Johnny stared at his parents, aghast.
“Yes, honey, we have to,” his
“Why do we have to move? Or, again, why do we have to move to OHIO? I like California!”
have to move because there’s no work in California. I can get a job in Ohio, one that'll pay better,” his father
Johnny hid an insolent look. It would pay until his dad got drunk again, and ruined it like he’d ruined
every other job, ever.
Johnny said none of this aloud, of course. That would just get him another arm of bruises and a
weekend locked in his room again. Johnny was never rude to his parents. Ever. Not that either of them really needed an excuse.
They blamed him for everything. According to them, he was an uppity little brat, but nothing a good beating wouldn’t
cure him of. This was normal enough to Johnny he sometimes found it hard to believe none of his friend’s parents hit
“You better go pack up your stuff, now. We’re leaving as soon as we can get someone else to rent our
flat.” “That soon? That’ll take, like, a week.”
“And?” His father said, an edge to
Johnny walked down the hall to his room. It was the one at the end, by the road. At
night he could hear cars going by all night. Sometimes he heard gunshots, but not recently. His room was white, the cracks
and water stains showing clearly. Johnny had wanted to paint it, a nice color like blue or green, but his father had said
no, it was too much money for paint. There was always money for booze, Johnny had thought, but he didn’t say anything.
got an old suitcase out of his closet, which was also his storage place, and started to fold clothes into it. He didn’t
have that many. He had been growing like a weed recently, almost two inches in the last month, and most of his clothes didn’t
fit anymore. Now he was limited to about four pairs of jeans and five or six T-shirts. These he fit into the bag with room
to spare. He put in on top of it his comics, and a few Stephen King novels he had. Then there were just the two posters on
his walls and his stars, from the ceiling. Johnny loved the stars. Once, long ago, his mother had taken him to a planetarium,
and he had seen them, in all their glory. He soon discovered that you couldn’t see stars in the city, though, and now
the closest thing he had were the glowing chunks of plastic he stuck to his ceiling. That was it.
Johnny lay down on his
bed, an old thing that would soon be too short for him, and went to sleep, the one place he was really happy, at home with
The next day at school, Johnny broke the news to his friends. They sat at the lunch table they had sat at since they were
freshmen, two years ago. They were the one implacable clique. They were smart, but not Nerds. They were cool, but not Popular.
Somehow they always seemed to be one step short of everybody else. That suited them just fine.
“You can’t move!”
Sam said. She had that look that no one wanted to argue with. “We’ve got half a year left until graduation, we
have to stick together! Remember, we were gonna have our own senior prank!”
The others grinned. The lake out in front
of the school had a fountain; they were going to fill it with bubble bath. “I know. I want to stay here, but my parents
said we’re moving to Ohio, we’re moving to Ohio.”
“You should run away,” Josh said. That
was Josh’s answer to everything. He was a hard-core anarchist. He had run away so many times his parents had stopped
calling the police when he left.
“Wait, Ohio?” Jess asked. “There’s nothing in Ohio but snow and,
“And the corn is rare,” Sam said.
“Will you stop trying to make me MORE miserable?
I know there’s nothing in Ohio. I DON’T WANT TO GO, got it? But I have to.”
“At least come back
after you graduate,” Josh said. “We’re still going to college together, right?”
Everyone said in unison. Then they laughed. But it sounded forced.
Four days later, Johnny was gone. His dad had made a late-night deal with a man who was going to move into their flat,
and the next morning, they packed up and moved out.
At his new house, Johnny stared at his ceiling. He was lying on his floor; his bed wasn’t set up yet, even though
they had been moved in for a week. The pieces of it leaned up against a far wall, waiting for someone to stick them together.
He had gotten most of his stars up, but some had gotten lost in the move. Somehow. His room here was bigger; everything was
bigger, because they had a house instead of an apartment. The ceiling was bigger, too, and the stars looked tiny and spread
out on the vast white plain. He would have to get some more.
He went to the little bookshelf he had, also dwarfed by the
big white walls, and took out his favorite book, Firestarter, by Stephen King. Inside the front cover was about seven hundred
dollars in tens and twenties. He had so much because in the city, he had done odd jobs, and pretty much everything else he
could to get money. The biggest part of it came from the summer before last, when Josh had convinced the other three that
they could save up enough money to get a car and head for the border.
