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Chapter 3.44 – Strawberry

Note: drug use/influence

April was full of bubbles and rainbows. She had to admit that she couldn’t really taste the strawberry flavour of her magic tea, but it was a pretty colour and smelled super yummy. And it was definitely magical!

After one sip, everything went a little fuzzy and soft around the edges. After two, the world started glowing and shivering before her eyes; the lamp had started to dance! Now, a bit more later, and the world had become a technicolour kaleidoscope of moving patterns and shapes. As April swayed, the world around her swam and morphed and everything had been so funny!

She had yet to see an elk, but at one point she could have sworn she’d seen the inside of her own brain. It looked like spaghetti.

Ooh, spaghetti! It had been such a long time since April had eaten spaghetti. Or rather, such a long time since she’d been served up a plate of spaghetti and politely eaten a nibble and then claimed to be full. But she wasn’t full! She’d never ever been full!

Stupid spaghetti.

She tried to remember what strawberries tasted like and took another good swig of her tea. Her taste buds played along; the fruity flavour burst forth, juicy and sweet and… meaty? That wasn’t right.

Oops! No, that was just her biting her own tongue. Her tongue was so squishy and wriggly. She chomped her jaw a few times, trying to catch the slippery eel between her teeth. She succeeded and gave it a gentle little chew. Yum yum!

“April? What are doing?”

Melinda’s voice. Squeaky, like the air being slowly let out of a balloon.

“Um eedin ma dung.”

“What?”

April laughed and released her tongue from her teeth. “I was eating my tongue,” she answered. “It tastes like a meaty, snakey strawberry.”

“Ooooo…K,” Melinda answered slowly. She was smiling. She was so pretty when she smiled. It lit up her face, making her resemble a lamp with eyes. Big, blinking, brown eyes. Big and blinking. Blinky, blinky. And her hair was so thick and bushy. And she was so slim, with her slender bones and little boobies. She was so pretty. Pretty, pretty, pretty.

“Why are you staring at me?”

“You’re so pretty,” April murmured, wetting her lips with her meaty-strawberry tongue. She heard the sound of a throat being cleared and pivoted her head to see Caleb. Oh, he was still here. Well. He was sitting by himself because Wyatt had had some of his pongy apple potion, the one that made Caleb wrinkle his nose and shrink away.

He had a nice nose. Even when it was wrinkly.

He was also pretty. So pretty.

But not as pretty as Melinda. With her little boobies and her lamp eyes.

Caleb frowned and leaned forward in the red chair. The strawberry chair. He was like a black seed amongst red watermelon flesh. Except he looked angry. An angry seed.

He was drinking Wyatt’s tea as Wyatt had only made enough strawberry tea for April. It was her own special drink made just for her. No one ever made things just for her. Wyatt was so nice! His tea was rhubarb flavoured, because that was Broof’s favourite flavour, Wyatt said, and Broof needed to escape reality every once in a while. April didn’t know what rhubarb tasted like, she had never had it, but it also smelled super yummy. And strong, so strong!

Caleb looked so intense, like his tea wasn’t working. Or maybe he was hallucinating when he looked at April. He was gripping his glass tight. April remembered back in the motel room, when Seth had been super nasty to Caleb and Caleb had broken his drinking glass in his fist. She hoped that wasn’t about to happen again. He was so scary when he was in dark form!

“Am I an elk?” she laughed. “Is that what you’re seeing? Do I have antlers!”

His lip twitched and then he frowned. April didn’t know what wrong with him. He was so moody sometimes. She turned back to Wyatt, who was never moody, and he smiled back at her lazily. He smelled bad, very, very bad, but April didn’t really mind. She liked him right beside her. He made her feel so safe, and so smart, and so welcome!

And he was so amazing! He could make potions from plants! He could open doors without touching them! He made her feel so strong and so special. He could do anything! And he thought she could do anything.

Maybe she could…?

April wafted her hand around and was amazed to see a shower of sparks fly from her outstretched fingers.

“I’m doing it!” she squealed. “I’m casting magic!”

Wyatt chuckled and sipped his tea. “What are you casting, Apes?”

