Sequel to On a Lonesome Road
Weeeee-ooo! Weeeee-ooo! Weeeee-ooo!
Madeleine Hawthorne awoke to the mournful sound of the foghorn from nearby Hogan’s Gap. Faint streams of moonlight illuminated the foggy, rain covered panes of the large bedroom, revealing the walls of various posters and costumes, fabric, and fashion accessories.
For a moment she lay staring up at the upper bunk where her sister Giselle, age ten, slept. Then she turned her head and looked at the round bay window opposite the bed. Wavering shadowy patterns glided slowly over the glass, shapes that didn’t seem to match any of the windblown trees or silvery rain trails. They seem more like a fantastic tumult of microscopic pond life rather than anything that could be visibly recognized from her backyard. Finally she got up and crossed over to the window where she watched the swirls and eddies of thick gray fog.
Yep, that must be it, she thought, the fog making all those funny shapes...almost like living things. A strange thought then popped into her head. What if those shadows I saw were really living creatures, maybe like bats flittering about? This was a rather silly thought because what bat in its right mind would want to venture out in this kind of weather?
For several more minutes, Madeleine waited for more odd shadows, but none came.
“Oh, to hell with this,” she said grumpily as she stalked back to bed. She didn’t know how long she laid there wide awake but when she finally did sleep, she dreamed of fluttering about the beach on a summer night, like a moth. There were several parties going on around a dozen or so flickering bonfires. Eventually, Madeleine the moth found herself hovering near one particular fire pit.
The strangest thing about the dream was, well... besides the nighttime scenery and flying part, was that even though Madeleine was herself, she was also the two people seated at the fire. Even though she hadn’t seen them before in her entire tween life, she was aware of what they were thinking right now, what they had for breakfast that morning, what their home lives were like. And as part of her watched, hovering just beyond the edge of that dancing circle of life, the two were soon joined by a third.
She was so quiet when she sat down at the sun bleached, driftwood bench that they didn't even notice her. It wasn't until she cleared her throat that they turned to look at her.
"Have you ever hated someone so much? Someone you would do anything to obliterate, even if it means paying a high price for vengeance?"
The speaker was a scrawny looking girl who might have been as old as fourteen or sixteen. Her mousey hair hung limply over her thin face, and her muddy-brown eyes peered out hollowly through wire-frame spectacles. She wore a baggy gray hoodie jacket over ragged faded-down jeans.
Although she looked at her two startled companions seated across from her, it was like she didn't see them at all. She had the thousand-yard stare commonly associated with battle-weary soldiers and inmates just serving out their long-term sentences.
A long tense pause followed as bottled rockets whistled and popped overhead, and motley hordes of humans and Faire Folk swarmed around several smoking grills and luau pits.
Seemingly oblivious to the Midsummer festivities going on around her, the hollowed-eyed, wraith-like girl continued her morbid inquiry.
"Have you ever wished the most agonizing death ever upon the one you hate?"
The purple-haired goth girl shrugged. "Meh, countless times back in middle school." Meg, or Megaera as she liked to be called, was a sophomore at Hogan's Bay High School. She also worked at the Pizza Palace downtown as a cashier and pizza garnisher. "But now I just ignore," Megaera went on causally. "They're just a bunch of ignorant little snits not worth the trouble to swat."
The girl seated next to Megaera set aside her shish-kabob plate. Her name was Kes; she was a delicate brown-skinned girl with fluffy white hair and golden cat-like eyes. She was a Gerdin, an outworlder of about Megaera's age, which was sixteen. She wore the orange and gold robe of an Oriim pilgrim/tourist celebrating the summer solstice.
"I have met some pretty annoying people back in my world," Kes mused, wiping the meat sauce from her clawed fingertips, "but never once did I wish them any ill will."
Megaera stared at the stranger with pale yellow eyes. "Hey, what's this about anyway? Someone giving you a bad time?" Her purple ringlets immediately began to ripple and writhe over her head as if the wind blew it from all sides. Yet there was no wind. "You just give me their names and I'll go sort it all out for you."