That had kinda fallen through, though.
had to spend it slowly, on things his parents wouldn’t notice. If they knew he had any money they would say he stole
it. He had gotten a bike a while back, and told his parents he had found it in a dumpster. They believed him, but grudgingly.
out a five, he slipped it into his pocket and headed outside.
He climbed onto his bike; it was too small for him, at more
than five feet tall. But it was better than walking everywhere. He walked it to the end of his driveway… and realized
he didn’t know where anything was. Biting his lip, he walked back inside, finding his parents on the couch watching
“Hey, Mom,” he started, but she shushed him pointing to the TV. It was some gameshow. Johnny obligingly
waited for the commercial before asking again.
“Oh, you can’t get to it from here,” his mom said, looking
at him as though he were retarded. “We’re in the country now, everything’s about six or seven miles away.
You’d have to take the car.”
Johnny winced. He hated asking his dad for the car. But this time, his dad took
“There’s twenty bucks on the counter. Go find somewhere that sells beer, eh?”
the keys at Johnny, and he caught them. Grinning a bit, Johnny grabbed the twenty off the counter.
His dad’s car
was an old, grey thing that he had had since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It ran, but only when it felt like doing so. This
time, it did. Johnny drove off.
At the store, once he found it, Johnny picked up a giant bag of glow-stars and a case of Killians. It was the only kind
his dad would drink. He dropped the two things on the counter, the twenty-five dollars already in hand. The cashier, a blonde
girl about as old as him, stared at the beer, then at Johnny, then back at the beer.
“I know you’re not twenty-one,”
She said at last. Johnny looked at her, puzzled.
“You have to be twenty one to get alcohol
Johnny dimly remembered a law like this, but it was never enforced at the place he had always gotten at in
“Can I get the stars, then? I’ll take this back.”
The girl nodded, and he handed over the
five dollars, and started back to the back of the store. He was just about to put the case back when he saw it. At the back
corner of the store, there was a door that led to the Iggle Video next door.
Go right through, a voice said in his ear.
Johnny swung around, trying to see who had said that. There was no one there. But the idea was planted. Johnny tried to ignore
it. He set the case down, and started to walk toward the door. After a few steps, he stopped. His dad would think he just
didn’t get the beer for no reason.
Johnny bit his lip, thinking which would be worse, stealing or getting beaten
again. A few seconds later, he made the choice, grabbed the case again, and walked slowly out the door. No one noticed.
wasn’t that easy? The voice said again, one he was back in the car. Johnny ignored it, and didn’t respond, but
in his head, he thought about how easy it really was. Too easy.
He started the engine and started to drive back home.
was a lot of snow falling, and this made it a bit hard to drive, but he made it.
Back at his house, he put the stolen bottles in the nearly empty fridge. His dad yelled at his to bring him one, and Johnny
saw that his parents were still watching the TV. He almost asked if his dad would come help him set up his bed, but he knew
what the answer would be.
“I can’t get beer after this,” Johnny said, handing his Dad a bottle. “You
have to be twenty one, apparently.”
His dad cursed, and Johnny’s insides went icy. What if his dad asked him
how he got this case? He’d have to tell the truth. But his dad didn’t ask. Johnny walked slowly up the stairs,
and went into his room. He stuck up his new stars, forming two new constellations and adding some small stars to the Milky
Way he had running diagonally along his ceiling. By the time he was done, the room looked kind of nice.
He picked up a
book, and read until he was too tired to see the words.
The next morning he woke up to a pounding on his door.
He yelled. The door opened, and his Dad stood there.
“Wake up, stupid, you have to go to school today, and I have
to drive you, the bus just went by. Hurry up.” The door slammed shut again, and Johnny quickly got dressed in a pair
of crumpled Jeans and a T-shirt. There wasn’t time to mess with his hair (not that it would have made any difference,
the blue-black spikes never lay down,) so he grabbed a pop-tart, and got in the car. It was a short, quiet drive to school.
Johnny was ten minutes late, a fact that the white-haired old lady in the office seemed too aware of. She seemed to be
the kind of person who saw anyone under the age of twenty five, and judged them to be a troublemaker. Especially if they were
late for school.
