You guys. HAPPY FREAKIN’ HALLOWEEN!!! I hope by now you’re already in a sugar coma and well on your way to a full-time sugar-induced catatonic state. SUGAR! EAT ALL OF THE SUGAR!
But even though Halloween obviously has its distractions, it’s important to remember the roots of the holiday, the brave little Gauls criss-crossing the landscape with their lighted gourds, wearing costumes to hide from the spirits who had slipped between worlds on the night when the veil was the thinnest. It was important that the humans make their way home unaccosted, for there was a party comprised of Sugar Daddies and Twixand girls dressed as Slutty Occupation Of Their Choice! It’s practically holy!
To celebrate, let’s Choose Our Own Adventure, shall we? Last week you guys decided it was time to participate in the time-honored tradition of Crying Because All This Shit Is Going Down And You’re Too Stressed To Deal. This should be super easy, right? I just need to draw on my many years of practice! Quick! Where’s the work restroom?
Chapter 08: It’s Spooktacular!
When you were thirteen, Todd Newtman cast an acnus protrubus spell on you. Your skin, which wasn’t that clear to begin with, burst out into hundreds of swollen zits just in time for school to start, which didn’t exactly help your negative popularity score. The school, led by Dace, delighted in taunting you for a week, everyone singing an old childhood ditty about a spotted girl under their breath as they passed you in the halls. After that, you vowed to stop being the butt of everyone’s jokes, to stop being the awkward girl that never fit in. You spent a month in the library, studying spells and practicing charms, and by the end of the semester you had everyone believing the complicated set of charms that you’d wrapped around you. Popular, pretty, just a little mean. Hell, after a while longer, you’d started believing it yourself. And you vowed that it was the last time anyone would see you vulnerable.
Unfortunately, it looks like you might be breaking that vow. Feeling your breath hitch, you turn your back to Eli, willing him to just go away. Unfortunately you never spent much time studying up on how to charm Necromancers, which means you can’t prevent Eli from tapping your shoulder.
“Tabs?” he asks falteringly. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” you respond, trying to choke down the tears that threaten to overflow at any minute. “I’m absolutely fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” Suddenly inexplicably angry, you wheel around to face him, forgetting for a minute that he’s mostly naked while you shove him back a step. “Why wouldn’t I be fine? You show up at school, all in my business, telling me my dad is some sort of zombie puppet; my boyfriend is cheating on me – with a guy – my house is full of people I don’t even really like, and would you please put some clothes on?” Oops. Maybe you didn’t completely forget about the nudity part.
Eli doesn’t even have the decency to blush. He just raises his eyebrows and smiles at you. “I left them in one of the spare bedrooms. My clothes, I mean. Why? Does my lack of a shirt bother you?”
You could swear that he’s managed to back you up several feet, because all of a sudden you feel rough tree bark against your back. “Listen, Eli,” you raise your chin bravely. “This is just not the day to mess with me, okay? Why don’t you just tell me the story?”
“The story? Which story is that, precisely?”
“Gainschwitz,” you say flatly. There. That knocked the stupid smile off his face. “Tell me about Gainschwitz. Tell me what it was like there.”
Eli looks tired all of a sudden and runs his hand through his hair. “Where’d you hear about that?” he asks flatly.
“Doesn’t matter,” you reply. “I know, so you might as well tell me the full story. Otherwise, I might have to make up my own details . . . when I tell the entire class.” Your stomach twists at the lie, but it won’t do to appear too weak. You desperately need to retain the upper hand in something.
“My mother was wrong about you,” Eli mutters. “She said that, underneath it all, you were a good person. That I could trust you.”
You flinch a little, but keep your chin raised defiantly. “Yeah, you can start with your mom. Exactly how old was she when she died, Eli? And how old were you when you raised her back up?”
He doesn’t bother to look surprised, just sighs and looks down at his feet, then raises his head to speak. “I was eight when I raised her. Call it childhood curiosity, really. After all, I’d always longed to meet her.”
“She died when you were young?” you ask quietly, afraid now to overstep.
“I was a baby, only a few months old. It wasn’t – she wasn’t sick, you know. I’m not one of those little street urchins you read about it Dickens. She was murdered.”
“M-murdered?” you ask, hating yourself for sounding scared. “But why? By whom?”
“Why? Because she was a Necromancer. A Necromancer who stupidly fell in love with a witch. Augustus Fleming.”
For about the third time this evening, you feel as if you’ve been punched in the gut. “Uncle Gus,” you stammer, thinking of your honorary uncle and your father’s oldest friend. “And your mother? Does that mean-?”
“Guilty,” Eli answers sarcastically. “Your dad’s pal is my dad. And he’s also the reason that my most successful summoning spell to date has been the one that raised my mom.”
You understand Eli’s implication, but you just can’t imagine that your Uncle Gus, the slightly portly fellow who used to sneak you gumdrops at your parents’ dinner parties, could be a murderer. Or, for that matter, a father. I mean, he wasn’t exactly that good looking and Eli’s mom is super cute.
Just as you’re about to ask Eli for more details, you hear a twig snap behind you. Eli looks up, eyes alert, and you start to ask who’s out there before he pulls you close and places two fingers on your mouth, motioning you to be quiet.
There’s someone out there! Do you:
A. pull Eli’s fingers from your mouth and shout out, “who’s there?!”
B. allow Eli to pull you into a hidden part of the yard and watch to see who appears?
C. kiss Eli? After all, he’s so close . . .