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Angel From My Nightmare
It was happening again. The angel was staring at him, flawless ruby red lips curled back over her white teeth, in a frightening grimace. Havoc wreaked all around him, but nothing mattered, because she was coming for him. Again. She always did, though why it mattered he did not know, because she always killed him in the end. He was just ecstatic to see her, to know that she was going to be killing him soon. He was always so happy to die. Because of her, his angel from hell.
Jim got up that Monday morning, from his usual nightmare. It never failed to wake him early, as if that would help calm him down. He hadn't that slightest idea why it kept reoccurring, and he was so used to it now that he didn't even flinch when he remembered the angel. Instead, he smiled, and headed off to his bedroom window. He pulled on the curtain cord, sending an avalanche of sun into his room. He stretched his arms behind his back, and then stepped out his door. He took a quick shower, then slipped into jeans and a t-shirt. As usual. His life seemed to revolve around an effortless stream of sameness, always repeating itself day after day. But he never minded. He always looked at the rising sun with a fresh amazement, at the sparkling, dew covered grass like he was seeing it for the first time. He smiled lopsidedly, and quickly swiped a comb through his thick, light brown hair. Jim bounded lightly down the stairs, where his grandmother was already up. She was an early riser too. He pecked her on the cheek, and Rose smiled at her grandson.
"Good morning, Gran." he whispered cheerily, and she handed him a cup of steaming hot chocolate.
"Morning, Jim. What would you like for breakfast?" she asked, her bright blue eyes flickering toward the refrigerator.
"I'll keep it slow today, just cereal. I'll get it." he said, shaking his head as she started to get up. He took a ceramic bowl out of the cherry wood cupboard, and poured milk and cereal into it. He grabbed a spoon from the matching drawers, and sat back down to the cherry table. He ate slowly, playing with the smaller pieces of cereal, fighting the nervous flutters in his stomach. Frank, his grandfather, creaked the front door open, and stepped inside from out of the sun. He took one look at Jim, and smiled an unexpected, infrequent, grin.
"First day, huh?" he said gruffly. Jim nodded. It was his first day as a senior at Old Fordge Junior/Senior High School. And he was pretty nervous. The first day at that school since he had moved in with his grandparents, this summer, when his parents had died. His sister, Haley, and his youngest brother, Jeff, had moved in too, so he didn't feel quite so alone. His older brother, Alexander, was at Harvard that year. Frank nodded, his gray hair flopping over his wet forehead. Rose got up quickly to pour him some black coffee. He plunked himself down in one of the matching wing backed kitchen table chairs, and took the coffee gratefully.
"Haley and Jeff sleeping in, huh?" Frank asked, as Rose whisked away Jim's empty bowl. He chuckled softly.
"I'm guessing." he said, his voice low. At that exact moment, Haley came bouncing down the stairs, her delicate face aglow and her bed hair flying all over the place.
"Hi, Gran, Grampa! Morning, Jim!" she said, chipper. She gave her grandparents a kiss on their cheeks, and hugged Jim quickly.
"I'll be back," she called, running back up the stairs. Rose laughed.
"So much different from you, isn't she, Jim?" she pointed out, and Jim grinned.
"Yeah. Unlike me, she's excited about her freshman year. I pity her teachers." he said, shaking his head sorrowfully. Rose smacked him with a dish towel, and Frank chuckled.
"Be nice, and go brush your teeth." she scolded, and Jim took his time getting up the stairs. He ran into Jeff, who looked sleepy and helpless.
"Hey, bro." he said tiredly, slapping Jim's hand as he walked past.
"Hey." Jim replied, grabbing his toothbrush from its holder. He removed all traces of cereal, and flossed twice. He knew what kids were like in his old high school, and he didn't want to be caught in that again. He threw his jacket on, and walked to the black Ford truck that Alex had given to him before he'd gone to college. He stepped in, and waited impatiently for his siblings. They were always so late in the mornings, or, maybe, he was extremely early. Haley came bounding out, wearing one of her usual flashy outfits. She was wearing a jean miniskirt, fish net tights, and a black tank top under a ripped green t-shirt. Jeff walked more slowly, still rubbing his blue eyes awake. His blonde hair was tousled, as always. Haley hopped into the seat, wedging herself close to Jim.
"Hurry up, Jeff!" she called impatiently, and Jim rolled his eyes. Trust Haley to be the Queen of Rush when she was perfectly slow herself, he thought. Jeff scooted in next to Haley, and slammed the door shut.
"Hey, be careful!" Jim cautioned, and Jeff sighed.
"It's okay, I didn't kill it." he said, and Jim gunned the engine, backing out of the driveway slowly.
"Okay, so we're meeting at the car at exactly three, am I right?" Haley asked, opening her Blackberry. Haley was virtually unstoppable with a BlackBerry.
