Slipping my uniform on, I nudged Ross until he fell out of his bed. “Do you want to be late to class?” I asked my friend, grabbing his leg and dragging him across the floor. He was still bundled up in his sheets.
“Geez, Kai. I’m up, I’m up!” Ross slowly got dressed, increasing my anxiety by the second. Knowing that we were already too late, I dropped the whole ‘get to class on time act’ and shuffled out the door. I slipped the key into the slot on the door handle, locking the dorm and turned around to face the courtyard. The entire school stood open-mouthed in a huge cluster that somewhat resembled a circle. I saw Ross standing next to Ali and jogged over to them, shoving my way through a sea of people and ending up between the two of them. At first, I didn’t understand what everybody was staring at, but I followed their eyes and what I saw would haunt me for life. Jessica Monet lay on the grass, eyes wide, chest still, and cold as ice. Her neck was ripped open viciously, all her cords severed. The other day she was sitting with her friends, laughing about their chances with me and now she lay in the courtyard, dead. There was something about the way her blood stained everything, even her ginger curls, which struck my mind with powerful aches. I looked into my friend’s eyes and there was only one emotion showing, fear.
“Hoy there Kai, crazy stuff, ay?” An old friend of mine hooked an arm around my shoulder, knocking the crazed thoughts out of my mind. He was an athletic young man with a crazy imagination full of big dreams and women. His name was Chase Grey and not far behind was Carter McEntti. Carter was new last year and still felt shame when you stared at him for too long, unless your name was Chase of course. Chase was his only friend because he never teased Carter about his deformity, unlike most other students who considered him a freak. Carter is an amputee. Where his right arm should be, a stub lingers in the air, severed right above the elbow.
“Ch-Ch-Chase. . .” Carter stuttered in his high, nervous voice.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming, I’m coming.” Chase responded and turned back towards me. “Geez Carter, hold your horses!” Carter had put a hand on Chase’s shoulder and was now tugging him urgently towards himself. Carter hated to part with Chase and had developed a mild case of separation anxiety. I watched the two boys walk off, arm in arm, with Carter silently tolerating Chase’s onslaught of complaints.
“Aw, they always bring a tear to my eye.” Ross had somehow managed to sneak up behind me undetected, despite being 6’1”.
“Mmm, yeah…” I shrugged Ross’s arm off my shoulder and stood there staring at nothing in particular. Somebody was murdered in my school courtyard. Ok, there was the situation. The victim was a fifteen year old female student. There is the scene. The murderer is unknown and on the loose, the problem. Now all I have to do is solve it.
Great, school is still open. Everyone’s abuzz with chatter and fear. Who’s next? All we have to do is wait. My friends were somewhere among the rest of the speculators, leaving me to my solitary work. What do the detectives do in movies? Suddenly, I realized what came next. Running through names and traits in my head, I narrowed down my suspects. With a quick scan of the crowds, I found Gehl nestled in the shade of the building against the wall. He clearly saw me coming, but gave no acknowledgement of my presence whatsoever. “Crazy day, huh?” I crouched down in front of the loner.
“Only if you never witnessed death with your own eyes.” Gehl’s response was cold and made me nervous. “Of course you have, witnessed death I mean, it’s practically normal for somebody like you.” Now I was really nervous.
“I just wanted to ask if you know anything about the case. Anything helps if it’s related, so don’t hold back any information. Especially if you did it.” I came back with my own harsh tone, but Gehl seemed as blank as ever. Can nothing phase this guy?
“Heh, I thought you’d have noticed by now, but this killing wasn’t natural, or at least from this world. No this was done by something else. A supernatural something else.” As he spoke, Gehl leaned in closer and closer until I could feel his shallow breathing on my cheek. His eyes never moved from mine. We stayed like that for a while, unmoving, until Gehl leaned back against the school wall.
“Quick question before I go.” I stood back up without losing his gaze. “Do vampires really burn in the sun?”
“I don’t know, can you be trusted with knowing one’s weakness? Perhaps you should look into the consequences of your actions for once.” Gehl had nothing else to say and I’m glad he didn’t, I was really getting uncomfortable back there. I was just about to hurry back to my friends when the lady who sits in the office all day came up to me.
