She's A Monster
“You’re going to get yourself killed,” a blasé voice told me.
“Shots are being fired at that spot from above.”
“Hmm,” the voice was suddenly interested. “I didn’t realize you were suicidal.”
I twisted slightly so she could see my sneer. Blaze only smiled antagonistically in response.
She was lazily sprawled across the couch, tightly woven into her blanket like a cocoon. One arm escaped to hold her head up as she watched the game. She looked bored out of her mind and the only entertainment she seemed to find was bothering me.
I returned my attention back to the game in an attempt to ignore the demon. “Grayson, watch my back,” I commanded.
Immediately after that, my avatar collapsed on the screen. “Kill shot,” the game announced, the booming voice reverberating loudly in the large living room. My half of the wall-mounted TV faded to black for only a second before I respawned in an area heavily guarded by the enemy team.
The sounds of gunfire, dropping ammo, and looming military aircraft were a distant hum as I turned away from the TV. “Gray –” I started to growl him but was interrupted by an unnatural squeal. Unnatural because it came from my twin sister. Riley never squealed.
It was baffling to be reminded how short Riley was as my best friend’s towering body curled intimately over hers. The source of her shrilling kept poking her sides until her eyes were brimming with tears.
“Grayson, stop!” Riley commanded between her giggles.
He ignored her plea while he mercilessly tickled her to no end. The more he carried on, the less control she had over her body. It wasn’t until she accidently kneed his groin did he finally stop. That got a laugh out of me but I quickly smothered it before they had a chance to hear.
Grayson was a heap of misery and painful groans as he covered his injury. He rolled around the off-white carpet as if that would relieve the pain. Riley only allowed herself to pat his head in apology and bent down to give him a sweet kiss. At that point, I had to look away.
“Jesus, do you really have to show PDA in front of your brother?” I asked gruffly. I winced as I realized too late that my stupid mouth had gotten me in trouble.
The hair on the back of my neck raised like a warning. Invisible white hot daggers threatened to prickle my skin and I hated how accustomed I was to the feeling. Although I probably deserved the look from my sister, she wasn’t that type of person. Only the demon with royal blue hair wished she could make those daggers real.
I whirled around to see Riley’s best friend staring at me. Just as I was protective of my sister, Blaze was the same way, too. Though her face betrayed nothing, I could see the familiar blue eyes burn like fire. They tended to do that whenever she was angry. As nonchalantly as I could, I asked, “Now what?”
Without taking her eyes off the me, she lifted an exposed foot against my shoulder, shoving me with enough force to knock me sideways. “Rider, be a dear and kindly shut the fuck up.” Her guise failed to conceal her disdain.
I pulled the blanket in retaliation and smirked as she tumbled off the couch to land on the floor. It was only too bad that she fell on carpet instead of hardwood. Out of the corner of my eye, Riley nervously tugged on her hair — a tell-tale sign that she felt embarrassed.
I thinned my lips guiltily and was about to apologize when my vision abruptly turned white and I was reeling backwards. I hastily placed an arm behind to catch my fall and found Blaze standing above me wielding a pillow at her disposal. I shouldn’t have been surprised that she managed to make something fluffy into a weapon.
“Blaze!” I shouted her name like a curse. Her mask was long forgotten as she openly bared her teeth like a rabid dog.
“Serves you right for making me fall like that!” She lifted the pillow for another swing but I stood up quickly so she would fall over my shoulder. “Put me down!”
I knew that she would try to kick her way out of my hold, so I held her (thankfully covered) legs tightly together. However, it didn’t stop her from banging her fists against my back. God, that girl could punch. I dropped her roughly on the couch and grabbed the nearest pillow I could find. I wasn’t quite as savage as her and just hit her stomach. “Calm the fuck down!”
She wiggled her way out of the assault and quickly stood on her knees on the cushions. “Maybe if you weren’t such a jerk!” she spat through her blue hair. Then she kicked me in the stomach and smothered my face for good measure.
I held on to her wrists, easily making her slip off the couch clumsily. “Stop going for the face!” my muffled voice told her but at least I was able to breathe.
Our fight diffused when Blaze and I jolted to a stop.
“Ow, ow, ow!” we whimpered simultaneously as Riley held our ears in a death grip. Her glasses glared menacingly at us and I audibly gulped. My sweet sister had a mean streak if she felt so inclined to use it.
She twisted our ears as if our cries weren’t loud enough. “You two are unbelievable. Honestly.”
“Riley,” her best friend whined.
“Don’t ‘Riley’ me! You were beating my brother half to death with a pillow!”
“She was not!” I felt the need to correct. Grayson laughed and I immediately wanted to deliver a groin-kick myself. He should’ve stayed on the floor.