"Great. Omigod, is anyone else sorta nervous, you know, because we don't know anyone?" she asked, lifting her big grey eyes off the glowing LED screen and looking around at her brothers.
"Well, yeah, but not just because we don't know anyone." Jeff said, and Jim glanced gratefully at him. Jeff and Jim were very close to the same age, with just a year separating them. Jim was seventeen, and Jeff was sixteen. Haley was fourteen and a half. Jim pulled into the school's parking lot, amazed at how small the buildings were. The maroon colored bricks were covered with ivy, with many windows, the most windows in the biggest building, which he guessed was the cafeteria. He parked, throwing the car into park. Jeff got out, and Haley was right behind him; he towered over her five foot pixie-like frame. Jim got out more slowly, and locked it carefully. Haley peered at her BlackBerry, and then pointed out the main office building. They walked to it, with friendly and curious gazes following their every move. Jim opened the door for Haley and Jeff, who snickered and punched Jim's arm as he walked past. Jim nodded deeply, mocking his brother. The woman behind the desk looked up tiredly, and her eyes popped open wide when she saw Haley's outfit. Jim stifled a laugh, as Haley marched right up to her.
"Hello, we're new here, and we need our schedules." she said clearly, and recognition filled the woman's face.
"Oh, you must be Frank's grandkids! He was here yesterday, telling me about you. Uh, Jim, Haley, and Jeff Annings, am I correct?" she guessed, pointing at each one of them as she said their names. Jeff nodded sleepily. She smiled sympathetically, and handed each of them a piece of paper. Haley immediately started typing her schedule into her Blackberry, and Jim exchanged a knowing glance with Jeff. The woman waved them off, and they separated. Jim rushed to building four, to Biology. He rushed in, too late realizing that he still had his book bag. Many pairs of eyes turned to him curiously, but luckily the teacher, Mr. Tage, wasn't there yet.
"You new?" a clear voice asked him. He whirled his head around, seeing a thin, wiry boy sitting in a desk in the back. He had white blonde hair, and big blue eyes behind wire rimmed glasses.
"Yeah." Jim said, coming to him. The boy invited him to sit down, and Jim did, still feeling the stares of the other classmates.
"Ben Griffins. You?" he asked, offering a hand. Jim shook it firmly, grinning at him.
"Jim Annings. We just moved from Manhattan, New York. Have you lived here all your life?" he introduced himself, and Ben nodded.
"Pretty boring, though. There’s not really much to do. How about in Manhattan? Did your parents get a job transfer?" Ben asked, an innocent question enough. Jim felt his throat swell, and cleared it.
"No. They died." he said quietly. Ben put a hand on his shoulder.
"Sorry to hear that, man. But don't worry about the classes here or anything; they're so simple I’m shocked that we're still here. Even more than half the people in this class are failing." he said quickly, trying to change the subject.
"You serious? At my old school they all but beat us to death with exams, term papers, etc." Jim said, shaking his head. Ben chuckled, then turned around. Mr. Tage walked into the room then, holding a box of slides. Ben groaned, and rolled his eyes toward Jim.
"Here comes torture. So boring." he yawned, and Jim stifled a laugh. Mr. Tage frowned at him slightly, then started a monologue, while passing out slides. His voice was flat and with no tone, and Jim suddenly felt like nodding off. He paid strict attention though, in case Ben was just a valedictorian and the class was actually difficult. It wasn't; he had already done this at his old school. Finally he made it through his other classes, until it was lunch. He was led into the lunchroom by Ben, who led him to a table with all his other friends. There was a pleasant girl named Jenny, who was hiding behind a thick book, with black hair, and blue eyes. Kristen was Jenny's sister, she shared her blue eyes, but not her dark hair. Hers was red, and stick straight, unlike Jenny's curls. Ben had three other friends, Carl, Fred, and Sam. Fred had wispy thin light brown hair, and was loud. Sam was a blonde, with green eyes. Carl had black hair, preferably Asian. Jim talked the whole lunch period, barely eating. He managed to sneak a few bites of pizza in between a good natured argument about cars between Fred and Sam. After school, he met up with Haley, who chattered his ears off while they were waiting for Jeff. He appeared soon, and slid into the car next to Haley. She immediately turned to him, and started chatting again. Jim rolled his eyes, landing them on Jeff. Jeff grimaced, nodding to whatever Haley was saying. Jim drove casually along, watching the road and the woods. He still wasn't used to so much greenery; except in Central Park, where he didn't really go often.
"Jim, you better hurry. There's a mighty storm brewing." Jeff said, peering out of the window. Already, droplets were spattering on the windows. Angry black clouds raced on the horizon, the sky turning a dark grey. Jim pressed his foot on the gas pedal, and the car shot forward. The rain was coming down in sheets when Jim parked, and Haley moaned and groaned that her hair was going to be ruined. Jeff ran under the safety of the porch, while Jim stood in the fierce wind and rain, fumbling with his car key. He was completely soaked by the time the trio got inside, and he ran right upstairs to take a shower. This is just perfect, he thought angrily, staring outside. The wind shook the house, and Jim heard Haley scream slightly. He ran downstairs, only to see Rose and Frank ushering everyone into the cellar.