Johnny’s dad had dropped him off in front of the school, and drove off. Johnny had asked someone
hanging out in the hall where the office was. The boy had given him a look that suggested that he was a retard, exhaled some
smoke through his nose, and pointed up the stairs. Johnny had thanked him, and ran up the stairs. He saw a big cafeteria,
leading to a maze of passages, and wondered if they made maps of the school.
That had left him sitting in the office, waiting
for the vice principle to get out of a meeting with a young mother whining about how her son, a kid named Steven who sat just
outside the door sulking, wasn’t a bad kid, he as just bored. Johnny had his own opinions about this, but kept them
After a few minutes the VP managed to shoo the woman out, and he grinned at Johnny.
“You must be Mr.
C. Come on in, please.” Johnny walked into the VP’s office. It was a place meant for intimidating people. There
was a big VP’s chair, and then a smaller wooden one. Johnny sat in the wood chair, and felt small and a little scared.
It reminded him of being a little kid, and he didn’t like it at all. The VP grinned real big at him, and Johnny didn’t
like that much, either.
“Well, Mr. C, welcome to Highland! (homeoftheHighlandHornets!) I hope you will have a great
time here. My name is Mr. Kubilus, but you can call me Mr. K.! Monkeys.”
“Did you just say
“No, don’t be silly.” Mr. K’s neck sparked. “Here’s your schedule.
Your homeroom is C131, and your locker is number 5231. Your combination is written on your schedule. Any problems?”
looked over his schedule. He was in all the advanced classes, but he had been at his old school, too. He was a pretty bright
kid. He had to be, taking 12th grade when he was sixteen years old.
“Wait… who signed me up for Spanish? I’ve
never taken Spanish.”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Mr. K. said, pushing Johnny out of his office.
where is everything?” Johnny asked, but the door was already slammed shut. Johnny waited a second, then knocked, but
there was no response from the other side of the door. Johnny started to walk away. There was a screaming noise from the other
side of the door. Johnny turned around again, but thought better of it and walked out into the hall.
Several minutes later,
with the aide of a fire escape map, he found his first period class. He was about five minutes late for that, too.
why are you so late, young man?” his teacher, Ms. Phillips, asked.
“I’m new. I got a bit lost. Actually
I get really lost.”
“Hmm, a smart alec, huh? Well if you’re ever late again the whole class gets four
hundred extra homework problems. I suppose you’ll be wanting a seat, then, too?”
“That would be nice,
Ma’am,” Johnny said, embarrassed by either the kids’ laughing at him, or his teacher’s obvious insanity.
There’s only one extra seat so sorry, you have to sit by Abbey, the crazy girl.”
Ms. Phillips pointed to the
only empty seat in the class. Next to it was a girl dressed all in black. She had black boots, a black skirt and a black shirt
with happy bunny on it. Her hair was brown with red-purple streaks through it. She popped her gum at him in greeting.
sat next to her, and got out a sheet of paper and pencil from his backpack. It was actually a drawing pencil and paper, but
he had to improvise this morning. His teacher threw a book at him, and he grabbed it out of the air before it slammed into
his head, the teacher groaned: she was hoping to hit him. He opened the book to the right page, and some insanely easy problems
stared up at him with deceptively cute eyes.
With a quick glance to make sure he was on the right page, he started to do
the problems. At the front of the class, (Johnny was in the back) the teacher yammered on about something that wasn’t
what they were working on, and quite possibly wasn’t even math. The level of monotony was so high it was difficult to
tell what she was talking about. Johnny was almost done with the problems she had assigned for homework (they were written
on the board, in no particular order,) when Abbey passed him a note. Discreetly, he opened it up, and read it under his desk
New kid, Huh? It read, is a spidery, slightly gothic writing. Anybody this weird at your old school? I think our teachers
are mentally retarded, but I don’t know if it’s specific to our school.
He scribbled a note back.
None of our teachers are so weird. Is everybody here like this?
He passed it back to her. A second later, she passed it
to him again.
Yeah, pretty much. Some are worse. Wait until you meet Mr. Brooks. Do you have him?
Johnny pulled out
his schedule, looking over it quickly. He did have Mr. Brooks. Apparently he taught speech.
He wrote this to Abbey, but
before he could pass it to her, the bell rang. Abbey was gone like a shadow at noon. Johnny didn’t even see where she
went. Stuffing his book into his backpack, he headed to his next class.
The rest of the day passed mostly uneventfully.
