Jessica’s scalp was so itchy.
When she’d first been presented with her MAD hat she’d felt pretty good in it. She was fully starting to embrace the ‘wear whatever makes you happy’ mantra of her fellow GliTS, almost starting to like her starched, polyester poodle skirt and the little static shocks she got periodically from her faux silk blouse, so having a metallic, reflective head was no big deal, really.
But now she was two hours into being a fully initiated member of Glimmerbrook’s Trust Society and Jessica was becoming desperate to run home and take the thing off.
But she couldn’t. Yet. The GliTS were holding a Very Important Meeting – a ‘post-phenomenon’ de-brief at their headquarters (aka, Pixie’s dad’s house) where they had discussed, in detail, all the gory, impossible events of the previous night and what it could mean. Jessica had, once again, reiterated that no, she’d never spoken to ghosts before, or since, and no, she hadn’t had any near-death experiences or been struck by lightning lately, all while Pixie’s dad delivered refreshments and dusted bric-a-brac around them as if everything was completely normal.
Normal. Jessica almost laughed out loud. What was normal? A few days ago she thought she’d been a normal person, possibly even on the border of boring, living a normal life, despite everyone always thinking that she was a bit ‘kooky’.
And now that she was some loon in a tinfoil hat who spoke to dead people? Even she thought she was strange.
“We should go back to the forest,” Morag said for the umpteenth time. “After they’ve buried Paul, to see if his spirit remains.”
“And to look for others,” Pixie chimed in. “There could be hundreds of them. Just think! The stories they could tell you, Jess. The mysteries you could solve!”
“Isn’t the mystery solved? Surely it’s likely that all the Forgotten Hollow missing people were eaten by a monster,” Jessica sighed. “What can I do with that information? Make people think I’m insane? How would you even catch a man-eating monster?”
Morag and Pixie shrugged.
“I don’t even know if I can actually talk to ghosts, or whether Paul was just a fluke,” Jessica continued. “I mean, I haven’t seen any since, unless he’s a ghost.” She gestured at Pixie’s dad, who had entered the room with a fresh plate of cookies. “And if I can only see fresh ghosts, what do you suggest I do with this ‘talent’? Wait until another person goes missing in the forest and then go say ‘Hi! Sorry you’re dead! Want to chat?’”
“I guess… Maybe we could find out what actually happened to Sandy Moss?” Morag asked.
“No, she was buried already,” Pixie mused. “She has probably passed on, if Paul was right.”
“Oh, right. What about, um, Chase was it?” Morag asked, pointing to Jessica’s abdomen.
“Oh my gosh, Morag!” Pixie gasped. “Sometimes you can be so insensitive!”
“Sorry,” Morag mumbled. “I didn’t mean… I just thought… I’m gonna shut up.”
“I don’t know where he died,” Jessica admitted, feeling rotten, but wanting to ease the embarrassment. “So, unless we wander the whole river, which I’d rather not…”
“No, of course not,” Pixie agreed, scowling at her fellow conspiracy theorist.
Yibbo, who had been unusually quiet for most of the meeting, reached forward for a cookie. “Gee, Morag. Next you’ll be suggesting we go do a séance at the dead police chief’s house—”
“…that’s a great idea!”
“No! It’s not!” Yibbo wailed. “It’s sarcasm! No more dead people this week, please!”
“Technically, you’ve already seen him, so he doesn’t count, right?” Pixie asked. “Plus, he’s freshly dead under mysterious circumstances and not yet buried! He might be perfect! Um, if that’s OK with you, Jessica?”
“Uh…” Jessica pouted; her heart pounding, her palms sweating, her hat becoming a major irritant. What if she did find Ralf’s ghost? What if she could speak to him? What would he say? Would she want to hear it? Would it be safe for her to hear it?
Could she afford not to?
She shot to her feet; decision made. It was completely crazy, but everything was completely crazy.
“Let’s go break into Ralf’s house and hold a séance!”
“Woo! Casual trespass!” Morag squealed, running towards the back room. “Pixie, Jess – let’s go draw up a plan for tomorrow night!”
“And what about me?”
“‘Join the GliTS,’ they said,” Yibbo muttered to herself. “‘It’s all cocoa and spooky stories!’ they said. ‘It’ll be fun!’ they said. Fun? Fun?! My bum! This sucks!”
Seth ascended the stairs of the Orange Box nightclub, freshly fed and carrying about his person a keyring that was, by weight, 90% freezer bunny charms and 10% actual keys. He didn’t have to look far to find his fussy fledgling.
Even in a pulsing room of bodies, even here of all places in this day-glo daymare, she stood out, and it wasn’t simply for the fact that she danced like half of her limbs weren’t correctly attached.
He watched her for a while from the shadows as she flaunted herself for the crowd who all but ignored her, with the natural exception of a few caught men. These smitten souls were watching every swerve and undulation of her shapely figure with that distant, glassy-eyed stare. The tell-tale sign of allure at work.
Thank the devil he was naturally immune to the pink fog. Although he did appear to be leering. Seth licked his lips to break the trance; a subtle action but enough for Faith to lock eyes on to him. She sneered.
“Oh, you’re back,” she scoffed. “Did you enjoy Rochelle?”
As much as he loathed her tiresome childishness, the way she kept asking him questions despite his requests not to, and the mocking way she slurred ‘Rochelle’, he had to admit that having someone who cared about who he’d had his mouth on did hold a certain charm. That, and the slithering shape of her, was sending his senses into overdrive.