“Excuse me Mr. Ryuu, the principle would like to see you for a moment.” Great, just what I needed. I followed the lady into the big man’s office and when I say big, I mean BIG. I slumped down in the chair as the desk lady stepped out and closed the door. What caught my eye was an ominous looking woman about the same height as me. She stood next to the fat principle as if she was a maid. I immediately started to observe her features. Korean with straight black hair cut short and coal black eyes. She looked to be twenty one at the most, possibly eighteen. “Ahem, Mwhstr. Whuu, We’d wike to intruhdooce to you Myth. Tshstbasanuh. That ish all.” I hated that man’s voice and was glad when he got up and walked out of the room. Now it was just me and the strange woman. “As the walrus was saying, you can call me Ms. Tsubasan. I was assigned to you as your personal counselor, but please, think of me as an old friend.” Now I kind of wished the principle was back in the room. My ‘personal counselor’ was waiting to see a reaction from me when she said ‘old friend’. Nothing about her seems familiar, but she appears to know me somehow. Wary, I sat a little straighter in the chair. “You are aware of the sad passing of a student here, yes?” Ms. Tsubasan glared down her nose at me. “Yeah, of course I am. Who isn’t? Surprised we’re all still here and not mourning our little hearts out over it at home.”
“Your sarcasm is amusing and yes, it would be nice to have the day off.” Ms. Tsubasan gave a small smile in order to hide her irritation. “You know, I feel like were already connecting here. From now on, call me Kohr. I insist.” There was something strange in Kohr’s voice, as if she wants something from me. I watched as Kohr took my hand in hers, “Oh my, how much you’ve grown”, she mumbled as she traced my fingers and rubbed my wrist. Creeped out, I aggressively pulled my hand back. “Who are you? What do you want with me? How do you know me?” I yelled from my stiff chair, my knuckles white from gripping the arm rests so tight. “Calm yourself first. I’ve told you, my name is Kohr Tsubasan. Your school has hired me as your personal counselor because some issues of yours has caused the school county’s board members some distress and I know you from your personal record. I have been given access to your files in order to understand you better.” The woman offered a small smile to break the tension, but her eyes called me a stubborn brat. “Whatever, I’m leaving.” I rose from my seat and cracked my neck. “Lizzy, Sylvester, Kiara, me, you, your father.” I paused in the doorway as Kohr listed names. “Don’t. Ever. Speak. Of my Father. Again.” It wasn’t worth glancing back around, my voice was deep enough and loud enough to carry into the room and back out. Without another word, I left. Shortly after, Ross came bounding up to me flailing his arms and screaming. “Kai! What happened? Are you OK? Where were you? I was so worried! Don’t ever do that to me again!” Ross had a firm grip on my shoulders and was shaking me violently, he tends to be a bit clingy at times. “Oh Kai, I don’t know what I would do if you had disappeared. . .” I watched as the larger male fought to hold his tears back, which was eventually proved futile as he enveloped me into his chest. “Please let go.” I knew my words meant nothing until Ross was done and realized that, as a living being, I need to breathe. Two students stared at us, taking in the sight of a tall, full-blooded Caucasian squeezing the life out of his smaller, but tall for his genes, Japanese friend. I hit them with the most intimidating glare I could muster and they hurried along. I get it, men don’t cry, but if you’ve lived through what Ross has lived through and can walk around smiling like an idiot all the time, you’d understand why he needs to shed a few tears here and there. When he was born, Ross had a twin who died just minutes later. Eight years after his twin brother’s death, his father died in the US Military across seas and finally, when Ross was twelve, he witnessed his innocent mother’s unconscious body fall from the arms of my crazed aunt into the churning, black waters of the river below the cemetery hill. His tears and snot now began to wet my shirt, just like they had done two years ago when he jumped off that same cliff his mother fell from with me still clinging for dear life. After a good ten to fifteen minutes, Ross’s heaving sobs began to subside and his grip loosened. “You done?” I asked, rubbing his back gently with my hand. “Y-yeah. . . I’m fine.” He replied between sniffles. I guided him back into the daylight of the courtyard and from there to math class. “Hey, come on. We have algebra to do.” I smiled at Ross and he gave me a quivering laugh. “Don’t you mean Ali and I have algebra to do? You and Chase just sit there pretending to listen, who knows where you two are!”
