An Elixir Of Zemblanity

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.0|TWO|I.

.NORMAL.

.Finding a way through life.

__________________________________

"Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly."

-Charles Addams

__________________________________

"What have I done? Why aren't you talking to me?" Clove whispered into Veronica's ear, who didn't seem a bit fringed by his accusation.

"Hey, Maya, what is that you're baking? It smells SO good!" Veronica exclaimed happily, completely ignoring Clove.

"Oh, about that- I am baking cupcakes. And since you can already smell them, I guess they're turning out good!" said Maya as she sketched away on a notepad.

"GOOD!? Whatever you make always turns out awesome!" Dolorion chimed in.

"Veronica-"

"WHAT?" she snapped heatedly at Clove.

Clove slouched back into his seat, with a frown plastered over his face. Great, now his best friend was ignoring him. He looked across the table they were sitting around- towards the blond sitting crossways with a questioning look, which was returned with a guilty glance. Dolorion shrugged his shoulders lightly and smiled at Clove, his brown eyes boring into him intently. Clove sighed. He had absolutely no idea about what Veronica was mad about, and he didn't know how to get it out of her. So this was what Dolorion was talking about when he advised him to be ready for drama. Reluctantly, he shifted his gaze back to Veronica- this time with a more regretful expression but was startled when he found her staring at him instead. Veronica quickly turned away, but Clove didn't miss the redness of her cheeks' on being caught. From what he had he had learned, she was staring at him when he was doing the same at Dolorion. A smirk spread across Clove's face.

"If you don't want to talk to me so badly, then why are you staring at me so longingly?" Clove whispered carefully into her ear to avoid Maya and Dolorion (who were busy conversing about cookies) from hearing their conversation.

Veronica, however, continued scribbling across her notebook, ignoring the auburn head. Clove peered down at her notebook where she was calculating a bunch of numbers. He read through every line one by one and finally came across a row where something seemed off. After doing a quick mental calculation, Clove replied,"162,054. 258 multiplied by 63 equals to 162,054, not 162,540. Which means, the answer won't be 74, it will be 74.5."

Veronica peered over at Clove for a split second, and then looked back at her sums. She quickly fixed her mistake, and continued her writing, without bothering to look back at her helper- which was odd since she never missed the chance to say THANK YOU to anyone. She would even say that to animals if needed. Clove sighed again, subsequently looking down at the floor of his living room, where it had become a custom for both his best friends- Veronica and Dolorion to come by and do stuff. Dolorion mainly came to talk and have fun since he had graduated from school and was about to start college in the coming month. Veronica, however, was in the same grade as him and came by, mainly to study (mostly maths since she was bad at it).

Clove sighed for the thousandth time that day. He could hear Veronica's aggressive scribbles on her notebook, Dolorion and Maya's talk about macaroons and the sound of a beeping oven, which startled Maya. She gave a nippy apology to Dolorion and dashed across the room towards the kitchen accompanied by small slips and bumps along her way (Hell, she is clumsy).

Not wanting to miss the chance, Clove began his conversation.

"Hey, Veronica, are you mad because I skipped school?" Clove asked lightly making her turn towards him. Veronica's blue eyes met Clove's green ones. Though the colours of her irises' had a pretty cold hue, her personality seemed the exact opposite of cool- hot-headed, rash and hasty. Clove smiled meekly while Veronica's frown darkened.

"Of course not! Well....yes, kind of because I had to go through three classes with Mr Bronte without acquaintances, but that's not the reason why I'm this mad at you!" she cried animatedly.

"Then what is the reason? I deserve to know the answer, you know! As a friend, you should tell me-"

That was a terrible mistake. Instead of cooling her down, it caused a spitfire to suddenly burst inside her mind and heart which erupted through her mouth just the same way:

"To hell goes FRIEND! You never listen to me! Never! And you call this-this right here- camaraderie!?-"

"JESUS CHRIST- WOAH! Calm down, dammit-"

"This doesn't concern you!" both Veronica and Clove shut poor Dolorion up- Veronica with her mad attitude and Clove in a more tranquil tone.

"I don't get it! When did I not listen to you?" Clove answered, reasonably more calmly than Veronica.

"Every day! You're even doing it, at the moment too!"

"You're being impossible, Veronica. I don't get it-"

"Impossible!? Look who's saying it."

"Huh? Is this a personal attack or something? Explain, will you?"

"Why do you still have that employment?"

"What?"

"The post at the subway station as a station sentry. Don't you get how perilous it is? What if someone tries to murder you, or maybe abduct you? On top of that, almost no one lives nearby, so if someone does you'll fall into an atrocious crisis! Or, in simple words, you're screwed up! You even came back home at five this Moring! Missing school is different, but that job is absolutely hazardous!"

Clove looked sharply at Dolorion which was returned with an awkward smile. So, he was the one who set the entire drama up. That bloody git-

"No matter what you say, I agree with Sanders here. Having a late-night job is definitely not right for someone who measures in centimetres-"

"Hey, I'm not even that short."

"That's not the theme here, Clove. We both know what is erroneous."