Kes drew back, startled by this Medusa-like display, but the thin girl just sat there, as still as a statue, her slow breathing the only indicator that she was of the living.
"It's not that," she said dully.
"It's not?" puzzled Megaera, her living tresses instantly reverting back to floppy stillness.
"No," the girl continued in the same flat tone, "the one giving me trouble is not some cold-hearted, clique bitch, but an extremely immature, obnoxious, brain-cell-deprived teenybopper who thinks the world revolves around her and her money."
"Oh gawd," Megaera rolled her eyes heavenward. "Not one of those fruitcakes."
"Teenybopper?" Kes looked puzzled. "What's a teenybopper?" As a first-time visitor to the Human Territories, the Gerdin wasn't up-to-date on the native lingo.
"Oh, people who are basically freaking idiots," Megaera scowled as she snapped her fingers. Three reefers appeared in her hand. She held two out for the other girls to take.
"Sorry, but I don't smoke," the thin one said.
"Uh, none for me, thanks," said Kes politely, picking up her paper plate again. "Stuff might spoil my palate."
Megaera nodded, snapping the extra reefers out of existence, and replacing them with a book of matches.
"So teenybopper's a derogatory term then?" asked Kes.
"Depends on who you talk to," Megaera replied, as she lit up her "peace cigar." "To my Ma and Grandma, a teenybopper just meant some circa 1950s - 60s teen chick who was into an actually decent band or artist. Now it's just applies to these teenie beenie, Brainus Minimus posers who are totally obsessed with crappy pop music, tacky clothes, faux celebs and the latest tween idol movies." Tossing her bright purple hair over her shoulder, she added scornfully. "They're a freakin' travesty to mother earth, and deserve to be dropped feet first into a swamp full of ravenous crocodiles... or failing that, a good mosh pit, ass whupping."
"You really hate those people, don't you?" said Kes, chewing her shish-kabob thoughtfully.
"Yeah, I hate all those freakin' bops with an effin passion," said Megaera as she inhaled the acrid fumes of her reefer.
The stranger's vacant eyes narrowed slightly. "Hateful enough to put a curse on them? A curse that cannot be removed once inflicted. A curse that is guaranteed to cause extremely negative things to happen to the targeted persons, one that will cause irreparable damage to their genetic blueprint as well as to their sanity?"
With a faint rustle, the shish-kabob plate dropped out of Kes's hand. For a moment she sat staring open-mouthed at the strange girl. Then she blinked and choked out, "What the flarb are you talking about?"
"I was just asking the Goth Gorgon if..." the girl began.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I heard you the first time!" exclaimed Megaera irritably. She was rapidly becoming annoyed at the manner of this unexpected guest. "What's your name, kid?”
"You live around here?" asked Kes curiously.
"Naw," Ellery shrugged her bony shoulders, "I'm from 'Oklahoma by the Sea.'"
"Oklahoma by the Sea?" Kes glanced at her friend, mystified.
"She means Curtisville," Megaera explained, "four miles North of here. It's got this persistent image problem over the years, because the people who settled it first during the Depression were of the rural working class, hence the name--Oklahoma."
"Oh," Kes nodded understandingly. "One of them No Magic, No Mystery, Mundane sort of places?"
"Yeah, it's pretty mundane as it can get." A flicker of annoyance crossed Ellery's sharp pale face. She dragged her hand through her long stringy hair, pulling free a small tangled clot. Frowning, she glanced at it before flicking it into the fire. "Not a smidgen of magic anywhere, unlike here."
Kes's nape fur tingled, her golden eyes widened, as she beheld the burning knot of hair. Oh Gods! Did I just see a piece of scalp sticking to that knot? she thought, feeling her stomach tightly clench and her gorge rise. However, reason soon took hold and she was able to shake off that awful vision. Get a grip, Kes. It was just dandruff. The girl's just an unhealthy slob, not a zombie.
Still she didn't like how the shadows seemed to gather in Ellery's already deep sunken eyes and how her cheeks looked gray and hollowed. Either she was an anorexic or a lifelong junkie, maybe even both. Kes now wished the girl would just go away and haunt some other campfire. All she wanted to do was to just sit back and enjoy the fireworks, the lively conversation and the food.
