“Gina? You okay?”
It was almost eight o’clock and Ria had come to pick me up to go to the pizza bar for karaoke night. I knew I must not have looked very good. The night before had not been kind.
“I’m okay,” I said, with a bright attempt at a smile.
“Really? You were kinda zonked out today at school.”
“No, no, really,” I insisted. “I kinda…well, I had kind of a bad dream or something last night and…well…it wasn’t easy to fall asleep after that.”
Ria shook her head. “I know you don’t think it, sweetheart, but I’m sure you’ve got some kinda ESP going on. I’ve you’re having prophetic dreams on top of your creepy chills…”
“There was nothing prophetic about it!” I said, exasperated. “Come on, are we going to Venn’s or not?”
“Alright, alright,” said Ria, unlocking her car door to let me in.
What she was saying wasn’t untrue. What with that face in the window and then the voice in my room, my evening last night wasn’t exactly pleasant. I didn’t hear the voice again except for that one time, but I’d had an uneasy feeling ever since, causing my day at school to be more difficult than normal. Still, I wasn’t going to bail on Ria. Singing at Venn’s was often the highlight of her week, the normal act of rebellion against her parents. I was going to sing whether I felt like it or not, for her sake.
I hopped into her car and we headed out right away. As we pulled out of my driveway, I took out my make-up bag out of my purse and started applying black lipstick and copious amounts of eyeliner. I would have to change clothes once we got there.
Ria reached over and turned on the radio. “Aquadeus! Oh, I love this song!” she cried, turning the volume up.
“In a world where all things perish and die
Where everything ends in the blink of an eye
There’s only one thing that’ll never pass by
It’s music alone that lives, never to die!”
We both started singing along. This was the newest song from a rock singer that was super popular right now. “Oh, I just love Aquadeus,” sighed Ria. “He is so hot!”
“And he’s not one of those pop star kinda guys either,” I commented. “He’s got a really unique style. His music is awesome.”
“And he’s hot,” Ria said again, winking. “Hey, maybe this could be one of the songs that we sing tonight. I’ve always wanted to try singing one of his songs.”
“That’s a good idea,” I said, happily. “We’ll start with something easy first, though, to warm up. Singing a guy’s song isn’t going to be easy.”
“Tonight is going to be awesome, Gina,” said Ria. “Totally awesome. I can just feeling it somehow!”
I nodded and smiled. “Yeah, this will be a night to remember.”
Not far outside of town, a large tour bus was zipping along the freeway. From the outside, it was enormous but you could only really get an idea of how extravagant and ridiculously expensive it was on the inside. Just behind the driver’s seat was a miniature living room/kitchen with two couches, a table with two chairs, a refrigerator, a counter and several cabinets. Behind the kitchen area was a tiny bathroom and a bedroom, complete with queen-size bed, dresser, and a floor-length mirror. There were only three passengers in the bus, the driver, the man on the cell phone, and the kid staring out the window.
“Are we there yet?” the kid asked.
The man on the cell phone glowered. “No! Now, shut up, I need to take this call.”
“But I’m bored,” the kid said. “I’ve riding around the country all day and I want to walk, and I’m hungry.”
“Walk around the bus!” the man replied. “There’s plenty of room.”
“It’s not the same, though.”
“Well…!” the man said, torn between the kid and his cell phone. “You’ll just have to wait, ok?” He then returned to his phone conversation.
They cruised along the highway passing green signs indicating certain exists and upcoming towns. Just as they passed a sign announcing that Ammonville was up ahead, the driver suddenly called behind him to his two passangers.
“We’re running out of gas, sir,” the driver called back. “We’re almost on empty. We’ll have to get fuel as soon as possible.”
“What!?” the man on the cell phone cried. “But we got gas only a couple of hours ago! We should have been set until we reached the next city!”
The kid looked out the window again, hiding a slight grin from the other two passangers.
The man on the cell phone looked out the window as well, in time to see a second sign announcing Ammonville. “There’s a small town up ahead,” said he, turning around in his chair to face the driver. “We can stop there really quickly and get some.”
“You want to bring something like this into a small town?” the driver asked, confused. “Tim, if they see him, we’ll have to deal with a mob.”
“He’s not getting out,” said the man named Tim with the cell phone, turning around to look at the young man sitting by the window of the charter bus. “Aren’t you, Cameron?”
The kid, apparently named Cameron, did not reply. He had his back turned to Tim and was staring out the dark window at the lights of the town up ahead. Tim groaned.
“I’m going to call the agency and tell them we’re running late,” said Tim. “Stop into town and get gas and…” he got out of his chair and moved over to the driver. “Watch…him…like…a…hawk! I’ve got too much money on this kid to have him pulling anymore crazy stunts.”
“No problem, boss,” said the driver.
Tim sniffed and hurried into the back of the bus, pulling out his cell phone and dialing numbers. When his voice could be heard talking in the back, Cameron spoke.
“Hey, pops, why did we run out of gas so quickly?”
“Ah, um, I…don’t know,” said the driver. He felt nervous. He normally didn’t speak too much with Cameron when Tim wasn’t around. Frankly, he seemed like an okay kid, certainly one of the better ones he’d had to drive in his time, but there was definitely something creepy about him…
“Don’t think it might have been siphoned, do you?” Cameron asked, conversationally.
“I don’t see how anyone could have done that, we haven’t stopped,” the driver replied, keeping his eyes on the road, determined not to look to closely at Cameron.
Cameron smiled. “Well, at least we get to stop. What’s this town supposed to be called, anyway? I didn’t know anything was out here.”
“Um, the GPS says Ammonville,” said the driver, checking.
“Ammonville,” said Cameron, slowly. “Hmm.”
The bus rolled into Ammonville and quickly found a gas station. The driver got out and started to fill up the tank, when the bus door opened again.
“Ah! Um, Tim said you weren’t supposed to get out,” said the driver, sounding worried.
“Don’t mind him,” said Cameron, throwing a coat casually over his shoulders. “Tell him I hit you if you want. We’ve been on the road since Santa Monica, I have to get up and stretch my legs, don’t you agree? Besides, I’m hungry.”
“I saw a sign for a pizza place down the road,” said Cameron, lightly. “That’s where I’m going. Don’t worry…I’ll be good.”
Before the driver could do anything to object further, Cameron hurried away down the road toward the large, neon sign that read “Venn’s Pizza and Grill.”“Now,” Cameron said, his violet eyes shining. “Let’s see what this place has to offer.”