Clove sighed. He didn't feel like explaining this again, considering it was only yesterday that he explained it properly to them. But eventually, despite all the laziness he felt on the situation, he continued with the same response he gave them a day ago; which almost sounded as if it was rehearsed. "Veronica, Dolorion, you know why I'm doing it. I don't want to stay with Maya anymore; I feel like a burden on her. She's a twenty-four-year-old woman. She's an adult. Do you see the problem? I'm still legally a minor or a kid if you want to put it down easily. She needs her space. She needs to live her life a little more. But she's throwing her urges into the trashcan for my sake. I don't want her to stay like this!"

There followed a silence after his words. Finally, after a very pregnant silence, Veronica sighed while Dolorion took a sip from a glass of water standing on the tablecloth. "So that's it then?" Dolorion continued, "You'll not going to listen to us?"

When Clove didn't reply, Dolorion went on, "How do you know she excuses her urges?"

"Have you seen her date a single person yet? It's not as if she doesn't want to, I'd understand if she didn't want dating and stuff. The thing is, he wants a suitor, but she doesn't want to get someone else involved since I am living with her."

"But there are other options, right- like a part-time in the bakery?"Veronica asked hopefully.

"Oh please, their pay is chicken feed." Said Dolorion, but regretted it eventually because Veronica technically sent daggers towards him with her eyes.

"I need money to rent a room in a hostel. I can't live under her expenses forever now, can I?" Clove finally answered after an extensive silence.

Veronica didn't say anything more, while Dolorion went ahead and grabbed a book from a bookshelf standing nearby which made Veronica raise her eyebrows. Her face no longer looked maniacal though, and she was back to normal Veronica, which Clove loved so much. Sighing to himself, Clove started humming to himself.

"Guys! What flavour do you prefer for the frosting? If I'm right, Veronica likes Chocolate, Dolorion goes for orange and Clove- raspberry." Maya's voice rang from over the kitchen.

All of them replied in agreement.

If Clove wasn't so lost in his humming, he probably wouldn't have been startled the next minute when he heard a loud wind smash against the window. Looking over his large glass casement, he saw a bunch of trees nearby swinging in the direction of an abrupt wind, which had randomly sprung up out of nowhere. Suddenly, something came to his mind.

"Don't you think the weathers too cold nowadays?" he inquired.

"I don't know. It always seemed like that to me." Came Dolorion's almost instant reply, whose face was buried between a thick book which Clove noted as very unusual.

"I do think so too." Veronica chimed in as she pulled out a large book from inside her back and placed it on her table.

Suddenly, everyone was interrupted by a loud thud on the table. A sigh truly beautiful stood in front of them: something that no one could resist- a tray of cupcakes with the most stunning swirls adorning their heads as if they were crowns.

"They are done!" Maya looked meekly at them all.

"Well, that's nice," Dolorion said before grabbing a cupcake with orange swirls above it, and pushed it straight into his mouth: which lead to the frosting to be smeared over his features; followed by a disgusted look to be plastered across Veronica's face as a reaction.

Clove slowly picked up a raspberry cupcake which was specifically made for him. It had a large blob of raspberry jam coating it- just the way he liked it. This reminded him of something from his childhood-

"Mommy! The jam is finished!" a little boy around the age of seven cried in front of another woman who was busy scrubbing a plate over the basin.

The woman then turned towards the boy- her face was kind with the brightest of green eyes one could imagine. She smiled at her little son before tucking a strand of black hair before her hair. She quickly washed her hands, and then crouched down for her son to be able to see her face more clearly.

"Why don't you go shopping with Maya then?" she suggested sweetly.

"No. Maya is busy with fashion dosing." The little boy started to pout in front of his mother, who started to laugh as loudly as possible.

"Oh my gosh Clove, it's designing, not dosing."

"I don't care. She always draws these pretty girls and she gets mad if I interrupt her."

His mother sighed silently, as she said, "She's just been through a lot. But I'm sure that if you ask her kindly, she'll agree. You see, I have to go for party promotions fifteen minutes later."

The little boy nodded in agreement, before trotting up to a table in the next room. There, on a chair sat a pretty yet skinny girl with long black hair and green eyes scribbling on a sheet of paper.

"Maya, can we please get a bottle of raspberry jam?" he continued, "Wait, did you draw that!? Wowie! It's so pretty!"

Maya's pale cheeks immediately reddened up. "You think so?"

"I think so? I know so! She also kind of looks like you, just that you look better." He smiled the most genuine smile he could give.

Maya chuckled lightly, revealing all her teeth before replying," My, my, won't you be a flirt when you grown-up? Anyways, let's get you some jam then."

The chubby little boy's eyebrows furrowed at Maya while he stared at her, before asking, once again, "How did you lose your tooth, Maya?"

If Clove didn't have a keen eye, he might just have missed the subtle hardening of Maya under her breath. "Oh, this? I- I fell down the stairs. That's how I lost it."

"You're so clumsy, Maya!"

Clove couldn't stop himself from staring at his sister who sat opposite him, munching at her cupcake, smiling each second when she received a compliment. She looked so much healthier now compared to back then. He could still remember the way she cried, screamed when he was being sentenced to juvenile. The memory would haunt him till his death day-

"Mr Clove Martins, son of late Mabel Martins, has been found guilty in the act of-"

"NO! He has not done anything! Stop it, please!" a greatly distressed Maya screamed bravely, however loudly, standing up in the middle of the court; her green eyeballs seemed as if they could pop out of her skin, her body was so thin that her bones popped out- making her look as if anyone could break her with one squeeze.