“Um, I’m casting, um…” April continued to wave her hand, watching the stars dance across her palm and then fade into the air. “An invisibility spell!”

“Yep,” Wyatt agreed. “That’s invisible, alright!”

She didn’t know what he meant, but the combination of his words and his goofy grin? April found that hilarious. She collapsed into giggles and took another big swig of tea as the conversation swilled around her, stirring itself into the room soup.

“…Above a bar. If I work a few shifts for him, the rent is totally manageable,” Wyatt said.

Melinda nodded; the motion of her pretty head sending colourful waves through the room. “Your own place! That’s exciting.”

“Heh, yeah about time, too. I mean, I love my mum, but she’s always there, y’know?”

“I know that feeling,” April chimed in, thumbing at Caleb, who scowled back.

“And now I’ve got my hat it feels like I should have my independence, too.”

“You’re moving out?!” April gasped, finally grasping what the conversation was about. “Can I come with you?”

Wyatt made a noise that was somewhere between a choke and squeak and took a big, big gulp of his tea. “Uh… maybe. Hey, what spell are you trying next?”

If April hadn’t been so giggly, she might have read into this rejection, but instead she perked up and waved her hand again.

“I’m going to start a fire!” she laughed, waving at the table. “Enflamio! Zap, zap, zap!”

Melinda was laughing. That sound was not like a squeaky balloon, more like a fizzy drink. April tried to copy it, which only made Melinda laugh harder.

She sighed as April continued to drink. “I wish I’d had some tea now; it looks like fun.”

“It is fun!” April agreed, thrusting her glass at her friend. “Try some.”

“I can’t,” Melinda replied.

“You can!”

“No I literally can’t April; your glass is empty.”

“Oh.” April blinked and looked at her glass. It was empty. Except for the goldfish. How did he get in there? Was it a he? Did girl goldfish – goldfishes? –  wear bows?

“Sorry, Mel, I only made a small portion of that. But hey, you could have a bit of mine?”

Caleb opened his mouth, then closed it again, then opened it again. Clearly he could also see the goldfish in her glass. Bonky, she was going to name him Bonky. The goldfish, not Caleb, although he also was quite bonky. She mirrored Caleb’s actions, his face, until he looked at her and licked his fangs.

By now, Wyatt had passed his drink to Melinda who was chewing her lip and looking at it like it was alive.

MAYBE IT WAS?

April watched in amazement as Melinda rolled her brown, lamp, big, lamp, big, um, eyes up to April’s face and smiled. She took a little sip of the wibbly creature in Wyatt’s glass and grimaced.

“Tastes like ash— woah!”

“Yeah,” Wyatt breathed. “Think I steeped it a bit too long. Just a sip or two, yeah? That stuff is potent as fu— fudge.”

“Fuck,” April announced. “Just say it! I’m not a little girl; you can swear around me.”

“Nah, it feels… wrong,” Wyatt admitted.

“It does,” Melinda concurred. “I never really understood why people swear when words like ‘fudge’ and ‘ship’ convey the same message.”

“But they don’t!” April insisted. “Sometimes you just need a ‘fuck’!”

Caleb jolted, almost spilling his drink as Wyatt choked on a laugh.

“Apes,” he wheezed, trying to compose himself. “I mean, I agree, but – oh my god.”

“That stuff is as potent as fuck, fuck, fuck,” April sang, oblivious. “Fuckity fucky fuck.”

“That word sounds so wrong coming from that sweet, little mouth,” Wyatt laughed. “I feel like I should, I dunno, scold you or wash your mouth with soap or something.”

April pouted. “Oh.”

“I won’t,” Wyatt added quickly. “But… should I? Fuck, I don’t know.”

“You said it! Hooray! Your turn, Mel!”

Melinda didn’t respond. She was holding her stomach and looking in Caleb’s direction, but April couldn’t see her expression through the unicorn clouds.

All she could see was Caleb’s, staring back.

“Fuck,” he said quietly and lifted his still full glass to his lips.

Jessica slowly walked the perimeter of the building, wondering for the umpteenth time if this was such a good idea. She finally became aware that her shiny-headed clan was no longer following her lead and took pause.

In the dead of the night, it wasn’t difficult to hear the hushed whispers that echoed from the stilled trees.

