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What Fools These Mortals Be
Interviewer: Evell Withers (Male)
Interviewee: Bridgett Feldner (Female)
Bridgett: Do I have to do this?
Evell: Obviously. I'm not here for my health you know.
Bridget: speaking of your health, how did the surgery to remove your head from your-
Evell: That is quite enough! You know why we need your story, so the others can know of you. You know how we will get your story. You even know how we will distribute your story, so why won't you comply?
Bridget: I just won’t. Why do you care?
Evell: Why not?
The sooner you talk, the sooner you get out of here
Bridget: I don't want the world to hear my story. People get judged by their stories, don’t pretend they don't. Stories get people killed or liked or hated or just understood. And...I do want to be understood.
But my story is boring, and that isn’t something any of us like .That’s why we are us.
It was a summer night, and the air smelled like smoke, the way night always smells to me. The sky wasn’t a sleek black shade, but my favorite welcoming brown, and the moon looked almost like a painting, as if God had dabbed at it with paint the color of night clouds.
And I was a miserable, ugly wretch. My grades were all I had, or all anyone noticed of me, and I didn’t care. My hair was the only part of me I liked, smooth curls the color of flame that were wasted on someone with a wide face, and deep dark circles under her blue eyes.
Wasted on me.
So anyway, It was that night that I wished for adventure, the kind with magic and NDEs and romance. I had wished for this before, of course, and I don’t know what was different this time. Maybe I was more desperate now, or maybe I had given up on earth. Maybe I shouldn’t have. Earth is a good planet, and I know I’ll go back there someday. But I was tired at the moment to losing my heart to people I’d never meet, and… just feeling like a hamster on a wheel, like no matter how hard I’d run, I’d never get anywhere.
So, the next second, he was there, a boy with chocolate brown hair and eyes that looked like tiny replicas of the earth, mottled in blue and green. His skin was golden, and his long fingernails resembled a cat’s claws to me.
I like cats.
“Hey,” he said. He looked so casual, but there was a flicker of something-fear? In his eyes
“Uh, Hey” I was struck by how suddenly inarticulate I was, “What are you? A ghost? A demon?”
“No”, he breathed. Ah. It was excitement, that phantom emotion.
“Are you evil? Are you going to hurt me, hurt anyone?”
“Never. Nobody innocent I promise.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“No” the words were sweet in my mouth now, “Someone evil would swear they weren’t. Lying is against the Ten Commandments, you know!
“Gotcha.” He smiled a crazy smile that sent dizzy things like soda bubbles into my head. “I have an idea.”
He spit on his hand, and I spit in mine, cringing because it was gross. But then our hands touched the saliva like a comfortable sheet spread over his muscular hand.
“I’m Desmand Cole.”
“I’m Bridgett Feldner.” I laughed for no reason, very crazily, “But you can call me Bridge.”
Because as we shook, it felt like we were binding our souls together each time our arms pumped up and down, and I never wanted to let go…
Shut up! Stop giggling!
Evell: I am sorry
Bridgett: Like hell you are. I’m leaving! I don’t have to deal with this!
Evell: Yes you do. You’re not leaving.
Bridgett: Why? What do you want with me?
Evell: Don’t play dumber than you are, Bridgett! I would like to hear the end of your lovely tale.
Bridgett: And I would like to-(takes a deep breath. Seems to be counting to ten in her mind.) Fine. I guess I don’t have a choice.
He took me on a train a really trashy one, with torn up seats, and graffiti on the walls. But the intact parts of the seat were comfortable, and he was there.
So I kind of enjoyed the place
“What do you think?”Desmand asked, smiling and gesturing broadly at the seats.
“Absolutely fabulous “I declared more or less sarcastically, “Now you want to tell me what this is about before I…”
He instantly looked concerned, “Oh, hey, sorry. I must seem like a creep.”
“Freddy Krueger is what you seem like.”
“Nah. He wasn’t a looker like me.”
He told me about how one night, he’d been on his computer, late, about two or three in the morning. He wasn’t doing much, just playing a dumb flash game, and then, when he lost out on level one, he closed his eyes, and wished. He wished he could know people, and live, and have something in his life to care about.