"Come on, son, better this way." Frank grumbled, pushing Jim inside and shutting the cellar door after himself. Haley huddled against Jim, who was pressed against the stone wall. For once, he didn't squirm away. She put her head on his shoulder, and he could feel her shiver.
"Grampa, I'm scared." Haley whimpered, and Frank, who was sitting next to her, hugged her.
"It'll be alright, kids, just a little storm." he said soothingly. Jim didn't need light to know that Jeff rolled his eyes. He shivered, and pulled Haley closer to him. A scream was heard outside, and Frank grunted out,
“It’s the wind, don’t worry, kids.” Jim didn’t know how long they stayed down there, but the first thing on his mind when they got out was, foolishly, if they still had to do homework. He sighed, looking around at the house, which was, miraculously, still in good order. Rose immediately got busy, heating up a vat of tomato soup, and Haley helped her grill cheese sandwiches. Jim and Jeff went outside with Frank, inspecting the house.
“Well, everything seems to be fine. Jim, you and Jeff will help me clear up all these leaves and wash the windows this weekend, alright?” Frank said, fixing his small but piercing blue eyes on the two teenage boys. Jim and Jeff nodded slowly, shuffling back inside the house. Jeff was grumbling. When they got inside, there were five places on the round table, and Haley was flipping the sandwiches onto the plates, with Rose pouring tomato soup into big salmon colored bowls, matching the plates. Jim took a handful of silverware out of a drawer and started spreading that around. Jeff had found an old gramophone, and had put on Dean Martin.
“Oh!” Haley cried out, her eyes lighting up. “I like this guy!” she said, and Jeff snorted his amusement.
“Well, bloody ‘ell, ‘aley, ‘oo doesn’t?” he asked, imitating an English accent and making a monocle out of his forefinger and pointer finger. Rose smacked the back of his head with a wooden spoon.
“Ow, Gran!” he yelped, rubbing his head. Jim laughed with Haley, and they sat down.
“Watch your language young man. I will not have swearing in this kitchen.” Rose said, her eyes bright and gay with laughter. Frank returned from the bathroom, where he had just washed his hands. They sat down at the table and said Grace, then they dug into their dinner. The sky was darkening when they were eating ice cream. Frank looked anxiously at the sky.
“It had better not storm again.” He grunted, rising up and clearing the table. The three teens started to help Rose with the dishes, but she shooed them out and told them to get started on their homework. Jim went sluggishly upstairs, and flicked on his desk lamp. He had an attic room, with a sloping ceiling and a big window that opened out onto the gables. He had climbed on them many times before. His walls were partly yellow, partly wood; oak. He could see the rising sun through his window, and his brother could see the setting sun through his window, on the other side of the attic. They had walls dividing the spaces, with a door in between; all the extra storage space was now the basement. He started on his Biology homework, and sped through it, until English. He was horrible at English, he always had been. They had to create a short story that was “eloquent and flowed smoothly like a running river”. The old bat. How the hell can someone do that and talk like that, I mean for the love…he thought, shaking his head, staring out the window, wanting a story to come to him. His dream. Of course! It was obvious! He turned back to his paper, but looked up as he felt a chilly breeze rustle through his room. He could never remember the angel clearly, it was always blurry and foggy when he woke up. He only remember that she had lips the color of scarlet, of blood. He looked around, thinking Haley had passed by before he came up and turned on the fan. The fan was perfectly still, no one in the doorway. Suddenly he heard metallic screeching coming from the window. He whirled around, sliding his chair away from his desk. He frowned, getting closer to the window. A throaty wail escaped from the window, and the glass shuddered as a white face banged into it. Jim yelled, and fell onto the bed. The thing hissed, red lips curled back over white teeth, the fingers on the hands curled and poised, ready to strike. He woke up. Panting, disoriented, and still sitting in his desk chair. He looked up, towards the window. Nothing was there, and the clock read midnight. Jim groaned, and scrawled something on his paper. English was after lunch, he’d finish it then. Jim stumbled around, kicking off his socks and crashing onto his bed. He was asleep in an instant. He had the dream again.