"Miss Martins, please sit down. This is not your home, it's the court." The judge ordered. On the other side was a twelve-year-old Clove gawking at her, completely startled.

"NO! YOU CAN'T, HE DIDN'T DO IT ON PURPOSE, AND SO IT WAS A MISTAKE! PLEASE, YOU MUST NOT DO THIS!!"

"Guards! Call security!"

A bunch of men came by and grabbed her as tightly as they could. Maya yelled only louder, but no one tried to help her. She cried and cried but those men didn't stop; they only rest after they had dragged her out of the room: despite her yells.

Clove had a sudden urge to smack those people, and under normal circumstances, he would have had done it; only if the guard on his side didn't grab to stop him from moving.

"Clove?" Veronica's words broke Clove's attention.

"Huh? Is there something wrong?" He enquired.

"Man, how can you forget to show her your result sheet?" Dolorion remarked, smirking slightly to himself.

Clove felt a sudden urge to smack the blond boy sitting across him.

"Show it to me. Now." Maya ordered.

Gulping, Clove walked up the stairs to his room. After retrieving what he was looking for, he bought it down and silently pushed into Maya's palm.

Maya eyed him threateningly, before taking a look at the piece of paper in her hands. "A in mathematics. B in history. B in Geography. A in Physics. A in chemistry. C in biology?" Maya looked shocked.

Clove gulped again- did she really have to read that stuff out loud?

"Look at the last subject, Maya." Dolorion pressed on. That bloody git-

Curious, Maya looked down at the sheet of paper again. If he thought her reaction was scary last time, then it was nothing compared to what was going on right now.

"An E in English?"

Oh shit. Here we go again.

"The actual hell, Clove!?" Maya thundered. "Are you kidding me- Aaagh!" A piercing shrill ran down Maya's tongue, as she grabbed her stomach in ache.

Clove galloped across the room towards his sister, avoiding every article that came his way. On reaching the smarting lady, He leaned down carefully next to her- his face etched with worry.

"Are you alright?!" He asked her, calmly.

Veronica and Dolorion stood opposite to him, their expressions too similar to those with uncertainties.

"Yeah," Maya said, as she sat up straight. "Just bumped too hard into the table edge."

Dolorion burst into a deluge of Hilarity, while Veronica smiled gently. Clove, however, didn't know whether to laugh or be mad.

Sighing, Clove went back to his seat and sat down. "You're so clumsy, Maya! You should be more careful you know. You might hurt yourself in the future."

"Hey guys, remember the book I was reading a moment back?" asked Dolorion, almost out of nowhere.

"Yeah, which was unusual", said Veronica, looking up from her book in which her face was concealed in.

"That book taught me something about Clove." Dolorion stated, in a desperate attempt to lighten the mood.

"What might that be?" Maya asked, curiously.

"That Clove is really down to the earth." Dolorion started to snort as loudly as he could, while Maya burst into a fit of amusement. Veronica was snorting as quietly as she could on her seat while Clove sat there in his trying his best to look unamused.

"Stop bullying me for god's sake! And why the hell were you reading a joke book?" Clove couldn't control his laugh any longer.

"That was so random- I can't-"Maya said between her chuckles.

"OK, OK. I'm going to say something in justification of Clove. Dolorion, you know the only reason Clove even looks up to you is that you're tall." Said Veronica, with pride.

This time, it was Dolorion's turn to sulk.

"Yess! Veronica, instead of becoming an English Professor, please become a lawyer!" Clove continued, "My dear Veronica Jaime Sanders knows BEST! Us short people can rule too!" said Clove before planting a small kiss on her cheeks which turned her face approximately redder than a tomato.

Dolorion sulked back to his seat, thinking of something. A smug look spread over his face after he found what he needed.

"Ok, but can I please ask you something, Sanders?" Dolorion snarled.

"Sure, Stephens." Veronica declared while shrugging her shoulders.

"Clove revealed all his grades. Then, I hope you don't you mind revealing how much you got in Maths?"

Veronica's face hardened. She didn't seem so comfortable anymore: her face was reflected nothing, but shame.

"What? Scared?" Dolorion asked bitterly.

"Drop it Dolorion-"

"No. I got an F." Veronica confirmed.

Maya's face knotted itself into a more motherly appear, as she said, "Oh, don't worry, honey, it's alright."

"Yeah, not everyone is great at every subject. Look at me, for example. I suck at English. Don't listen to that pig."

"Eat my shorts."

Said Dolorion.

"Well, umm...Hey! Can you tell me more about that book you're reading?" Clove suggested suddenly, trying to change the grim mood of the current situation. Veronica turned towards him, her eyebrows raised.

"What caused this sudden rarity in books, may I know?"

"Umm....maybe because I want to know more about it?"

"Yeah. Sure." Veronica looked sceptically at him.

"No, really!" Clove persisted. He knew Veronica was passionate about her books, so she'd most probably give in.'

