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I thought for a moment, as I exited the room, about the scenario that I might have just created. Marcus may have thought I was simply trying to take Veia and break off from the rest of the group. Really I wanted to see what was going to happen next with all of these mysterious new happenings. But being alone with her did seem appealing. She stood up and began to follow after me.

“Can I come along for the adventure?”

“Of course, but I’m not sure of what will happen along the way.” Her face lit up; her eyes brightened even more.

“The adventures in which you aren’t sure of what will happen are the only ones worth having.” I agreed.

“You’re going too? Really?” By this point you should be able to guess who made that comment.

“Stop being mean, Marcus. I don’t like it,” she said.

“I don’t like this fucking shit…” I heard him say as I walked out into the hallway. She could join me if she wanted, my journey would continue whether she did or not. I looked down the hallway and could see the angry woman for a brief moment, before she disappeared behind another corner at the end of what I could see of it. I ran after her, flying down the hallway, papers and bits and pieces of leftover things crunch-crunching beneath my black sneakers. I turned the corner and looked down at a passage that seemed to stretch a mile long. It was probably only fifty feet.

The woman, who looked very much like Mother now, was halfway down this hall. The little girl was at the far end, which opened up into a room quite a bit larger than the one that had been hot-boxed. The girl was trapped; there was no way that I’d be able to make it all the way to the room in time to help her…but something did.

In the back center of the room, at the end of the corridor, something very odd and out of place came into being. It was now materializing as smoothly and quietly as if it had been there the whole time. It was a small, rusty, rickety metallic elevator. It quickly squealing its way down to the floor and opened just in time for the little girl to run inside. The iron doors slammed shut before Mother could reach the room.

“Bitch! Come back here, you little bitch! You will pay for your disrespect!” She screamed as the elevator began to rise. You’re chasing her with intent to hurt her, calling her a bitch, while talking to her about respect? The thought raced through my mind. If she was trying to teach the girl respect then she was failing quite miserably.

“Take out the bones.” The deep voice spoke again. I felt something tap my shoulder. Tap. My body tensed. I expected the worst. I didn’t want to turn around, but I did it anyway. I spun around as quickly as I possibly could. I was ready.

“Scaredy-cat!” She laughed playfully. The Styrofoam bus squeaked by, traveling in the direction of the elevator room. It was Veia. I breathed a sigh of relief.

“En garde, Sir Jumpsalot,” she joked…‘Sir Jumpsalot’. This was terrific.

“Do you want to keep your preconceptions and your sanity, or would you like to lose them both?” The words I asked her seemed to come from a half-forgotten dream…one filled with scaredy-cats and Styrofoam busses. She thought for a moment. I expected ‘what?’ to be the answer, but I hoped for more.

“I have no real use for either.” A string of lights connected in my brain. It was as if our minds had swum through the sea of infinite possibility to find each other, like the birds that know where to fly when winter is coming.

“A woman, a really fucked up looking woman, just ran into that room,” I pointed in that direction of the elevator room. “There was a little girl too, but she went away in an elevator.” She seemed intrigued, genuinely interested.

“I wonder if she’s still there.” I turned back around to look down the hallway again. No one was there now, but there was some kind of grumbling noise. There was a ground shaking rumbling sound that made the floor beneath us vibrate, almost like the sound of a speeding train.

“I don’t see her,” I said.

“Maybe she’s in there; we could go and spy on her.”

“Okay.” We began to walk down the corridor. I was somewhat nervous. What if she was in the room? What would happen? And what would happen between us if no one was there? I had a few ideas…I looked at Veia. “So, you escaped?”

“It wasn’t easy. I thought stoners were supposed to be mellower than that.” I wondered what they were saying about me back in the room. I didn’t care. Did I? I never was very good at making friends.

“I guess I probably won’t be seeing them after this,” I said when we neared the entrance to the big room. The tension was mounting, creeping, growing, swelling…

“Nope. I’m pretty sure you won’t.” She thought the whole thing was really hysterical and couldn’t contain herself and longer. “Sorry,” she continued. “But yeah…no, they’re all your typical butt-hurt bastard-faces. You could see me again though. That’s certainly much better than being friends with them, for I am the fairest maiden in all of the land!” I was beginning to agree.