Riley responded by squeezing my ear even tighter. “It was only an expression. Of course you weren’t dying. Now be quiet, Rider.” It was easier to comply than argue.
“You know he started it.” Of course that demon would try to blame it on me.
Riley raised a delicate eyebrow at her. “Technically, you kicked him first.” That was my sister. Always the mediator. Blaze’s blossoming scowl fueled my smug smile until Riley directed her evil eye at me. “You’re not so innocent either, Rider. You did make her fall.” The nice feeling vanished as my expression matched Blaze’s. “Now, apologize.”
Her order was easier said than done. The feeling in my ear was going numb and her grip would not relent. I just crossed my arms while I silently fumed. I heard Riley’s sigh of exasperation that I couldn’t help but feel a bit proud of causing. I was still her brother, after all.
But Riley wouldn’t have any of it. She yanked us out of the room and the movement caused our ears to burn red-hot again. All we could do was follow her.
She sped across the living room, rapidly passing the messy kitchen counter and paused in front of the garage door. She let go of our ears to swiftly turn the knob, then shoved us in. She closed the door just as quickly and we realized with horror what she was planning. It seemed like the click of the lock echoed in the tiny garage. “Resolve your issues with each other and I will consider releasing you both.”
Blaze and I dropped our jaws. She was kidding, right?
“This isn’t funny, Riley!” Blaze said what was on my mind.
I could just imagine my sister tilting her head at the comment. She may be a genius but she took things at face entirely too much. She wasn’t the best person to joke with. Or even have a normal conversation with, at times.
“I know,” she said that in her firm yet perplexed tone through the door. “Why would it be?”
Blaze groaned at her. “I love you, Riley, but now is not the time to act like a psychologist and lock us in a room!”
“You guys probably do need one, though,” Grayson remarked.
“Look at this as an experiment.” I rolled my eyes. Of course she would. “The more time you two spend coping with each other, the less our group will have to endure your tiresome arguments.”
I banged on the door loudly. “Or maybe we’ll kill each other if we’re forced to share a small space — tell me, did you think about that?”
I could hear the hesitation in her answer. “I… I did recognize the outcome.” I punched the door forcefully again. She stamped her foot down in response. “Rider Reed Rylan Jr., cease this behavior immediately! All I’m asking for is that my best friend and brother get along. Is that really so difficult?”
“Yes!” Blaze and I yelled in unison.
“For Pazuzu’s sake,” she replied coarsely using her signature curse. No, my genius twin wasn’t normal at all. “You have one hour,” Riley declared. And when she was angry, her decree was law.
We couldn’t hear retreating footsteps any longer and we were only left with a thick blanket of tension weighing heavily on our heads.
“We can’t kill each other,” I managed to say.
She agreed with a curt nod. “Just shut up until she comes back.”
I focused on her until she noticed my stare. “Blaze, I hate doing nothing.”
She scowled angrily at me. “Try.”
But I couldn’t.
The garage was small by all standards. It could barely squeeze two cars in that we were forced to park mine out in front. Well, alright, not mine. Mine and Riley’s.
We had to get creative in the space. The walls were covered with peg boards which held every tool imaginable. Every spare inch was taken over and to be crowded with Blaze was beyond awkward.
I’d much rather rummage through the teeming space.
I turned over every item within reach in an attempt to find the garage door opener. We recently installed an automatic one, and it could be over-ridden if I knew the security code but I didn’t.
I had one attached to my key ring. The one sitting on the kitchen counter unused and the one I desperately wished for right at this moment.
Blaze snapped her jaw agitatedly. “What are you doing?”
I turned around to stare at her. Blue fire eyes watched my actions in curious impatience. “I told you. I hate sitting still.” I continued searching through the peg boards, miraculously hoping for a way out. “I need the garage door opener. We’ll be able to get out.”
She looked above to see the new contraption, mocking us with its purported purpose to make life simpler. She noticed the security panel settled neatly against all the clutter of the wall.
She jutted her chin towards it. “Can’t you use that instead?”
I smiled sheepishly. “I don’t know the code.”
Her lips turned upwards a bit but she rearranged her features before I could mention it. “Figures.”
For a moment she stood motionless as her blue eyes stared at nothing in particular. I switched around to continue looking through the walls. Blaze startled me when she silently ambled to my side and helped. “Thanks,” I said quietly.
She made a tiny sound of acknowledgement. “As long as you don’t annoy the hell out of me.”
A chuckle escaped my lips. “I should say the same to you.”
She exhaled testily. “Everything you do is infuriating. I can only take mild doses at a time.”
“You could have fooled me.”