Once again, he reminded himself that none of these feelings were real. However intense they felt, they were nothing but a cruel effect of her, questionably subconscious, attempts at using his own manipulation against him.
“I bet you did, you…” Faith scrunched her face up, clearly looking for the right insult. “You fucker.”
Not what he thought she’d call him. Barely an insult at all, by definition. He extended his hand. “Are you ready to go?”
She pulled her arm back, sending herself into a spin that she only just about regained poise in.
“No. I’m not ‘ready to go’. I’m having a great fucking time here.”
“We’ll come back another time,” he said without thinking, briefly wondering why he was trying to please her, and silently cursing himself for committing to another night in this ear-bashing hellhole. “Come.”
“No!” Faith whined, pulling back. “Why do we always have to do what you want to do?”
“Because your taste in everything is atrocious,” Seth muttered, casually distracting a human who was thinking of intervening in what he thought was a lover’s tiff. “Come on, Fa— Vi— you.”
“I’m not… going!” Faith managed, stumbling into a fellow dancer and apologising to her, but while facing the wrong direction.
Seth straightened up and looked at Faith with bemusement as the explanation for her more-irritating-than-usual behaviour became clear. “Oh sweet Lucifer; how are you drunk?”
“What? I’m not drunk!”
Seth took a step closer and peered into her unfocused, grey eyes.
“Fuck off, you weirdo!” she snarled, trying – ineffectively – to shove him.
“You’re inebriated!” he exclaimed, in disbelief. “Bloody hell! I’ve been gone for half an hour, at most.”
“I’m not ineb… inbred… abbreviated!”
“And tonight of all nights,” he growled. “Is this a bloody joke?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she hiccupped, tossing her hair. “I haven’t even had anything to drink!” She gestured to a human nearby. “Hey! You! Have you seen me have a drink?”
“You clearly have.”
“I haven’t! Well not, y’know any booze just… y’know…” she waved her hand, smacking aforementioned human beside her in the face, but he didn’t seem to notice as he was also three-sheets-in-the-wind, as most of the humans in here were.
“I see,” he looked around at the wriggling crowd, trying to gauge who was missing. “Who was it?”
“Um,” Faith pondered, but it became a choked gargle. “That guy. Fat sarong man. And yeah… he was. He was… he was not good. Nope. He tasted like shit.”
“Yes, probably loaded on devil-knows-what,” Seth sighed. “As you are now.”
“He cried when I bit him.”
“And then,” Faith paused for dramatic effect, swaying in her heels. “Then! He threw up on me.” She gestured to her feet and the remnants of her spoils that clung to her expensive shoes.
“Wonderful,” Seth muttered, rubbing his temples.
He wasn’t an expert on the types of intoxicants that humans ingested, but he knew enough to understand that Faith was likely a write-off tonight. On the one hand, he couldn’t blame her for not knowing how to determine the suitability of her supper. On the other, it put his night’s plan on hold and ground his gears. As he glared at her, carefully deliberating his course of action, she pouted at him, stubbornly.
“I’m not drunk. I’m not.”
“I’m not! I’ll prove it!” she looked around for a method to prove her sobriety but, perhaps tellingly, came up short.
Seth sighed. “Touch the tip of your nose.”
Faith made a face and looked down at her finger. “What?”
“It’s not brain surgery,” he growled and tapped his fingertip to his own nose.
She squinted at him a bit longer before she finally understood. After muttering about how stupid this was, how sober she was, how much of a bastard he was, she followed his example.
“Fuck!” she gasped. “Fuck! What did you do that for?!”
Seth would have laughed if he wasn’t so annoyed by the whole turn of events. “Come here, we’re leaving.”
“No!” Faith screamed, backing away. “You made me poke myself in the eye!”
By now a few people on the dancefloor had stopped cavorting and were watching the scene. A number were advancing, once again, to intervene.
Seth had had enough. The carefully amassed power he had obtained from his evening’s quarry would not be seeing its intended use, anyway. With irritation, he gestured around at the crowd in turn, draining himself as he dropped each worthless body into slumber, in turn. The club fell silent as its occupants succumbed.
Exhausted and frustrated, Seth glared at Faith until she finally realised what had just happened around her.
Faith sighed in that over-dramatic, teenaged way and stomped over, glaring at him the whole time.
“I hate you,” she hissed.
“You wound me.”
“I will wound you,” she muttered. “Maybe I’ll poke you in the fucking eye.”
“Finally, something to look forward to in our shared eternity of misery,” he snarled, pulling her to him and half-hoping that she didn’t have the mental capacity to keep her focus as he misted with her.
“Eternity?” she whispered. “Aww, baby. I love you too.”
“I didn’t say that.”
Faith made cutesy noises as she clumsily stroked his face and moved against him in the silent club. This, combined with her unusually doe-eyed and docile demeanour, knocked him completely off-kilter again.
How did she keep doing this?
He groaned, pulling her firmly into his embrace. It was going to be a long night now his plans were shot to hell and so was his fledgling. Tonight, he’d play along with her game. He’d wait.
She could lose her mind tomorrow.
Slow dancing (used for some Seth & Faith poses and a million times better than that bouncy crap EA gave us) is part of MercuryFoam’s awesome ballroom mod