Wednesday, August 24th
The school year started out the same as last year. Except we’ve got different teachers, and there are a couple of new kids in school, and then there’s the new material we’ve got to (yawn) learn. Boring. The new kids are Jim, Haley, and Jeff Annings. They’re pretty nice kids, and Jim is really cute. He’s got these bright, blue-gray eyes, and light, thick brown hair. That’s wavy! Kristen likes him too. But I don’t know. I’ve got this weird feeling that something bad is gonna happen to him and his family. Dad just laughs whenever I mention them, and calls me his, “Little Psychic”. It really bugs me sometimes, but I know that he doesn’t mean anything bad by it. Tonight, after Kristen and I picked up our little brother Timmy from second grade(his first day, he was so excited! It was comical.) there was a huge storm. There were screams—dad said they were the wind—and they rose the hair on the back of my neck, they were so creepy. It sounded like metal screeching on glass. I wanted to cover my ears, but I was trying to comfort Timmy. Something bad is going to happen to the Annings family, that much is obvious. Yes, I’m creepy. And yes, they are going to be in pain. Goodnight! Let us sleep well on these happy thoughts…
“Hey! Hey, Kelly!” Haley yelled the next morning, scrambling out of the car. Jeff shrugged and hoisted his back pack onto his shoulders, while Jim locked up the car. Jeff suddenly let out a wolf whistle. Jim looked up so fast his head banged on the car roof.
“Hey, Jim, who’s that?” Jeff asked, pointing at a girl in the distance. Jim rolled his eyes.
“That’s Jenny. Jenny Dexter, you know, one of the people I sit with?” he said, and Jeff shook his head.
“No, see, I know who Jenny is, I’m in her English class. But who’s the chick next to her?” he said, pointing again. Jenny turned around then, heading toward the building. She laughed, and the girl next to her came into view. She was pretty, but achingly familiar. She had long, blue-black hair that went past her shoulders, and pale skin. She smiled, showing bright, even, white teeth. Jenny went inside, the girl following.
“Don’t…know. I think she might be new.” Jim said slowly, shaking his head and towing his brother to the school.
“Find out, because she is one hot chick!” Jeff said admiringly, and Jim had to agree. He and Jeff separated, and Jim went to his locker. He stuffed his bag and books inside, and set off for Biology. He sat next to Ben again, and was about to ask him who the girl was when she came in. she was wearing a light denim skirt, and a green sweater.
“Ben, who’s she?” he said, staring at her. Ben shook his head, frowning.
“I don’t know, man. I’ll go ask her.” He said, rising up out of his seat and striding over to the girl. She smiled at him, and he asked,
“Hi! I’m Ben Griffins. Are you new here?”
“Yes.” She replied, shaking his outstretched hand.
“Come on, I’ll introduce you to some people, in case you need help in the halls or something.” He offered, leading her to Jim. Jim stood up too, and shook her hand. Her expression was dreamy and vague, like she was somewhere else. Like Luna Lovegood, he thought, raising his eyebrows slightly.
“What’s your name?” she asked, her voice soft and velvety.
“Jim Annings, what’s yours?” he asked, letting go of her hand. Ben stood next to her, grinning broadly at Jim.
“Halloween.” She said mysteriously, and slid into an empty seat. The bell rang and Mr. Tage came in before the two boys could ask any other questions. Jim looked quizzically at Ben, who shrugged. Mr. Tage was rolling in a television, and the students cheered, joyous by the fact that they wouldn’t have to do any work today. Mr. Tage flicked off the lights, and the room grew dark, barely lit by the blue glow of the TV.
“Man, why did she say Halloween?” Ben whispered to Jim, jerking his head to the girl, who was doodling on a piece of scrap paper.
“I don’t know, maybe she was pulling our legs.” Jim answered truthfully, shrugging. Halloween leaned over, and whispered,
“Or maybe that’s her real name.” then she grinned. Jim’s eyes popped out of his head, and he muttered,
“Are you serious?” she replied,
“Yes. Holly, for short.” She murmured, propping her chin in her hands. Ben leaned toward her eagerly.
“Where did you move from?” he asked. None of them were paying attention to the Biology movie; Mr. Tage was even taking a nap, it looked like.
“North Carolina.” She said shortly, looking down at her nails.
“Did you go sailing every day?” Ben asked, grinning. She smiled.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun. We moved here the day summer began.” She said, frowning.
“I’ve been moved around a lot. And there was only one time that they told me why. But I won’t bore you. I should pay attention.” She said abruptly, and didn’t say another word. She watched the movie, but neither of the guys thought she was really seeing it. Ben started to scoot away, until Jim punched his arm and shook his head slowly.
“Come on!” Jim yelled to his brother and sister, who were, as always, traveling slower than turtles.
“Sorry!” Haley shouted back, waving goodbye to a couple of girls behind her. Jeff started to run, and slid into the car, next to Jim.
“Yes!” Haley squealed, banging the door behind her, Jim making a disgruntled sound of disapproval in the back of his throat.
“I get shot-gun!” she said triumphantly, sticking her tongue out at Jeff. He rolled his eyes at her and mussed her hair. She groaned, and pulled out a compact and brush from her purse.
“Girls.” Jeff snorted, and reached over her to roll down the window.
“Hey! Wait up! Jim!” someone called, and Jim stopped the truck. He opened his door, and stepped out to meet a panting Holly. Jeff’s eyes widened, and Haley didn’t notice. She just looked up briefly, and said,
“Oh, hey, Holly,” without another glance.