"Fine. So this is not a storybook. I'm doing some research on mythical beasts for a story I'm writing." She finally confessed.

"Ooo, sounds like something Clove would genuinely interested in," Maya replied, in a very iconic sassy tone.

"Yeah. Please go on."

"Well, I'm at present studying about chupacabra- it is stated here that they are mythical beasts who are genuinely allied with dogs: just with more grotesque features. They feed on cattle and are often found stealing chickens from farms. Depending on the area, book or whatever you are studying, their appearance changes according to that. So, what do you think?"

"Hmm....interesting," Maya replied from her chair.

"Wow, so creepy. I just pissed my pants." Dolorion mocked Veronica as usual.

"And, Clove?" Veronica asked the auburn head, who was once again lost in his thoughts. His bright green eyes were reflecting a seem of reminiscent- as if he was trying to find something lost deep in his head.

"Clove?" Veronica asked again, this time touching him slightly.

"Since you're writing horror, I think I should tell you about this weird thing that happened recently. So, I was walking back home from the station, and I saw this lady just standing there, doing nothing- but staring at the moon. It seemed as if she was retrieving some information from it, and it was SO weird. So, I started walking towards her, to see if everything was alright- and you know what's stranger than that? The more closely I got to her, the more pitiful I felt- I don't know how to describe that, but I started to feel guilty for not being able to help her."

"But what did she need it for?" Maya asked, curiously.

"I don't know. I just....felt like that...for some reason. Then I asked her if everything was alright. She just shook her head no and went away. And even worse is the fact that I could barely remember her face even though I saw her from an approximate distance of six centimetres. I remember the fact that she was really pretty, but I couldn't remember her face. I also felt sort of dizzy while I was around her. I don't know."

"She was pretty?" Veronica asked, slowly.

"Yeah, or at least I remember describing her as pretty while I was around her. But as soon as she walked away, she just... vanished- like went 'POOF' from my mind. I don't remember a single detail of her face, bizarrely. And now that I think of it, maybe it was just a weird dream."

"You must have been sleepy." Dolorion continued, "Because I don't think I'll ever forget a pretty lady's face." Veronica, on the other hand, rolled her eyes.

"You must remember something, right?" Maya asked, inquisitively.

The auburn head went back to his thinking. Was there anything that he could remember? His eyebrows furrowed in thoughts, while his mind went through whatever happened that night- or, at least what he could remember.

"OH YEAH!! She was carrying a flute, and was wearing a Dead's gown." He finally answered after a long while.

It took a moment for everyone to catch their words- Maya looked shocked, Dolorion was paler than anything the boy had ever seen and Veronica was utterly confused.

"Okay, I take my words back. A woman walking in the middle of the night wearing a Dead's Gown is not beautiful, but horrifying." Dolorion whispered, though almost everyone in the entire room heard it.

"What's a Dead's Gown?" Veronica asked, suddenly.

The rest three looked at her with a strange look. It was Dolorion, who spoke first.

"You don't know what a Dead's Gown is?"

"She's new in town, Dolorion." Clove assured.

"You see, out here in New Cliffhill, the corpses are dressed in a certain gown before burial. It's this long, black dress which has a lot of lacy decorations all over it and spiritual symbols. They say that the colour of black represents death- which again implies that the spirit of the dead person won't come back on seeing the colour. Since that would make him/her understand that they're in fact, dead."

"Ohh...I see. Now that's interesting." Veronica answered honestly.

"But, what the actual hell was a grown-ass lady doing on a street wearing a Dead's Gown, in the middle of the night? Kind of reminds me of a Kaya though." Maya whispered to herself.

"A what?" it was now both Veronica and Clove's turn to gape.

"A kaya. Never heard of it?" Dolorion asked, surprised.

"No..." they both replied

"Well, it's this sort of....children's tale. It's about a monster called Kaya who feasts on children's fears and becomes stronger with the more afraid they are of him. It owns a beautiful voice, using which, he lures children towards himself. After that, it devours all their feelings and murders them." Maya answered.

"So it's like, this creature was invented by adults to keep their children under control?" Veronica asked.

"I had only ever heard of Dainis before. Didn't know this thing existed though." Clove answered candidly.

"Okay, now what are those?" Veronica asked again.

"They are basically vampires. Just a fancy name was given to them by our town folk." Came Dolorion's immediate reply.

"Wow! Your town....has a lot of things..." said Veronica.

"I guess you can say so." Maya winked at Veronica.

"Well, we also have this prophecy-"

"Oi! I need to go; it's seven o'clock already." Victor interjected Clove.

"Umm...quick question, since when has seven o'clock become 'going home' time for you? You stay here till twelve!" Veronica asked with a raised eyebrow.

Dolorion just rolled his eyes at her. He eyed her sharply, before answering, "I'm a part of the Stephen family- the family which runs the church of this town. Need any more explanations?"

"Uh...I guess no."

"Good. And! See you guys." Dolorion's final words rang in the ears of everyone else before he disappeared down the stairs.

"Well, that was odd." Said Maya, frankly.

Clove sighed.

What even was normal these days?

