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Chapter 4 - The party

It was around that time when my special birthday dinner was supposed to start. I was debating whether or not to dress up for it. I held a fancy button up shirt in front of me in the mirror in one hand, while in the other, I had my favorite black batman t-shirt with the bat symbol on it. I know what you’re thinking. The choice was obvious, especially if I wanted to dress to impress.

However, I argue that the power of batman has much more influence than a stupid button up shirt. Plus my jacket that I wear pretty much twenty four seven, would look pretty off with a button up under it. Honestly I had already chosen in my heart which I was gonna wear. I never really cared about any dress to impress crap. Plus Elle didn’t seem like the type to care much either, about how a guy dresses. Besides Batman was supposed to investigate tonight, it would be a waste not to.

I quickly changed myself into the dark knight with a matching dark green jacket. Then the Star Wars theme began to fill the room as my phone went off ( It was Aden calling). I picked up the phone and headed to the door.

“You outside charming?” I asked

“Yeah come on.” He replied loudly over the hum of his motorcycle. I hung up and headed outside. This was exactly what I needed. A night out with my two best friends at my favorite food place. I could forget about the creep on the bus, and the soon to be headache of being the shortest player on my team of giants. I walked over and hopped into his side car, and he tossed me a helmet.

He had a 2018 Red Cruiser bike. The story goes that the owner of the repair shop he works part time gave it to him as a fixer upper. The old guy didn’t expect him to fix it. But not only did he fix it, he made it run better then it did when it was new! It’s one of his most prized possessions.

As soon as I was settled into the seat, he zoomed off. I loved when we rode in the motorcycle, it just made me feel so alive. The adrenaline rush, the wind in my face. It reminded me of a roller coaster. But sadly the ride didn’t take long. Ambrosia was just a few blocks away from where I lived.

I smiled with excitement as Aden slowly parked the bike. I practically jumped out of the sidecar as I took my helmet off. Ambrosia’s was a small, little restaurant. It was family owned and it was rather popular place to go here. The owner travels all around, adding new food to his menu from different places he visits. So his menu was pretty diverse, and the mixtures of smells inside there. This was the only place you could get that smell. The building was made like a brick castle on the outside, and all jungle themed on the inside. Aden took his helmet off and headed to the door. He was in his signature leather jacket, and ripped jeans. He was really selling the whole bad boy look. If only he wasn’t such a goody two shoes, people might buy it.

As we got to the door and opened it up, we were greeted not only by the signature aroma, but screaming people too. “SUPRISE!” I jumped hard as I heard it. The whole shop was standing up with Elle in the middle cheering for me. There were balloons, streamers, and confetti everywhere. I was at a loss for words.

“Happy birthday bro.” Aden said nudging me as he walked inside. I was still over taken with shock as I followed him in. I couldn’t believe they did all of this for me. Elle ran up to me with a huge grin on her face and punched my arm playfully.

“Happy birthday bean sprout!” She cheered.

“Yeah, somebody almost ruined it today!” Aden said loudly over to Elle, who just blushed and laughed nervously.

“Y-yeah, my bad.” She said softly as she looked away from me. Suddenly everything made sense. That’s what was going on at school today. I felt kinda bad now, thinking that they would keep a secret from me. These two were my closest friends, and they went through all this trouble for me. I relaxed myself more and smiled at Elle and Aden.

“Well if it makes you feel better, I am thoroughly surprised.” I said chuckling as Elle just smiled back. Aden guided us both to the floral patterned booth in the back of the place to sit. Aden sat next to me in the booth as Elle sat across from us. I was really happy, this was everything I could ever hope for on my birthday.

As the night was coming to a close, Aden suggested we go catch the new Godzilla movie. I agreed, and got up to go to the bathroom before we left. As I was walking back out to meet up with them, I stopped when I heard the waiters and waitresses whispering together about something.

“Aww their such cute couple.” The waitress said.

“I know, feel bad for the birthday kid. Totally a third wheel on his birthday.” I stopped. The fear I had forgotten had just crawled its way back into my mind. No, she just thinks they’re cute together because their alone. Yeah that’s gotta be it, they just don’t understand. Yet even so, watching them laugh and smile together like they were. I couldn’t help but think, maybe they were right. I bit my lip as I walked back over to the group. Aden smiled my way as I walked back over to them.

“Hey Eden we were talking about getting some desert! You down?” He asked cheerfully as I got closer. Suddenly those waiters words echoed in the back of my mind.

“You want to have your cake and eat it too don’t ya charming.” I said softly under my breath. I saw Aden’s eyes get wide.

“What’s that supposed to me-” Suddenly his phone went off. I looked away from him as he answered his phone. I didn’t mean to say that out loud.

“Oh Mom? What’s up?” Aden got up quick and hurried out the restaurant. I looked up for a moment at Elle. Who had this smirk on her face.

