Hi guys, sorry I didn't get to update last week! I couldn't find a computer that wasn't bugging out my google docs, and then I had the busiest week ever. D: I'll make it up to you guys! TRIPLE update! Two chapters here, and an update on my MtG fic. You guys are awesome!
"For the very first time
I don't want to be alone
For the first time I can say that I am home"
"Are you sure this looks okay?" I asked tentatively, not daring to look in the mirror.
"Diabolical," assured Arty, smiling evilly. I took a lock of hair and draped it in front of my face. Straight and black. Utterly un-Diane. Purely diabolical. Po would have a fit.
"And you got Mr. Hartfoot and Mr. Yueh to swear secrecy?" I double-checked with Sakura. She smiled tightly at me, winking. I saluted to her as the five minute bell rang for us to book it to first period. Me and Arty diverged, him heading off to Mrs. Fey's class and me trudging to astrophysics. Fun.
As usual, I slept fitfully through class, trying to stifle the usual headache that always budded when I tried to sleep through Yueh's class. But as soon as that was over, it was off to Hartfoot, for a final conference with Arty before the fun began. Perhaps that was part of the reason I didn't sleep as good as I usually do-this whole plot had me excited.
Is it the plot you're excited about? teased my shoulder Sakura from inside my head. I growled at her.
Shut up. I retorted, dispelling the imaginary figure.
The bell tolled, releasing me from my astrophysical prison and shipping me off to philosophy. Quite literally, the only reason I was so stoked for my next class was so that I could plan Po's upcoming torture with my partner-in-crime. I slid into my seat in the back of the classroom, next to the typically stoic Artemis. Mr. Hartfoot gave me a knowing smile before beginning the lecture. Look at that-a smile. From one of my teachers, nonetheless. The only other teacher that ever did that for me was Mrs. Fey, and once in a while Mr. Fey. He was the janitor, and his wife happened to be a teacher, so she was hired last year to make life easier for everyone. She was easily every student's favorite teacher, and in a place like this, that was a guaranteed safeguard on your job.
"I'm assuming everything went well in astrophysics?" predicted Artemis, scribbling notes in a journal filled with complex-looking equations and diagrams. One looked like a cube with a weird sensor on one side. I shrugged at him.
"As well as it always is," I grumbled. "I swear, I can never get half a wink in that blasted class. I don't know what it is, I just always get headaches."
"I wonder why that could be..," smirked Artemis, as if he were smiling at an ultra-nerdy inside joke. I knew better than to ask him about it later. It would likely cause my brain to spontaneously combust.
"So, how do I act goth?" I asked him. I knew a couple of emo kids back in Arizona, but I didn't know them personally. Back west my friends mostly consisted of the football and wrestling teams, most of whom were a couple years older than me.
"Gothic as in the late and high medieval ages, or gothic as in emo?" clarified Artemis. I scowled at him, a sight that would send lesser men screaming into the night.
"Emo," I retorted. "None of that knight-in-shining-armor stuff. Maybe you could try that one of these days, see if it blows up Po."
Arty visibly shuddered. "Let's stick to the subject. Step one is to keep a singular expression on your face at all times. Think furious at the world's idiocy, but too depressed to care."
I let my whole face sag, including my eyebrows.
"Add some more spunk to your eyes." he coached. I tried again.
"Nailed it," he said neutrally, raising his eyebrows as if that scared him a little. I imagined it would-I was furious at the world and other things all the time, but too-depressed-to-care is an unnatural thing if you know me.
"All the time?" I asked again. He nodded, mhm-ing at me. I gave my trademark boar sigh. I had no idea it would be this tough.
"Little less energy on the voice, though," chided Artemis. "A monotonous drone would be nice, devoid of emotion. Once in a while is fine, but even then, just the barest hint."
"How's this?" I droned. The very sound of such boringness from my own voice grated at my soul.
"Perfect," he complimented, smiling a little. "If he didn't know better, Po wouldn't recognize you in the slightest."
"This is going to be a lot harder than I thought it would be," I groaned. Did he shudder again?
I was going to open the door to Po's office for her, but Diane sullenly let herself in. The look on her face really sold it-I hadn't believed that she would be capable of a prank of this magnitude. She was a much better actress than I had originally believed. This was going to be...fun? Yes, fun. It would be my first encounter with the strange and volatile substance.
Was that the only unstable metaphorical chemical I was tweaking with?
"Are you okay, Diane?" I asked slowly, as if I was unsure of her condition. She didn't respond, instead sitting in a chair with none of her usual flair. She was as wooden as Dr. Po's pencil, and as priceless as the look on his face.
"I'm fine." she droned, not bothering to elaborate on the subject. Dr. Po scribbled on his notepad some more, visibly concerned about Diane's drastic mood swing. Well, mood swing would be an understatement. It was more like an entire personality swing.
"I don't think you are, Miss Sullivan," said Dr. Po carefully. "This isn't like you. Normally you're so...peppy. What happened?"
"Society happened," she drawled, as if society were to blame for everything and that was the most obvious fact in the world. "I've been living a lie, being happy. Happiness is a lie. There is nothing left in this world but negativity. Recently I've come to embrace it. You will all join me eventually."
"I should hope not," I mused, unable to stop myself. I was really getting into character, partially because I was secretly enjoying myself. "You look like you rose from the dead."
