Chapter 5: Back to It
"How nice it is to see you again," Cassidy spoke from behind my locker door, her crystal eyes boring through the locker slits. I jumped halfway out of my skin. "Oh! Hi, Cassidy. It's nice to be back, I guess."
"How is the entire, ah, home situation going for you?" she drawled.
"Fine. Why do you ask?" I froze, getting wary of Cassidy's presence, she was putting me more and more on edge.
"No reason," she giggled. "I was just concerned. I believe this is goodbye, then."
"Right," I agreed, waving as she walked down the hallway, clutching her books tightly. That girl was as peculiar as they come, I thought. Well, I shouldn't bother with things like that right now... I need to catch up with all my schoolwork anyway, right Mom? I gave the photo of my Mom and I in our out-of-character dresses a final glance before shutting my locker door and locking it.
"You can be such a sap, you know." Chase drifted beside me, hovering midair. I said nothing, keeping my eyes focused on the road ahead. "Oh? Playing the entire I'm-not-going-to-talk-to-you-in-public cliché? How... What's the word? Headstrong? Rude?" He was really trying to annoy me today. "Mmm, I see how it is. You should know, not telling anyone about our entire soul thing isn't going to make it any easier, if that's what you think." He paused, as if he thought I may respond. "At least tell Eye-Dan or whatever his name was. I'd suggest letting your band know, too. Now isn't the time for secrets."
I gulped, thinking maybe I should tell Aiden. He was my closest friend, after all. Wait - why was I letting the ramblings of a demon get to me?
"Just keep quiet," I seethed through gritted teeth.
Chase's face split into a wide grin. "So it does bother you," he giggled, his hair hanging as he dangled upside down. "This is going to be a fun day."
"More like a long day," I sighed. "Why don't you just disappear or something and make my life easier?"
"That would be stupid," Chase shrugged. Right, I thought sarcastically. I couldn't wait until this day was over so I could curl into my pillow and drown the sound of his everything out. I stepped into the main entrance, where I saw some people I knew talking, and headed over there. A girl with black curls bobbing threw her head back in laughter, the curls flying. The boy that made her laugh, a Native boy with spiky hair grinned crookedly. When he saw me, he waved, motioning for me to join them. I smiled to myself, walking over to them.
"April! It's been awhile. What happened?" The boy asked. I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. "Accident. I'm okay now, though, so don't worry." The boy's face took on a look of surprise and sudden worry. "But didn't your-"
"Girl, have you seen those bags under your eyes?" The girl with the black curls interrupted. The boy shot me an apologetic look as the girl continued. "When was the last time you had some sleep, hmm? You needn't worry, I have the perfect thing for it!"
"Uhh, thanks, but I'm fine. I'll get some sleep later, okay? Have I missed much, Nathan?" The girl shrugged, but dismissed it. The Native boy, Nathan, shrugged.
"Not really. There was a big uproar of how you suddenly disappeared. Most of us heard what happened though. Are you sure you're okay?"
I smiled. "Yes, I am. All that's left for me is recovery." And to get this creep off my back. I kept a wary eye on Chase, who was listening in to our conversation with a smirk.
"Alright, I'll leave it be then. If you need anything just ask, 'kay? There's enough people here to make sure things don't go haywire." I grinned. "Don't worry, I'm staying with some friends for a while until something else is figured out. They're fairly nice, so don't get your panties in a knot about it."
Nathan laughed. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Hey," Aiden greeted us, taking a swig out of his water bottle.
"What kept ya?" The girl with the black curls asked. "We've been waiting forever."
Aiden rolled his eyes. "For five minutes? Wow, what a tragedy. Hey, April. Nathan. Zoe."
"Hey," we chided. "Oh." I snapped my fingers. "What are you doing later?" Aiden glanced at the ceiling. "Nothing, really. Want to come over for a bit?" I smiled. "Sure."
"Ooh," Zoe giggled. "I ship it."
