Chapter 10: The Halloween Banquet
I told Jordan that we should just keep quiet about what I saw and went back to our dorms. I was tired from all the excitement tonight and fell instantly asleep the moment my head hit the pillow. The next day as Jordan, Morgan, Scarlett, and I entered the gym, we saw Abigail, Madilyn, Sarah, and Panty Less Lacey (a nickname that was invented when every male in this school constantly started knocking Lacey’s books out of her hands, causing her to bend down and show her bare ass) were all handing out fliers for the Halloween banquet.
“Here losers,” Abigail said as she handed each of us a flier. She shoved mine into my hands, while smiling maliciously at me. All I could do was stare at her, dumbfounded. She turned around swiftly, causing some of her curly blonde hair to hit me square in the face and sashayed across the room to hand out the same fliers.
I was spitting hair out of my mouth as Scarlett narrowed her eyes at Abigail. “God, what I wouldn’t give just to smack that girl. She is so obnoxious.”
I nodded in agreement before examining the flier. It seemed kind of cliché to me, with the same usual black and orange theme colors and a pumpkin smiling welcomingly at me. Underneath the pumpkin, in white lettering it said:
Come one and all to the Halloween Banquet this Saturday at 6 o’clock to enjoy an evening of fun as you dress up and hang with friends.
There will be music, candy, games and prizes.
It’s sure to be creeptacular!
“’Creeptacular!” I snorted. “God, how cheesy can you get.”
“I’m sure Abigail and her groupies helped write all that crap,” Morgan said, eyeing the flier with distaste. “It wouldn’t be the first time they made crappy fliers.” He turned his stony gaze towards Jordan. “Remember last year around Christmas when they made fliers for that stupid Christmas party.”
“How could I? They made me help pass them out.”
“’Come to this holly jolly event.’” Morgan said, in a high pitched voice, probably imitating Abigail. I couldn’t help but giggle. “’It will be so much fun and you’ll get to meet the real Santa Clause.’”
“It didn’t say that.” Jordan said blank faced.
“I know. I was just…improvising a bit. But you get the picture,” he said to me. “They make stupid fliers. And to think – this is just the beginning.”
Suddenly we heard the sound of a whistle blowing and looked to see Mr. Howl, gazing icily at us. “Why aren’t any of you in the locker rooms getting ready for today’s lesson?”
None of us had an appropriate answer to give him so we quickly escaped to the changing rooms.
“That’s what I thought.” I heard him say as Jordan, Morgan, Scarlett, and I split up into two groups, rushing towards the girl’s and boy’s locker rooms to get changed for today’s lesson.
There were only four remaining girls that were still changing into their PE uniforms and they were Abigail, Lacey, Madilyn and Sarah. Scarlett and I ignored whatever Abigail said as we entered the changing rooms, while grabbing our PE uniforms, which were black sweat pants and white tank tops. We quickly put our school uniforms in our lockers and made our way back out to the gym, where Mr. Howl already had the class doing jumping jacks.
I took my place beside Jordan as I started pumping my arms and legs, while jumping in place until Mr. Howl blew his whistle, ordering us to do thirty pushups. At first it was almost impossible for me to do pushups when I first got here. Now, it almost seemed effortless. I guess when you do it often enough your muscles begin to get used to the exercise because the first week we did pushup the muscles in my arms ached for days.
When we were done with that, Mr. Howl had us do ten laps around the gym. I ran beside Jordan and tried to ignore the fact that my legs were about to give out (although I was more worried about tripping over my feet and busting my head open). I heard a choir of angels singing “Hallelujah” as we finished the last lap and took a seat at the bleachers as Mr. Howl told us what we were doing today.
“Today we will be getting into two teams and are going to play dodge ball. I take it everyone has played this game, yes?”
Unfortunately. Of course I’m always one of the first to get smacked around with a ball so I won’t be participating in this game for too long.
“I’m going to choose two team leaders and it’s your job to serve the ball.”
I felt my heart beating chaotically in my chest. Please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me. I chanted over and over.
“Hmmm…Spencer Mason – why don’t you be the leader for the red team.” I groaned inwardly, but got up from my spot and walked to where Mr. Howl stood, looking sterner as usual. I scanned my class as I stood in front of them, my face burning bright red. Why me? I thought.
Of course things only got worse when Mr. Howl announced the other team leader. “Abigail Westchester – you’re the captain of team blue.”
“Oh, great.” I muttered.
“What was that, Ms. Mason?” Mr. Howl asked curiously.
“U-uh nothing s-sir.” I stammered.
“Oh.” he seemed bemused. “I thought you said something.”
I just shook my head as Abigail took her place on Mr. Howl’s right, smiling wickedly at me. “You’re teams going down.”
Yeah, I’m not going to argue with her. I know we’re going down.
“You girls need to start choosing people for your teams,” Mr. Howl said as he made his way to his chair that stood in the right hand corner of the gym. I watched idly as he took a seat, while pulling out a newspaper that had been hidden under his chair and started reading. I sighed, feeling tired all of sudden. This is not going to end well.
“Please,” Abigail said a bit too sweetly. “You pick first.”
“Okay,” I said, feeling uncertain. What is she up too? I didn’t have to scan the class to know who my first pick would be. “Jordan.”
Jordan jumped up and rushed to my side, shooting Abigail a look I couldn’t quite decipher. He smiled encouragingly at me as Abigail went next. “Cameron.”
I was a bit relieved and not entirely surprised. She was crazy in love with him. Cameron didn’t look to happy about being on her team, but as long as it makes Abigail less cranky.