His classes were almost insanely easy, except for Spanish. He understood nothing. His teacher seemed to have a ‘no English’
rule, which she broke only once to tell them that if they didn’t stop pretending not to understand the assignments,
they were all going to get F’s. Johnny didn’t say anything.
The voice in his head, however, seemed to like
that class. Johnny hadn’t heard it all day, but from the moment he walked into Spanish to the moment he walked out,
the stupid thing kept telling him to ask his teacher what “matando’ meant. Johnny didn’t.
After school, Johnny threw his books into his locker. The combination had taken him about ten tries to get open. When he
finally did, he realized he’d been carrying all his books around with him all day. He didn’t have any homework,
he’d done it all in class.
He slammed the locker door, and got a surprise because Abbey was standing behind it.
where did you come from? You scared the crap out of me!”
“Yeah, I do that to most people. What bus are you
"That’s kind of important to know; considering they’re leaving in…”
she looked at her watch. “Two minutes.”
“DAMN!” Johnny yelled.
“It’s too late now.
You’ll never catch the right one.”
“Crap. I don’t even know the way home.”
the pros and cons of just staying at school all night.
“Where do you live? You could probably walk.” Johnny
rattled off his address. Abbey nodded.
I know where that is. Man, that place has been empty for pretty much forever. Can
I walk home with you?”
“Umm… sure, I guess.”
They started off along the sidewalk. Johnny tried
to memorize the turns they took, but he might have missed a few. But, either way, after about ten minutes, they came to Johnny’s
“Thanks. Umm… you want to come in?” Johnny asked.
“Nah, I gotta get home. See you at
Johnny looked at the ground.
“Okay, see you…”
But she was already gone.
nice, isn’t she?’ The voice in his head asked.
“Fuck,” Johnny said. Voices in his head were not
something he wanted to deal with right now.
‘Oh, very good. Fuck.’ Johnny started to walk inside, trying pointedly
not to hear the voice, but it was still talking to him.
“Where were you? Why didn’t you get off the bus?”
his mom asked. “I was worried I’d have to go looking for you.”
‘Tell her you were out with some
guys smoking’, the voice said.
“Your mother asked you a question,” his dad said. He’d been drinking
‘Dad’s drunk at three in the afternoon’
‘point. Shut up, bitch’
“Yeah, I missed the bus”
his dad asked. “Did you miss the bus”
‘I was off getting some drugs, retard’
‘get the shit out of my locker’
“Check which bus I was on.”
all. Don’t do it again, stupid,” His dad said, turning around. But his mom wasn’t convinced.
day, you didn’t check, didn’t you think it would be important?”
‘isn’t it important to stay
sober half the day, bitch?’
“I just didn’t think”
“You never do,” his mom said,
turning back toward the TV.
‘that was close, Johnny. You have to stand up for yourself.’
cussing out my parents?” Johnny said, once he was clear of the living room.
‘don’t just cuss them out.
Clean them out. Next time they’re passed out in their recliners, just take some knife and’
on. Fuck, you’re creeping me out really bad.”
‘You’re creeping yourself out. That’s all I
am, is you.’
The next day after school, Johnny walked again. This wasn’t for any real reason, he knew which bus he rode now. He
just liked walking here, in the country. Abbey had to walk past his house to get home, but that was just coincidental.
talked on the way home, talked about anything and nothing, really. Abbey talked about how she had to go to her aunt’s
house tonight, and Johnny talked about a book he was reading. Abbey had read it already, but she wouldn’t give away
the ending. They were about halfway home when the blue car pulled up next to them.
It was a car full of the self-proclaimed
‘popular people.’ There were three guys and their girlfriends. To fit the six of them into the car, one girl had
to sit on her boyfriend’s lap, a fact she looked excessively happy about.
“Hey, freak girl, you get any calls
from the Devil lately?” one guy asked. Everybody else laughed. Johnny and Abbey kept walking. The car kept their pace.
devil doesn’t call, retard,” Abbey said without turning her head.
“I’m sure you would know. I bet
he comes to your house every night, doesn’t he? I bet you’re his favorite.”
Everybody else snickered.
Abbey picked up her pace the tiniest bit. It was a ruse, Johnny knew. He could see the glimmer of mischief in her eyes.
this guy? Is he gonna be your sacrifice or something? He can’t be your friend. You’re too freaky to have friends,”
one girl said. Her boyfriend, a jock who most likely only liked her for her boobs, laughed really loud for no reason.
swirled around, facing the car with her arms upraised. Johnny saw that her arms were covered in black fishnet gloves.
stared at the driver in particular.