"Shut up." I grinned. "What about you? I ship it." My eyes flicked from her to Nathan. She flushed, but kept her mouth shut.
"Your family's okay with me over?"
"You know them," Aiden sighed. "Everyone is family. They'll probably welcome you like a hero."
"I consider myself to be pretty heroic."
"Nah, I've seen better." The corners of his mouth twitched. I shot him a look.
Aiden's house, a three story, slightly worn down place with chipping white paint stood before us. I'd seen it many times before, on various occasions. Though this time could be...different. Aiden opened the ivory metal gate, closing it after we entered. I heard the barking of Roger from the backyard, and quickly leaned over the gate separating the yards. A cheerful Husky wagged his tail and slobbered on my hand as I reached in to pet him.
"Hey Roger," Aiden joined me, getting a few licks himself. "Ready to go in?"
"Yeah," I said, wiping Roger's slobber on Aiden's shirt. "Let's go."
"Eugh! That's gross, man."
We walked in Aiden's home, taking our shoes off and leaving them in the designated shoe area, where one large pile of several sized pairs of shoes lay.
"Ma! I'm home!" he called. "I brought April with me!"
"April?" A woman's voice called. Mary. "Oh, my dear!" The echo of footsteps bustled around the house, until a worn woman with hair halfway out of her ponytail smiled up at me. Her ebony hair would have trailed far down her back if it wasn't tied into a shorter ponytail, and her blue eyes radiated like headlights in the dark. For her age, she was rather beautiful, and a hard woman at that, with her large curves and ability to manage six children at a time.
"April! What a surprise and blessing it is to see you again!" She pulled me into a tight hug. "Don't forget what I said about you staying here, okay? You're always welcome. Always."
"Thanks, Ms. Rivett."
"Come, dear. You know better."
"Much better. Now don't linger in the doorway, it's a bit stifling – pardon the musty smell…" She ushered us into the kitchen area, where Aiden and I sat at the island.
"Hungry?" she asked, already peeling potatoes.
"Not now, thanks though." Aiden smiled. "Told you she'd welcome you like a hero."
"It's nothing extraordinary, Aiden. Just an accident." He hesitated. "Right. Hey, do you want to see how my sisters are doing?"
"Sure," I said, thankful for the excuse to stop talking about the accident. We trotted up the stairs, where a very pink room was visible. Four beds were arranged in the room, displayed so that the rest of the floor was devoted to toys and girls. Three were sitting on the floor giggling and all drawing a large picture of something I couldn't decipher.
"No, that has to go here…" One muttered. They all stopped when we entered, though.
"Hi April," The same girl smiled at me. Her sisters all grinned as well.
"Hey girls. Jeanette, Holly, aaaaaaaand…" I wiggled my finger at the girl who had spoken first. "Kiri." She stuck her tongue out. "Obviously you couldn't forget me!"
"Of course! But where's Sasha?"
"Dunno. Probably in the bathroom, I think. Wanna help us draw?"
"I'd love to, but I'm with Aiden today. Make sure to show me when you're done, though."
"Ew, Aiden. Then we'll have to leave this as a big surprise! No peeking!" I held my hands up in defence. "You got it."
"I heard that bit about me," Aiden said.
"That's the point!" Kiri smirked. All the girls giggled as we left.
"I don't know why I tolerate her," Aiden breathed. "She really knows how to bite at my butt."
"Aw, she's just teasing. She's your sister, after all. Speaking of siblings, how is your brother?"
"Rocking the college life, I suppose. We Skype every now and then, so you could probably see him eventually. He's grown his hair out." I stopped. "What? Adam wouldn't."
"Adam would. And hot damn the girls love it. It's not a mullet, thank God, but I think it's more of a shaggy length. Past his shoulders, maybe? His latest girlfriend is…Sidney, I think. They get along pretty well."
