Chapter 1 | Guilt
Hayden Panettiere as Naveah Olsin
Chace Crawford as Connor Gaines
Diego Barrueco as Mark Chase
India Eisley as Callie Green
Abigail Breslin as Lucy Kiser
Ashley Benson as Marissa Bradley
Lucas Till as John “Red” Miller
A flesh-eating virus is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a virus that eats away at your flesh until it destroys the tissue under your skin, causing severe symptoms that unfortunately include death.
Well, that is what guilt feels like.
Guilt feels like it’s eating away at your mind and emotions, until it destroys everything about you. It destroys your personality and your happiness. It makes you feel horrible and disgusting. Guilt takes away from your life.
Guilt also gives. It gives you anxiety, because you never know when the truth will come out or how it will affect those around you. It gives you a sense of regret, because you know that what you are doing is very wrong but you can’t find the courage to come clean or stop.
Would you like to know how one feels guilty? It’s pretty simple.
They lie. They lie about what they are doing and whom they are doing it with, just so they aren’t caught in the act. Of course, having one big lie can create a bunch of little mini-lies that escalate so high you can’t even remember why you were lying in the first place.
It’s a never ending cycle of feeling totally and completely drained.
Guilt is a flesh-eating virus, and once you’ve obtained this disease, it stays with you. Forever.
Let’s start from the beginning.
I’m a senior at Jefferson high school. My perky, yet intense behavior is enough to get the attention of almost anyone. Every day I walk the long, dull halls of school and everyone greets me the same. They admire my long blonde waves of hair, or my light brown chocolate eyes. They always smile, or wave when appropriate. Sure, some of the girls like to gossip about me, but I normally don’t pay any attention to the drama. For the most part, everyone seems to really like me and I’m happy for all of the people I’ve met at this school.
Among the mass swarm of teenagers, was my boyfriend, Connor Gaines. We met in ninth grade when I first moved to California. He was the first person I met, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. I arrived at school late on my first day, which never happens might I add, and Connor was the student assistant in the administration office.
The first thing I noticed was his ocean blue eyes and the cheesy grin he wore. His light brown locks fell beautifully over his face and I must admit, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him.
We’ve been together three years now and it couldn’t make me happier. He’s so sweet and caring. That being said, the only thing I didn’t like about him, was his delinquent best friend, Mark Chase.
Mark appeared to be your typical heartthrob. His dark, smokey hair was enough to get the attention of almost every single girl at Jefferson high, minus myself.
His careless, bold brown eyes made girls swoon with just a look. Not to mention, the tattoo he sported along his right arm, gave him the extra boost of confidence he needed to become the most incorrigible and heartless boy who ever walked this planet.
If there was one thing I was sure of, it was that I hated Mark.
“We shouldn’t be doing this, Mark.” I stated softly as I pushed his lips away from the crook of my neck.
“I know, Naveah.” He panted against my soft, guilty skin.
“I promised myself I wouldn’t be this girl.” I quietly confessed as a small smile crept its way onto my lips despite my brain telling me not to do so. He was leaving small, deceiving kisses along my neck and collarbone.
“He’s not going to find out. I promise. Besides, this is the last time remember?” He stated dryly as he painfully gripped my ass, and placed me on top of the small sink in the back of the janitor’s closet.
I instantly wrapped my toned legs around his chiseled waist, like they had been many times before.
“You’re right. The last time.” I repeated, knowing all too well the familiar lie that made it’s way out of my mouth.
I mangled my fingers into his soft black hair, not in any way satisfied with what has become of my life. He was Mark. He was my boyfriend Connors best friend. He was dangerously wrong for me, but I couldn’t stop. The yearning and heart-wrenching need to be with him made it almost impossible to think about anything else, even about Connor.
We knew it isn’t right, but we did it anyway.
Every. Single. Week.
“Will you hand me my sweater?” I asked, shivering as the cold closet air engulfed me.
Mark threw my sweater in my direction, and it smacked me in the face.