I felt my cheeks burn when he winked at me. I tried to ignore him as I called Scarlett next. I heard her squeal in delight as she quickly came to my side, hugging me in the process. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m so glad you picked me next. Otherwise, Abigail would have.” Sure enough, as I looked towards Abigail, I could see a look of loathing spread across her face. Jeesh – it’ Scarlett, not some pro-dodge player. Unless I’m wrong and Scarlett’s really good at dodge ball, which I didn’t believe. Scarlett dislikes sports as much as I do. There’s no way…
“Madilyn.” Abigail said, still throwing me dirty looks.
I glared in return. “Morgan.”
On and on we went until it came down to the two last people. And that was Amy Thompson – an ice user like me – and Alex. I felt ashamed of myself. How could I have forgotten about him? He should have been one of the first people I should have picked. Not that he’s good in sports or anything like that, but because he’s always picked last and I know – from experience – how hurtful that can be. Then again, he can be so quiet that you forget he’s here.
Everybody was holding their breath as they waited for me to pick. I didn’t have to think twice.
“Alex.” People from my team were flabbergasted, while others like Jordan, Morgan, and Scarlett remained impassive. They didn’t seem surprised by my chose.
Now Alex on the other hand looked completely taken aback. I guess he thought I was going to choose Amy over him, which was absurd. I like Amy a lot. Although she may not like me very much after having chosen Alex over her, giving her no chose but to play for Abigail’s team. I smiled apologetically at her, which she ignored. Yep. She is definitely mad.
Alex walked towards our team. I wasn’t surprised when he went to the very back of the group, trying to keep a wide berth from the rest of us. Oh, Alex, I thought sadly. Keeping your distance is never going to get you anywhere.
“Alright,” Mr. Howl said. “It’s time to play dodge ball. Remember, there will be no cheating, no fighting, and no magic involved as we play this game! We are here to have fun and just let off some steam. Now, I want the red team on the left side of the gym and then the blue team on the right.”
My team and I quickly moved to the left as Abigail and her team got into positions on the right side of the gym. Mr. Howl handed us both a dodge ball – which felt unsafe in my hands – before holding his whistle to his lips. The sound from the whistle seemed to ricochet off the stone walls, causing some students to cover their ears. We both instantly threw the dodge ball at each other, but to my dismay, I ended up hitting Amy instead, probably causing her to hate me even more. Sure enough, she glared at me before stalking back to the bleachers, never taking her green, piercing eyes off me. Jeesh – talk about overreaction.
It didn’t take long before I was out, and with uncontained happiness, I skipped over to the bleachers and sat down. I noted with surprise that Scarlett was still in the game and doing exceptionally well. No wonder Abigail gave me the death stare earlier. She was pretty good.
Only three people from my team sat on the bleachers. They seemed a bit disappointed that they weren’t still in the game. Well, maybe except Alex. He seemed just as thrilled to have evaded such a tactless game.
By some impulse I couldn’t understand, I started walking up the bleachers to where he sat and took a seat by him. He seemed to pretend I wasn’t there.
I sighed, exasperated. “What’s with the silent treatment? You’ve been ignoring me almost a month now. What gives?”
Still no answer. His blue eyes continued to stare straight ahead, watching the game.
“Is it because I called you Alex that one day?” I think he rolled his eyes, but I’m not sure. I couldn’t really tell from this angle. “Okay. Is it because I picked you last for our team?”
“Do you ever shut up?” he asked, finally turning to look at me. I tried to read his face, looking for any sign that showed he was mad. He looked more annoyed then anything.
“Not really.” I answered.
“No, I’m not mad that you called me Alex. Why would I be mad about that? No, I’m not mad at you for picking me last. Sadly, I’m used to that.”
“Well, I was going to pick you,” I said hastily, trying to explain myself. I blushed, feeling embarrassed. “But I—“
“Forgot about me. Yeah, I’m used to that too.”
For the first time since I’ve met him, he smiled gently at me. “I know.” I was completely taken aback by his words. I didn’t know what to say. “I could see the guilt plain as day on your face. Including that annoying empathic look you gave me. So you don’t have to explain anything.”
I sighed, relaxing slightly. “So you’re not mad.”
He frowned. “What part of this face shows that I’m mad?”
“Besides the scowl?” I asked teasingly. “None I suppose.”
It worked – he smiled. “You think you’re so funny, don’t you.”
I just nodded, smiling in return.
I was just about to say something probably even more idiotic when the sound of a whistle echoed loudly in the gym, causing both Alex and I to cover our ears.
We looked towards Mr. Howl as he gestured to the left side of the gym, where Scarlett still remained. “Team red wins!”
People from my team, including Jordan and Morgan, whooped loudly at this news. I was so proud of Scarlett and a bit grateful that she helped win the game. Even though I really don’t care much about sports and I think they’re a punishment for clumsy people like myself – some part of me hoped that we would win, just so I could rub it in Abigail’s face. Sure enough, Scarlett and the rest of our team started singing “We Are the Champions” by Queen, while making loser signs with their thumps and forefingers at the blue team. Watching Abigail getting all huffy puffy was just enough to make this day a good one.
During lunch we told Mia and Gabrielle of our victory during PE.
“Well,” Morgan said, a bit gruffly, after Gabby and Mia were done congratulating us. “We would have never won if it hadn’t been for…” he took a deep, unsteadying breath. “For Blackthorn.” He seemed to cringe as he choked on her last name.