“Ha, yeah! We ALL know what Chase is thinking about!” I laughed with my childhood friend, ignoring the pain inside me that aches for me to tell the truth. To pour my heart and soul out to Ross and tell him about the place where I go when I’m not listening. To tell him about my little paradise. To tell him about a world where nothing suddenly goes horribly wrong. To tell him about Heaven.
That night, I tossed and turned in my stiff school bed, but it wasn’t the hard, uncomfortable mattress, it was my dreams. Or more accurately, reoccurring nightmares. I was back in a pitch black room. There was nothing around me, but darkness. My body stayed still and relaxed, I’ve been here enough times to know that running is a pitiful attempt to get away. I took a deep breath and, as always, plunged into the solid, black ground against my will. After a few seconds, I opened my eyes. This part always seems to alternate between tortured, gory images of my friends, another, grimmer version of me and a field of fire, but there was none of those. I was in some sort of medical exam room that was dimly lit and almost entirely dull grey. I checked my body to see if I was OK, but it wasn’t its average fifteen year old male body. I was ten years old. A voice popped into my head, it was familiarly unfamiliar. “Welcome back, although I don’t suppose you remember being here before since you were just a baby at the time. Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just checking your vitals. What? Oh, this? Don’t worry about it! It’s a just an oversized syringe crammed full of this ‘medicine’. Hey now, be good or else I’m shoving this thing up a certain area that you’d would most definitely find uncomfortable! Hold still. . . OK! All done! See, that wasn’t so bad was it? This stuff was specially designed for you by our scientists, you know. Your old man played a pretty big part in the creation of this. That’s pretty sweet of him, huh? He just wants you to be a part of something, a big something that will change your life for the better. . . I hope. I mean, just look at me! I turned out fine . . . sort of.” At this point, the door to the room I was in creaked open. My huge ten-year-old eyes widened as a lamb stumbled through the door. It wasn’t the neon green Mohawk the little animal sported, but the sound coming from its mouth. “Hey there little guy, well, I guess you’re not so little now. It’s been a few years, huh?” It was the same voice that was in my head. “Look, there’s something you need to know and, just between you and me, you are not going to like it.” The lamb clambered onto the table I was sitting on and lay down beside me. A chill like a sudden gust of wind flowed through me and I realized I was back in my own teenage body, although that chill lingered around, for I was completely naked. “Hold on, before you continue, I have a few questions that I need answered.” I can’t believe I’m talking to a baby sheep, but if he can talk, then it’s most likely that he can hear. “I do suppose we have time before you turn conscious. Go ahead, be my guest.” The lamb’s ears twitched back and forth, causing the tag in one of them to shake around. “Ok, first of all, why am I butt-naked?” I waited patiently for an answer from the bundle of wool until finally, he spoke. “Everyone’s naked in their visions. Even in that little paradise of yours, you remember sitting beneath that tree watching the sunset, right? Well if you were naked then, you shouldn’t have any problems with this.”
“OK, sure, but where am I?” The lamb suddenly jolted up onto all fours. “I cannot tell, for you would surely put yourself at even greater risks!” I guess I’ll have to find out myself. Any other questions I may have had suddenly flooded away as I was pulled back into reality. My eyes flashed open into the dark dorm, quickly scanning the room for any signs of danger. I flung my legs around and let them touch down onto the rough carpet. Silently, I stood up and tip-toed to Ross’s bed. As gently as I could, I pulled the covers back a little to find him sound asleep and safe as can be. That was when it me. I woke up because I heard a noise. I slipped on some pants and a t-shirt and slid out the door. My sharp eyes pierced the darkness immediately, searching for the cause of the sound. A sudden rustle of leaves was the sound of glass shattering in the dead silence. I slinked through the shadows towards the sound, which was gradually rising in volume. The dead silence was ripped from the atmosphere as a scream pierced the air. Without thinking, I broke into a wild sprint. As I rounded the corner of the main dorm hall, I was struck still in horror. The entire wall of the building was dripping with blood. Everywhere I looked, there was some sort of red splatter painting exhibit and in the middle of all it, a small figure crouched on the ground. “Hey, what happened here?” I risked calling out to the silhouette, only to be answered by a tiny, ragged whisper. The small figure slowly stood up and turned around. It was Lia Gemini, but without the giggles and snorts. “She’s dead. . .” Lia whispered. I took a few steps towards her and when she didn’t oblige to my presence, I closed the distance entirely. “Hey Lia, how did this happen?” I placed my hand on her shoulder and applied the appropriate amount of comforting pressure. “Kaley . . . she’s gone. It all happened so fast. At first, it was just like a movie. She laughed, but I felt it. I felt the gaze of Death on the back of my neck. I told Kaley that we should be go back to our dorm, but she insisted on a few more minutes outside and then . . . and then she . . .” Tears began streaming down Lia’s face. I glanced behind her to see the mangled corpse of Kaley Gemini, the source of all the blood and gore drenching the scene. “You know, your stare isn’t so different.” My focus flashed back to the girl shivering in front of me. “How do you mean?”