“Gee thanks.” I mumbled.
“Don’t mention it.” He stated while picking up his pants from the floor.
All of a sudden, I felt a sharp pain on the top of my foot.
“Ow! Mark!” I yelped.
“You’re standing on my foot, genius.” I deadpanned.
“Well, move your feet.”
I wanted to roll my eyes, but the darkness would keep him from seeing it, and that would’ve taken away from the statement.
“I absolutely hate you.” I said after pulling on my pink sweater.
“Yeah, whatever. Want to go again?” He asked, followed by a slap to my ass.
“Just get out.” I urged, feeling impatient.
“Yeah, okay. Hey, next week, same time and place right?” I could practically hear the smirk resting on his lips.
“No. You disgust me.”
“Alright, bye.” He opened the closet door slowly and peered out. When the coast was clear, he stepped out into the hallway, and didn’t forget to slam the door as he walked away.
Why? Why am I doing this? With him of all people.
Because he’s insanely hot and he makes you feel things that you’ve never experienced before in your entire life.
Shut up brain.
After waiting five minutes, I opened the closet door and slowly popped my head out to see if anyone was around. We had three minutes until lunch.
There wasn’t a single soul in sight.
I hurriedly walked outside of the closet, and shut the door behind me. I made sure to fix my top and run my fingers through my hair, to make myself look presentable again.
As I was walking towards my locker, the bell rang and almost gave me a heart attack. The doors to all of the classrooms started to swing open, and handful after handful of kids started pouring out of them.
I knew that voice anywhere.
“Hey Cal, how was geometry?” I smiled.
"Ugh, please don’t mention it. I’ve concluded that math was made to torture us. Plain and simple.” She complained while leaning her body against the locker right beside mine.
“How was history?” She asked.
“Oh you know... boring.” I laughed nervously.
Callie and I became friends last year when we both went on the school field trip to the holocaust museum. The teacher assigned us as partners for all of our assignments, and we were inseparable ever since.
Callie was the exact opposite of me. Her beautiful, curly hair was long and ash brown. She wasn’t exactly shy, but she wasn’t exactly outgoing either. Boy, was she a piece of eye-candy though. No matter where she went, boys drooled over her as if she were a new pair of Nikes.
With that being said, she was single and proud of it. Her independence was something that I envied. If I didn’t have Connor, I wouldn’t know what I would do.
That’s not the only person you have.
Again, shut up brain.
“Where’s Lucy?” Callie asked, snapping me away from my thoughts.
“She stayed home today. Her mom was having another episode this morning.” I sighed.
“I feel so bad for her. It must be really hard on her.” Callie frowned.
“Yeah, I know. I keep telling her to put her mom into a nursing facility, but she won’t have it. I hate that she has to deal with this.”
Lucy and I had been best friends since I first moved here. We met in the principal’s office when both her and I were questioned for being the cause of the fire that started in our science class. We managed to lie and blame it on this guy named Sam who had a certain infatuation with fire. Needless to say, Lucy and I bonded through lying, which is ironic if you think about it.
Lucy’s mom suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s and it was slowly getting worse. Just last week, her mom dropped her off here at school, but thought that she was the student and Lucy was the mom.
It took Lucy fifteen minutes to convince her mom that she was in fact, the mom.
I know Lucy feels burdened by her mom, even though she’ll never fully admit it. She worked night shift at Wendy’s just to pay a family-friend to look after her mom whenever she’s here at school, and sometimes on the weekends whenever Lucy wants to hang out with us.
I’ll never understand why she kills herself like that. Although, maybe it’s because my mom doesn’t suffer from a brutal disease that can’t be cured.
I placed my math book into my bag and shut my locker door.
Out of nowhere, two hands came into view as they enclosed around my eyes.
“Guess who?” His voice rang into my ears.
“Hm... Channing Tatum?” I teased.
I heard a grunt and then my vision was restored.
“Very funny.” Connor deadpanned, leaning over to kiss my cheek.