Everyone gaped at Morgan except Scarlett. She smiled smugly. “Aw. Thanks Grey.”
He frowned, but didn’t reply as he went back to eating.
“So I was thinking,” Gabrielle said. “That maybe we should go into town and go costumes shopping. Since the Halloween banquet is this Saturday, we might as well get it over with.”
“Do we have to wear a costume?” Scarlett asked.
“Well no, but you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb if you don’t.” She looked at Morgan then, while rubbing her elbow in his ribs playfully. “Huh buddy.”
He just scoffed and continued to ignore her.
“I don’t think Halloween and costumes are my thing.” I said.
“Are you not going?” Jordan asked, perplexed.
I bit my lip, feeling conflicted. In all honesty, I didn’t want to. Of course, I couldn’t bring myself to tell my friends that.
“But you have too.” Mia said. “Besides it wouldn’t be the same without you. You’re like…the stick in our group. Or the rock. I’m not really sure which.”
I grimaced. “Gee thanks, Mia. I feel even more compelled to go to the Halloween banquet now.”
Scarlett patted her friend on the back gently. “You poor blonde.”
Mia was still staring at me. She seemed confused. “Were you being sarcastic?”
“Oh. Okay. Well…I still want you to come.”
“I might.” Though I wasn’t going to make any promises. I wonder if I can talk to Alex and see if maybe I could hang out with him while the banquet is going on. I’m almost positive that he won’t go. It doesn’t seem like his thing.
“Well, come with us anyway and buy a costume just in case you change your mind.” Gabrielle said.
“I think you’re forgetting that I have no money. And since my mom is in the Powerless world and is unable to give me money—“
“I’ll buy one for you,” She interrupted me hastily. “It’s no problem. I have more money then I need anyway. I’m with Mia. I really want you to come because she is right. It wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“Hear, hear.” Jordan said in a way of agreement.
“Alright.” I agreed, but turned towards Jordan, narrowing my eyes at him. “But don’t make me do anything that I don’t want to do.”
“Like make me go dancing. There is no way in hell. Besides,” I said, crossing my arms. “I don’t dance.”
“I believe it.” Morgan said, talking with his mouth full. We were all used to it by now that it didn’t faze any of us. “The way you are in PE,” he shook his head sadly. “Nobody within mere inches of you will survive the catastrophe that you’re sure to cause.”
“Hear, hear.” Jordan said again.
“Will you stop that?” I demanded. Jordan was smiling hugely, his face amused. “It’s annoying.”
“Hear, hear.” Morgan said, smiling impishly.
I made a loud, exasperating sound, causing some people in the nearby tables to turn and look at me oddly. “You Grey boys are too much.”
They both smiled widely at that statement.
When I got back to my room later that evening, I threw my costume on my bed and went straight to my desk to start on my homework. Jordan said that we would meet later and do the patrolling thing, which gave me a little time to catch up on some stuff. I was nearly done with everything when I heard a knock at my door. I got up and opened to see Jordan, covered from almost head to toe in leather, with his Chinese sword strapped to his back. He looked badass.
“Are you ready to go kick some demon butt?”
No. “Yeah, just let me get dressed real fast.”
Jordan closed the door behind himself before walking around, scrutinizing my room. “Huh. I never would have pegged you as the girly type.”
“Why?” I thought it was obvious. My favorite color was pink, I loved flowers, and I had thing for romance novels and movies. Not to mention, I can be very prissy.
“I don’t know. You just…don’t act like normal girls sometimes.”
I grabbed the leather pants and the white tank top I wore yesterday from my hamper, while kicking the bathroom door closed behind me. I quickly stripped out of my uniform and into my fighting clothes.
“I’m a normal girl.”
“Not always. Most girls talk about clothes and boys – you, well, hardly talk at all. Real girls blabber all the time.”
“Um, it’s called being shy.” I said as I came out of the bathroom. I closed the door behind me. “A lot of girls are.”
“Not Alicia.” He said dreamily.
“Yeah, well, I’m Spencer and she’s Alicia. We are both two different girls.”
I rolled my eyes, but didn’t reply. I was ready to go and get this night over with. My Sais were already strapped to my hips, ready for battle. I hadn’t used them yet against a demon, but I was ready too. I shuddered involuntarily, thinking about last night again and the hooded figure.
As if by reading my mind, he asked the unspoken question that was still lingering in the back of my head. “You don’t think we’ll see him tonight, do you?”
I shrugged, nonchalant. “Who knows? But if we do we’ll run back to the academy with our tails between our legs.”
“I still think we should tell headmaster Death. He would want to know about something like this, especially if it involves a student.”
“I will soon, but not right now. I have other things to worry about besides Azazel stalking me.”
For once, Jordan didn’t scold me for saying his name. Instead he stared at me in disbelief. ”Are you serious? The most feared man in Eden is after you and you’re more worried about other things!”
I didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”
“What is wrong with you? Seriously. Most people in your shoes would have been running for their lives by now. You don’t even look that worried.”
“Because I’m not. Why should I be scared? I mean, I was scared last night, but what is the worst Azazel can do. Kill me?” Jordan winced, but didn’t reply. “People die every day. It’s just how it is.” He didn’t even try to hide the fear in his eyes. I sighed. “The more you fear him, the more you’re letting him win, Jordan.”
“You’re not afraid?”
“Oh, I am. But I’m more pissed off then scared. He is the reason why I didn’t have a dad growing up. Azazel is the reason why my dad is not here. I think my hatred for the man overrules any type of fear.”
“Wow.” Jordan said, stunned. It was quiet for a couple of minutes. “Yeah, that proves my theory.”