“What happened Eden? You clog the toilet or something?” She chuckled a bit looking at me, but I didn’t laugh. Her laugh turned to more of a nervous one now as she got quiet again.“ Eden are you all-” Suddenly she stopped as we both heard the revving of a motorcycle outside. I was a bit taken back by it at first, there was only one motorcycle outside and that was Aden’s. I headed to the door quickly as I heard the bike speeding off. When I opened the door, Aden and his bike were gone. I started to think, his mom was the one who called him. I wondered what was going on. Then as if on cue, I heard my phone ping. I took it out and looked at the message.

“Sorry bro, mom needs me to help get the house together.” I huffed reading the message. He left my birthday early to go clean? I was bit frustrated by that, but I wasn’t surprised by it. He would drop everything he was doing for his mom. I guess I could understand. I turned back to Elle who had gotten up now with a bewildered look on her face.

“His mom needed him bad. It was an emergency.” I said as her confused look turned to one of concern.

“Oh my gosh is she okay? Elle asked.

“Y-yeah, it was just a scare is all. You know Aden, he wanted to go home and make sure it was all good.” I said giving her a small smile. I knew she would be upset if she knew the real reason he left.

“It’s pretty late anyways, I can just walk you home.” I suggested. She seemed to think it over some before she nodded.

“Yeah sure, sounds good to me.” She said putting on a small smile. I put a smile on for her and nodded. We both went back to pay for our meals, and I ended up paying for Aden’s (which kinda agitated me.) Then we headed out into the night.

Most of our stroll down the street consisted of her sending text after text to Aden. Which never received a response. I could see her eyes narrowed at the screen, and her lips tighten in frustration. I’ve never once seen her so concerned before in my life. The thoughts just kept scratching in the back of mind. I just, I needed to know.

“Ya know it’s kinda funny.” I blurted out. She seemed to jump a little as I spoke.

“Oh, no what?” She asked, quickly putting her phone away.

“I remember a time when you and Aden couldn’t stand each other.” I forced myself to chuckle a bit.”He would get so mad when you got paint on him.” I could see the tension on her slowly fade away as she smiled again chuckling herself.

“Oh my gosh I remember, he screamed like a little girl.” She snorted.

“Yeah! Remember when you dropped that can of glitter on him? And you and him argued about it the entire class? That’s when you started calling him barbie!” I said chuckling a bit. We both shared a laugh as we walked.

“Oh my gosh, I hated him for so long. The dude was such a prude.” She laughed out.

“Right, and look at you two now?” I said. She jumped a little as I said that, which threw me off some.

“What do you mean? He’s still a barbie in my eyes.” She said with a snicker.

“Yeah, but you two don’t argue nearly as much as you used to. You’ve both changed a lot. Especially as of lately” I added.

“I guess.” She said sarcastically.

“I’m serious, you and him are like inseparable lately.” I said, still in a somewhat joking manner.

“What makes you say that?” She asked with a much more nervous tone. I knew I had something now.

“Don’t play coy with me Elle, I know all about you and Aden hanging out without me.” The truth was I had no idea if she was or wasn’t. Nor was it really my business to know. However, I knew from her reaction I’d have my answer. And I be one step closer to knowing the truth.

“O-oh you heard about that?” She replied softly as she looked away from me. Which made my stomach drop. Deep down I was hoping she look at me confused. Like she had no idea what I was talking about. Or laugh it off like it wasn’t a big deal. At least then I could believe it was just two amigos having fun. But she looked nervous, guilty even. Not a face for someone who was just hanging out with our neutral friend.

“Elle be honest with me, are-” Suddenly I stopped in my tracks. There he was, standing down the road, staring at us from under the street light. It was the creep from the bus.

“Eden, you alright?” Elle asked, which broke me out of my shock. What the hell was he doing here? Did he follow me all day? Was he waiting for just the right moment? My mind was spiraling with thoughts. Maybe he wasn’t even a threat, maybe I was just over reacting.

“I-Its nothing.” I replied softly.

“Yeah right.” She snapped back as she squinted her eyes looking down the road.“ Is it that halloween reject whose got you spooked” She asked as I nodded slowly. I could feel myself trembling a bit now, as I stared at him. Every fiber of my body was telling me to run.” Such a creep.” Elle said under her breath. She tugged at my shirt and gestured for us to walk away. As we did however, I could see him start to walk down toward us.

“He’s following us.” I whispered to her. I took out my phone and looked into the reflection,keeping an eye on him. And I’ll tell you what, I nearly pissed myself! That hooded psychopath was darting at us!

“I’m tired of waiting!” He roared our way. His voice, It sent shivers down my spine. I’ve never heard anything like it before. That overwhelming feeling to run rushed over me again, and I panicked. I grabbed Elle and ran. She was yelling at me, probably asking me why the hell I was running from a reject Micheal Myers. But the adrenaline in me was pumping, the only thing I could recognize was the rush of wind in my ear. I had a objective in mind, I needed to get to the woods.