When he opened his eyes, he had found his email open, and he hadn’t opened it. He had one new email in his inbox, and he opened it. It was short. It said go to the train with her.
“And there was a picture” he explained, “A picture of the train. So I found it, and I found you”
“I’m her then?” I asked.
He looked at me appraisingly, “I think so.”
“Who sent the email?”
Desmand shrugged, “Who cares.”
“But what do they want from us?” Something hit me then, “Wait, you found this in an email?”
“And you believed it?”
“Wow, you’re almost as I am for coming with a strange weirdo to a messed up train.”
“Not dumb, just … we need to believe in this” he said urgently.
“And you know what?” He leaned into my ear, “If I’m mauled by some hideous bisexual child molester who knows my email at our stop, then I’m glad I’m with you.”
I smiled, “You always knew how to sweet talk a girl.”
“But really don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”
My smile got wider, and I wanted to say something, but by the time I thought of something to say,his eyes were closed and he was draped across the train seat, so I knew if he wasn’t asleep, he soon would be.
I guess I might have slept for a little while, but I woke up long before sunrise. I had never seen a sunrise before, and I marveled at the way the colors ran together, like paint dripping off of an artist’s pad. I marveled at how someone could know just the right colors and light to make this.
I felt someone squeeze my elbow, and I turned. It was Desmand
“Did I wake you up?”
He shook his head, “No. it’s beautiful isn’t it? The sunrise?”
And then, there was the sound of a whistle, quiet at first but getting louder and louder until we just cowered in ear- based pain.
I slammed into something, something hard.
The next second, I was in a dark place, and something cold and wet was below me. For a second, I thought I had dreamed the whole thing. Just a dream…I gulped. If Desmand had just been a nighttime apparition, just the product of too much pizza before I set myself sink into my sheets, I could never see him again. He would never wake up that part of me that saw the beauty in everything, never toss aside my cynical words with a clever joke again. When I talked to him, I felt as If we could make whole worlds appear, with just words, our words. And now he was gone.
Light suddenly flooded my vision, and there was a house in front of me, a beautiful little cottage with a cherry red door. The roof had circular shingles like gumdrops, and the walls were a lovely cream. Leaning against the door, was Desmand.
I threw my arms around him, and pressed against him. He was skinny, I guess, but his bones felt good against me.
“Is something wrong?” he looked at me like I was something smelly he’d picked off the bottom of his shoe, and I backed up.
“Not really.” I sighed, “I just…thought something had happened to you.”
“Oh”, he narrowed his eyes, “Nothing did.”
“Why don’t we see what’s inside here?”
I blushed as we opened the house and trudged into the tasteful entry hall. I had been dumb, throwing myself at someone I had just met. Because he was funny, because he was cute and charming, and because I had been worried about him. Because I was in love with him.
Love sucks. It is a lie, a farce, an impossible goal. But most of all, it makes the other person your eternal master. You can’t move, can’t breathe, until they say to. If they say jump, you say how high? I couldn’t be a slave to him or my love for him. I had to escape.
But I couldn’t leave Desmand. What a jerk he was! He had no right to flounce in here and be perfect, to make me his number one fan.
I turned to glare at him.
“What?” he asked,
“I can’t believe you made me come in here,” I griped, “I feel like Goldilocks.”
Desmand turned to me, smiling “Let’s hope this is not that kind of situation. Even I can’t protect you from three malignant, rabid, ugly bears.”
I yelled at him then, my control snapping, “Why do you always want to protect me, Desmand? I am not your damsel in distress.”
“First, I haven’t tried to throw myself in front of any trains for you lately have I?” he pointed out, eyes burning, “Second, I consider you my friend, Bridge, and I watch out for my friends.”
“Oh.” I felt even stupider then, “Sorry for exploding on you, we redheads don’t tend to have the most even temperament.”
“It’s okay.” He went through a door at the end of the hall, and I heard his voice echoing back to me, “I kind of like bursts of irrational anger in girls. Turns me on.”