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~Please don't forget to VOTE, SHARE and COMMENT for the sake of the continuation of the story. It motivates me, as an author to have people vote and provide feedback. And, of course thousands of thanks if you did.~.NORMAL.

.Finding a way through life.

__________________________________

"Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly."

-Charles Addams

__________________________________

"What have I done? Why aren't you talking to me?" Clove whispered into Veronica's ear, who didn't seem a bit fringed by his accusation.

"Hey, Maya, what is that you're baking? It smells SO good!" Veronica exclaimed happily, completely ignoring Clove.

"Oh, about that- I am baking cupcakes. And since you can already smell them, I guess they're turning out good!" said Maya as she sketched away on a notepad.

"GOOD!? Whatever you make always turns out awesome!" Dolorion chimed in.

"Veronica-"

"WHAT?" she snapped heatedly at Clove.

Clove slouched back into his seat, with a frown plastered over his face. Great, now his best friend was ignoring him. He looked across the table they were sitting around- towards the blond sitting crossways with a questioning look, which was returned with a guilty glance. Dolorion shrugged his shoulders lightly and smiled at Clove, his brown eyes boring into him intently. Clove sighed. He had absolutely no idea about what Veronica was mad about, and he didn't know how to get it out of her. So this was what Dolorion was talking about when he advised him to be ready for drama. Reluctantly, he shifted his gaze back to Veronica- this time with a more regretful expression but was startled when he found her staring at him instead. Veronica quickly turned away, but Clove didn't miss the redness of her cheeks' on being caught. From what he had he had learned, she was staring at him when he was doing the same at Dolorion. A smirk spread across Clove's face.

"If you don't want to talk to me so badly, then why are you staring at me so longingly?" Clove whispered carefully into her ear to avoid Maya and Dolorion (who were busy conversing about cookies) from hearing their conversation.

Veronica, however, continued scribbling across her notebook, ignoring the auburn head. Clove peered down at her notebook where she was calculating a bunch of numbers. He read through every line one by one and finally came across a row where something seemed off. After doing a quick mental calculation, Clove replied,"162,054. 258 multiplied by 63 equals to 162,054, not 162,540. Which means, the answer won't be 74, it will be 74.5."

Veronica peered over at Clove for a split second, and then looked back at her sums. She quickly fixed her mistake, and continued her writing, without bothering to look back at her helper- which was odd since she never missed the chance to say THANK YOU to anyone. She would even say that to animals if needed. Clove sighed again, subsequently looking down at the floor of his living room, where it had become a custom for both his best friends- Veronica and Dolorion to come by and do stuff. Dolorion mainly came to talk and have fun since he had graduated from school and was about to start college in the coming month. Veronica, however, was in the same grade as him and came by, mainly to study (mostly maths since she was bad at it).

Clove sighed for the thousandth time that day. He could hear Veronica's aggressive scribbles on her notebook, Dolorion and Maya's talk about macaroons and the sound of a beeping oven, which startled Maya. She gave a nippy apology to Dolorion and dashed across the room towards the kitchen accompanied by small slips and bumps along her way (Hell, she is clumsy).

Not wanting to miss the chance, Clove began his conversation.

"Hey, Veronica, are you mad because I skipped school?" Clove asked lightly making her turn towards him. Veronica's blue eyes met Clove's green ones. Though the colours of her irises' had a pretty cold hue, her personality seemed the exact opposite of cool- hot-headed, rash and hasty. Clove smiled meekly while Veronica's frown darkened.

"Of course not! Well....yes, kind of because I had to go through three classes with Mr Bronte without acquaintances, but that's not the reason why I'm this mad at you!" she cried animatedly.

"Then what is the reason? I deserve to know the answer, you know! As a friend, you should tell me-"

That was a terrible mistake. Instead of cooling her down, it caused a spitfire to suddenly burst inside her mind and heart which erupted through her mouth just the same way:

"To hell goes FRIEND! You never listen to me! Never! And you call this-this right here- camaraderie!?-"

"JESUS CHRIST- WOAH! Calm down, dammit-"

"This doesn't concern you!" both Veronica and Clove shut poor Dolorion up- Veronica with her mad attitude and Clove in a more tranquil tone.

"I don't get it! When did I not listen to you?" Clove answered, reasonably more calmly than Veronica.

"Every day! You're even doing it, at the moment too!"

"You're being impossible, Veronica. I don't get it-"

"Impossible!? Look who's saying it."

"Huh? Is this a personal attack or something? Explain, will you?"

"Why do you still have that employment?"

"What?"

"The post at the subway station as a station sentry. Don't you get how perilous it is? What if someone tries to murder you, or maybe abduct you? On top of that, almost no one lives nearby, so if someone does you'll fall into an atrocious crisis! Or, in simple words, you're screwed up! You even came back home at five this Moring! Missing school is different, but that job is absolutely hazardous!"

Clove looked sharply at Dolorion which was returned with an awkward smile. So, he was the one who set the entire drama up. That bloody git-

"No matter what you say, I agree with Sanders here. Having a late-night job is definitely not right for someone who measures in centimetres-"

"Hey, I'm not even that short."

"That's not the theme here, Clove. We both know what is erroneous."