She didn't want to know whatever demons it was that brought this teen to the nearly-dead state she was in. But then Ellery started to talk again, in that dull, flat voice, and Kes, despite her squeamishness, began to listen.
“I came here because I need this curse cast on the girl I mentioned earlier.” Ellery took a picture out of her jacket pocket. She leaned forward and handed it to Megaera. “It takes a lot of psionic energy to make a powerful spell, and unlike us foreign-born mundies, you Nye have plenty of that energy.”
Holding the reefer between her right thumb and index finger, Megaera studied the photo carefully. “Ugh, looks more like a weeaboo to me,” she said with a grimace before handing the photo to Kes.
“Another one of her newest fads.” Ellery’s bony finger traced out a pattern in the woodgrain of her seat. “People tell her she looks positively atrocious. But does she listen?”
Puzzled at what exactly provoked such a negative reaction, Kes scrutinized the photo in front of her.
It had been taken in what looked like a crowded shopping mall. In the foreground stood a pudgy, mischievous girl of about fifteen. Her hair (if it was real and not a wig) was honey-blonde and hung in long springy curls. She had enormous blue eyes and pink, puffy-looking lips. The outfit she wore was somewhat reminiscent of Victorian children or porcelain dolls, only with much more pink and larger bows. Clutching a melancholy pug dog in her right arm, she had her left arm clamped tightly around Ellery’s shoulder. While the doll-girl flashed a dazzling smile, a less emaciated Ellery just stared blankly at the camera. Kes nervously wondered what exactly she had been thinking when this picture was taken. Her face seemed to say, if this photo ever gets out, I will seriously hurt you.
Pursing her lips tightly, Kes handed the photo back to Ellery. “That’s just disturbing and wrong on so many levels,” she declared, leaning back in her seat. “Really, really disturbing.”
“Yeah, pretty horrendous, isn’t it?” said Ellery, stuffing the photo back in her jacket pocket. She studied her for a moment. “I take it they don’t have any fanime conventions where you’re from?”
“No, we don’t,” Kes replied, shaking her head. “We have annual festivals where people dress in traditional costumes, but nothing ridiculous and over-the-top like what that girl was wearing. Hell, even our clowns have dignity.”
Ellery barked a bitter laugh. “Yeah, dignity’s something sorely lacking in Lolly Mcclaren’s philosophy. Also respect; respect for people’s property and personal space.” A scowl slowly broke over her face. “If there’s one thing I hate more than lack of dignity, it’s lack of respect for private property and personal space.”
“So she’s a thief and a glomper as well as a jackass?” Megaera nodded, exhaling puffs of blue smoke. “Why doesn’t someone just kick her ass then?”
Ellery shrugged, her scowl fading to a tight frown. “Because whenever someone tries to take out their hostility on Lolly Mcclaren, they soon get really weak and drowsy.” A few minutes of silence followed before she continued, “She tends to sap the energy from anyone who comes in really close contact with her.”
“There’s a word for that type of thing,” Megaera told her. “Psychic vampirism.” She twisted a lock of hair and studied Ellery closely. “Is that what happened to you, you tried messing with her and you wound up looking like an extra from a George Romero movie?”
Ellery shook her head. "No, it was something else entirely, although it was sort of connected to Lolly." She looked down at her feet, causing her glasses to slide down her narrow nose. She pushed them back up again and furrowed her brow. "Last weekend, me and some of my friends met... well, a bit of an accident."
Megaera puffed some more on her reefer while eying the girl curiously. "An accident, huh?"
"Accident?" Kes stared wide-eyed in disbelief and dismay. "What accident? You mean like an auto wreck?"
"No, nothing like that," said Ellery, shaking her head a second time. She slowly pulled her knees up to her chin, wrapping her arms around her bony ankles. "Though I really wish it was a car crash, might have made things a hell of a lot easier for us."
"Why do you say that?" the still wide-eyed Kes asked. She soon noticed the multiple bandages that layered the teen's ankles. It couldn't be anything really serious, she thought, the girl's still walking around okay. It was then she caught a glimpse of gauze sticking out from beneath Ellery's jacket sleeve. What the hell?