"Really?" And you're not jealous?" I flopped onto his bed. Almost falling off the ledge. He sat beside me. "Not even. They get along well right now, but later is another story."
"Ah, have faith, young warrior."
"What are you, my grandpa?" he chuckled.
"Don't judge a book by its content!"
"You mean cover," he corrected. "It's perfectly okay to judge a book based on its content if said content is horrible, right?"
"Wrong!" I poked him in the cheek. "Judging is generally a bad thing!" I made a buzzer sound. "You're being voted off the island." Aiden raised an eyebrow. "I think your logic is more than a little messed up."
"Maybe so. Hey, what about Corey?" I asked.
"Corey? What about him?" Aiden flopped on his back beside me.
"That's what I asked, you dunderhead."
"Ah, he's fine. Tweens are a rough spot for him right now, but I do my best to beat him into shape."
"With the power of education?"
"Precisely so." I snickered, rolling around on his bed. He looked at me, obviously reaching his limit. "What are you doing?" he asked.
"I don't know!" I exclaimed, rolling around so much that I fell off. He laughed at me, peering over the side of the bed.
"Alright, what kind of meds did they give you?"
"The hospital? Nah, I just got off those last week."
"Lingering effects, then." We laughed again, our laughter soon being interrupted by a yell from downstairs.
"You don't get it, mom!" A girl's voice sounded, her angry stomps pounding up the stairs.
"Sasha," her mother said in a warning tone. "Come back down here, now." Even April knew better than to disobey that tone of voice. Sasha's reluctant footsteps proved that she was a smart girl.
"Ah, geez. Sasha's getting chewed out again."
"She thinks she's all high and mighty because she's in grade seven. Finally the oldest group of kids in the school, you know? I can't wait until she hits high school. She'll shut up real quick once the seniors get a hold of her. Mind, I hope she learns before then."
"Ah, the traditional rite of passage."
"Exactly. So, what do you wanna do? We could go check out the attic or disappear into the basement."
"Which is less creepy?"
"Definitely the basement. There aren't any cobwebs in there."
"Attic it is," I smirked.
"Sometimes I hate you. This is one of those times."
Aiden flashed his flashlight around in the attic. He said that he wanted to scope out the place, you know, to ward off any poltergeists that could be in there. As if shining a bright light in their eyes would do the trick.
"Ugh, move over!" I said, pushing him up the ladder and into the attic.
"Come on, April!" he exclaimed. "You know how I am about spooky places." The attic was more of a storage place for the Rivett's than anything. Boxes were piled all around and the dust bunnies grew in colonies here.
"Aiden, you've lived here for fifteen years. I think it's okay." I heard a sinister snicker from above. Glancing up, I saw Chase floating around. Oh no.
"Still," Aiden complained. "I've seen enough horror movies to know where this could –"A long, creaking noise sounded. I glared at Chase, who was stepping on one of the floorboards, stifling a laugh.
"April," Aiden had started to shake. I felt bad for the guy.
"Hey, don't sweat it. We're fine, okay?"
"But I most definitely didn't imagine that sound, right?" I bit my lip. "No, I heard it too, but that doesn't mean –" Chase pushed over a tower of boxes, the smile of a troublemaking child spread on his face. That little turd.
"A-April…maybe we should, you know, leave."
"No!" I yelled. "Sorry," I said, after I realized that Aiden had jumped out of his skin. "There's just something I need to tell you." He shifted his eyes around. "Can we go out first?" I gave him a look. He reluctantly motioned for me to go on. I cleared my throat.
"Okay, so don't freak out or anything, but there's a demon in the room with us." His eyes widened and he gave me the look of 'You've got to be freaking kidding me'. Either that, or it was the 'what' kind of look. They both look the same.