Clove sighed. He didn't feel like explaining this again, considering it was only yesterday that he explained it properly to them. But eventually, despite all the laziness he felt on the situation, he continued with the same response he gave them a day ago; which almost sounded as if it was rehearsed. "Veronica, Dolorion, you know why I'm doing it. I don't want to stay with Maya anymore; I feel like a burden on her. She's a twenty-four-year-old woman. She's an adult. Do you see the problem? I'm still legally a minor or a kid if you want to put it down easily. She needs her space. She needs to live her life a little more. But she's throwing her urges into the trashcan for my sake. I don't want her to stay like this!"

There followed a silence after his words. Finally, after a very pregnant silence, Veronica sighed while Dolorion took a sip from a glass of water standing on the tablecloth. "So that's it then?" Dolorion continued, "You'll not going to listen to us?"

When Clove didn't reply, Dolorion went on, "How do you know she excuses her urges?"

"Have you seen her date a single person yet? It's not as if she doesn't want to, I'd understand if she didn't want dating and stuff. The thing is, he wants a suitor, but she doesn't want to get someone else involved since I am living with her."

"But there are other options, right- like a part-time in the bakery?"Veronica asked hopefully.

"Oh please, their pay is chicken feed." Said Dolorion, but regretted it eventually because Veronica technically sent daggers towards him with her eyes.

"I need money to rent a room in a hostel. I can't live under her expenses forever now, can I?" Clove finally answered after an extensive silence.

Veronica didn't say anything more, while Dolorion went ahead and grabbed a book from a bookshelf standing nearby which made Veronica raise her eyebrows. Her face no longer looked maniacal though, and she was back to normal Veronica, which Clove loved so much. Sighing to himself, Clove started humming to himself.

"Guys! What flavour do you prefer for the frosting? If I'm right, Veronica likes Chocolate, Dolorion goes for orange and Clove- raspberry." Maya's voice rang from over the kitchen.

All of them replied in agreement.

If Clove wasn't so lost in his humming, he probably wouldn't have been startled the next minute when he heard a loud wind smash against the window. Looking over his large glass casement, he saw a bunch of trees nearby swinging in the direction of an abrupt wind, which had randomly sprung up out of nowhere. Suddenly, something came to his mind.

"Don't you think the weathers too cold nowadays?" he inquired.

"I don't know. It always seemed like that to me." Came Dolorion's almost instant reply, whose face was buried between a thick book which Clove noted as very unusual.

"I do think so too." Veronica chimed in as she pulled out a large book from inside her back and placed it on her table.

Suddenly, everyone was interrupted by a loud thud on the table. A sigh truly beautiful stood in front of them: something that no one could resist- a tray of cupcakes with the most stunning swirls adorning their heads as if they were crowns.

"They are done!" Maya looked meekly at them all.

"Well, that's nice," Dolorion said before grabbing a cupcake with orange swirls above it, and pushed it straight into his mouth: which lead to the frosting to be smeared over his features; followed by a disgusted look to be plastered across Veronica's face as a reaction.

Clove slowly picked up a raspberry cupcake which was specifically made for him. It had a large blob of raspberry jam coating it- just the way he liked it. This reminded him of something from his childhood-

"Mommy! The jam is finished!" a little boy around the age of seven cried in front of another woman who was busy scrubbing a plate over the basin.

The woman then turned towards the boy- her face was kind with the brightest of green eyes one could imagine. She smiled at her little son before tucking a strand of black hair before her hair. She quickly washed her hands, and then crouched down for her son to be able to see her face more clearly.

"Why don't you go shopping with Maya then?" she suggested sweetly.

"No. Maya is busy with fashion dosing." The little boy started to pout in front of his mother, who started to laugh as loudly as possible.

"Oh my gosh Clove, it's designing, not dosing."

"I don't care. She always draws these pretty girls and she gets mad if I interrupt her."

His mother sighed silently, as she said, "She's just been through a lot. But I'm sure that if you ask her kindly, she'll agree. You see, I have to go for party promotions fifteen minutes later."

The little boy nodded in agreement, before trotting up to a table in the next room. There, on a chair sat a pretty yet skinny girl with long black hair and green eyes scribbling on a sheet of paper.

"Maya, can we please get a bottle of raspberry jam?" he continued, "Wait, did you draw that!? Wowie! It's so pretty!"

Maya's pale cheeks immediately reddened up. "You think so?"

"I think so? I know so! She also kind of looks like you, just that you look better." He smiled the most genuine smile he could give.

Maya chuckled lightly, revealing all her teeth before replying," My, my, won't you be a flirt when you grown-up? Anyways, let's get you some jam then."

The chubby little boy's eyebrows furrowed at Maya while he stared at her, before asking, once again, "How did you lose your tooth, Maya?"

If Clove didn't have a keen eye, he might just have missed the subtle hardening of Maya under her breath. "Oh, this? I- I fell down the stairs. That's how I lost it."

"You're so clumsy, Maya!"

