. Summer wasn’t who she said she was. She could hypnotise him, and that terrified Freddie. He wasn’t in control, and that was his worst nightmare. Summer could make him do anything and he’d have no say.
Since his realisation, Freddie had been desperately thinking of an escape route. On the bright side, he had his car outside, but he couldn’t afford to misfire. One failed attempt would screw his chances completely. If Dylan was coming, he had to grab this opportunity to reach him.
Glancing at Summer, who was resting on his chest, Freddie noticed something odd. Something unlike anything he’d ever seen before. The skin on her arms was dry, and getting drier with every passing second. It was spreading, like an out-of-control rash. Yasmin had never had that happen before. She couldn’t have been a nix. She was something else. Something more dangerous.
“I’ll be right back,” Summer smiled, sliding gracefully off Freddie’s chest and out of the room. Freddie kept listening, checking where she was going. The back door clicked open, and then shut immediately. He was on his own. Perfect chance to get out.
Freddie grabbed his bag from the bedroom, shoving his toothbrush in before zipping it up. He tried his best to ignore every impulse telling him he was scared. His heart was pounding and his stomach was packed full of butterflies. So much was riding on this moment.
Car keys. Freddie rummaged frantically through his bag, but there was no sign. Where had he left them. They couldn’t be far away, but it was a race against the clock. A race for Freddie’s life. He checked the bed. The bedside table. Under the bed. The sofa. The bathroom. No sign. Surely Summer hadn’t taken them? The worst-case scenario wasn’t worth thinking about, but rapidly, Freddie was thinking of plan B. He could outrun Summer, surely? He didn’t need the car.
There they were. Slipped underneath the coffee table. The car keys. Freddie swept them up and dashed out to the car. He tried to keep a clear, focused mind, but it was hard. Every part of his body wanted to panic.
Key in the ignition. The car started up. This was it. Freddie was almost on his way. The sooner he could get to Dylan, the better. Instantly, the car jolted. Staring directly at him, with her hands on the bonnet, was Summer. She’d found him. He was screwed.