“Hello to you too babe.” I smiled.
“So listen, some of us are going to the football game tonight. You’re going with, right?”
“Who is some of us?”
“Oh you know... me and Mark.” He replied casually.
There goes that guilt again.
“Just you and Mark?”
“Then why did you say ‘some of us’ like there were a lot of people?” I playfully teased.
That resulted in an eye roll.
“Okay, I’ll go, but I’m bringing Callie and Lucy.” I stated with a smirk.
“Sweet, the full group. I gotta head to Mr. Robinson’s class to retake my last test.” He sighed, “I’ll text you later.” He gave me a quick peck on the lips and then rushed off.
“Um, I so did not want to go to that.” Callie spoke up once Connor was out of sight.
“Sure you did. Lucy wants to go too.” I smiled.
“I’m going to kill you one of these days.” She lazily picked herself up off the lockers and yanked me with her to the cafeteria.
“You love me!” I cheered, trying to keep my bag from falling off my shoulder as I followed along.
“Crap, I only have ten minutes to scarf down this burrito.” Connor whined as he sat down beside me.
“That’s never stopped you from eating before.” Callie stated.
“You’re not wrong.” He shrugged, followed by shoving half of the burrito into his mouth.
“Point proven.” Callie laughed.
“Hey, are we all riding together tonight or do we need to-” I was cut off by an annoying voice.
“Oh look, it’s Naveah the planner! Remember guys, everything always has to be perfectly planned out, no details missed!” He cooed in a bad attempt at a girly voice.
“Shut the fuck up, Mark.” I scoffed, watching him as he sat down in front of me and beside Callie.
“No can do, Nave.”
“Ugh I hate that nickname. My name is Naveah.” I sighed, popping a fry into my mouth.
“Your name is insignificant.” He stated dryly as he opened up his small carton of chocolate milk.
“Alright, enough you two. Can we ever enjoy a lunch without you two going at each other’s throats?” Connor interjected while Callie sat quietly and watched, clearly amused.
“Yeah, you two fight like an old married couple.” Callie laughed, placing her spoon back into her container of yogurt.
Mark and I looked at each other for a split second, and before I could become red in the face, he reminded me why I loathe him so much.
“Me?” He pointed to himself, “married to that?” he pointed back at me again, “I’d rather cut off my right nut and feed it to a wild bear.”
I sat there, completely dumbfounded, staring directly into his eyes.
Eventually I snapped back to reality. “Connor help me out here!” I whined while nudging Connor in the arm.
“Right! Um, Mark, not cool man.”
I looked between the two of them and slowly began shaking my head. “Unbelievable.”
Connor smiled sheepishly while shoving the remainder of his burrito into his mouth.
My glare could kill.
Thankfully, I had my best friend there to back me up. I looked over at Callie, and the second I did, she bursted into a fit of laughter.
Okay, so maybe I’m alone on this one.
“Ugh. If Lucy were here she would cut your nut off herself and feed it to you.” I said to Mark.
“If Lucy were here she’d be too busy admiring my sexy bod and charming eyes.” He smirked.
He did have a point. Lucy has had a crush on Mark since ninth grade when he transferred from Florida. I kept telling her that she deserved better, but she ignored me every time.
Connor deserves better too.
Thank you brain.
“I’m sorry babe.” Connor finally wrapped an arm around my shoulder, “Mark, shut the fuck up. Leave Naveah alone.” He threatened.
“Whatever. I’m bored.” With that, Mark got up and left without another word. He glanced at me for a split second with apologetic eyes, before he stormed off.
“By the way, you look absolutely stunning today.” Connor whispered into my ear, before leaving a delicate kiss against my temple. I smiled at the gesture.
“I love you.” He warmly stated, before walking off to his next class.
I let out a breath and then looked over at Callie, who was scrolling through her phone.
“Ready for gym?” She asked without looking up.
“Sweet, let’s go.”
Guilt: The horrible flesh-eating virus.