Right as I’m going to the kitchen I get a text message. It’s from Alisa. I go out a door in the kitchen that connects to a porch, and I close the door behind me, hoping nobody will follow me out here. I can see the half moon clearly now, and it illuminates the backyard, which is barren. The grass is dead and the hedges are uneven and there are cinder blocks stacked in a corner. There are planter boxes built into the side of the house, but they’re about a foot too high. It’s hard to see in just the moonlight, but the walls are unpainted. In the back of the yard there are pipes lined up and some rectangular holes. Something is lying in the very back of the yard, against the pipes, and I can’t quite tell what it is but it’s glistening. I look at the text message. “Sorry I couldn’t make it tonight!” it reads. “But next weekend for sure! ;)” the emoticon makes me cringe. I bring up the message menu, and click ‘delete all’, but then I cancel it and just put my phone away. The sky seems completely clear, and I realize I haven’t felt any pain in my jaw or back or knee the entire time I’ve been here. I don’t even know whose house this is. I didn’t know I’d be here tonight. I didn’t know I’d drive over the hills in Olera. Every morning I wake up, and I feel a little different. I don’t know why. I look out over the porch, and I think about how I could just forget about all of this. I could not even care tomorrow. Once I told myself that I’d clean my fish tank in the evening. I told myself this at lunch. I swore to myself that I’d do it. Then, in the evening, I was tired, and I looked at my fish tank, which was low on water and had a fair amount of fish s*** mixed in with the rocks, and I didn’t want to clean it. I knew I would clean it eventually, so why should I do it right then? Did it matter that I swore to myself earlier that I’d clean it? I didn’t know how I’d be feeling that evening. I look over the barren yard, and I notice cobwebs around the empty planter boxes. This yard hasn’t been worked on. How many times has the owner said he’d work on it? I could swear to myself right now that I’ll forget about all the bullshit I’m worrying about right now, I could promise to forget about it, to focus on my friends and my schoolwork and the things that matter in the long run. The glistening mass in the corner is still a mystery, so I walk off the porch and over towards the corner. The yard is mostly semi-dried mud, and it cakes to my Vans as I walk over, sticking to the soles and weighing down my steps. I look behind me, at the house, unpainted, ignored, a catalyst for a cesspool of people having fun, living in the moment. Then I turn back towards the corner and I see what’s glistening, and it’s a dead cat, it’s fur half gone, but in patches, from malnutrition or stress. It’s back right leg is bent at the knee. It’s mouth hangs slightly open, the bottom a fraction of an inch to the left of the top. Its eyes are half open. It’s covered in a fluid, and that’s what’s causing the glistening. There’s a cut across its chest, between its front legs, and it’s leaked across the cat’s entire torso, and the moonlight reflects off it where there’s fur, hundreds of little stars upon its body. The cat looks old, like it struggled. I think it’s the same cat I saw walking outside the living room. I look at the house again as I pick up a shovel that’s lying by the hole. I pick up the cat gingerly. It’s heavy, even though it’s a thin, small cat. I don’t just dump it into the hole, but slide the shovel out from under it, slowly, with ease. There’s no dirt near the hole, so I dig it up a few feet away and bring it back over to the hole and dump it over the cat. When I can’t see it anymore, I stop. I don’t make any promises as I walk back to the house. I spot Keith leaning against a wall in the dining room. I go over to him, and ask him if he wants to go to 7/11 with me. He says yeah, sure. I tell him I’m going right now, I’m parked outside. I get Eli to give me his keys and then we go outside and it’s raining, hard. I’m wearing my grey jacket but I leave my hood down and let the rain wash over me. Keith puts up his hood, he’s wearing a red jacket and some khakis. We get in the car and I put on NIN’s Downward Spiral, track ten. I drive fast and Keith just lets his head fall back over the seat. I don’t see any stars. My lights wash over the pavement, and I eventually slow down, about a mile away from 7/11. I turn left where I should turn right, and I drive up a sloping hill, and the moon is suspended right in front of us, and I’m not in control anymore. I’m thinking nothing, all I hear is white noise and all I see is the wash and glitter of my lights against the rain. I guess that the next track has started, but I don’t really care. We hit a dead end. There’s a trail head right in front of us, it starts where the road ends. In my rearview window I see a couple and their kid going into their house, staring at my car. I turn off my engine and my windshield wipers. Keith says he thinks they train for football up here. My lights are still on, they stretch across the trail as far as I can see. Finally I tell him to get out of the car. He laughs. He says it’s raining, “Am I nuts?” I tell him I’m not, and he needs to get the f*** out of my car. He laughs again and then I press the ‘unlock’ button and he looks at me weird but he opens the door and steps out. He’s still laughing. I get out too, and I don’t close the door and the music’s still on, and I can hear it slightly, but mostly I hear a wash of fuzz. I think the next song has started. “She let’s the insects in…” Keith is laughing as I grab the back of his hood and smash his face onto the hood of my car. His head snaps back up immediately, and he’s gripping his nose and crying even, and there’s thick, ropy, crimson worms wriggling out between his fingers. I move forward, and I can tell I’m yelling, but I don’t know what I’m saying, and I’m crying too, I think, but it’s raining and I can’t really tell. I almost slip on the wet ground as I walk back towards the car, but then I turn around and come back to him, and he’s holding a little pink object in his hand and saying, with a strained voice, “You, f***, you, my tooth you broke my f*ing tooth” and then I punch him again, in the jaw, and he falls on the hood and I grab his right leg and I twist it and hear something pop. He jumps away, pulling himself across the hood, and he stands up and he walks over towards the trail, not looking at me and I see that his leg is moving fine, but every few steps he flinches and reaches for it. I walk after him, My lights are illuminating us, and the moon looks full through the rain, distorted, it’s not clear, and neither is Keith when he’s this far away, but I can see his red shirt. I catch up with him and I push him from behind so he falls into the mud, and his phone falls out of his pocket and there’s an open text message on it and I can’t see who it’s from, but the sentences I can read as I pick it up to throw off the trail says “Do you want to get more serious? I need to know soon” and even though I think I should pause to see who it’s from I don’t because I don’t care. Keith is on his back and his mouth and nose are covered in scarlet matter and he’s shaking and gripping at the mud and I watch him, writhing and shivering and moaning and just trying to get through this evening, fearing my next move, reduced to a primal piece of meat, and I keep watching him as my car dies and the lights go off and the music stops and everything is dark, flat, navy blue.