“You’re confident, but honest.” She let out something like an amused mix between a laugh and a sigh and quickly struck a diva pose, placing one hand on her hip with her arm at a little less than a ninety-degree angle. We had made it to the room now. Overturned tables and chairs littered the dirty pseudo-tile floor. But Mother wasn’t here. There was no elevator shaft either. All of this was very odd. Where could they have gone?

“Bones,” the voice spoke. I suddenly knew what it meant. I felt like I was sleepwalking again. I took Mortimer, still in my left hand, and clutched him with both my left and right. Then I snapped his already somewhat broken neck. Crunch…like biting down vigorously on a mouthful of dry cereal. Then I pulled the head off. It sounded like something between a squish and a pop.

Squishpop,” Mortimer’s decapitation said. Some of the blood that was still inside Mortimer splattered on the floor and Veia stared at the spectacle in either shock or amusement. I wasn’t sure which one it was. Maybe it was both. An excited cackling filled my ears, but it wasn’t coming from either of us. It must be the thing…the voice…I wasn’t quite sure what to call it.

Next up were the wings. I had to bend each one back and forth a few times to get them to break off. I tossed them down into the blood on the floor that also covered my hands. Mortimer surely hadn’t been dead for very long…then came the legs. I snapped each one off and picked the meat from around the little bones. Veia still hadn’t said anything. Finally I threw the heart, lungs, stomach, and other miscellaneous entrails onto the floor and left only the spine. I was a blood-spattered mess. At least I wasn’t Mortimer.

I flipped over a wooden chair so that someone or something could sit upon it if they so desired, placing the three bloody bones on the seat. I walked over to the pool of blood in which Mortimer’s expressionless head now rested, and picked it up. Then I went to Veia.

“That was different,” she said. I wiggled and jiggled his head in front of my face.

“Squawk!” I yelled. I cheered hysterically, feeling no shame whatsoever. To my amazement, so did she. “I needed to get the bones.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t smoke weed.” But I wasn’t quite sure if she really meant it because she started laughing again. I tossed Mortimer’s head in an entirely random direction.

“Eek!” She screamed. “Poor Mortimer is mortified!” A third round of practically uncontrollable squealing followed. It was far more hilarious than it would have been to the others.

“Don’t laugh so soon; know your plight. Soon, child, you will face a fright. Are you ready?” I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the low voice’s message.

“Veia, something keeps talking to me.”

“Is it me?” We sat down on the floor near the bloody remains, but not quite in them. She dragged her pointer finger through the dark red puddle while moving ever closer, then leaned into me. She felt warm, and so did I. I could feel what she felt when she felt me. I was really there, really in the moment. This was a new feeling to me. I was almost always off somewhere else.

“No, it’s something else. It’s talking to me now.”

“Ooh, is it a ghost, or a demon, maybe? A spooky spook?”

“It might be something like that.” I put my arm around her and she looked up at me. In her eyes, I saw something that I hadn’t seen before…well…that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. It looked a bit like a reason. That’s something people need, isn’t it?

“Hmm, it’s a shadowshade then, a shady-shady shadowshade. It shall be called Shadowshade. Is that good? What does Mr. Shadowshade say?”

“‘Shadowshade’, it fits. It wanted me to get those bones out of Mortimer. It says that something bad is coming.”

“Hmm, well I’m sure Shadowshade is right. Bad things seem to come quite often. But some good things could come first, maybe even right now.” Her tongue slowly slid across her lips. This, along with her telling eyes that stared longingly into mine, conveyed a message that was more than a hint. I was nervous, honestly. I was sure that she knew it too. An unwanted image of The Very Hungry Caterpillar flashed through my mind.

“You are ready to enter your cocoon, child. It will not come easily.” Shadowshade was both confusing and disturbing me.

“You know,” I shakily began to say, “if you hadn’t given Mortimer a name, he might be forgotten. But ‘Mortimer’…it kind of sticks. The bloody scene will be there forever in our minds.” And oh, how right I was. It certainly would be.

“But one day she will try to forget,” the commenter commented again. “Lying awake, she will troubled by memories of the past. Some of these are horrifying and others are quite fond. But, as you may not have known, she wishes to be rid of the fond memories the most. It is agonizing for her to remember. She stays up at night and weeps for what once was, what is no longer. This casts a glimmer across her now dark and jaded world, making it seem even darker than it was before. Maybe he was right, and maybe not. One could only hope not.

