Part One: Horror Nights
The remainder of the moon hangs faint and low and stars still glimmer in what is left of the purple night sky. Even as the morning birds begin to sing their songs, the tune is dreary and melancholic. There is a shroud of darkness that seems to be blanketing the city, but then again, the nonstop hangovers could be contributing to this subtle feeling of doom that has of late been crawling beneath his skin every morning he awakes.
Nicolas Viers peers two beady brown eyes out into the fleeting night sky, pulling back a tattered wall hanging that serves as a make-shift window blind so that he can watch night transform into day as the sun rises over the landfill of a town he calls home.
Servvy has always been an oddly uneventful town. Monotony being the people’s greatest adversary, and because of this, the environment has never been fully absent of the gloomy haze that secretes from tedium. However… this is quite different than the usual depression in the atmosphere. As if something is…
A soft knock at the door that is already hanging open, and slightly off its hinges. “Rough night?” comes the raspy voice of Nick’s cousin.
He jumps, yanking the wall hanging a bit too hard as he is startled and causing it to tear ever so slightly. “Jesus, Nadia. What are you still doing here?”
She holds a steaming mug in one hand, fuchsia painted fingernails wrapped around the cup, gripping it with the intensity of one who holds the antidote to a poison they have just ingested. And, in a way, that is exactly what she is doing. There is an Afghan draped over her shoulders that she wears like a serape. “I decided I would be better off not driving home completely trashed and took it upon myself to crash on your couch. Figured we were family, you wouldn’t mind.”
She pauses and attempts to give a small smile but fails horribly and ends up doing a sort of grimace into a wince expression, as her head hurts much too badly to make any sudden facial movements. “Plus, I made coffee. Fresh pot just finished out in the kitchen.”
Nick rolls his eyes, likely the only man in the universe to be annoyed by the sight of the woman who stands before him. Even in her disheveled, hungover state, her stunning beauty is undeniable. “Yeah, whatever, thanks,” he says as he makes his way to the freshly brewed pot and pours himself a cup. Black.
He sits on the opposite end of the couch as his cousin, picking up the remote and flipping on the TV. He clicks, once… twice… three times… before Nadia says, “Ooo, stop, go back to Michael Myers! Black Hole is barely more than 24 hours away, we need to prepare for it as thoroughly as possible.” The tone in her voice is tired, but with a hint of deep intensity only present in the voice of one who genuinely loves horror.
He does as she says, laying the remote down and leaning back on the couch. “Are you all packed? I know how you can be…” he pauses, “…throwing all your shit together at the last minute. I hate trying to catch a plane with you.”
She grins. “All the times we have flown together, and we are yet to miss a flight. Until we actually miss one, I don’t want to hear it.”
He shrugs and takes another sip of his coffee. “Guess you’re right.”
Nadia leans back, an excited smile drizzled across her pale face. “What has Karmen been doing? I rarely talk to her these days, but she’s always a good time, I look forward to spending Black Hole weekend with her.”
His face is expressionless. Karmen. His older sister, living in Atlanta with their mother. The very same Atlanta that is holding Black Hole, the biggest Horror-thon of the year. They would all be together soon, and Karmen was just so… “Karmen has been doing… Karmen,” he says with a shrug. Unable to ever put words to his sister’s oddness.
“Mom is looking forward to seeing you, though. I always suspected she wanted to swap me out for you as a daughter.”
Nadia laughs. “I don’t suspect that. I know it.” She shoves him. “Who cares about your mom. You. Me. Karmen. We always have a good time when we’re together.”
“I’m just excited for Black Hole Mansion. They say it’s the scariest haunted house ever made.”
Nadia sits up on the couch, setting her coffee on the table. “They say no matter how hard you beg to leave, they force you to stay, and live out your worst fears.”
“I’m not sure if anything could be worse than Existential Heights.”
She looks at him questioningly and he rolls his eyes, throwing his hands in the air incredulously. “Four years back? Existential Heights? The asylum haunted house in Denver? When I got shoved out the 8th story window by the crazy patient guy? That was traumatizing for me and you don’t even remember.”
She makes a silent motion for him to calm down. “I remember, I remember. Just a little slow this morning is all.”
She gets up from the couch, methodically steadying herself and throwing the Afghan sloppily onto the cushions. She stretches, the grimace on her face proving it a painful tune up. “Can I shower up? I’m heading to the Wing Shaq to meet Rox. You want to join?”
“Ehh, I don’t think so. I’ve got a lot to get ready before we leave tomorrow morning. I’m not in the mood to be last minute packing like you will be.” He swallows uncomfortably, averting his eyes from Nadia’s. “Plus… I don’t like Roxy. She’s very weird.”
Nadia raises her eyebrow. Amused. “Yeah. She’s always been, so what?”
He runs a nervous hand through his hair, the difficulty of explaining to his beloved cousin how he thinks her best friend is the creepiest person alive is causing a mild panic. “It’s… it’s not just that she’s weird. It’s like… sometimes I think she’s weird to me specifically.”
Nadia’s bemused interest erupts into a condescending guffaw. The laugh of someone who is making fun of you. “Like what do you mean ‘weird to you specifically?’ You think Roxy wants to fuck you or something?” She ponders for a quick moment. “Well she’s never mentioned it to me at least, but who knows. She is a weird one, possibly weird enough to be interested in you. But I don’t think so.”
Nick is annoyed with the conversation. “I don’t even mean it like that. It feels different than that. I don’t know, just forget I said anything. I don’t want to go. Your friend gives me the creeps. Goodbye.”
“Suit yourself.” She throws back the remaining bit of her coffee from the mug on the table and swings the bathroom door shut behind her, leaving Nick alone on sofa, wondering about Roxy and what it is about her that makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up like a dog that senses death.
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