“That you are definitely not like other girls.”
We patrolled all through Hallowville, looking for any sign of demonic activity, but also kept an eye out for the hooded figure – or Azazel, whatever you want to call the bastard. It’s still hard to believe that I saw him. Death’s words from the night I met him started running through my head. Well, you haven’t met him. And when you do – you’ll never forget him. Death hadn’t been exaggerating about Azazel being memorable. I wondered if he knew who I was. If I didn’t hate the guy so much, I probably would have been demanding answers about my father. If anyone knew him best, it was him.
Jordan and I were just about to give up hunting when a demon materialized out of nowhere, staggering towards us from the shadows. It was tall, dark, and ugly as most demons are. I almost mistook it for a person at first. From a distance, anyone would have mistaken it for a human. Of course, looking at it up close, you could definitely tell it wasn’t. It stood about six feet tall, with its arms hanging limply to about his hips. Its skin was so gray and its hair so black that it almost looked like it had come from one of those old black and white movies. It’s long, tangled hair came to about its waist and it’s unattractive features like it’s eyes, nose, and lips looked practically morphed together. I noted that its eyes were the color of onyx. The way it shuffled towards us made me think of a zombie.
“What the hell is that thing? Is it a demon?” Because at this point I was kind of unsure.
“Yeah,” he said, not taking his gray eyes off the creature that was still stumbling towards us. “But be careful. If that thing bites you then you’re in trouble.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “What will happen?”
“Well, let’s just say zombies do exist because of these demons. One bite and you’re one of them – one of the non mortuus.”
“What does that mean?” It was Latin – that much I knew.
“It’s means undead. It’s also the name of the demon.”
“Great.” I was proud to hear that I was able to still use sarcasm. I figured with the dilemma we were in that my witty thoughts had run away screaming, leaving me alone with nothing but a panic-stricken mind. What a relieve. “So what do we do? How do we kill it?”
“The way you kill any zombie,” he said. “By beheading it or a blow to the head. That usually gets the job done.”
“So you’ve killed this kind of demon before.” I said with relieve. Suddenly all my worries seemed to dissipate until Jordan said sheepishly, “Well…not exactly—“
I cut him off, feeling outraged. “You mean to tell me you’ve never killed an non mortuus before!”
My loud voice must have startled the demon because now he was charging at us, its arms flailing behind him as he ran. “Now look what you did.” Jordan snapped. “You pissed it off with your loud, shrilly voice.”
“MY VOICE IS NOT SHRILLY!” I yelled, feeling quite offended by that statement. Besides I had a normal, high-pitched girl voice. There was nothing shrilly about it. “And what about you? You probably scared it with your low, guy voice.”
“That didn’t make any sense.”
“I’m not shrilly!”
The demon yowled and gurgled as it attacked us, causing both of us to forget what it was we were arguing about. We took a couple steps back as Jordan and I unsheathed our weapons, watching the demon closely as it stared at us with craze-filled eyes. I noted that its dark eyes kept flitting to the weapons that we had grasped in our hands. I didn’t like the calculating look it had on its face.
“I thought zombies were supposed to be slow and stupid.”
“Zombies are slow and stupid, but this isn’t exactly a zombie that we’re dealing with here. It’s a creature that creates zombies. The non mortuus is why zombies exist in the first place.”
“Well, excuse me,” I said, not liking his attitude one bit. “How was I supposed to know that? And it’s not like I didn’t know zombies existed until you told me they did exist about five minutes ago.”
“Spencer,” Jordan said, sounding tired all of sudden. “Don’t make this harder than it already is.”
“I’m not trying to make it hard. I just don’t like you getting mad at me.”
“I’m not mad at you! What made you assume that I was mad in the first place?”
“Now look what you did,” I said in low, grumbling voice – trying to imitate his voice from earlier. “You pissed it off with your loud, SHRILLY VOICE!”
The demon seemed to howl as my voice rose at that last part. Jordan stared at the demon in front of us, eyeing him wearily. “Stop it.” he said. “You’re scaring him.”
I looked away from Jordan and at the non mortuus. Sure enough it was trembling. “Maybe it’s cold.”
Jordan looked back at me blankly. “Yeah. That’s exactly it.”
I sighed, exasperated. I could not believe this! Here we were in the middle of the street, having a heated argument over something so silly, with a zombie demon standing only a couple inches away from us, and yet we were more focused on yelling and making smart remarks at each other! I wondered why it hadn’t tried to attack us. We were completely oblivious to its presence. All it had to do was walk right up to one of us and feast to its hearts content. Hell, we probably wouldn’t even notice. But no. It just stood still as Jordan and I continued to argue, looking back in forth as if watching a tennis match. At one point I could almost say it looked amused if I could have read its face properly.
“Why are we still arguing about this? It’s ridiculous,” Jordan’s face went from angry to curious, his eyes narrowing slightly. “Is it that time of the month?”
I growled. “No, it’s not that time of the month!” Although it was, but I wasn’t going to tell him that. I was unconsciously flailing my arms in the air, my Sais still in hand. “Why do men always think that when a girl is in a bad mood that they instantly assume she is on her period? My God—“I felt one of the Sais fly out of my hands, while also hearing the sound of something collapsing to the ground. Jordan and I both turned slowly in the direction that the demon had been in and saw it lying flat on the ground, one of my Sais protruding from its forehead.
“Well,” Jordan said, breaking the eerie and somewhat uncomfortable silence. “That’s one way to kill the non mortuus.”