“Silly, quit stalling with your brain and kiss me.” I looked into her eyes. She hadn’t run away yet, she made me laugh and she seemed nearly as strange and misunderstood as me…not to mention the overwhelming physical attraction. I had been hoping for this moment for a long time, almost an entire hour, in fact. I could feel my whole body coming alive, breathing faster, faster. Was I still breathing? Was my temperature rising? Something definitely was.

I turned my head slightly and moved my hands around her hips and up to her waist, pulling her into me. This time when our lips connected there wasn’t any smoke, but there was much more. Hormones flooded our heated bodies. She bit down on my lip and tip-toed her fingers up my back, underneath my shirt. We were two planets, caught in each other’s orbits, finally colliding. Veia grabbed onto my shirt and purposefully fell down onto the floor. She was on her back now and I was on top of her. She rolled her eyes and whispered in my ear.

“Be mean.” I liked this suggestion. She began to struggle, trying to get up, but I held her in place. “Oh no, whatever shall I do?”

“That isn’t for you to decide.” I heard Shadowshade say it a millisecond before it came out of my mouth. I wondered if my voice came out sounding like mine or his. I knew she wouldn’t have been scared either way. I moved my lips down and breathed warm air onto her neck before sinking my teeth in, then pinned her there when she tried to get free. She wasn’t getting out of this.

My head up so that my eyes would be level with hers, then she blew air into my eyes as hard as she possibly could. I was distracted for only a second, but that was all she needed. She wriggled her way out from underneath me and started running toward the other side of the room.

“Aha, the maiden is free at last!” She teased. I jumped up and blood rushed up into my head. Everything turned fuzzy for just a second.

“You are not my children!” An angry woman’s voice yelled. It was Mother’s voice. I hoped that the ghastly woman from before had not returned. I spun in a circle and looked around just to make sure. Nothing there. Good.

I rushed toward Veia, who was now standing behind an overturned school desk. She darted away, finding herself in a very compromising position. Maybe it was on purpose. Certainly it was on purpose. She was now trapped in a corner in the front left side of the room. She backed up into the wall while holding her arms behind her. Her blood-stained palms were turned so that they rested flat against the wall.

“Oh god! Fuck! There’s nothing I can do now!” She hardly tried to hide the sarcasm in her voice.

“Now, now, you’ll be just fine.” A menacing and possibly deranged smile crept across my face. I looked slightly to my right. There was father, standing beside me. He repeated my words.

“Now, now, you’ll be just fine.” And there went my libido…no, father. Not today. I could push it out of my mind…hopefully. I quickly walked over to her, making sure not to trip over an overturned chair. I placed an arm on each side of her with my hands firmly pressed against the wall, pushing her up against it with my body and preventing her escape.

“So forceful.” She wrapped her arms around me. I slid my hands underneath her shirt, which wasn’t that difficult considering it was far too big for her. My hands traveled up her back from bottom to top and finally rested on her shoulders. As we kissed again, I took in my surroundings. It was only us now. She shivered as her eyes flew open. “You’re so cold,” she quietly teased.

Her hands slowly crawled down to the bottom of my shirt. They began to take it along with her as they moved upward. My mind was racing, my body tingling, my shirt coming off. She placed her hands on my chest and moved them down to my stomach. I kept tension throughout my body to keep it from seeming soft. I hadn’t eaten in at least a day, so that helped too. I was hungry, yes, but it made me feel better about my appearance. That was more important to me. My very pale abs were now visible, perhaps just because I had lost a lot of weight. I didn’t ever exercise and really never had a chance to.

“Ooh, this is nice.” Validation: the blood for which I was a vampire. Her hands moved behind my back again and mine began to do away with the frog. “So you wish to turn the frog back into an unbearably desirable girl?”

“I kiss the frog and she turns into a…princess?”

“A bloody, high, abandoned school sex princess!” We both smiled nervously.

“They’re by far the best kind.”

“Then take Isolde, dear Tristan.” With our combined effort the frog was instantly sent flying and glided down onto the floor. It must be a tree frog if it can glide like that. Her body was pale, soft, and thin like mine. She shook in the coolness of the dark room, but I wasn’t paying attention to the temperature. Our bodies pressed together kept us warm enough.