“Hey,” Holly said to Haley, and then turned back to Jim.
“Jim, can I get a ride? I don’t live far,” she pleaded, glancing into the car.
“Um, yeah, sure. You’ll have to sit in the back—“ he started, but was interrupted by Jeff, who was scrambling out of the car.
“I’ll ride in the back, you can sit up front.” He said, blushing furiously. Holly looked mildly surprised.
“Okay. Thanks Jeff.” She said vaguely, and climbed inside the car. Jim stared at her for a while before starting the car.
“What?” she asked, while Jeff tapped the back window insistently.
“Nothing. You just look really familiar.” He said, shaking his head and throwing the car into drive. “I live on Vine Street.” She said, after a moment of Haley induced chattering. Jim obediently turned onto the road, and continued on a tree shaded, gravel drive.
“This one.” She pointed out a driveway, and Jim turned onto it. It was a dirt driveway, opening to a grand house. Jeff whistled from the back. Jim stopped the car, and got out. He held out a hand to help her out of the car, and she took it, sliding out with ease.
“Thanks for the ride. Hey, if you guys ever want to stop by, you know, hang out or whatever, go ahead.” She invited with a smile, and started to back up slowly. She lifted a hand in a small wave, and turned, running indoors. Jim shook his head, and followed Jeff back into the car.
“I am willing to take her up on that invitation.” Jeff said easily, yawning.
“Yeah. She seems nice.” Jim added, frowning. He still felt like he’d seen her somewhere.
“She creeps me out.” Haley said, shuddering delicately. Jeff glowered at his little sister, who took no notice. Jim pulled into their driveway hurriedly, already sensing a fight. He jumped out, slamming the door behind him.
“Well,” Haley started, sliding out of the car, “She’s really kind of loony, and she looked at my friend Kelly like she wanted to…I don’t know, kill her or something. She freaks me out. I don’t trust her.” She finished, and Jeff’s hands curled into fists, his face red. Jim held his brother back, shaking his head.
“Don’t talk about her like that!” Jeff thundered at Haley, who shrank back, frightened. Jeff stormed into the house, slamming the door behind him. He ran upstairs, yelling something about homework. Rose looked worried when the two entered the sunny kitchen. Rose had been straining the spaghetti in the sink, and now she was letting the deer chunks sizzle in olive oil on the pan, but she turned away from it all to ask Jim what had happened.
“Well, there’s this girl at school, we just met her today, whose name is Halloween, Holly, for short, and we gave her a ride home. And Jeff sat in the back so Holly could sit in the front, and Haley doesn’t like her much, and so she uh…expressed her feelings after we came home, and Jeff got all mad about it. So now he’s sulking, I guess.” Jim explained, picking a noodle from the strainer and slipping it into his mouth. Rose smacked his hands, and turned to Haley.
“Go apologize to your brother.” Rose scolded, ushering Haley upstairs. Haley ran up, totally not guilty, popped her head in Jeff’s room, and said,
“Sorry ‘bout that!”, then ran back downstairs. Jeff rolled his eyes, then shut his door. He sat down heavily on his bed, and looked at the picture on his bedside table. His mother smiled back at him, her head leaning against his father’s. A tear slipped down his cheek, and he took the picture in his hands. His mother had been beautiful, with long, thick, brown hair, and grey eyes. His father had been the one with blue eyes and blonde hair, and this was why he could never stay mad at Haley. She was their mother all over again, except with their father’s talkative manner. Jim was the quiet one, the serious one. He had been the ideal of their grandfather, of Frank. Alexander and Jeff were both a mix of everyone. Ah, Alexander. He missed his oldest brother. Who else would have made Haley shut up? Especially when she was ranting and raving about how horrible Holly was…his fists clenched again. He would not stand for any sort of talk against Holly. Holly was going to be his girl, no matter what. He already felt strongly towards her. He only had found one friend at the school, while Jim seemed to be attracting everyone. There was a girl who was really nice to him, Kristen Dexter. But she sat with Ben Griffin’s crew, who sat with Jim. Maybe he would sit next to them tomorrow.
“Jeff? Honey, dinner’s ready.” Rose called gently from the doorway. She had noticed the photograph her grandson had been holding. She was fighting back tears. Jeff looked up.
“Okay, Gran.” He sighed, and got up, coming down the stairs with his grandmother. Haley and Jim were already fighting playfully over the deer meat, and Jeff sat down heavily next to Haley. She grinned at him. Haley never remembered fights. “Why fight when there are more fun things to do with each other?” she always said, whenever one of her friends was mad at her. Jeff smiled back, and gave himself a heaping pile of spaghetti. Frank shook his head and grinned at the boy and girl, and dug into his food. Rose smiled at her family.