I giggled, and then put my hand over my own mouth. Why did he have to be so perfect, damn him?
Evell: I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!
I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
O that my prayers could such affection move!
Bridgett: Shut up, Shakespeare. I wasn’t Helena, and Desmand was not in love with someone else.
Evell: It seems that he was in love with himself, as all men truly are.
Bridgett: Do you want me to tell my story or not?
Evell: Sorry, you may continue
There was a prickling feeling against my neck as I saw Desmand disappear from my sight. What did it mean? Were we in danger? I didn’t think so. I really didn’t suspect this quaint little home to be harboring Voldemort.
Or rather, I did. I was just too dumb to pay attention to my suspicions.
I followed him through the door, and it was bad, let me tell you. The messiest place I have ever seen piled high with junk. Boxes were stacked around its edges, and the floor was covered with clothes, apple cores and pizza crusts. Muddy footprints climb the walls, and it smelled like in place of air freshener, this room had been liberally sprayed with eau du rat with hygiene problems.
“Doesn’t this bother you?” I asked.
“What?” he moved silently, like a cat with linen tied to its paws, but spoke in a normal voice.
“Are you kidding me?” I shook my head, “You know what! The mess, the smell.”
His laugh was louder than his voice, “ Bridgey, I’m a boy. If you think this is a smelly mess, you should see my room.”
I wrinkled my nose, “If it’s as bad as you say, I think it would be in my best interest to avoid going anywhere near your room.”
“You’re probably right. I would hate for you to drown in my dirty underwear.”
“Forget you.” I wrinkled my nose, “What’s it like? Being a guy?”
He looked surprised for a second, “Well, all right. On a typical day, I wake up, go back to sleep, and snooze until my mom drags me out of bed. Then I eat breakfast- cereal usually; run a comb through my hair, pull on jeans and whatever shirt stinks least, pick up my backpack, and hop on the bus. At school, I take notes, and study and stuff, but I still don’t do that well. Math is the worst, History is the best.”
“I’m good in math,” I told him, “I could help you.”
“I’m sure you could. What else is there to know about me? No girlfriend. Not a lot of friends who are girls. I got some girls I say hi to around school though. I get along with most people. I believe in magic, but not in the apocalypse. I take videos with my cell phone of people talking and ants, and me singing a random song loudly and badly. I play stupid flash games on my computer. Is that enough? ”
He looked at me in a way no other guy had, like I confused him, and like he enjoyed being confused, “What’s it like to be a girl?”
I answered, “Oh. Well, it’s nice sometimes. I like watching action movies where the hero and the female lead hook up. I believe in the apocalypse and the good conspiracy theories. School is easy for me, but I don’t know a lot of people. I cried at the end of Bridge to Terabithia.”
“No. I never cry. I am a tower of strength”
I rolled my eyes, “Whatever. Why are we even here? This is a dead end.”
Then, a voice was in my ear, deeper than the center of the earth. And it hated me, whatever was talking to me, although I didn’t know anything that spoke like that.
“How true- for you that is!”
I could hear it growling, could feel the spiky hands it closed around my throat, but I couldn’t see it. Darkness filled my head, like an ink soaks into parchment. It was tantalizingly slow it felt like running down a long tunnel, and watching the light behind you shrink to nothing. Only for me, there was no light at the end either, lost dark until I felt like begging for death to come for me. There was a hot burning pain in my body, my brain, my heart.
I was going to die.
I didn’t want to die.
God, if you’re out there, I’m sorry I didn’t believe in you
Don’t let me die
But the darkness kept piling over me, and I knew God wasn’t listening Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani My god, my god, why have you abandoned me? I’m not bad. I am not a bad person. And I can’t leave Desmand WON’T LEAVE DESMAND!
There was a sudden light in my head with the shape of him, slowly filling it with his color, but more importantly with him. With my true soul mate. The one I was meant to be with.
Then I was lifted by a pair of muscular hand, and the pain was gone, and I was very unconscious.
Bridgett: Well what?
Evell: What happened? Did you live?
Oh… Of course you did. But what happened?
