Well, National Novel Writing Month is over. It was an awesome experience for me, having to write everyday in order to make the 50k goal. I’m really surprised I stuck with it. I have a habit of abandoning projects, it seems. But I kept going with this one, and I ended the month with 57k words and a huge bulk of the first draft complete. So , after coming out as a winner of NaNoWriMo, what’s next? To finish the novel of course. So here we go, soldiering on with my project, the paranormal YA novel, Time Of Our Death. Hope you enjoy…
Time Of Our Death
By Paul D Aronson
We caught up with Brian and Kelly several blocks away. They too were having their share of uncovering secrets. Though none seemed as bad as the drug addicted mother. These were fun, almost silly secrets. Kids sneaking their parent’s booze, a young husband going to the bathroom to have a secret smoke where his wife couldn’t see, a teenager climbing out her bedroom window to go meet her much older boyfriend. Brian accidentally stumbled into one of his schoolmate’s rooms to discover him touching himself inappropriately in the dark. Brian laughed about it but you could tell it almost made him barf.
After that, Brian came up with the idea of crashing a party that one of Kelly’s friends was having. Word had it that they had even invited some frat boys, which made Kelly herself interested enough to check it out. The rumor of the party had been discovered at another house, as two girls were leaving to go, so the four of us followed them. Might as well; there was nothing else to do.
“Anybody seen Donald?” I asked, as we trailed behind the party going teens.
“He said he was going to the river, “ Kelly answered.
“I don’t know. He just said he wanted to be alone.”
“Yeah,” Brain added. “Said it was weird hanging out with us. And that it wasn’t a good idea or some shit. He was always a loser anyway. I was supposed to beat his ass the day of the accident, so I guess its good for him he died.”
I didn’t like the sneer on his face, and for a moment I felt my hand curl into a fist before unclenching it. “You were always wanting to beat his ass,” I mumbled.
“Yeah,“ he chuckled. “Survival of the fittest. And he wasn’t fit for anything.”
“You’re such an asshole,” Lori said.
He bowed mockingly. “Well thank you, Elvira. I accept the award.”
“There it is,“ Kelly interrupted, as we watched the two girls approach a house where it was clear something was going on for sure. All the lights were on and the strains of “You Got To Fight For Your Right To Party” could be heard blasting from behind its walls.
“Gnarly, “ exclaimed Brian.
As we went up the front porch, I noticed there were a couple of girls sitting in a wooden porch swing. They looked like they were waiting for their dates to show up, despite the fact Donald was sitting between them. I grinned and shook my head. He got up and walked over to us.
“I’m here to tell you, this is one lame party. The girls act like they don’t even see you.”
Lori laughed. “I bet the guys do too.”
“Good to see you , Don,” I said. “Anything going on at the river?”
“Nah. I think the bus got pushed down the river a little ways when the water came out of the dam. But, they’ll find it tomorrow I suppose. We might as well enjoy the night.”
I agreed. “Well, were going to check out the party. You coming?”
“Aw, what the hell. It’s pretty boring out here anyway.”
When we all went inside I didn’t know what to expect. It was apparent right away that whoever was throwing the party wasn’t too worried about their parents. The house was already in a shambles. Discarded beer bottles were everywhere, including one which hadn’t been empty and was now staining the carpet at the entrance. The music was cranked so loud any kind of normal conversation was impossible, so couples had resorted to making out instead. In the den, a group of boys were running the pool table, while a television already turned to Headbanger’s Ball was entertaining a group of clean cut boys smoking a bowl. I knew a couple of them were honor roll students, and it shocked me that they were also stoners in the making. There was no sign of any frat boys in the house, which seemed to disappoint Kelly, but she was not to be deterred. This was her friend Amy’s party, and she wanted to see what she was getting up to.
We passed our way through the walls into the kitchen, where all the drinks were being concocted and served. I don’t know where the alcohol had come from, but there was a lot of it.
What really surprised me about the party was it seemed no one was acting like it bothered them that classmates had died a few days ago. Over half a dozen confirmed dead, and no one seemed to care. This really disappointed me. Not really for myself mind you, but for others who once basked in the popularity spotlight and were now dead and gone. To prove my disappointment, a group of guys at the kitchen counter were doing shots and toasting the fact they were alive, unlike the losers on “that bus.”