“So…Jeff’s the quiet one, and…you’re the serious one, aren’t you?” Jenny asked, her brow furrowing. Jim laughed.
“No, flip it.” He said. Jenny was over at his house that evening, helping him with English. Jeff was off somewhere, maybe with Holly. It was Friday, and Jim was worried to see that he barely saw Jeff anymore. Haley was curled up by the fire, reading a book.
“I got it!” Jenny exclaimed, and bent her head over the paper in her lap. Jim shook his head, sighing.
“I sure don’t. How are we supposed to write a short story? Didn’t we have this same thing on Monday?” he asked, peering at her paper. She grinned, and tapped the side of his head.
“Ah, clever, aren’t we? The old bat sure isn’t. She doesn’t realize that she gave us this same thing. I would’ve turned the same story in, but Ms. Viola didn’t give us back our papers. Sad, isn’t it?” she said, cocking her head to the side. He grinned, nodding.
“What did you write the first time?” she asked absentmindedly, writing something down.
“I honestly don’t know anymore!” he said, laughing.
“I was so tired and bored that I just wrote down something random.” He said, making her laugh. Haley looked up, to Jenny.
“Jenny, what does…uh…ostentatious, mean?” Haley asked, looking back at the book for reference. Jenny answered immediately.
“Ostentatious means to be showing a great display of wealth and success designed to impress people.” She said proudly, beaming at Haley. Haley grinned, and flashed the cover of the book.
“Then Rosalie Hale is showy…I thought they were only saying that to bug her. Well then…” she mused, returning to her book. Jenny grinned wider.
“I love that book.” She sighed, turning back to the homework.
“Well, you can just write a short story, which should be simple. Hey, do you get this Bio unit at all? What the heck is…here,” she said, pointing out the page to him.
“Oh, that’s simple. Here all you have to do is…” he said, explaining it to her. After they were done with homework, they lounged in the kitchen, telling each other about their families.
“Hey, what do you think of Holly?” Jim asked, tossing Jenny a root beer from the fridge, which she caught neatly.
“Nice,” Jim muttered, grinning at her. She smiled back, and then frowned.
“I don’t know…I don’t really know her that well. She kind of creeps me out. She’s like Luna Lovegood, from Harry Potter, you know?”
“I thought that too!” Jim exclaimed, high-fiving her. They laughed, and Jenny popped open her soda and took a swig. She hopped up onto the counter, dangling her legs. She was really very pretty, Jim thought, in the rosy glow of the sunset. She was wearing plain blue jeans and a white t-shirt, and her hair was straightened for once, her eyes looking bluer than ever. He smiled to himself, appraising his friend. She was more fun to hang out with than Ben, he reasoned, or Kristen. He took a huge gulp of root beer to chase away the thoughts from his mind. He gagged, the bubbles blocking his airways and soda spurting from his nose. He ran to the sink, choking out the soda. Jenny was laughing so hard she was crying, and Jim laughed too. The door opened and Jeff came in with Holly, who were holding hands. Holly looked quizzically at the two, and her eyes flashed.
“Hello, Jim.” She said pleasantly, nodding politely to Jenny, who waved.
“Hey,” he mumbled, his mind going blank at her beauty. No wonder Jeff was in love with her. She seemed to be getting prettier as the days went by. Jim took another gulp of soda, and opened the refrigerator. He mulled over its contents, finally pulling out the roast beef slices Rose had left for them. He tossed that on the table, and got out some bread from the bread cupboard. He started to make roast beef sandwiches, and Jeff handed Holly a soda. She wrapped her fingers around it, as if relishing the cold. Jenny rolled her eyes, and spread mustard over the sandwich Jim handed her. Jim stared at her.
“Mustard?” he asked, a little skeptically. She grinned, and nodded.
“It tastes good.” She mumbled, her mouth half full. Jim chuckled, shaking his head. They sat down at the table, munching on the sandwiches. Haley came wandering, flinching when she saw Holly. Holly smiled shyly, ducking her head. Jeff gazed adoringly at her, and Jim resisted the urge to gag. He looked like a sick puppy. Holly slid down into a chair, tapping her fingernails on the smooth wood. Haley looked irritated.
“So,” Jim swallowed, “where’ve you two been?” he asked, looking pointedly at Jeff. He glowered at his brother.
“We’ve been walking around, and then just a few minutes ago we decided to go out to dinner. But since we’re already eating here, I guess there’s no point, really. What have you two been doing?” Holly explained, her eyes zeroing in on Jim. Haley let out a snort of laughter, and ran back into the living room. Jenny could hear her laughing into a pillow. She grinned, and spoke before Jim could.
“Stuff.” Haley laughed even harder. Jeff raised his eyebrows.
“What kind of stuff?” he asked nonchalantly, playing with a piece of onion that had fallen off of his sandwich.
“Like homework.” Jim filled in hurriedly, and Haley came back in, her face red. She wacked Jim on the back of his head with her book, and went back into the living room.
