Hey, readers. It's been awhile since I found the opportunity to write for UG, but I wanted to jump back into it with a new series. Now, I understand that some might be bewildered to know that I won't be posting any more of the Vanishing Point series, but there's a reasoning behind it: I'm packaging the story, along with Harmony Hill, to be sent off for possible publishing. So I hope you all can understand why I can't just post all of it on here. It'd kind of defeat the purpose of having it published. In response, I give you the following: my new series for UG. The Incident. I hope it isn't too awful.
Things hadn't been the same since Independence Day. That weekend would forever change their lives. Whispers were passed along the hallways of Ganton High School months later, and they could often feel judging eyes watching them from every corner. But they were unaffected. No one knew the true story. No one would believe what had happened that night.
Stephen hah heard a pair of girls whispering about it in his biology class, but made nothing of it. He had more important things to focus on. The upcoming show at the Garden took up most of his daydreaming time this week, and with Mr. Friedman droning on and on about osmosis, he certainly had some time to think about the show.
As his mind wandered, his hand moved unconsciously to scratch behind his right ear. He still hadn't grown used to the slight burning sensation the tattoo had left. Of course, the burning was just a minor discomfort; nothing compared to the initial fiery pain that had accompanied its initial appearance on his soft flesh. The scratching was his means of coping with the trauma that accompanied the memory of the weekend in the woods.
To his right, a pale, thin blond girl shifted, glancing at Stephen. He froze in horror. Had she noticed the inking behind his ear? Fearfully, Stephen glanced backward, and caught the girl's seafoam eyes. The moment caught him intensely off guard, and his mind came up with only one solution: flee. Without even raising his hand, he gathered up his books and stumbled for the door.
"Oh god, man." Stephen gasped as he pulled his locker open.
Next to him, Gregg raised a curious eyebrow. He sighed gently and grabbed a notebook off the top shelf of his locker.
"What is it this time," Gregg snickered, "the janitor catch you talking to the wrong people again?"
"No!" Stephen cried, glancing over his shoulder at a couple walking past, probably on their way to lunch. "I think Victoria Lake saw my ink."
"Vicky Lake?" Gregg chuckled lightly. "You mean lunatic Lake? Vacant Victoria? The bumbling blonde? Yeah, I'm sure people will believe her when she tells them about it."
"Plus," added a voice behind them, "it's not as if she knows the details."
Stephen and Gregg turned to behold Cooper, arms crossed, standing behind them.
"Because I'm sure she can deduce the whole sa"
"Don't even say anything about it." Stephen interrupted. "Not in public."
"It's lunch break," Cooper argued as his stone gray eyes darted across Stephen's face, "everyone's in the commons. There's literally three other people in this wing right now. One of them a teacher."
The three glanced down the fluorescent-lit hallway at a tall, gangly man struggling with a lock, no doubt the new English teacher. They had heard little about him besides his having been hired. The man paused for a moment and looked back at the three. They immediately returned to their triangular set-up, and set their eyes back on each other.
"I know," Stephen sighed, "but I'm just paranoid."
"You're the only one." Gregg noted. "I mean, if anyone could deduce something so far-fetched, it'd be Vicky, but let's be honestshe's not exactly all there."
"Yeah. I mean, no one sane would ever believe the truth." Cooper stated plainly. He unfolded his arms and held his palms up. Stephen and Gregg stared at the twin tattoos on his palms: two 6s.
"And no one can ever know," Cooper whispered.
The magazine paper crinkled as Alex turned the page. His lustful gaze was soon met with the image of a woman in a perfume advertisement, clearly meant to appeal to the senses. She was splayed across the page, semi-nude, with some sort of rape imagery intended, as several shirtless men stood above her.
"Man, I hate these kinds of ads." Alex said aloud. From across the table, Clarissa glanced upward and brushed a lock of her black hair out of her eyes. She smiled slightly.
"What kinds of ads?"
"These kind." Alex said plainly, holding the magazine up to his companion. She scoffed loudly, and the sound reverberated through the nearly empty library. Everyone was downstairs for lunch. This was their usual routine: head upstairs and peruse recent magazines, all while flirting casually. It was a strange sort of song and dance. To everyone else, it was apparent something was going on between the two, but in reality, Alex and Clarissa had yet to hook up. It would be a shock to anyone who learned the truth.
"Oh, come on," Clarissa replied, biting her bottom lip. "Our big rock star doesn't like half-naked girls in vulnerable positions?"