I used my fire magic to incinerate the monster. It wasn’t easy. The smell of its rotting flesh being burned had me coughing and gagging the whole time that I practically had to stop every five seconds just to take a breather. It was horrible. When we finally had its ashes, we put it into a small jar and headed back to the academy to give it to Headmaster Death. He seemed quite tickled as to how we had killed the non mortuus.
“Yep,” Death said, with an impish grin on his handsome face. “The Sais really do suit you, Spencer. Keep up the good work you two.” It took everything I had not to roll my eyes at him as Jordan and I left his office.
As we walked through the courtyard together, I suddenly realized something: Jordan and I just had our first real fight. True, it wasn’t as bad as most fights go, but it was still a fight nonetheless and I didn’t want to leave things the way they were. After all, Jordan was my best friend.
“Wait a minute, Jordan.” I grabbed his wrist, causing him to come to a halt. We were just outside the building to the dormitories. Jordan eyed me curiously.
“What is it, Spence?”
I sighed in relieve at the sound of his voice. He didn’t sound mad.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier over something so stupid. I don’t like fighting with you. I want you to know that you are the most amazing friend any girl can have. Can you forgive me?”
Jordan smiled gently at me. “Of course, Spencer. Always. And I kind of get why you were so angry and upset. I know battling demons isn’t your favorite thing in the world. I should have been more understanding so I’m sorry too.”
“Well,” I said, swinging our hands playfully together between us. “You are forgiven my irrational friend.”
“Irrational. Me? Naw, I think you’re thinking of my twin brother.”
I smiled. “Oh, yeah. How could I forget about Mr. Hothead? How silly of me.”
“You can’t help that you’re messed up in the head.”
“You are very welcome.”
I continued to smile as we walked hand-in-hand back to our dorm rooms. For some unfathomable reason I felt someone’s eyes on me. I looked up at one of the many windows from the fourth floor and saw the figure of someone looking down at us. I couldn’t tell who it was, but I had a feeling I knew who might be.
The next day everybody chatted about the Halloween banquet that was going to take place tomorrow night. I was outside in the courtyard Friday with Mia and Gabrielle. We didn’t have school that day so we just watched as some students started setting up booths, a dance floor and a small stage where I assumed the DJ or whatever would be stationed during the evening of the banquet. The black and orange canopy hanging above the dance floor seemed like too much, but I wasn’t going to tell them that.
“It looks…good.” Mia said, her voice sounding uncertain. She turned towards us. “What do you guys think?”
“Well, it looks like something a Halloween banquet would look like.” I said.
“It looks like a pumpkin threw up all over the courtyard.” Gabrielle grimaced.
Mia and I laughed at that.
“Seriously though,” she continued. “An orange and black canopy! Really people?”
“It does seem a bit tacky.” I replied.
“Well,” Mia said. “Regardless of how awful it looks, it’s still going to be fun.”
Gabrielle smiled, looking directly at me. “Hear, hear.”
I just flipped her off, knowing she was just trying to be a smartass.
She laughed before asking Mia questions about what they should do tomorrow during the banquet. I wasn’t too interested in the conversation so I continued with my work after that.
When the day was finally coming to a close, and my friends and I were leaving the cafeteria after a satisfying dinner, I decided to sneak up to the roof to see if Alexander was there. After all, I hadn’t seen him during dinner time so I just assumed he ate his meal up there. And I really wanted to talk to him. So I lied to my friends, telling them that I had an assignment to finish up in the library. Jordan offered to come with me, but I told him that he should just go and hang out with Alicia.
“Are you sure?” He asked, uncertainly. “Because I don’t mind coming with you.”
“It’s fine,” I replied. “And besides you’ll only distract me if your there so it’s best if I go alone.”
Jordan was eyeing me suspiciously, which had me wondering if he was searching through my thoughts to find out if I was lying or not. So to be on the safe side, I started thinking about math homework.
“Hmmm…okay. But if you get lonely you know how to contact me.” He left with the others then, pausing every now and again to turn around to check on me, I guess.
I waved and when he and the others were out of sight, I sighed in relieve. Even though I hated lying to Jordan, I knew it was for the best. Otherwise he would do everything in his power to keep me away from Alex and that was the last thing I wanted. As I walked up the staircase to the top floor, I wondered something. Why did Jordan and the others think that Alex was anything like Azazel? I’ve heard that he looks a great deal like his father, but that don’t necessarily mean that he is his father. From what I’ve heard of Azazel and what I’ve seen from Alex, they seemed like totally different people. Yes, Alex isolated himself from others and he acts like a complete jerk, but I know he is a good person at heart. It’s just no one has given him the chance to proof that side of him. Then again, my subconscious said. It would help if he didn’t push everyone away. I couldn’t help but agree with her.
When I made it to the top floor, I went straight for the door. Again, I was relieved to find it unlocked. I wonder what Alexander would do if the staff suddenly started locking this door, leaving him with no place to hide from others. What would he do then? I opened the door slightly, peeking through the crack to see if he was out there. It was hard at first. It was so dark that it took a second for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. The only light was the full moon, shining brightly and giving just enough light to see on the rooftop. It looked amazing from this view. It was bright and huge, looking very beautiful in the sky where it belonged. My eyes searched around the roof before seeing the silhouette of someone sitting on the ledge of the roof. It was Alex. He had his arms wrapped around his legs, while staring off into the distance. I wonder what he’s thinking about. I closed the door silently behind me and approached him with caution, just in case he tried to shoot fireballs at me.