“What was that?” Jenny asked, laughing.
“That was Haley. Yeah, she’s a rare, unknown species that Animal Planet hasn’t discovered yet. Observe,” his voice hushed, as Haley came in with an empty plate, “as the Haley moves most stealthily, dumping her plate into the sink. Watch how she turns, and glares at us, the intruders. The Haley doesn’t like intruders on her land. And now she’s advancing toward us,” Jim got up, backing away from the glaring Haley, who was coming at him, her fists poised and ready, “Ow! She…appears to be…ouch, very, OW! Territorial, maybe we’d, better get out, seriously Haley, stop—OW!—hitting me! Ow! I’m sorry, okay, but we wanted to do coverage for Animal Planet, and—OW!” Jim yelled from down on the floor, lifting his hands to cover his face. Haley was punching at him and yelling like a Comanche, while Jeff, Holly, and Jenny looked on and laughed.
“Won’t any of my co-workers from Animal Planet—don’t hit me!—help me at all? We shall see if the daring James Annings will be alive on the next episode of Survivor!” he shouted, springing up and lifting a screeching Haley off the ground, slinging her over his shoulder and locking her in the pantry.
“Jim! Let me out!” she yelled, pounding on the door. Jim wiped his hands on his brother’s shirt, grinning. Jeff gagged, and ran right around, up to his room, yelling,
“I don’t want Haley germs! Who knows what she carries!” and Jim grinned wider.
“And that, my friends, is how you stop the Haley from attacking. Applause, applause!” he said triumphantly, pumping his fist in the air like the champion of the Olympics. Holly and Jenny clapped obediently, grinning.
“Seriously! Come on, Jenny, you’re supposed to be the nice one!” Haley groaned, pounding on the door again. Jenny laughed, and started to walk toward the pantry door.
“No way! She’ll kill me once she gets out, and there will be no Survivor episode next week!” Jim said flatly, shaking his head and grabbing Jenny’s hand as she started to twist the lock. She looked up at him in surprise, and grinned wider.
“I have to let her out. What if she eats all the peanut brittle?” Jenny asked, cocking her head. Jim gaped in mock horror.
“Oh no, not the peanut brittle!” he gasped, letting go of Jenny’s hand. She opened the door, and Haley fell out, laughing.
“That was awesome! How did you know that that’s Jim’s favorite snack? It took me years to figure out what candy I should eat first so that Jim can’t have any!” she exclaimed, falling down onto a chair, panting. Jenny shrugged.
“That’s my favorite too. I just guessed. I didn’t even know you guys had any peanut brittle. Creepy, huh?” she said, waggling her eyebrows. Haley smiled faintly, scooting away from Holly when she sat down. Holly ignored the rebuff, and moved closer to Jim. Jeff bounded down the stairs then, smiling. He sat down next to Holly. The group was quiet for a few moments.
“What now?” Haley asked softly, playing with her fingers. Jenny stood up.
“I should probably be getting home. My mom will be wondering where the heck I am. Jim, can I get a ride?” she asked, lacing up her tennis shoes. Jim stood too, along with the rest of the teens.
“Yeah sure. Anyone else need a ride?” he asked, looking around the room, squinting. Holly raised her hand shyly, smiling.
“Perfect…come on, Jen, you need to get your stuff.” Jenny and Jim went into the living room, and helped each other pack up their homework.
“Hey, thanks for helping me with Bio. I needed it.” Jenny said, her eyes flashing up to meet his gray-blue ones. Jim smiled down at her.
“No problem. Thanks for helping me with my mental problem.”
“Aw, that’s okay. I take meds too.” She said, laughing. She hoisted her bag onto her shoulder, and Jim led her outside.
“Bye, guys!” she called to Jeff and Haley, who waved from the doorway. Holly ran after them, after kissing Jeff on the cheek. Haley giggled, her face turning red. Jenny was already in the car, and Holly hopped in after her. It was quiet in the car, a kind of unbearable, oppressing silence that was almost menacing. The tension in the air between the two girls practically crackled. Jim cleared his throat.
“So…what are you guys gonna be for Halloween? I mean the actual holiday.” Jim asked, and Jenny laughed.
“I’m gonna be a fairy princess!” she said, in a kiddy voice. Holly flinched.
“No, I’m kidding. I’m gonna be a ghost. Woo!” she said, laughing again. Jenny laughed a lot, Jim noticed. Holly spoke up.
“I’m going to scare little children on Halloween. See?” she said, pulling in a frightening grimace, her lips pulled back over her teeth, the fingers of her hands curled and poised, ready to strike. Jim sucked in a ragged breath, and horror suffocated his mind.
“I know you now.” He gasped, stopping the car at her house. Panic, and—could it be?—satisfaction, crossed over Holly’s face, and then she grinned, opening the car door.