“Silflay hraka, u embleer-rah,” she said in a chanting voice. “Gandit
kman, y d’arvit u ya sirn.”
She pointed one finger at the girl who had mentioned Johnny.
“Y tu, sierra
“Yeah, whatever, freak,” the driver said, but he was freaked out. They drove away, tires squealing.
was cool. What did you say?”
“I just cussed them out in… Lapine, G.S.L., Gnommish, and, uh, Spanish.”
Where do you learn crap like that?”
“All sorts of books.”
Johnny realized he was passing his house.
sorry, this is my stop. See you tomorrow?”
Johnny did a full one-eighty spin, but when
he turned around, abbey was gone.
“I gotta get her to teach me that,” he said, walking in his door.
neat, isn’t she. I like her.’
“Eff, not you again.”
“Well sorry for offending you, but
I live here, stupid. And watch your mouth,” his dad said.
“Sorry, not you dad.”
here, retard boy.”
“Yeah, I know.”
‘Lots of knives in that drawer, I believe, the one just to
Johnny’s eyes flicked to the drawer. It was open a bit, and there were knives in there. For a
horrible second, his hand started to reach out, but he stopped it, and walked into his room.
‘You can only walk away
for so long, Johnny-boy. Someday you have to stand for yourself.’
“Yeah, but maybe not with a knife,”
Johnny said. But he couldn’t stop thinking about it. And the next morning, before he went to catch the bus, he slipped
one of the knives into his pocket. It made him feel strong.
Johnny went around school all the next day with the knife in his pocket, the light, deadly weight reassuring him at every
turn. He didn’t get lost. His teachers seemed to call on him less. He even got an answer right in Spanish. It was a
brilliant feeling. He thought about telling Abbey he had it when she sat by him at lunch, but he didn’t. She might have
Johnny didn’t know much about girls, but he had heard that they got freaked easily. So the knife
stayed silently waiting. Well, silent except for the voice of Eff, that was.
Mr. Eff was Johnny had taken to calling the
voice that popped up every now and then in his head. Johnny quickly learned that Eff was paranoid. Every glance Eff took to
be threatening, mocking, every whisper Eff told him was someone laughing at him. Eff told him that he could use the knife,
make sure they never laughed again, not ever. But Johnny knew better.
He knew better.
At least he did until after school.
Abbey was getting picked up by her Dad, she had an ‘appointment,’ was all she would say. Johnny walked home by
himself. About halfway home, however, the blue car pulled up next to him again. Johnny ignored it, thinking that it was just
the guys again, looking to impress their girlfriends by messing with some nobody.
But when he looked over at the car, there
weren’t any girls. There were five guys, now. And they looked pissed. Johnny quickly saw why. A long white scratch went
the full length of the car. It looked like someone had done it on purpose, no other way a gash could be that bad.
reassured by his glance, the car stopped. Johnny picked up his pace again, trying not to hear the car doors opening behind
him. This became impossible when he got shoved from behind, sending him flying to the pavement.
said the guy who had pushed him. He sounded like he had a stutter, but the jacket he wore, the jacket all five of the advancing
guys wore, showed he was on the football team. This saved him the social outcast status most people would suffer.
your girlfriend, freak?”
“She’s not my girlfriend. And she got picked up, so what?” Johnny started
to get up, a problem because he was surrounded now. Someone kicked him back down. His hand strayed to his pocket, but he pushed
it back down. This might blow over.
“Your girlfriend and her fucking curse. Look what she did to my CAR!” said
a guy with dark hair and a bad case of acne.
“I saw, but I don’t think it was because of Abbey. I think most
likely you were too busy talking to somebody and hit something.”
“No way, man,” said another boy. He
gave Johnny another kick as he spoke. Johnny looked at his face. He had angel hair surrounding a face full of hate. “I
saw it happen. We were at Jessica’s party, that car swerved all by itself. Weirdest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.”
whatever, it was witchcraft, can I go now?”
Johnny’s mind reeled. He couldn’t believe he had just said
that. He was gonna get the shit kicked out of him.