The tree line was upon me now and I felt a sense of victory in me. I knew these woods like the back of hand. After a few turns and leaps, i turned back to see if we lost him yet. I should of had an advantage knowing my way around the woods like this. But clearly someone forgot to tell him that. He was still gunning for me and gaining, I couldn’t shake him. This was bad, this was very, very bad. I didn’t know what to do. I needed to think, but this guy wasn’t giving me any time.

“Ah!” Elle screamed broke my train of thought. I looked over to her and saw she had tripped over a log I unconsciously hurdled over. I skidded to a stop and went to help her up. That’s when it hit me, he was only after me. I’m the one that saw him. I’m the one he stalked when I got off the bus. I stared at the dirt and scratches on Elles face for a moment, it’s all because of me, I literally dragged her into this with me.

“Come on Eden what are you doing! Now’s not the time to think!” She yelled as she tugged at me. But I just pushed her away.

“Run! He’s after me!” I yelled back to her as I ran in the opposite direction. I looked back and I could see the guy skid to a stop as he changed his course following me. He wasn’t just running anymore. This guy was straight on all fours cat leaping towards me! However, I couldn’t help but smile some, at least his attention is on me. Now what do I do? He was fast so stopping and thinking wasn’t a option. I didn’t have any indication if he did or didn’t have a weapon either. If he had a gun I’m sure he would’ve fired it by now or at least threatened us with it. Maybe if I could get a sneak attack in I could pin him down. I didn’t really have time to think of another plan. Plus out running or loosing him in the woods seemed out of the question.

I dived to the side as I turned the corner around a tree, and crawled behind a bush. I grabbed a rock to attack with and waited. I could hear his footsteps getting closer and closer. I was ready, my adrenaline was pumping. Then my heart sank as I heard a loud thud, then nothing. What the hell was that! Did he trip maybe? After all of that perfect panter style of chasing it was hard to believe. I stayed still for a bit. Maybe I actually lost him? Wait! What if Elle went after him! I racked my brain for what felt like hours, which were in reality just seconds. I was worried. Elle, what if he got her. What if she tried fighting him and lost... And I’m just sitting here if he did! What if he’s not though, what if he’s baiting me. My mind raced, until I heard footsteps running toward me again. I couldn’t take the chance of him attacking Elle, I needed to act now! I sprang out as the footsteps stepped past my bush. I went in to smash the living hell out of that hungry, hungry hippo. As I charged in for my earth shattering blow, I skidded to a stop. It was Elle! She screamed and home run batted my face with a stick. I stumbled back and dropped my rock. I could of sworn I lost a tooth from that! I grabbed my face in pain and wailed.

“Ah what the hell Elle!” I groaned as I fell back against a tree.

“E-Eden? Where’s the creep at!?” She cried as I kept holding onto my face.

“I don’t know! But i can tell you one thing! He’s definitely not me!” I yelled back.

“Well maybe you shouldn’t pop out of bushes like a creep then!” She fired back. I scoffed.

“What are you doing back here anyways? I told you to run.” I said as the pain had finally gone away and I relaxed.

“Pfft- keep that crap in those romance novels. I’m not some weak delicate flower ya know?” She said putting her hands on her hip.

“Yeah I think my face can attest to that. Did you see where he went?” I asked.

“Well thanks to someone pushing me away I have no idea, I just heard you shuffling in the bushes like a creep.” I groaned at her comment.

“Well in any case we should get out of here.” I replied looking around.

“Man I really wanted to beat that guy…” She huffed. ”Oh and another thing! You don’t make decisions for me!” She yelled.

“Hey I was just trying to protect you.” I fired back as I started walking.

“I don’t care Eden. Your one of my best friends! Like hell I’m gonna let some hooded freak attack you!” I blushed some hearing that.

“I-I see.” I said softly.

“Besides, dying on your birthday would kinda suck.” She chuckled. ”Anyways guide me home bulbasaur!” She cheered.

“I prefer to be called something more dignified, like sceptile for example.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah now mush!” She cheered happily. I hadn’t even noticed yet. But all that tension, It faded away so fast. I was genuinely smiling. The rest of the way back we kept a lookout as I guided us through the woods. We were lucky enough to not see a sign of that creep. He vanished again. Which scared me even more to be honest. I demanded I take her home first and she begrudgingly agreed.

I called Aden again who reluctantly answered and was willing to pick me up from Elles place. Once I explained to him what was going on he jetted out to get me. Elle’s mom was pretty concerned about her daughter coming home looking like a wilderness survivor. But Elle refused to let me tell her anything. She said she would never be able to leave the house again if she knew what happened. We lied and said we went to the park to play around by the lake, and Elle tripped on the way down. This was something that had actually happened before so it didn’t take much to convince her mom. So Elle and I just sat on her porch talking.

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