Clove couldn't stop himself from staring at his sister who sat opposite him, munching at her cupcake, smiling each second when she received a compliment. She looked so much healthier now compared to back then. He could still remember the way she cried, screamed when he was being sentenced to juvenile. The memory would haunt him till his death day-

"Mr Clove Martins, son of late Mabel Martins, has been found guilty in the act of-"

"NO! He has not done anything! Stop it, please!" a greatly distressed Maya screamed bravely, however loudly, standing up in the middle of the court; her green eyeballs seemed as if they could pop out of her skin, her body was so thin that her bones popped out- making her look as if anyone could break her with one squeeze.

"Miss Martins, please sit down. This is not your home, it's the court." The judge ordered. On the other side was a twelve-year-old Clove gawking at her, completely startled.

"NO! YOU CAN'T, HE DIDN'T DO IT ON PURPOSE, AND SO IT WAS A MISTAKE! PLEASE, YOU MUST NOT DO THIS!!"

"Guards! Call security!"

A bunch of men came by and grabbed her as tightly as they could. Maya yelled only louder, but no one tried to help her. She cried and cried but those men didn't stop; they only rest after they had dragged her out of the room: despite her yells.

Clove had a sudden urge to smack those people, and under normal circumstances, he would have had done it; only if the guard on his side didn't grab to stop him from moving.

"Clove?" Veronica's words broke Clove's attention.

"Huh? Is there something wrong?" He enquired.

"Man, how can you forget to show her your result sheet?" Dolorion remarked, smirking slightly to himself.

Clove felt a sudden urge to smack the blond boy sitting across him.

"Show it to me. Now." Maya ordered.

Gulping, Clove walked up the stairs to his room. After retrieving what he was looking for, he bought it down and silently pushed into Maya's palm.

Maya eyed him threateningly, before taking a look at the piece of paper in her hands. "A in mathematics. B in history. B in Geography. A in Physics. A in chemistry. C in biology?" Maya looked shocked.

Clove gulped again- did she really have to read that stuff out loud?

"Look at the last subject, Maya." Dolorion pressed on. That bloody git-

Curious, Maya looked down at the sheet of paper again. If he thought her reaction was scary last time, then it was nothing compared to what was going on right now.

"An E in English?"

Oh shit. Here we go again.

"The actual hell, Clove!?" Maya thundered. "Are you kidding me- Aaagh!" A piercing shrill ran down Maya's tongue, as she grabbed her stomach in ache.

Clove galloped across the room towards his sister, avoiding every article that came his way. On reaching the smarting lady, He leaned down carefully next to her- his face etched with worry.

"Are you alright?!" He asked her, calmly.

Veronica and Dolorion stood opposite to him, their expressions too similar to those with uncertainties.

"Yeah," Maya said, as she sat up straight. "Just bumped too hard into the table edge."

Dolorion burst into a deluge of Hilarity, while Veronica smiled gently. Clove, however, didn't know whether to laugh or be mad.

Sighing, Clove went back to his seat and sat down. "You're so clumsy, Maya! You should be more careful you know. You might hurt yourself in the future."

"Hey guys, remember the book I was reading a moment back?" asked Dolorion, almost out of nowhere.

"Yeah, which was unusual", said Veronica, looking up from her book in which her face was concealed in.

"That book taught me something about Clove." Dolorion stated, in a desperate attempt to lighten the mood.

"What might that be?" Maya asked, curiously.

"That Clove is really down to the earth." Dolorion started to snort as loudly as he could, while Maya burst into a fit of amusement. Veronica was snorting as quietly as she could on her seat while Clove sat there in his trying his best to look unamused.

"Stop bullying me for god's sake! And why the hell were you reading a joke book?" Clove couldn't control his laugh any longer.

"That was so random- I can't-"Maya said between her chuckles.

"OK, OK. I'm going to say something in justification of Clove. Dolorion, you know the only reason Clove even looks up to you is that you're tall." Said Veronica, with pride.

This time, it was Dolorion's turn to sulk.

"Yess! Veronica, instead of becoming an English Professor, please become a lawyer!" Clove continued, "My dear Veronica Jaime Sanders knows BEST! Us short people can rule too!" said Clove before planting a small kiss on her cheeks which turned her face approximately redder than a tomato.

Dolorion sulked back to his seat, thinking of something. A smug look spread over his face after he found what he needed.

"Ok, but can I please ask you something, Sanders?" Dolorion snarled.

"Sure, Stephens." Veronica declared while shrugging her shoulders.

"Clove revealed all his grades. Then, I hope you don't you mind revealing how much you got in Maths?"

Veronica's face hardened. She didn't seem so comfortable anymore: her face was reflected nothing, but shame.

"What? Scared?" Dolorion asked bitterly.

"Drop it Dolorion-"

"No. I got an F." Veronica confirmed.

Maya's face knotted itself into a more motherly appear, as she said, "Oh, don't worry, honey, it's alright."

"Yeah, not everyone is great at every subject. Look at me, for example. I suck at English. Don't listen to that pig."

"Eat my shorts."

Said Dolorion.

"Well, umm...Hey! Can you tell me more about that book you're reading?" Clove suggested suddenly, trying to change the grim mood of the current situation. Veronica turned towards him, her eyebrows raised.

"What caused this sudden rarity in books, may I know?"

"Umm....maybe because I want to know more about it?"

"Yeah. Sure." Veronica looked sceptically at him.