“Hey,” I said, my voice ringing through the quiet night. Alex jumped at the sound of my voice and turned around. I was almost worried that he was going to fall off the roof. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“What are you doing up here?”
“I wanted talk to you.”
He frowned, seeming defensive “And why do you want to talk to me?”
I felt my hand twitch. God, I wanted to smack him. “Really, Alex? Why must you always antagonize everyone that tries to get close to you?”
Alex scoffed softly at that. “Nobody has ever tried to make an effort to get close to me, princess and I prefer it that way.”
“Do you really?” I asked, not truly convinced. “Do you really like being alone all the time? Because I didn’t when I was. I wished every day that I would meet someone who could accept me for who I am. Now that I have I’m a lot happier. You will be too if you will only let me in.”
Alex narrowed his eyes at me. I took a couple steps back. I’m starting to understand why people are terrified of him. “Are you and Jared together?”
I was confused. Who the hell is Jared? Then I realized he must have meant Jordan. “That’s not his name. It’s—”
“Whatever.” He said coldly. He turned around, pointedly ignoring me.
I frowned. “No, I’m not dating him. Why would you think that?”
“Because I saw you two holding hands last night. I just assumed. Either way I don’t care.”
So it had been Alex that I felt watching me last night. My heart started pounding loudly in my chest. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex could hear it from where he was sitting. My recurring frown appeared once more as I thought of something. Why would he ask me if Jordan and I were dating if he didn’t care in the first place?
“Well,” I said, a bit breathlessly. “I can assure you that nothing is going on between me and my N’Sync.”
Alex eyes flickered to my right wrist, where the branding mark of the half star that showed I was connected to another person. “I didn’t know that you and Jared—“
“Whatever. I didn’t know that you and Jordan were N’Sync together. I guess it makes sense, though.”
“What do you mean ‘It makes sense’?”
“It’s just the way you two act around each other, which brought on the question if you two were dating or not. But like I said, I could care less.”
“So what brought you up here to talk to me? Is it important or something?”
I blushed. I hope he couldn’t see well in the dark. “Not exactly.”
“Then what do you want?” he snapped.
I had to blink a couple times to keep from glaring. Fighting will get us nowhere. “I was just coming to ask if you were going to the Halloween banquet tomorrow.”
I couldn’t understand his reaction. He seemed almost…horrified. “And why on earth would I go to that? It’s a stupid holiday where people dress up and visit strangers for candy. It’s...lame.”
I stifled the smile that was trying to spread across my face. That’s kind of how I felt about Halloween as well. “I couldn’t agree more.”
“Then why are you asking me if I’m going if you think it’s stupid too?”
“Well, I was just wondering. My friends are kind of making me go. I don’t want too, but I figured if you were there we could, um, hang out or something.” Boy, can I ask a guy out, or what?
I waited for Alex to say something, but he just continued to stare at me wordlessly. Crap. I just made it awkward.
“But if you don’t want too that’s okay. I was just wondering because I didn’t want you to be alone tomorrow—“
“I’m always alone,” he interrupted me, while staring off into the distance, for once looking very forlorn. I felt my heart beat painfully in my chest. I was actually surprised that he was showing his vulnerable side. “I’m used to it. So don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. You just…have fun tomorrow for me, okay.”
God, he is so mercurial. I cannot keep up with him. He dislikes me one minute then he says stuff like that. It’s mind boggling.
“What are you going to do?” I whispered. “Hang out here all day?”
Alex smiled a tight smile. “Something like that.” His blue eyes seemed to shine brighter than the moon as he gazed at me. “Don’t worry about me, Spencer. I’ll be okay.”
I gasped at the sound of my name coming from his lips. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. No one has ever said my name with such meaning before.
I forced myself to smile. “Okay.” Of course it disappeared as I started heading for the door, ready to leave when I heard him say my name again.
I turned around. He was staring at me in a totally different way. His eyes seemed softer and his smile more genuine. “Thank you.”
I didn’t say anything. Hell, I couldn’t. Somehow I’d lost my voice and all I could do was smile back at him, feeling pleased that he was actually being nice to me. And as we continued to stare at one another in the huge space between us – I had all of these emotions and thoughts hitting me all at once. I didn’t know what the scariest part was. Part of me wanted to run to him and take Alex into my arms, while some other part wanted to get away from him as fast as possible. And I didn’t know if it was because of the sudden change that made him seem like a better person, or because I was scared of really falling for him. And if that was the case then I knew for sure I was going to get burned.
I spent most of the morning getting ready for the stupid Halloween banquet. Of course my head was up in the clouds as I kept repeating last night over and over again in my head. Had I finally gotten to Alex? Did last night mean that we were friends now? Does he feel the same way I do? These were questions I couldn’t stop asking myself.
I never considered myself one of those girls who hung out in the bathroom all day, while they did their hair and put makeup on, but that’s what I did. I shaved; blow dried my hair, put my hair up in pig tails, and then got dressed. I wasn’t too keen on makeup. Every time I wore it, my face would itch.
