But the following day, when the dust had seemingly settled before our naked eyes, we would go back to our lives. As if we had not held each other’s hand in war just the previous day, fighting against an ill justice system towards people of colour.
But what did I expect? Us gathering a purple fire drinking potions and singing Kumbaya?
I did not go to school the following day. We had been instructed to ‘hibernate’ in our homes. This was not only motivated by the protest that went viral on every news bulletin, but because of the Ghoul approaching town, evoking fear in many.
The entire town, for the first time, was to be under conditional lockdown. Now, the mayor explained this as a recommendation that the entire town stays…in town and neighbouring towns should keep their distance.
And was I going to sit and watch an entire town being shut down because of a mysterious killer? No. My friends intended otherwise as well.
But that afternoon, I had prepared to visit Mia. I was mad, of course, but not anymore. As I had said to Craig, Mia was a loose canon when inebriated. I didn’t blame her. She, individually, was going through a lot. I could only sympathize.
My car drove in silence. Anyway, I had to steal my car so as to do this. Gabriel, Alejandro and David had strictly forbidden me from exiting the house. I was grounded for fully participating in a protest. Before you think it was a unfair action to be grounded, I understand why.
The violence, especially after a great loss, wasn’t the greatest exposure for me. Instead, that night of the day of the protest, my nightmares perpetuated…causing disturbing screams, what seemed to be a seizure at some point and…a weird ringing and ache at the back of my head I hadn’t told anyone about.
My car parked at Mia’s front lot. I jerked out and walked on the driveway, noticing that the curtains weren’t there anymore.
My eyes widened as I ran around the yard, seeing that the house was completely empty.
A voice startled me, forcing me to jump. “Oh. I’m sorry.”
I looked at the woman. She was old and eerie. Her hair was a thin grey thread and her teeth were almost not there. She had a strict mouth and wide eyes. She carried a stick with her, seemingly for support because she looked really old. Her hand against the stick trembled.
“Uhm…Mia and her father used to live here, yeah? Do you know where they went?”
“She left with a certain lady. The biggest hair I had ever seen. Wide smile.” Her voice quivered.
I nodded. That was probably social service? But she had packed everything…I don’t think she’s gone for good, is she? “Okay, thank you.”
I rushed to my car and immediately tried calling her cell.
With no luck, every dial leading me to voicemail. I sighed, realizing that indeed, she had disappeared into thin air.
I decided to drive to Jeremiah’s house. This time, I distracted myself with some music. Jeremiah didn’t stay far from where I lived, although it was still a driving distance.
Jeremiah’s parents aren’t the most polite people to meet. Their kindness felt pretentious and they only spoke with their smiles. Jeremiah only had a connection with his mother, Mrs Simone, as far as I knew.
After knocking multiple times, he opened. “Hey. Adrian. Aren’t you grounded?”
“I am.” I smiled.
He moved so I could enter. “Wow. I never thought you’d ever visit here again.”
“Me too.” I sighed. “But…did you know that Mia left?”
“What do you mean left?”
“Her father was deported, leaving her without a guardian.”
“WHAT?!” He screamed. “Why didn’t you tell me this?”
“She asked me not to. But what’s odd is how she just…disappeared. A neighbour said she left with a woman with big hair. I’m guessing that’s social service but…why is she inaccessible on her phone? Why leave without notice?”
“She probably didn’t know how to tell us. She lost her childhood friend. Thereafter, she had an awkward moment with you. I think she was…ashamed to say goodbye.” He shrugged.
Although there was logic in what he said, it was how he said it. He said it as if he didn’t give a care in the world. “Yeah. Are you okay?”
We finally got to the lounge. And yes, Jeremiah’s home was the biggest home I had ever seen. Basically, Jeremiah grew up rich, just like Alan and Gabriel. He grew up in the eyes of the public as his surname held a reputation, just like mine.
He wasn’t so much living up to his father’s name, however there was pressure to that. Jeremiah was an underage drinker who dated both men and women…although sexuality wasn’t so much of an issue, however it was a tradition so abominable to his father. But he didn’t care, at all.
He had two siblings, both older than him, that emancipated themselves to live in Nahoo, where he was hiding during the time of the murder of the five victims.
“Yeah.” He grinned.
“Okay. Are your parents home?”
He shook his head. “No. They’re off to Alex.”
“So you’re left alone?”