“Of course you do, Jim! I’m Halloween Woode, remember? Your brother’s girlfriend?” she said, laughing, and slammed the car door, running to her house, until the darkness swallowed her up. Jim’s hands clutched tight to the steering wheel, his eyes bugging out of his head in a kind strange and confused terror. Jenny put a hand on Jim’s shoulder, and shook him.
“Jim? Are you okay?” she asked softly, and his head snapped up.
“I’ve seen her before. I dream about her every night.” He said hoarsely, and his eyes widened even more when he saw Jenny’s face.
“No, not like that! Hell no! But I have this dream…I’ve had it ever since my parents died, that there was this…this..angel, that was always holding me against a wall or something hard, and there was death and war all around me, and I was always so happy to see her, and yet she always killed me. And then I wake up, right before I die. Strange, huh? And this was before I even knew her.” He said, chuckling darkly. He shook his head, and turned the car around, heading to Jenny’s house. She was silent the whole way there. When he stopped at her house, she started to say something, but changed her mind at the last minute.
“Goodnight, Jim.” She said in a broken whisper, and walked off and into her front door. Jim turned the car around, and sped back to his house. Every single sliver of blackness seemed to choke him, for now he knew that the night wasn’t safe anymore. Nothing was safe anymore.
The next morning, the doorbell rang. Haley ran to answer the door, and there stood Holly. She looked her straight in her gray eyes, and said,
“I need to talk to all of you.” Haley nodded, and led her into the kitchen. Jim and Rose were washing the dishes, while Jeff was already outside with Frank, cleaning windows. Rose turned around, and her eyes widened.
“Hello, Mrs. Annings, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m Halloween Woode. But everyone calls me Holly.” She introduced herself, and Rose shook her hand, looking like she’d seen a ghost.
“It’s…very nice to meet you, dear. Jim, I’ll finish the dishes, you kids go on and see how far along Grampa and Jeff are on the windows.” Rose said vaguely, frowning, and turned back to the dishes.
“Okay…” Haley said, and led them outside. Jeff was just climbing down a ladder.
“Hey, Holly!” he shouted, grinning. Frank shook his head and winked at Jim. Jim grinned back, and raised up a hand. .....Five minutes. Frank nodded, and started raking ,the leaves again. Holly led the three to a secluded oak tree. She slid down onto the ground, and Jeff sat down on the ground next to her. Jim sat too, across from her, and Haley kneeled carefully, grimacing. Holly took a deep breath, looking nervous. Jeff took her hand.
"Okay. What's going on?" Haley sighed, running a hand through her hair. Holly's eyes flashed, and she glared at Haley. Haley leaned away from her, looking wary.
"I was getting to that." she snapped, and Haley rolled her eyes.
"Like when? In June?" she retorted, snorting. Holly's fists clenched, and then she took another deep breath, and smiled at Haley.
"Never mind." she said slowly, and looked around at all of them. Jeff squeezed her hand. she smiled slightly at him, and looked at Jim. Then away, up at the clouds.
"There's a reason my name is Halloween."
Friday, September 1st
Today began nicely enough, I suppose. Too bad that it had to end so stupidly. I was over at Jim's house this evening; we were helping each other with homework. He gave me a tour of his house. It was beautiful. I had never been in Rose and Frank Anning's house before. The walls were brightly colored with wallpaper, and there was a fireplace in every room besides the kitchen and restrooms. I met his sister, Haley, who's very pretty. She's nice too, and then Jim's brother came in with the new girl, Holly. His name is Jeff. It was so obvious to see how taken Jim was with Holly. She was...beautiful, I guess. Kind of creepy, though, especially on the ride home. She barred her teeth and clawed her hands, and Jim reacted to it so violently, shocking even me when he said, "I've seen you before!" Holly laughed, and said, "Of course you have, Jim! I'm Halloween Woode, your brother's girlfriend, remember?" that girl scares the heck out of me, I swear. She ran out into the night, and I was—finally—left alone with Jim. His hands were completely white, and he didn't move or speak until I finally shook him. He looked up at me, and his expression was so shocked and tortured that I thought, for a second, that he looked at least a hundred years old. He told me he dreams about her every night, which so did NOT make me happy. but then he explained that the dreams were nightmares, that they were like she was going to kill him and she was a creeper and stuff. Freak. But at least I found out her last name. A few minutes ago, I found out the scariest thing possible. No one lives at that house on Vine Street. Absolutely no one. So why did she have Jim drop her off there? And I found out she's got a sister. Well, had, a sister. Her name was Stacey Woode. I intend to find a picture of her, because the obituary states that she didn't have a sister. But that her parents were named Alfred and Maria Woode. And Maria looks creepily like Halloween. Black hair, black eyes, except that Maria has dark, tan skin. Her father, Alfred, was the albino. I am so tired. I should go to sleep. I'll write what I found out tomorrow...goodnight!