‘not if you fight back, you’re not.’
up, SHUT UP!” Johnny said, grabbing at his head. He realized with a flood of terror that he had said that out loud.
just tell me to shut up, faggot-boy?” said the owner of the car. Johnny totally lost control of his mouth, it went spewing
off all on it’s own.
“Yeah, I told you to shut up. All Abbey did was curse you out in Spanish. You crashed
your own car because you probably got drunk at your stupid party. And how can you, in the same conversation tease me about
my girlfriend and call me a faggot?”
The five guys stared for one second, enough time for Johnny to get to his feet,
and then one, the guy who had pushed him down in the first place, put a fist right in Johnny’s face. Johnny clutched
at his nose, feeling blood gush onto his hands.
“Holy shi” he started, but someone else kicked him on the stomach.
He doubled over, trying to get away from the rain of blows the came down at him now.
‘you can stop this, Johnny-boy,’
finally agreed with Eff. He fumbled with the zipper on the pocket of his cargo pants, it stuck, and then popped open. The
knife seemed to fly into his waiting hand. And then if flew somewhere else.
The blond clutched at his stomach. His hands
wavered around the blade of the knife. His eyes followed the path of Johnny’s hand, up his arm, finally to his face.
The look he found there scared him more than the pain.
Johnny stared into the panic filled face of the boy he had killed.
In his head, Eff was clapping with the hands of a thousand joyous fans. Johnny pulled the blade out, marveling for a bit at
the silken red sheen on the blade, how delicate, like a gem. Then he slashed around again, catching two others in the face.
They would have scars that would last their whole lives, provided the lives didn’t end here.
you all!” Johnny screamed, but the others were already frozen, ready to flee. “If you ever tell it was me, I’ll
kill you all. JUST LIKE THIS FUCKER HERE!”
He waved his knife at the body. A slick of red flew off, spattering the
shirt of the dead man. The others fled. Johnny wiped off the blade on the already stained shirt of the dead boy, making sure
to get all the blood off before he folded the knife up again and put it away.
‘well done, Johnny-boy! Well done indeed.
Feel the lift? Do you feel the power? And this is only the beginning. This, Johnny, is the high that doesn’t wear off!’
Johnny felt it. He walked home on a cloud. Upon approaching his front door, however, the cloud stopped being solid, and turned
back into millions of water vapor molecules. Johnny was hit with the true reality of what he had just done.
fuck…” he said, sinking to his knees. He realized he had blood on him, and wondered how the hell he was going
to get back to his room without being caught.
He decided to risk it. He pushed open his front door, sneaking easily through
soundlessly. He was used to being silent, but this time, silent wasn’t enough. His mother was waiting for him.
he started, but his mother stopped all noise with a glare. She took in his bloody lip and busted nose, the blood on his shirt.
fighting, have you?” she said. Her voice was icy, cruel. “Well. We’ll see how your father feels about that.”
“No, mom, don’t tell him… please?” Johnny begged. It made him feel smaller than he was, and he hated
it. His mother smirked down at him, he was somehow reminded of Nurse Rachett, from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
It filled him with a cold horror.
His father came into the entryway, Johnny hadn’t even heard his mother calling.
His father did not look pleased. He didn’t look drunk, though, and that helped Johnny’s chances a good deal.
startin’ fights, boy?” his dad asked. Johnny thought it sounded so much like the cliché of a drunk father that
he was unable to stifle a giggle. That stopped, though, when his father, an enraged look on his face, started unthreading
his belt. Johnny looked at the buckle fearfully, knowing his father had never spared it before, and certainly would not now.
The next day at school Abbey was ecstatic. She wouldn’t shut up about the stupid jock who they found dead last night.
“The weirdest thing is nobody knew who did it,” she was saying. Johnny sat next to her at the lunch table, chewing
his sandwich slowly. “It was definitely a murder, but nobody knows why. They tested his blood and stuff, he was high
on so much crack, they thought it might be suicide except nobody can find the knife.”
“How do you know so much
about this?” Johnny snapped finally. “WHY do you know so much about this? Somebody got murdered and you’re
treating it like some soap opera or something!”
“What’s wrong with you?” She studied his face closely.
He turned away.
“Do you know something, Nny?”
“Nny? What’s that mean?”
too long. I like Nny.”
“Fine, whatever.” Nny got up to dump the majority of his uneaten lunch into the
trash. When he returned, Abbey was giving him a Look.