The costume that was sprawled across my bed looked more like a shirt then a dress. I picked it up and held it against my body as I looked in the mirror. Jeesh. I’m going to look more like sex on legs then Red Riding Hood. I sighed, and let the towel slip down my body and onto the floor as I put on the wretched costume. Why had I let Scarlett pick out my costume for me? I should have got Gabrielle to do it. I wanted to gouge my eyes out as I looked at myself in the mirror. Words like The Little Riding Ho kept repeating in my head. The little red and black dress came to about my thighs. If I happen to bend over tonight, I’m sure to make some lucky guy’s night. Then I remembered I had some black tights I could wear under the dress. It’s better than looking like a ho, my subconscious said. I sifted through my draws and found some tights. As I put them on, I decided that wearing my black boots would go really well with the costume. That way I could look like Red Riding Hood – The Demon Hunter. When I had my red hood and boots strapped on, and my Sais stashed away in my basket, I decided it was time to meet up with my friends. I looked at myself one more time. I couldn’t help but smile at the improvement. Feeling quite satisfied with myself, I left my room with uncontained excitement as I went to go search for my friends.
I found them easily enough. They were all downstairs, hanging around the fireplace, laughing and teasing one another as they always do. I walked down the stairs slowly, my hands gripping the banister in case I was to trip over my own feet and start tumbling down the stairs. I almost lost my balance when I saw Alex down there too. He was sitting in a red arm chair away from everyone, with his feet propped up on the coffee table. He looked quite oblivious to everything and everyone around him as he had his head bent over something. How odd. He’s never around people if he can help it. He’s usually in his room or up on the roof.
“Hey Spencer,” I jumped at the sound of my name being called and looked over near the fireplace where Jordan and the others still lingered, waving at me to come and join them. I smiled and waved back sheepishly. I wonder what they think of my costume. I hope it wasn’t to much.
As if by reading my mind, Morgan shouted, “Whoa. What an improvement. Mason – you look hot!”
I wanted to frown at Morgan’s words, but all I could do was feel myself blush. I saw all the people downstairs turn to look at me. They seemed to gawk at me as they scanned me from head to toe, making feel even more self-conscious. I noticed Cameron was eyeing me a little longer than was necessary. Ugh. Thanks a lot, Morgan. I thought sarcastically. Then, by some compulsion I couldn’t understand, I looked back over to where Alex sat. He was looking at me like everybody else, but his expression was a little different, unlike the other boys. His face seemed to soften as he looked at me, his blue eyes gazing at me with…sadness. I did a double take at that. Why was he sad? He smiled a tiny smile at me before going back to whatever he was doing. I don’t understand what that smile was about, but I didn’t like it. Not one bit. Some part of me wanted to march over there and demand what was wrong, but I knew he wouldn’t tell me, even if we were alone. Suddenly I felt exhausted and just wanted to go back to sleep.
I felt someone grab my wrist and saw that it was Jordan, looking all handsome in a black T-Shirt and blue jeans. His beautiful, long silver hair was pulled back into a ponytail. He looked really sexy.
I smiled. “Where’s your costume, handsome? Or did you forget it was Halloween.”
He rolled his eyes. “I don’t do the whole-costume-thing.”
“Right, because you’re a tough, badass demon hunter. How could I forget?”
He pulled one of my pig tails, which caused me to squeal like a little girl, before leading me back to where our group was seated. I noted that Alicia and Jennifer were with our group today.
It was great being surrounded by friends. And as the hours went by, I realized that I was really enjoying myself. Of course, when I would look in the corner where Alex sat, I couldn’t help but feel like I should be over there with him. When it came time for the Halloween banquet, everyone grabbed their Halloween buckets, and gathered into groups as we made our way out to the courtyard. When our group swung through the doors, we all stopped in our tracks, looking at the so-called-banquet in front of us. I had to admit that Gabrielle was right. It really looked like a pumpkin threw up all over the place. The black and orange canopy hanging above the dance floor was strung up with what looked like Christmas lights, making it look even tackier then before. The whole courtyard seemed to be filled with concession stands and game booths, all of them having some sort of Halloween theme to them. Everywhere you looked, there were hay stacks and pumpkins with different carvings. Some were the traditional, while others tried making cats, ghosts etc. The stage that was facing the dance floor had huge speakers, with a song I didn’t recognize blasting at top volume. The music was so loud I could feel the beat under my feet.
“So where too, guys?” Gabrielle asked, looking very beautiful in her red satin and lace Victorian dress. Her long, brown hair was pulled back in an elegant bun, making her look very much like a princess.
“I want to go dancing.” Scarlett said.
Mia’s blue eyes seemed to widen at Scarlett’s answer. “Ooh dancing. That sounds like fun!”
“Then go dancing,” Morgan said, piqued. “No one’s stopping you.”
Mia just frowned, while Scarlett stuck her tongue out at him. “Take that, Grey.”
“Ooh a tongue. I’m so scared.”
They both glared at him before scurrying towards the dance floor, arm-in-arm, looking like twins in their cat costumes.
“From the back it’s almost hard to tell them apart.” Jennifer said.
“You know,” Alicia said as she unconsciously twirled her brown hair. “They could almost pass as sisters.” Alicia and Jennifer had dressed up as Disney princesses. Alicia was dressed up as Belle from Beauty in the Beast, while Jennifer was dressed up as Tatianna, from The Princess and the Frog. At least I think that was the name of that last princess. I only watched it once.
“Those two don’t look anything a like,” Morgan argued. “Mia’s blonde, while Scarlett’s got black hair,” He narrowed his eyes in Scarlett’s direction. “Like her soul.”
Jordan just face palmed himself.
“Okay Captain Cranky,” Gabrielle said, while grabbing his eye patch and pulling it back roughly. “Stop being a jerk.” She released the eye patch, causing it to smack him right in the eye. I flinched at the sound as the eye patch snapped back into place. He yowled in pain as he clutched his eye.
“Holy crap,” He screamed in agony. “Why must you always torture me? You’ve been doing it since we were kids. I’m starting to think you’re a masochist.”