“Your foot is in my face!”

“Maybe your face is on my foot?!”

“Ladies, can we please focus?”

Jessica rounded the corner of Ralf’s house – former house – and looked up at the brightly-coloured tower of bodies before her. She was struck completely dumb for a moment, taking in this marvel of balanced posing.

“Ouch! That was my finger!”

“Yibbo, can you reach yet?”

“Why oh why did I wear heels?!”

“Um, what are you doing?” she asked, finally.

“Well, we’re not cheerleading, Jess!” Pixie snapped. “We’re trying to climb in through this tiny, slightly ajar window!”

“Trying… to… reach… the window!” Yibbo added breathlessly. “Almost there!”

“My face!” Pixie moaned as Yibbo clawed into it to maintain her balance.

“My feet!” Morag groaned, her legs trembling beneath the weight.

Jessica coughed politely into her fist to hide her laugh. She gestured across the garden.

“We could do that, or we could go in through the unlocked back door…”

“Why do we never try the doors?”

Caleb swirled the liquid in his glass. He hadn’t taken a single sip the whole time he’d been sitting here. Only Melinda appeared to have noticed and she hadn’t been able to comprehend it for long. She had taken some of Wyatt’s tainted drink and it had quickly pulled the slight little vampire under.

Caleb couldn’t quite believe that he’d gotten away with this, that his plan was working. His plan was working! And working even better than he’d anticipated. Melinda was gone, asleep after only a few sips – at least he hoped she was asleep – on the couch, and Wyatt was not far behind, judging by his posture.

The witch was slurring and shaking, fighting to keep himself upright against the effects of the two cups he’d drunk, as April wittered on at him about colours and fruits in her cute little way. His skin was clammy, pale. Caleb could hear his pulse racing, see the sweat on his brow, smell the fear emanating from him; the unease, the regret.

He thinks he’s done this, he realised, the idea tickling a little something within Caleb that he had been brutally trained, over centuries, not to acknowledge.

But something that had never quite died.

April was singing, oblivious to the events around her. Waving her arms and dancing in her seat to a tune only she could hear. Every movement she made in those flimsy pyjamas made her pert breasts and soft thighs jiggle in a way that hypnotised Caleb. He longed to sink his teeth into her soft flesh, to rip the fabric from her perfect skin; to own her, possess her, fill her.

Damn to the rules, to hell with being ‘nice’ and obeying the chart. Everything was fine before they came here, before the witches ruined everything with their ridiculous rules. What did they know about anything? If he could just get April alone for one night, he was sure he could fix this. He could show her that he could love her properly, could make her feel good, really good, that she didn’t need to be afraid of him.

As Wyatt dipped like a broken beacon, Caleb broke from his trance and salivated like a dog presented with a bone. Wyatt could barely hold his head up, let alone cast a decent spell, Caleb was sure of it. No one could stop him. Not this time.

He was so close.

Wyatt’s head rose, as if trying to fight the effects of the tea that he brewed. His face was… confused? Yes, that face was definitely confused.

“I deferettly omly used wun da-daturuuh,” he slurred, aghast, grasping for April’s hand. “Apesss,” he hissed, “Apes. Lissen t’me. Call mu… call Bruff.”

“What?” April asked, reaching out to stroke Wyatt’s face. “You silly sausage! Those aren’t words!”

“Apesss,” Wyatt tried again. He paused, shook his head, the sentence lost. “Fug, I um so dead.”

April linked her fingers through his and continued to sing as she enjoyed her waking dreams. She scanned the room and only then did she notice Melinda.

“Oh!” she gasped. “Mel is asleep!”

Caleb nodded, hoping – for April’s sake – that she was.

But then, he didn’t give the tea to Melinda. It wasn’t his fault if she never woke up.

“Can you please put her to bed, Caleb?” April asked, her big, blue eyes locked onto his. “She’ll get a super sore neck slumped like that.”

“Sure,” Caleb answered, swiftly rising to his feet and sweeping Melinda into his arms. He’d take her into the girls’ room – if he physically could. If not, he was sure the plush rug on hallway floor would suffice.

And then he’d be back, and April would be his.

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