“You do know something, don’t you?”
I don’t. I just think it’s sick. He was one of the guys in the car, remember?”
“Yeah, so? Just
another asshole. The Earth is overpopulated with them.”
“I guess,” Johnny said. But he didn’t mean
“Hey look what I got,” Abbey said, pulling a magazine out of her backpack.
Johnny looked at it briefly,
then back at Abbey, his face full of terror.
“Why do you have this?”
“I got it off some website. Budk,
or something. Mostly to freak my parents out.” She flipped through the pages, showing a display case of decorated knives
and such. Most of them ahd some sort of painting or something on them.
“Look, I like these,” Abbey said, turning
to a page toward the end. On the page were twin knives, each a foot long. The handles were black, with yellow smiley faces
“Funny, cuz they’re ironic, get it?” Johnny was feeling sick. He was glad that he hadn’t
brought the knife today. Actually, no one would ever do anything with that knife ever again, seeing as Johnny snapped it in
half and buried it in his yard.
“Are you okay? You’re acting really weird.”
But Nny wasn’t there.
He was back in yester world, staring at the boy he had just killed. As if in a dream, he remembered everything about it. As
he watched, his hand pulled the knife out, he remembered the queer noise it had made as it slid out. He remembered the red,
the jewel of the red…
After school, the two of them walked home as usual, but neither said anything.
Johnny because he was still sick, abbey because she was thinking. She knew that Johnny had had something to do with the murder,
the idea that he had actually DONE it never crossed her mind. As she approached Nny’s house, though, all thoughts of
it were driven out of her mind.
“Hey... Your parents’ cars are gone.” Johnny looked up, a bit of happiness
in his face. Abbey misread it.
“You want to go inside? I never did get to see your room.” “Umm... Okay.”
Johnny said, but his mind was screaming at him that this was a bad idea. Well, most of his mind. Eff seemed pretty for it.
unlocked his front door, bowing a bit as she opened it for Abbey. She giggled.
“My room’s up here,” Johnny
said, leading the way to the end of the hall.
Abbey walked in, looking around. It was pretty plain. Johnny had finally
set the bed up. The only interesting thing about the room was the stars that almost coated the ceiling.
“Yeah. Wishes, you know?”
“You sure wish a lot.”
all for one thing.”
“What’s that?” Abbey asked, sitting on the end of the bed.
tell. It wouldn’t come true,” Johnny said, sitting next to her.
“Oh, aren’t you mysterious.”
next thing Nny knew, he was kissing her. Abbey was undoing his shirt… and it all stopped.
‘Oh my god…”
looked down. His shirt was almost all of the way unbuttoned… revealing the black and blue marks all over his chest.
The cuts from where the buckle had broken skin glared, providing a slash of red through the blue.
“Holy shit, Nny...
Who did this?” Johnny said nothing, hastily buttoning up his shirt again.
“Nny… was it those guys from
the other day?” Abbey’s mind was putting together a sequence of events.
“Shit! They came back, didn’t
they? And they beat the shit out of you, so you…” Her eyes gleamed.
“It was you! You killed that jerk!”
She said this with a smile, a smile that frightened Johnny a bit.
“No. They didn’t do this. I wasn’t
there. I don’t… I don’t know what happened.” He held his head, his hands clasped over his ears. As
if the whole thing was planned out by some sick cartoonist, the simple act prevented him from hearing the front door opening.
Johnny was saying. Abbey put her hands around him, trying to at least get him to return to the Real World.
okay, it’s okay Nny. It’ll all be okay.” At that second, the door to the room flew open. Nny’s father
stood there, in all his drunken glory. Johnny’s head snapped up, his eyes as big as saucers.
“WHAT THE FUCK
IS GOING ON HERE?” His father roared. He took in the scene through a drunken stupor. “Can’t a man leave
his house for TWO MINUTES without coming back to find this?” His father said. Abbey looked around fearfully, noticing
Nny’s total and complete terror.
“Get out of our house, whore.” Abbey didn’t say anything, but
she quickly ran out the door.
“And you, you fucking pervert. Let’s see how you like the basement.” Johnny
barely struggled as his father pushed him down the stairs, lecturing him.
“It’s for you , you know. There’s
nothing else I can do, to make you understand. You have to be good. BE GOOD!” He accented this by smacking Nny across
the face. Nny didn’t bother to fight back, his father would win, time after time had proven that.