"No, really!" Clove persisted. He knew Veronica was passionate about her books, so she'd most probably give in.'

"Fine. So this is not a storybook. I'm doing some research on mythical beasts for a story I'm writing." She finally confessed.

"Ooo, sounds like something Clove would genuinely interested in," Maya replied, in a very iconic sassy tone.

"Yeah. Please go on."

"Well, I'm at present studying about chupacabra- it is stated here that they are mythical beasts who are genuinely allied with dogs: just with more grotesque features. They feed on cattle and are often found stealing chickens from farms. Depending on the area, book or whatever you are studying, their appearance changes according to that. So, what do you think?"

"Hmm....interesting," Maya replied from her chair.

"Wow, so creepy. I just pissed my pants." Dolorion mocked Veronica as usual.

"And, Clove?" Veronica asked the auburn head, who was once again lost in his thoughts. His bright green eyes were reflecting a seem of reminiscent- as if he was trying to find something lost deep in his head.

"Clove?" Veronica asked again, this time touching him slightly.

"Since you're writing horror, I think I should tell you about this weird thing that happened recently. So, I was walking back home from the station, and I saw this lady just standing there, doing nothing- but staring at the moon. It seemed as if she was retrieving some information from it, and it was SO weird. So, I started walking towards her, to see if everything was alright- and you know what's stranger than that? The more closely I got to her, the more pitiful I felt- I don't know how to describe that, but I started to feel guilty for not being able to help her."

"But what did she need it for?" Maya asked, curiously.

"I don't know. I just....felt like that...for some reason. Then I asked her if everything was alright. She just shook her head no and went away. And even worse is the fact that I could barely remember her face even though I saw her from an approximate distance of six centimetres. I remember the fact that she was really pretty, but I couldn't remember her face. I also felt sort of dizzy while I was around her. I don't know."

"She was pretty?" Veronica asked, slowly.

"Yeah, or at least I remember describing her as pretty while I was around her. But as soon as she walked away, she just... vanished- like went 'POOF' from my mind. I don't remember a single detail of her face, bizarrely. And now that I think of it, maybe it was just a weird dream."

"You must have been sleepy." Dolorion continued, "Because I don't think I'll ever forget a pretty lady's face." Veronica, on the other hand, rolled her eyes.

"You must remember something, right?" Maya asked, inquisitively.

The auburn head went back to his thinking. Was there anything that he could remember? His eyebrows furrowed in thoughts, while his mind went through whatever happened that night- or, at least what he could remember.

"OH YEAH!! She was carrying a flute, and was wearing a Dead's gown." He finally answered after a long while.

It took a moment for everyone to catch their words- Maya looked shocked, Dolorion was paler than anything the boy had ever seen and Veronica was utterly confused.

"Okay, I take my words back. A woman walking in the middle of the night wearing a Dead's Gown is not beautiful, but horrifying." Dolorion whispered, though almost everyone in the entire room heard it.

"What's a Dead's Gown?" Veronica asked, suddenly.

The rest three looked at her with a strange look. It was Dolorion, who spoke first.

"You don't know what a Dead's Gown is?"

"She's new in town, Dolorion." Clove assured.

"You see, out here in New Cliffhill, the corpses are dressed in a certain gown before burial. It's this long, black dress which has a lot of lacy decorations all over it and spiritual symbols. They say that the colour of black represents death- which again implies that the spirit of the dead person won't come back on seeing the colour. Since that would make him/her understand that they're in fact, dead."

"Ohh...I see. Now that's interesting." Veronica answered honestly.

"But, what the actual hell was a grown-ass lady doing on a street wearing a Dead's Gown, in the middle of the night? Kind of reminds me of a Kaya though." Maya whispered to herself.

"A what?" it was now both Veronica and Clove's turn to gape.

"A kaya. Never heard of it?" Dolorion asked, surprised.

"No..." they both replied

"Well, it's this sort of....children's tale. It's about a monster called Kaya who feasts on children's fears and becomes stronger with the more afraid they are of him. It owns a beautiful voice, using which, he lures children towards himself. After that, it devours all their feelings and murders them." Maya answered.

"So it's like, this creature was invented by adults to keep their children under control?" Veronica asked.

"I had only ever heard of Dainis before. Didn't know this thing existed though." Clove answered candidly.

"Okay, now what are those?" Veronica asked again.

"They are basically vampires. Just a fancy name was given to them by our town folk." Came Dolorion's immediate reply.

"Wow! Your town....has a lot of things..." said Veronica.

"I guess you can say so." Maya winked at Veronica.

"Well, we also have this prophecy-"

"Oi! I need to go; it's seven o'clock already." Victor interjected Clove.

"Umm...quick question, since when has seven o'clock become 'going home' time for you? You stay here till twelve!" Veronica asked with a raised eyebrow.

Dolorion just rolled his eyes at her. He eyed her sharply, before answering, "I'm a part of the Stephen family- the family which runs the church of this town. Need any more explanations?"

"Uh...I guess no."

"Good. And! See you guys." Dolorion's final words rang in the ears of everyone else before he disappeared down the stairs.

"Well, that was odd." Said Maya, frankly.

Clove sighed.

What even was normal these days?

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