"They will eventually." she replied cryptically. Here she smiled with an unusual amount of emotion for an emo girl, which gave me chills. I saw Po visibly shudder.
"And when they do, I'll be around to see it," she claimed with increasing intensity. "Skeletons, zombies, vampires-all will raise themselves from their graves on that dread day. Under the helm of their leader, the Lich King Simetra, they will shatter society as we know it and establish a glorious anarchy of-"
"That's enough!" blurted Dr. Po, obviously on the verge of calling the nearest asylum. "Diane, those things don't exist. It's all in your head, and it's going to stay that way."
"It'd better," I agreed sarcastically. "If it doesn't, I'm afraid society is going to shatter, to be replaced by a 'glorious anarchy.'" I quailed in mock fear, rolling my eyes at glorious anarchy.
"It'll be fun," crooned Diane, a glazed look coming over her eyes. If I didn't know the truth underneath the ebony hair dye and fake piercings, I would have vacated myself from her presence in less time than it would take an electron to circle the nucleus.
"Let's change the subject, shall we?" lilted Dr. Po nervously. "Have you been reading any good books lately?"
"I just finished the Necronomicon," stated Diane, immediately jumping into the conversation. I immediately recognized the reference to Lovecraftian horror, and was unsurprised when she listed the following book. "Then I got into Call of Cthulhu. It's a really good book. Really pumps your brain-I had eldritch visions all last night. Cthulhu's actually not as ugly as you'd think. Mind-bending and multidimensional, but not all that ugly. At least, after you first look at him. After that, you're sort of over it, y'know?"
"The Necronomicon doesn't exist." I tried to point out, playing along. She looked at me blankly for a long moment.
"Oh, I know what you mean," she said suddenly, as if she just now understood my sentence. "It used to be nonexistent, but then it was pulled out of Azrath by a rift in Elder Spacetime and it fell into my lap while I was playing Amnesia. Again, it's really interesting. You wanna know what spells I learned?"
"Do tell," I improvised, leaning forward with a devilish look in my eye and a new idea just begging to be unleashed. "Perhaps you can use our psychologist here as a guinea pig."
"Very funny, Artemis," chuckled Dr. Po, his conscious refusing to believe our charade. I gave him my most chilling vampire smile.
"Do your worst." I purred.
Diane's eyes rolled back in her head, her eyelids fluttering theatrically. She raised a hand, outstretching her fingers toward Dr. Po so that a skull ring on her middle finger glared holes into his soul. Her head lolled back, and she began to chant in a monotone that was like nails on a chalkboard coming from Diane. I wasn't sure whether to act mortified or excited, so I chose the latter. My devious smile spread into my eyes as I recognized the hidden jokes in her chant.
"Op si na toidi," she recited. "I duw reven nrut otni siht noit-animoba. I wonk etaminani st'cejbo taht era retteb srolesnuoc naht mih. Cthulhu, Shub-Niggurath, izrath yi byakhee, neeeekaaaa…"
Suddenly she turned towards me, snapping her head forward and opening her eyes wide as she blurted something at me. This is my cue.
I doubled over and cried out as if I was struck. I fell forward out of my chair, convulsing as if I was having a lethal seizure or horrific nightmare. I made the most repulsive noises I could imagine, in order to drown out the laughter that threatened to burst out of me and ruin the ploy. Several times I made like I was strangling myself, like I was being possessed. All the while I kept tabs on an inconspicuous device concealed in my pocket. It worked flawlessly.
"Stop this at once!" demanded Po, standing up and staring awestruck at my terrifying act. On my knees now, I threw my head back and tapped the thing in my pocket. It keened out a mangled, high-pitched keen of some alien thing, and the best part was that it looked like I was the one screaming. The technological beauty in my pocket worked its wonders elsewhere, too.
The curtains snapped shut over the sunlit window behind Po's desk as if by magic, and I snapped my fingers behind my back so that it would seem like my spine had been snapped in half. Dr. Po called out into the darkness in terror, horrified by my apparent murder. Stifling my giggles, I bolted to the door, feeling Diane's hand on the doorknob. We slipped out, letting as little light in as possible. Now in broad daylight, Diane seized one of the waiting-chairs by the door and wedged it under the doorknob, on the verge of hysterics. I had to clamp a hand over my mouth to keep my own mirth under control.
"That was priceless!" cackled Diane, laughing so hard that she was having a hard time standing up. I was having a hard time keeping my normal straight face-Diane's laughter was the most infectious thing since the bubonic plague. "With the curtains, and the chanting, and the obscure Lovecraft references and...everything! That was #$!%&ing brilliant! How did you do that!?"
I was going to respond, but I had to stop and get myself under control. Meanwhile, she carried on with her rave.
"Did you see what I did there, Simetra?" she giggled. I nodded, my cheeks hurting from trying to stifle the most ridiculous grin. "It's Artemis backwards. You're a lich king!"
She made zombie sounds at me whilst I tried deep breaths to calm myself down. But the dam burst when Diane slipped on the tile floor and sprawled with an unladylike swear. I couldn't take it anymore.
I laughed. Then and there, right in front of her. We laughed. All through the remainder of the period, while Dr. Po pounded on the door and demanded to be released.