Nny sunk to the
floor, not feeling anything anymore. All he could see was the face of the boy, all he could hear was Eff laughing. He didn’t
even hear the door lock above him, trapping him in here.
The freedom was overwhelming. Nny’s hands gripped the steering wheel of his dad’s car, setting out along the
highway. He was heading back to California, for a reason that had deserted him just now.. But he would think of it soon enough.
you will, Nny. Just drive. Don’t think.’
He was happy to have the car. The happiness clashed with a deep sadness
which was coming from somewhere, a feeling of regret and a horrible amount of guilt. Nny wondered if maybe he had stolen the
car from his dad, but he didn’t think that was it. There would be fear if he had stolen it. A lot of fear. But he didn’t
feel any fear. Just joy, and the deep sadness.
‘why am I so sad? What happened?’
Nny. It will all be fine. There’s a place for you to go, you know.’
‘I don’t know where to look.’
‘I will show you.’
Eff was a nice thing
to have around, Nny thought. He looked next to him a the plain doughboy which sat on the seat next to his. He couldn’t
remember exactly when it had become a thing instead of a voice, but he didn’t think it was important for him to know.
want something to drink. You want anything?’
‘No, Nny. Don’t get out of the car. Keep driving, we’ll
get to home fast enough.’
‘Why can’t I get out?’
‘You know why Nny. If you do, they’ll
know. They’ll know what you’ve done.’
‘Done? I didn’t do anything.’
so? I beg to differ. Look there.’
Johnny looked around, not seeing anything… and then his eyes strayed to the
backseat. On one of the seats were two blood-stained knives.
‘oh my god…’
He saw his father, looking
at him from dead eyes. His father turned into the boy from the blue car, who turned into his mother. They stared at him with
their changing eyes, each seeming to smile. ‘
we got you Nny,’ they said, ‘we got you and boy are you
in trouble now. You think you got us you’re wrong…’
Johnny saw himself killing them again, he wasn’t
filled with horror as he would expect, he was filled with a sense of cunning. They had thought they were better than him,
he had shown them.
‘everyone thinks their better than you, Nny. You have to show them all.’
But he could no longer remember any of them any except one person…
gonna be freaked! She’ll know it was me, she’ll tell…’
‘no she won’t. She was going
to, Nny. But you showed her, too. You showed them ALL.’
Nny realized he was drifting
off the road.
Later that night, actually it was more like morning, Nny arrived at his new home. It was small and kind of decrepit. He
walked it the front door, looking to drop into sleep, immediately. He had been walking the last mile. He had been hitching
the last four states, after having dumped the car so he wouldn’t be followed. Eff assured him that being caught wasn’t
a problem at all, but he wasn’t keen on believing the little statue just yet.
He dumped the knives, which were wrapped
in fabric to avoid freaking out any of the people was hitching with, and Eff on the floor, and staggered to the end of the
hall, where he assumed his bedroom would be. That’s where it had always been, the end of the hall.
And he was right.
dropped into bed to sleep… And regretted it.
He dreamed of monsters and evil creatures which cackled at him, telling
him what a loser he was. He dreamed he killed them all, and their blood drained into the yaw of a bottomless monster.
killed all night, because every time he stopped, something would begin to crawl out of the blackness. Like some fucked-up
version of the itsy bitsy spider, he needed blood to wash that thing down the spout again.
He awoke in a cold sweat, to
find Eff was in his room.
‘we’ve things to do, Nny.’
‘I’ve a friend
for you to meet.’
Johnny followed Eff’s instructions, eventually finding a stairway in the living room. He
climbed down the steep wooden steps, navigating his way through a labyrinth of passages, eventually coming to a plain room.
Plain except for one wall which seemed to be sagging outwards. As Nny watched, transfixed, it THUMPED, as though a large weight
had hit it from the inside.
He remembered his dream, and stared at the wall again. A hairline
‘quick, Nny you need the blood. It’ll get out otherwise, Nny.’
want to kill anymore…’
‘that’s too bad, Johnny boy. Look at it this way. It either the few who...
er… donate their blood, or the population of the universe.’
‘I guess if you put it that way…’
‘Good boy. Come on, we have work to do.’
I was gonna put in why he wore black a lot, it’s just cuz blood stains every other color. (don’t ask why I