"Not really." Alex muttered softly. "I prefer a challenge. When they just lay them out in front of me, I get no reaction in the pants. I need the thrill of the hunt. The glances from across a crowded room. The gentle nudge as they pass by. Thethe drunken whispers."
"Oh, you have to get them drunk first?" asked Clarissa playfully.
"Hey," said Clarissa, "you're playing at the Garden on Friday, right?"
"Yes?" returned Alex, glancing over the top of his magazine.
"Well, I can't really make it," Clarissa admitted. She pouted her bottom lip sadly as Alex sighed. "But I was wondering if I could come to your guys' practice session?"
Alex coughed awkwardly and patted his chest. He hadn't been expecting such a question. He stuttered for a moment before answering.
"I uhI don't think the others would really be cool with it," he lied, biting his lip. "I-I mean, it'd be fine with me, but it's kind ofyou know, guy time."
"Oh, I get it." Clarissa said, clearly disappointed. "Maybe I'll catch your next show."
With a heavy sigh, she closed her notebook and stood. Alex watched as she walked for the stairs and disappeared into the bowels of the school.
"Dammit," he groaned.
As Stephen lifted the garage door, he was met with a cacophony of sound: drums pounding out of rhythm, a guitar's dirty distortion bubbling across the stone walls, and the rumble of a bass shaking the only window in the room. He was home.
"'bout time, Mr. Lead Guitar!" Alex yelled across the garage, his Fender Jaguar slung across his shoulders. "Been waiting for your sorry butt!"
"Sorry." Stephen muttered halfheartedly as he closed the garage door behind him. "I got caught up in traffic."
"No biggie," announced Bobby from behind the drums. He lazily began spinning his sticks between his fingers. "It's not like there's been any action."
Stephen glanced over at the table in the corner. Indeed, the tarp on the table appeared untouched. He nodded to himself and plopped his guitar case on the floor. Kneeling down, he began to remove his Les Paul from the case.
"So what're we practicing tonight?" asked Stephen as he plugged into his amp.
"The set list for the Garden," replied Cooper. He took a quick sip of water from the bottle he had been holding and began to gargle. This was his preparation for singing, despite the annoyance it caused the rest of the band.
"Must you?" asked Gregg, rolling his eyes.
"You want my voice to crap out two nights before a big show?" questioned Cooper. "Names have been made at the Garden! Remember La Migra?"
"Remember their drug convictions?" Gregg shot back, followed by a snarky grin.
Cooper sighed. "Nevermind."
They soon broke into a number of hard-rock oriented original songs, mostly written in some form of D minor. As the second to last song neared an end, Bobby's drumming slowed, eventually coming to a stop. Alex turned to Bobby, obviously concerned.
Bobby didn't respond, but simply pointed to the table, from which a strange shuffling sound was emerging. Dust shot up from the tarp as something moved beneath. Cooper laughed aloud.
"Good timing," he snickered. He walked casually over to the table and, in one grand motion, removed the tarp and threw it aside, revealing the Ouiji Board beneath. The wooden planchette was sliding uncontrollably across the board, spelling out words faster than Cooper could read.
"Really?" Gregg grumbled. "Right now?"
"Let's finish first," said Cooper, turning away from the Ouiji Board and strolling back to his microphone. "On to "Magic Market.""
The band immediately tore into their finale song, rolling up and down scales. Eventually, Stephen riffed off an improve solo, which impressed everyone else present, and the band hit the final note with a sort of wavy grace. Cooper clapped once, expressing his approval.
"Well done!" he beamed. As the others began to tear down, Cooper ambled back to the table. Looking down at the Ouiji Board, he frowned sharply. The planchette was now motionless, resting calmly on the letter "P."
"Crap." Cooper said quite loudly. From behind him, he could hear Stephen close his case and rise to his feet.
"OhSam." Stephen laughed nervously. Cooper turned around to discover a boy of their age standing in front of the door. Cooper hadn't heard the door open, because, quite simply, it hadn't been.
He was a somewhat short young man, with greasy dark brown hair hanging in front of his pale eyes, which were guarded by thick square-rimmed glasses. His white, frown-adorned face glowed softly in the dim light, sending a sort of aura about him. He looked less than happy.
"I'm sorry, we" Alex began to explain, but was interrupted by their newfound guest.
"Why don't you ever answer the phone?"