I shook my head in disgust. It was one thing to totally disregard the fact that kids had died, but another to then make fun of them. This truly sank home when we found Amy, Kelly’s friend. She was in one of the bedrooms with some other girls, all of whom were doing their makeup in front of a huge vanity mirror atop a dresser.
“I bet when they find her, her legs will be straight up in the air,” one of the girls, a prissy thing with yellow blonde hair, said.
“Yeah, and her push up bra will be on the outside of her clothes,” said another, to which they all laughed, as if this was something that had actually happened once.
“She really thought she was hot shit, didn’t she?” Amy added. “God, I hated that bitch.”
I thought to myself whoever they were talking about was getting raked through the coals. I had never been one to eavesdrop on girls talk, but I was a bit surprised by the cruelty in their voices. Whoever the subject was, I felt bad for her.
“Kelly, rest in peace, you slut.”
I jerked my head around to look at Brian and Kelly. They were both in shock, as much as I was. Kelly eyes were brimming with angry tears. Her bottom lip quivered and she looked about ready to bolt for the door in shame. They were all laughing at her. I could only assume they knew she was missing, unaccounted for, and presumed dead. And because of it, they were saying just what they thought of her.
Brian put his hand on her arm. “Don’t worry about it, babe. They’re bitches.”
“But they were supposed to be my friends,” she cried, the tears now streaming down her cheek. “How could they do this to me?”
The vanity girls were laughing so hard, they didn’t notice the floating lipstick holder until it flew into Amy’s open mouth. She started choking on it, as she nearly swallowed the lipstick in the middle of her laugh. The other girls stopped laughing and came to her aid, screaming in alarm. Lori stood beside them, a smug look on her face. She looked at us.
“I figured she needed it more on the inside. That’s where she’s the ugliest,” she said.
“Let’s get the hell out of here, “ Brian said. “This party fucking blows.” He was angry for Kelly. She was his concern now, and these vain, mean girls weren’t even worth his energy. He steered Kelly away and they went back out through the wall.
One of the hateful teenagers had managed to use the Heimlich maneuver to get the lipstick holder dislodged from Amy’s throat. “How the hell did you manage to swallow that?” She asked, astounded.
“I..I don’t know, “ the victim gasped. “I didn’t even have it in my hand.” She started to cry, it had shaken her up so.
“Serves her right,” Lori said. “Those kind of girls are the reason I wont miss school at all.”
I couldn’t help but agree. If I had to make a list of things I wouldn’t miss from life, school and its accompanying ridicule and bullying was at the very top. The sad thing was I imagined those kind of people would grow up to be even bigger bullies, taking their insecurities out on family and friends alike. Once that kind of behavior begins, it can’t be stopped. As we joined the others outside, Brian sat on the curb with Kelly, comforting her in her hurt. I looked at Brian and how he was by her side like the perfect boyfriend, with his arm around her and whispering in her ear. He had been just as big a bully as those girls at the party, if not worse, but he seemed to have changed at least a little. Now he had moments when he acted like your equal and not your slave master, but I had to wonder if he would have changed like this if he’d been spared and survived the bus. A big part of me said no, he would still be picking on everyone whom he felt was beneath him.
“I would give you a penny for your thoughts, but I don’t know what you would spend it on, “ Lori said, bringing me out of my contemplation.
“I’m sorry, I was just thinking about those girls in there.”
“Hey, I’m right here,” she replied, grabbing my arm playfully.
“I didn’t mean it like that, baby, “ I said.
She raised her eyebrows at me. “Did you just call me baby?”
“I like that,” she said, with a smile. “Just don’t call me booger butt, or something stupid like that.”
I laughed. “Okay, no booger butt.”
Donald, who had been quiet through the whole thing inside finally spoke up. “Let’s just get out of here. There’s still plenty of houses in need of MTV.”
At first I thought Brian and Kelly would say they were through with that, but they both nodded, as if they thought that was a good idea. Everyone was a little quieter after Amy’s party, but they weren’t about to let it ruin what was left of the night, and our existence.