"After the accident, I wasn't alone when I woke up." I briefly paused to look at him. His face hadn't changed. "There was this guy beside me, sleeping. Naturally, I almost beat him to death with a pillow. Some nurses came in, calmed me down, and then I realized that I'm the only one who can see him. The demon – Chase is his name – said something about slowly destroying my soul or something, calling me his host, and generally being a nuisance. He likes causing havoc, and I hate him. He's making the recovery process a lot worse emotionally, but kind of better physically." I stopped, gazing at Aiden again. He put his hands together and pressed his thumbs against his top lip, as he always did when deeply thinking about something.
"What do you mean physically?" he asked a little defensively. I blushed. "Nothing like that!" I exclaimed. "What I mean is that my wounds and any other damage healed faster than it should have, the doctor even said so."
"Okay," he said. I held my breath, waiting for a response. "Can I see him?"
"I don't know, I'll ask." The thought hadn't occurred to me if he could actually be seen by another person besides me. I stared at him, long and hard.
"You have to ask first, stupid," he said, not meeting my gaze. I felt a nerve in my head twitch. "Chase. Can you come out so that Aiden can see?" Chase drifted in front of me, his stare boring into my eyes. After a long pause, he drifted back up.
"No," he said.
"Oh, come on!" I yelled. "After all that you want to make me look like an idiot?!"
"Newsflash, idiot. Aiden can hear everything you're saying to me. Good luck explaining that one." I gritted my teeth, slowly looking at Aiden. He looked partially confused, mostly wary of my sanity.
"I swear I'm sane," I said.
"I know you're sane, April. And I don't think you'd lie about something like this. But a demon? Are you sure?" I nodded. "He said so himself. And if he was a generally good person, he'd show up for once!" I rose my voice again so that Chase would especially hear. Not that he couldn't, in the first place.
"Well, I believe you." Aiden confirmed. My eyes lit up.
"Really?" I said. "After all my probably-insane ranting?"
"You're my best friend. Really, really. I'd like to see the guy, but if he's going to be a jerk about it then I'm indifferent to his decision." I saw Chase twitch out of the corner of my eye.
"Oh my God I was so worried you'd shun me and never speak to me again I don't know what I would have done if you –" He waved my horrible excuses.
"April, I've known you my entire life. I'm pretty sure I know when you're lying. This is not one of those times." I grinned in relief, happy that Aiden understood.
"Well, that's no fun," Chase said in a bored tone. Aiden gasped, so I supposed he could see him now. "And here I thought I could watch your little relationship break apart. Oh, well. I can't always get what I want, then." Aiden stared at Chase with narrowed eyes.
"April," he started curtly.
"Yeah?" I asked, unsure of what he was up to.
"Why is he shirtless?" I looked back at Chase, who indeed hadn't bothered to put on a shirt. My face went beet red as I hastily tried to explain.
"I swear to God it's not like that he's just an abomination to any set of eyes, he was like this when I woke up actually but that's not the point…"
"He WHAT?!" Aiden fumed. Chase grinned sadistically. "Oh no, little old me isn't wearing a shirt. And here I thought this was a free country." Aiden glared at him. "I don't like this guy, April."
"You think I do?" I sighed, realizing that the worst of my problems were yet to come. "Look, we can't go blabbering to anyone else about this, okay? Chase is a secret between us."
"Of course," Aiden said without hesitation. "I'll just be watching him so that he doesn't do anything sketchy." Chase's smile widened, and he must have disappeared for Aiden, because he instantly fired up at him.
"That's not fair!" he cried. Chase glanced at me, and smiled. It surprised me, actually. It wasn't one of his playful I'm-going-to-screw-you-over smiles, but a genuine grin from ear to ear. Maybe this demon had more to him than I thought. Chase saw I was staring and struck a sexy pose. Then again, maybe not.
"April, please tell me what he's doing." Aiden gazed at me with pleading eyes for assistance.
"You don't want to know," I laughed. "But he definitely sucks at it." Chase grimaced and stuck his tongue out at me. Though I knew that the future wasn't going to be easy, I had to admit that it was promising.