She glowered a black look and I could tell she was dying to physically hurt me again. “Then don’t piss me off,” was her simple reply.
We continued searching for the remainder of the time in silence but it turned out to be fruitless. There was no extra opener hidden away and Blaze grew antsy about it.
“Oh, fuck it!” she voiced loudly. She strode angrily to open the security panel and punched in a random code.
“No, don’t! The alarm will go off!” I warned her.
But it didn’t. The panel just beeped a happy chirp and the mechanism above worked its magic. She couldn’t hide her sly smile. “Boys are so useless.”
“How’d you do that?”
She closed the panel with a pleased smack and walked out barefoot in the driveway. “It’s yours and Riley’s birthday, idiot.”
I slapped a hand over my head. For once, I agreed with her.
“Now help me grab the spare key. I’m not tall enough to reach it,” she called out.
I slumped out of the garage with a disgruntled lope. I reached the front porch and watched as she tried — and failed — to snag the key. She was a few heads taller than Riley but in this situation, it wasn’t to her advantage. I reached over and dropped the key in her hand. “Here.”
“Thank you,” she said politely. Dare I say pleasantly.
“You seem to be in a better mood.”
She stuck the key in the lock and gave it a twist. “I’m not stuffed in that tuna can, for one.”
I laughed at her point. “I’ll give you that.” I held the door open above her and we let ourselves in. “And second?”
Her tiny smirk made an appearance. “Maybe confirming that I’m smarter than you helps.”
“Don’t remind me.” I glanced past the foyer into the kitchen and I was surprised to not see Riley and Grayson there. “Where’d they go?”
“Do you really want to know?” Blaze asked suggestively.
I cringed at the connotations. Probably not.
“Anyways, I’m heading out,” she said as she slipped on her shoes. “I think I’ve spent enough time with the Rylan twins for one day.”
“Yeah, no need to fan the flame of Blaze von Brandt.”
She narrowed her eyes at the statement. “I’m very much in control of my temper, thank you.”
“Sure,” I agreed sarcastically. “And I’m not obsessed with fried pickles.”
She stared blankly for a brief minute before replying, “This is why I need small doses with you, Rylan. I don’t know how, but you completely undermine my control. It’s not my fault you’re so insufferable.”
“And it’s mine that you are?”
Blue fire hardened to steel. “You just bring out the worst in me, that’s all.” She slapped my chest hard and she genuinely smiled when I hissed through my teeth. It was odd to see. “Tell Riley I said bye.”
She walked purposefully out the door without so much as a backwards glance. “So much for resolving differences.”
“So the experiment didn’t work?” an inquisitive voice asked. One right below me.
“What the fuck, Riley?” I screamed like a girl. “You can’t just sneak up on people like that!”
She dismissed my bellows like pesky flies. “Noted. How did you get out of the garage? I locked it.”
Realization dawned on her face. “Oh, that’s right. I forgot about that.” She observed the door interestingly before casting her gaze to me. “I didn’t hear any yelling so I can presume to say you two fared well.”
I stepped away from her to trudge for the kitchen. “I don’t know how your best friends with her. She’s got some serious anger issues.”
She followed me to sit on a bar stool near the counter. “I’ve known that for years, Rider. It does not hinder our relationship. In fact, it’s one of my saving graces.”
With a surreptitious eye, I watched my tiny twin fiddle with the various objects littered on the counter. No doubt remembering her encounters with bullies who liked to push her down.
Her obvious intellect and stature did not bode well in a high school setting.
I should be thankful for Blaze in that aspect.
“Alright, fine. But I still don’t know how you deal with it.”
“Rider, I love her. Everything about her. It’s as simple as that.” Her brown eyes only spoke the truth and all she wanted was for me to give her best friend a chance. “Besides, her tolerance level has skyrocketed over the years. The only time it ever fails is when she’s around you. I want to help remedy that.” Her eyes widened to reveal the kicked puppy dog look whenever she wanted something.
Well, fuck. Riley may not know it, but she knew how to use her eyes for her own personal gain whether she was conscious of it or not.
“Stop looking at me like that. I’ll try to do better, yeah?”
She beamed at me and ran around the counter to wrap me in her arms. “You’re the best twin a girl could have.”
I ruffled her hair affectionately. “You’re not so bad yourself.” And because I couldn’t help myself, “Now what kind of shit is Grayson pulling on you? Please tell me he hasn’t taken your virtue.”
“It’s none of your damn business!” Grayson yelled from upstairs.
She detangled herself from the embrace and stomped to her room. “Holy Pazuzu! Why do males have to be so irritating?”
There was no such thing as a calm moment in the Rylan household. None at all.