“Oh, your eyes. They feel similar to Death’s gaze. They both have that intimidating presence that strikes fear into your heart and wracks your brain with terror. That stare, the one that forces you into submission and can turn the bravest men into cowards. It’s truly terrifying.” Lia left me no opportunities to respond as she violently threw up blood onto my shirt. Her eyes froze at an alarming size, teaming with shock. I caught the girl as she collapsed into my arms, her body going limp. “Lia!” I yelled, but I knew she couldn’t hear me, the foul stench of the dead doubled and hung heavier in the air. The main injury was on her back, between the shoulder blades. The flesh was melted away and blood coated everything, the entirety of my arms were covered in the sticky human sap. “Kai, is that you?” A sleepy voice behind me asked. Quickly, I whirled around to face the witness. My whole body lost its color as I stared straight into the eyes of Ali. She stood there horrified and I realized that I was still holding the lifeless body of our classmate. I dropped Lia and took a few steps towards Ali. She flinched and turned her waist slightly, as if to run away at any given moment. “Wait, it’s not what looks like! I swear!” I pleaded to the girl, hoping for our trust we built up over the years to save me from my gruesome accusation. “Please, just hear me out!” I screeched, my emotions catching up with me. I wiped tears from my cheek, smearing blood all over face. Ali just shook her head slowly, not daring to blink at all. I took a few more steps and tried to reach for her, but she turned and ran at full speed. Great going Kai, now you’ll never get a girlfriend.
A few hours later, in the dim morning of Wednesday, I decided to show my face to the world once more. I made sure not a single drop of blood remained on my fairly pale skin by taking a shower immediately. Luckily, Ross didn’t have to pee in the middle of the night, boy that would have been awkward for the two us. Ugh, again with the crowding? What is it with these people and bloody murders? Despite my own opinion, I decided to become a hypocrite and join them. Almost instantly, I found Ross and Ali. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Murmuring under my breath, I gazed upon the outdoor gymnasium wall. Scrawled in bloody letters, was my full name and a message that I could only assume was for me. “Well if a ‘hello’ is what you’re looking for, you’re not going to get it.” I swiftly shifted my focus to Ali, whom of which was standing stone-still with her arms folded across her chest. “Look I didn’t do it, OK? Just trust me on this one!” I felt lava bubbling up inside of me, but I know I shouldn’t get all riled up about this and besides, I really can’t be defensive with Ali right now, especially if I want her to like me. She sighed and spoke without even glancing at me. “I know it wasn’t you, but the Gemini twins were my friends and the sight of you covered in blood that could have been both of yours or one hundred percent Lia’s . . . it just . . . caught me.” Ali’s facial expression had softened and she looked at me with playful eyes. “I can tell you defiantly didn’t write this on the wall, your handwriting is horrible!” She teased. “Oh yeah? Is it as bad as Ross and his scribbles?” I joked back enjoying the lighthearted smile on her face with every inch of me, but it quickly faded away as if smiling at a somewhat questionable classmate that is one of the few dear friends you have is a sinful action. “Oi, attractive mean girl, mind if I borrow your boyfriend for a few?”