I ran my hands up her sides; they moved closer together and then farther apart. Her chest was fairly small, which I liked, and hidden underneath a silky black bra. She could’ve been any size and it wouldn’t have turned me away. I was addicted to the things she was doing and saying at least as much as her body. Her zany…zaniness…that was the thing about her that drew me in the most. I ran my fingers just barely underneath where her jeans began, slowly moving them across her skin.

“Tease,” she pushed me backward but was quickly with me again, unbuttoning my pants. She pulled the little metal zipper down. I heard the strange rumbling noise start again, accompanied by a shrill metallic squeal. The ground vibrated just enough to be able to feel it. Oh well. Maybe vibration is a good pants came down; the cold air ran all the way down my legs.

“Oh my,” she exclaimed. I was now very ready and it had become incredibly apparent. My thin black boxers did little to hide it. Then, however, we realized that my random black sneakers and her black converses were still on our feet.

“Should we take them off?” I knew she had just noticed as well; her gaze had shifted down to the floor.

“My guess is yes, for my pants are tight and itchy. If they don’t come off, then I’m certain to be bitchy.” What a wonderful poem it was.

“That was fantastic. Bravo.” And so strings were unstrung and shoes were flung off. They didn’t fly quite as far as the frog had.

“Let’s leave our socks on, this floor is a bit icky,” she said. “But god damn these stupid fuckin’ pants…I don’t understand the point in wearing them.” She protested as she began to unbutton hers. Mine were off and had landed a little closer to the frog than the shoes had. We had our own little trail of discarded wearables going now.

“Neither do I.” I was happy to see that someone understood my pain. I began a rant of my own. “The school administration forces us to wear pants so we’ll focus on class instead of each other. We have to learn whatever shit they, in all of their omnipotence, decide to teach us. Fucking Nazis.”

“Holy yes, boy. You couldn’t have said anything better than that right at this moment.” Her jeans joined mine on the floor and then she grabbed me, aggressively pulling me back toward the wall. I noticed that her black boy-shorts had some kind of red lettering on them, but I wasn’t really concerned with whatever it said.

“I want you,” I breathed into her ear. She held her arms outstretched against the wall like a sexy female Jesus.

“I’m yours…do it like it’s our last chance.” Little did she know…I reached behind her back and tried to solve the puzzle of undoing her bra. “No, don’t waste time with that,” she commanded. I moved my hand down across her stomach, then over her hip bone to the line connecting her leg to the rest of her alluring body. She closed her eyes as I slowly followed the line farther and farther down…

“Hey guys, what’s up?” Panic. Sheer unprecedented panic . All of the hairs on my arms stood up. The elevator reappeared and crashed through the ceiling, collapsing like an aluminum can as it slammed into the floor. It landed right in front of the thin glass window in the very back of the room. The window was already cracked; I was amazed that it didn’t shatter. Why didn’t it?

Metal pieces rocketed all around the room, barely missing Veia and I. I could feel the air shoot past me when pieces of it rocketed into the walls. Somehow the floor and ceiling remained unscathed. I twirled around in an instant and Veia darted toward her clothes. It was Marcus, standing at the entrance to the room. He looked different than usual. He had the same look in his eyes that Father used to get.

“You trying to get with my girl?” He asked loudly.

“What?!” Veia screamed. “You dumb fuck, are you insane? We’ve never been anything!” She yelled as she grabbed the frog. I walked out into the middle of the room in only my boxers and socks as he came toward me. The little girl from before scrambled her way out of the wreckage. I saw her out of the corner of my eye. Her dress was now torn and a large gash spread across her leg, probably from the crash. It was still bleeding; the blood trickled down, dripping off of her chin and onto the already bloody floor. She began walking toward the glass window.

“Why are you here?” I asked him.

“You can’t just take someone’s girl like that.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, asshole. You and I were only ever friends, and now we aren’t shit! Go home, unless you want to become my enemy. And trust me, you really don’t want that.” She was possibly as angry as I was.

“Go home, Marcus.” The volume of my voice was rising too. But Marcus did not go home. Instead he charged toward me. He slammed right into my lower chest at full speed, picking me up off of the ground. I stumbled back in the direction of where the little girl now stood. He was much stronger than me. We kept moving for almost ten feet, passing the girl on the way. It was almost as if she never noticed us. She just kept staring in the direction that we were headed in. And then I remembered the glass window.

“Shit.” Crash.

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