As we moved on down the street, I looked over at Donald, who was now looked tired. I don’t think it was exhaustion, but just an overall look that said he was just trying to find something to do to keep him from thinking so much. The girls at the party and their behavior had hit a little close to home for all of us, but I guess it reminded him of how Brian had treated him all his life, and now here he was actually hanging out with him. I might have escaped some of that bullying when I went rock and roll, but Donald had been facing it every day. I felt sad for my friend, but I didn’t know what to do to lift his spirits, so I kept walking with the Dead Kids Rule gang in search of more homes to prank.
“Well, would you look at that?” Brian spoke.
We all stopped. He was pointing to a house down the street. Unlike the others, It wasn’t decorated for the halloween season. In fact, it looked quite dark, except for a few dim lights inside. But that’s not what had caught Brian’s eye. No, it was a white van with the words Carter’s Exterminating emblazoned across the side.
“Holy shit, “ breathed Lori. She looked at me. “Do you think it’s him?”
“I don’t know. There could be several company vehicles. This might not be the one.”
Brian looked at me. “What’s the deal with this guy, again?”
“I think he was on the other end of the bridge the other day. He might be the witness everyone is looking for. Or maybe he was the one responsible. He could have been there to make sure it worked. I just don’t know. But he is tied into all this somehow.”
“ Well, there’s only one way to know for sure.”
“What, walk up and ask him?” Donald laughed nervously.
“No,” I said. “But we can watch him. See if he leads us to something.”
“I’m in,” Brian answered without hesitation. Kelly nodded her agreement, and I looked again at Donald, who just kind of shrugged. I looked at Lori, and I could tell she was still sitting on the fence on whether this was the best course of action. Finally, she mustered a relenting smile.
“Okay, I’m in too.”
“Alright,” I said. “Let’s go check it out.”
Instead of just passing through the walls, we entered the house through the front door. The foyer was dark, but we could still see just as easily as Lori and I had when we went down to the bus. A stairway directly in front of us led upstairs, while to either side of it the hallway ran in two different directions. Everything was quiet and still.
“Perhaps everyone is in bed,” Donald suggested.
“Perhaps, “ I repeated, not too sure of that. My sense of smell was off, possibly a side effect of being a ghost, but there was a light unappealing scent in the air. And I could hear a quiet dripping sound as if someone had left the faucet on in the kitchen. “Come on, “ I said, as I went in search of its source.
Going around the staircase, and down one of the hallways, I followed the sound as it grew increasingly louder. It wasn’t that we were getting closer, but the water, if that’s what it was, was increasing in pressure.
“Somebody’s in the shower,” Kelly said, with a slight blush. “They’re singing.”
Sure enough, she was right. I could hear it now, mingled with the sounds of the weather. Somebody was singing Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. I could make out the opening lines of the song being repeated over and over: “finished with my woman, ‘cause she couldn’t help me with my mind.”
“Im not going in there, “ Brian said. “Probably some fat guy playing with himself.”
“Me neither,“ said Lori, making a face.
“Don’t look at me,“ added Donald.
I almost wanted to laugh at the five of us standing outside the bathroom door, arguing about peeking on the person inside. I couldn’t do it either, though. Some things you just don’t want to see. Instead, I moved off down the hallway. “We’ll come back,” I reasoned.
Further into the house we went, until we came into the den. While most of the houses we had been to had their living rooms at the front of the house, this one was more to the back. Other than that it looked about the same as any other. Couch and loveseat, free standing lamps, a television, bookcases lined with books and record albums. An unlit fireplace was at the back of the room.
Stepping inside, I noticed the television was already on, but it wasn’t on a channel that worked. A test pattern was on the screen and a dull ring was emanating from the TV speaker.
“That is freaking irritating,” Brian said.
I agreed and crossed the room to the console. I looked down for a moment and saw a knife lying on the floor. It was one of those big stainless steel kitchen knives. Curious, I bent down to inspect it closer. It was unstained, as if it just came out of the dishwasher. But what was it doing in here on the floor, as if someone just dropped it? I looked to my left and froze. A pair of legs was sticking out from behind the couch. I looked up at the others, who couldn’t see what I was staring at.
“Hey guys, “ I said, “I think there’s someone behind the couch.”
Kelly and Lori were the first to reach it, and both of them let out a sound that was half scream, half gasp. Lori looked at me, her face registering the shock.
“It’s the flower lady.”