Bridgett: I woke up back on the train, he was there, and he looked wonderful, scared but wonderful. And then… I wanted him badly, so so badly. It actually hurt, Evell. Because seeing the one emotion that truly shows weakness on his face reminded me that there was a possibility of us. That he wasn’t some god watching me love him from above the clouds, he was as mortal as I am. As mortal as I am…
It was my mantra by now, I breathed it with every breath. As mortal as I am.
And then he was there, by my side, as if my words had shaped his being, “Hey, Bridgett.” His voice trembled, “I’m glad you didn’t die.”
“Me too.” I said, struggling into a sitting position, “That would totally ruin my life.”
“So how did you escape the darkness?” I asked him, “What was that, anyway?”
He shrugged, “No idea. But I never was in any darkness. I just had to watch it swallow you up.” His voice shook, “ Bridge- I think that thing fed off of fear. You were afraid of some evil monster, and I was afraid of some evil monster taking you away from me.”
“Because we’re friends,” I spat, trying to keep the venom out of my voice.
“I guess.” He tapped his fingers pensively, “Bridgett, do you think just about a day is enough to fall for someone.”
“Yes” I answered quickly.
“I think I may be in love with you. I think that’s why I wanted to protect you. “
My heart beat like it was trying to escape
“Of course, it was you who protected me.”
I narrowed my eyes, “Huh?”
He told me that just as he knew I would die, I had looked at him, staring into his pupils. And he saw that I had the glassy eyed gaze of someone whose mind was not her own.
But looked back.
And then, he laughed as he told me about how I had clawed and torn and ripped and bit at what seemed like air, and about the way the phantom’s howls had sliced at him, how deep blue blood appeared on my skin, along with wounds and bites.
He couldn’t move. He couldn’t help me. He had been saved by a freaking girl.
But he still looked into my eyes.
And when a dark spot appeared on the floor-, the drop of blood that served as the carcass of our attacker, I swayed and fell to the ground.
“So if you want some dumb, wimpy guy then-
I smiled, “I do. I want you. “
He relaxed, sharing my relieved happiness. And I hadn’t even noticed he had been afraid.
“On one condition.”
“Believe me when I say these words. You are not a wimp. I faced my fear by fighting it, and you faced yours by not fighting it. If anything, I’m the wimp, because I needed help to defeat my dread. “
“Deal” he smiled.
I expected him to seal the deal with another spit shakes. Instead, he pulled me to him by the loops of my jeans, and lunged in towards me.
So we sealed it with a kiss instead.
Evell: What kind of kiss?
Bridgett: Oh, a long one. Kissing Desmand is what I imagine taking a good long drag of pot is like. Only instead of dampening my pain, it fills me with happiness, and love, and something too beautiful to name.
I wonder how many more kisses I would have by now if your hadn’t men taken us for you.
Evell: Well, it was worth it to find the woman who killed Raverius. When that invisible was alive, we were all in danger of waking up a corpse, our bodies and houses robbed of all value.”
Bridgett: So all the mess in that room-
Evell: Picked off of dead guys, yup.
Bridgett: Who was the email from?
Evell: Raverius, most likely. And I’m reasonably sure none of my people set up a portal to his lair on some godforsaken train tracks in the middle of nowhere. But we will contact you in the future. We need warriors of your bravery, and Demand’s.
Now get the heck out of my interview room. Desmand wants to see you.
Interviewer’s comments: I flipped the switch I wore around my neck, and the door swung open. The girl gave me a small smile, which I did not return, and walked into the hall.
I shut the door behind her, because I knew as soon as she saw who was behind that door, she would begin enthusiastically making out with him. And when I want to see that, I’ll check the security footage.
The girl is beautiful, with a working knowledge of Shakespeare, and a touch of the poet in herself. And she is an incurable cynic, which I find very attractive in a woman.
But she seems to take offense when I had her abducted, which negates the possibility of a relationship for us.
I will see her again though. Because whoever determines fate, the gentle, caring god or sadistic dictator, the monsters are not done with her. Or me.
And our next foe will make Raverius look like a pathetic, mewling kitten.