Ellery looked grim. "Cause the 'injuries' I have now can't be fixed by any regular earthly treatment."
"Hmmm. Maybe you should start from the very beginning then," Megaera suggested, shifting her reefer to the other side of her mouth.
Ellery hesitated. "Is this absolutely necessary? I have to go look for a powerful Nye wizard, one that will help me get a curse underway."
"Of course it is absolutely necessary," the Goth insisted in a business-like manner. "We can't have any adequate curse made without first hearing about the history of the victim/whack-job."
Kes looked from one to the other, and felt a slight chill run down the back of her neck to her sandaled feet. This was just like a scene from The Sopranos where the hoods were discussing a hit list of potential targets.
Madeleine awoke suddenly to the pitter patter of rain on the roof and windowpane. Blearily, she opened up one watery eye and peered around at her night stand alarm clock; 1:04.
“Great, now I’ll never know how that dream is going to end,” Madeleine muttered to herself as she rubbed her arm across her pixie face to get the sleep grit and hair out of her vision. “Had vivid dreams before, but never like where I was a whole bunch of people all at once.”
For a moment she lay silently staring up at the ceiling. Her mind teemed with the images she just beheld and ones she very dimly remembered. Those other two, she thought, they could have been just dream people, but that Wilcox girl--I know I’ve seen her before, as well as that Mcclaren Brat... but where exactly?
Try as hard as she could to remember, what images she did glimpse were like blurry hard-to-make-out photographs. Eventually drowsiness slowly took over and soon she was drifting back into the oblivion of sleep.
A few minutes later, a faint sound began.
Madeleine cracked opened her eyes. The room was now dark as pitch. The sound of the foghorn now seemed very far off, a distant moan over the swish and clatter of rain.
For a moment Madeleine lay motionless, her eyes flickering from one side of the shadowed room to another. After fifteen more minutes of watching the shadows, she closed her eyes again.
She pulled herself up with a jerk.
There was that damn sound again. Where the hell was it coming from? It certainly wasn’t coming from inside her own mind. It was coming from outside. Not rain, too rhythmic and sharp-sounding. It almost sounding like clicking knitting needles... and then Madeleine knew what exactly what it was. Pebbles, the sound of pebbles striking the glass.
Madeleine scowled, knowing full well who was behind this nighttime disturbance. No other person around here was this dumb and inconsiderate to pull a stupid stunt like this in the middle of a foggy, rain-filled night.
“Please, Maddie. Let me in. I need to talk to you.”
A whiny, nasal voice, barely audible above the downpour, came from outside.
“Oh, shut up,” she muttered. “Tweaker trash Jesus freak.”
“Maddie, please. I got something to show you.”
“May, what is it?” Giselle asked groggily from above.
“Nothing... just a dog,” Madeleine mumbled, trying to find a good answer. “Go back to sleep.”
She waited until she heard her sister dozing back into sleep before pulling the blankets up over her head.
The moderate shower soon turned to a drumming torrent. As for the other noises, there weren’t any... for now. Wonder if that little twerp finally went home? she thought.
Several more minutes crept by and Madeleine grew increasingly nervous. She fidgeted and tossed and turned. Beads of sweat formed on her brow as she peered out to squint through the gloom at the darkened window.
Something’s going to happen soon, she thought. Something really bad.
Half expecting a heavy rock to shatter the windowpane, Madeleine was startled to hear a faint metallic rattling from behind the wall bordering their back yard.
Madeleine groaned. “Oh, don’t tell me she swiped a ladder from next door!”
Seconds later, there was a blinding flash and the room shook with thunder, followed simultaneously by one short piercing shriek. Then silence.
Giselle shot straight up in bed with a yelp. She then leaped out of the bunk, racing for the bedroom door yelling, “Mommy! Daddy! Someone got hit! Someone got hit!”
Meanwhile, Madeleine threw back her covers and walked slowly to the window. Nervously, her gaze focused on the backyard wall. From behind it, a thin spiral of smoke slowly arose only to be swept away by the wind.
Written by mmpratt99 deviantart