“Hah! As if!” Ali smirked and trotted off somewhere that was out of sight. Was that an as if to “us”, or an as if to leaving me? Hang in there Kai, you still have a chance. A steel-fist grabbed me by the arm and dragged me further from wherever Ali may be. “So, anything new?” Chase gave me a Since-Your-Name-Is-Scrawled-On-A-Brick-Wall-In-Blood-I’m-Guessing-You-Know-Something look. “It wasn’t me, if anything, I’d be the next victim judging by the message.” I was about to ask him if he knew anything about the murders until it was too late. Chase scoffed at my reasoning and craned his neck to gaze out upon the whole scene. “Crazy, eh? All this happening so suddenly. Just crazy. . .” Chase trailed off, a dreamy look clouding his vibrant light blue eyes. He was speaking in a lowered voice meant for my ears only, but soon regained his volume. “Well, I best be taking my leave here. Left my poor little Carter all alone in this crowd. He’s probably freaking out right now!” I watched as the leopard-printed red-head spun around and waltzed into the swarming mass of people, dancing ever-so gracefully between bodies in search of his feeble rose plucked of its thorns. Eventually–after a minute or two–a “Chase, don’t ever leave me again!” Shrieked out into the overwhelming noise of teenage gossip, followed by a purring chuckle. Why can’t I solve this mystery? Who else could it be? Frustrated with myself, I stomped off, shoving people out of the way with my shoulders. As I was exiting the circle, I shoulder-checked another crowd member who grabbed me and ripped me around violently to face him. “Where you going punk?” Tommy spat into my face. Glancing around, I caught sight of Fredrick’s goons closing in. No escape. “So Ryuu, what’ve you been up to?” The boys around me sneered, itching to fight. I hadn’t realized I’d been growling this whole time; what an embarrassment. I forced my face to soften and stared at Tommy. “Let me go.” I commanded in a calm manner. Hysterical laughter broke out everywhere. A few of the crowd members joined us to see what the ruckus was about. “I said, let me go. Please” I repeated, never breaking eye contact. Suddenly, without warning, a large fist connected with the side of my face. My body fell limp to the ground, practically strangling itself to stay conscious. Tommy gave my ribs a kick and his goons closed in to do the same, but Tommy gave them a fierce look. This was between him and me. “Come on Ryuu, get up! Hey, get up! Surely a murderer can take a few hits?” There it was, murderer, the dreaded truth I wished to never hear. Of course they’d think me homicidal, I’ve acted aggressively in the past. But I’d never commit murder! Well, there are a few occasions that I possibly would kill a man. Right as Tommy was about to deliver another heavy kick to my ribs, a large mass blocked the sun. I gazed up at the hazy shape. “And how are we to know that you didn’t commit the murders?” A familiar voice, warm and soothing, yet heroic and powerful. Through the blurred images, I caught sight of brown hair gently blowing in the wind. Ross? I couldn’t believe it. He would never get involved in a fight. He’s the gentlest guy I know! “Aww, playing the good guy are we? How cute. Suppose we’ll just beat you up too.” As punches and kicks rained down upon Ross, he stood strong, taking all of the abuse with outstanding resistance. Eventually, the bullies got bored and sauntered off to pick on somebody else. “Hey Kai, are you alright?” I didn’t respond right away, but somehow managed to choke out, “Just a little dizzy. . .” A hand reached out to me, my eyes having a hard time focusing on it. I grasped it weakly and was pulled into Ross’s chest. “Woah, stand up. You can’t just lean on me all day.”
“It hurts everywhere, I don’t want to move.” I mumbled into my friend’s solid build. Despite his own injuries, Ross hooked an arm around me, allowing me permission to lean on him anyway. We stumbled off, first heading to the nurse’s until I objected of being examined, in which case we headed back to our dorm. Once inside, Ross propped me up on my bed and took a seat next to me. We sat there in haunting silence, contemplating the recent events until I finally broke the silence. “Why’d you do that?” I indirectly stared into Ross’s eyes--deep pools of shining emeralds. “It was nothing really, I’m just tired of seeing you always bullied like that. I just felt that I should share your pain.” A smile formed on my friend’s bleeding lips, comforting me like a mother would. I couldn’t respond. My jaw hang gaping in the air, surprise tingling my face. Ross hummed, gently pulling up his shirt to show me the bruises he sustained for me. Here we sat, broken and bleeding mildly, sharing the pain like brothers. It was at that time that I realized Ross would always be by my side. Forever. Until death does us part.