“Yeah.” He whispered with the same, weird grin.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” My eyebrow furrowed.
“Yeah. I just need to pound some cake, that’s all.”
I froze. “Pound some cake? As in…have sex?”
“Uh huh.” He giggled while nodding. Wow, he definitely wasn’t okay. He seemed so distant. “For so long we’ve been living with a constant fear that we might be caught, or we’re doing something wrong or illegal. Fuck that, man. I’m only seventeen, man. I want to live, for once and that’s exactly why I feel…happy.”
My eyes squinted. I was now becoming impatient. “You’re dressed as if you just shot a music video. Have you gone somewhere?”
“Nah. I just feel good.” He grinned again, now sniffing uncontrollably.
“Boy, I’mma ask you for the last time. Where’s my money?!” Cynthia yelled with tears in her eyes.
Terrified of the rage I saw in her, I shifted backwards. “Mom, I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
A slap landed across my face, leaving a hot sensation. “Give me your school bag! NOW DAMMIT!”
Now weeping, I stood up and gave her my bag. She searched like a maniac and hell embodied her when she found out that there wasn’t any money. I also had no idea what money she was talking about.
“Boy, where’s the money I gave to you for lunch today!?”
“You gave me lunch money, to buy lunch mom! I used it to buy lunch.”
She laughed hysterically. “This kid’s playing with me!” She spoke to herself.
“I don’t know…”
I earned another slap, now she strangled me with her strong hand while she grabbed a nearby scissor and pointed it towards me.
My body trembled in abnormal fear.
“Looking a little nappy today!”
“Mom what are you doing?”
She violently held my hair and chopped large amounts of it. I tried fighting her off, but her strength was of a beast. All I could do was cry and scream.
After cutting my hair, leaving patches of remaining hair, she looked at me. Her eyes were black, as if her soul was gone. The mother I knew, or ever knew, was not the woman I saw that night. That persona, whoever she was, was demented! She was mad and bitter…and ADDICTED!
“Where my money at?” She sniffed, now uncontrollably.
She actually gave me a look that anticipated pay. I kept silent. I was sceptical not because I was thinking whether or not I should pay her to escape the situation. I was also sceptical because her episodes were so fucked up to the extent that I even got beatings after because of her guilt. Her withdrawals hurt the most.
“BOY, WHERE THE MONEY AT!?”
“IT’S UNDER MY FUCKING MATRASS!” I screamed at her in tears.
She sprung to my matrass and found the adequate amount of money that’d grant her supply at least for two nights.
“FUCK YOU, BOY. FUCK YOU FOR THAT!” She yelled as she still uncontrollably sniffed.
That night, I had run to Jeremiah’s apartment and slept there for the night.
I stood up and of course, I found a carelessly cleaned snow line on the coffee table and looked back at him. He had white powder faintly tracing on his cheek. I knew this game too well to not notice its loose ends.
“How could you, Jeremiah?” I stood up as tears left my eyes.
“It’s not what you think, man.” He held in a giggle as he tried to wipe his face again. “It’s Mescaline. Its not a drug, man. It’s a…conscious drug.”
He exploded into an ecstatic laugh.
It was very useless to stand there and reprimand him. Nothing in that world he was in made sense, including my words.
“Jeremiah…where did you get this?”
“That doesn’t matter, man.”
I walked to him and gave him a look with my face right in front of his. His face changed. I hoped he was having a bad trip. “If you want me to forgive you, tell me who gave you mescaline!”
“Mike from Bellington. Same dude who helped us catch Gabriel and Niall. He’s been supplying to a lot of kids, including Sophia’s ‘swamp party’.”
I sighed, wrath building in my veins. “Mike is a dealer to kids now?” I spoke to myself. “What kind of shit he sells?”
“All types of exotic shit, man! Plants, compounds…juice.” He shrugged, as his eyes were beginning to show boredom over the conversation. “Just don’t tell him shit, man. Promise me.”
“Oh no, I’m not going to tell him anything…”
My face involuntarily changed into a serious grim. Jeremiah saw this, but it didn’t faze him. Mostly, I was afraid of what I might do in that state. My mind was clouded with this familiar darkness, one I’ve once or twice seen…
When Calvin and and four other jocks died…
When Niall died…
When Benjamin died…
And when I thought I had killed Craig.
“I won’t utter a single word!” My voice roared.
I absentmindedly stood up and walked out of the house.