“If that’s the case,” I said, leaning towards Jordan, trying to speak softly so only he could hear. “Then it’s no wonder Morgan is such an ass.”
Jordan nodded in agreement. “It would explain a lot. Although he could have also inherited that unfortunate trait from our father.”
“Really?” I vaguely remember their dad. It was obvious where Jordan and Morgan got their good looks from. Jordan and Morgan’s father – Ashley Grey, when I met him at the orientation – mostly kept to himself. Whenever somebody tried to strike up a conversation with him, he would merely stare at them blankly for a few seconds before walking away.
“Oh, yeah. Dad’s always cranky.”
“I’ll show you masochist,” Gabrielle threatened. Morgan paled as he looked at Gabrielle and her terrifying scowl. I’m glad I’m not him. “Pull whatever is out of your butt and start being nice to people. Jeesh, Morgan. It’s no wonder I’m your only friend.”
Jordan and I just exchanged smiles.
Even though the banquet looked awful, I had to admit it was a lot of fun. We played games, ate greasy food from the concession stands and cotton candy, and did some trick-or-treating. And even though I was having a blast, some part of me wished to be up on the roof where I knew Alex was – who was probably watching and feeling more alone than ever.
When Jordan and the others decided to go dancing, I knew that was my cue to leave.
“C’mon Spence,” Jordan said. “It will be a lot of fun. Please.”
I had to look away because he was staring at me with puppy dog eyes. I refuse to dance. “You have fun with, Alicia. I’m tired anyways.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Now go and shake that sexy ass of yours.”
“Why Spencer,” he said, grinning widely and batting his long eyelashes at me playfully. “You think my ass is sexy?” I laughed as he turned around and rubbed his butt against my leg.
“What are you? A dog? Stop it before Alicia sees.”
“Sorry,” he said in between chuckles. “You’re just so fun to tease.”
“Uh-huh. You have fun. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” I said as I started heading for the doors.
“And you need to stay out of trouble.” I thought I heard a double meaning in his words, but I’m pretty sure I imagined it.
He smiled before rushing back towards the dance floor, probably eager to find Alicia and grind his butt against her leg too. I giggled to myself and went back inside. I should have headed towards the main building to see if Alex was up on the roof, but to be honest, I was too tired to even do that. When I made it back to our dorm house, I was grateful to find it completely vacant. I was just heading to my room when I heard a voice.
I turned around and spotted Alex still sitting where I last saw him. He had a pencil in his hand, poised over a sheet of paper. Was he drawing? I remember him saying on our first day in Communications class that he liked to draw.
“Alex.” I was completely surprised to see him here and embarrassed that I hadn’t seen him when I scanned the room. I figured he was up on the roof, looking down morosely at all the happy festivities that were going on. “I thought you were hanging out on the roof today.”
He shrugged, nonchalant. “I didn’t feel like it.” He continued to stare at me curiously. “Did you, um…did you have fun?”
“Yeah,” I said, a bit awkwardly. “We, uh, had a lot of fun.”
We continued to stare at each other, not really sure what to say. After all, we mostly bickered when we were together. The words “small talk” seemed like a complete understatement at this point. I noted that Alex had a trash can next to his chair, filled with overflowing, discarded paper balls. Maybe that’s all he’s been doing this whole time.
I bit my lip, unsure of what to say. As I stood there, thinking of something to talk about, I became curious of the picture that was still unfinished in his hands. “What are you drawing?”
Alex’s eyes seemed to widen as he remembered the drawing. “Nothing.” He said, quickly shoving the picture back into his notebook. “I was just doodling.”
I raised an eyebrow at that. “Really? Well, what we’re you doodling—”
“None of your business okay.”
I jumped at the harshness of his voice. It seemed rather loud in this infinite space, or maybe it was just me. It became quiet after that. The only sound at the moment was the constant tick, tick, tick that came from the grandfather clock somewhere in the room. Alex wouldn’t even meet my gaze as he stared straight ahead, his jaw clenched with anger.
“Okay,” I said, my voice cracking in places. I will not cry. “Sorry.” He still wouldn’t look at me. Instead he closed his eyes, putting his head in his hands, looking very vulnerable as he sat there. Was this his way of trying to cope with pain?
I could feel the tears as they came unbidden to my eyes. I shut them tightly, trying to keep them from escaping. I will not cry, I chanted over and over again. I will not cry. I opened them slowly, thankful that I had some control over my tear ducts. I was really proud of myself. Usually by now I’m bawling and running up to my room. I stared at Alex one more time, watching him as he fell apart in that red arm chair. He didn’t cry, but I could tell that he was having some major break down. Whatever he was drawing, he didn’t want me to know. Whatever he was drawing had meant something to him. Or maybe it was something he was having a hard time coming to terms with. Whatever the reason, the picture that he had been drawing, seemed important to him. And he didn’t want anyone to know about it – including me.
I walked up the stairs, taking one step at time. Why is that every time I try to get close to him, it all falls apart in the end? With that thought still heavily on my mind, and without farther warning, I started to cry. I was a bit annoyed at myself. I couldn’t wait until I got to my freaking room! Surely he can hear me because I wasn’t exactly being quiet. Huge, wrecking sobs filled the corridor as I made my way towards my room. I was just wiping my face when I smelled something. It smelled foul. I gagged as the smell seemed to intensify, and as I made it to my door, I started to understand why it smelled so bad. My eyes seemed to widen as l looked at the bloody message – and the dead body of a rabbit pinned to my door.