The tiny practice room was abound with the sound of whistling as Victoria glanced over Cooper's photographs, now taped up all over the north wall of the room. It was a pleasant tune, hearkening to a Beatles song that no one could really put their finger on. She was in an oddly pleasant mood, having completely put the events of the previous Thursday evening behind her. The weekend had provided some solace, as she had been completely alone, allowing her to be lost in her thoughts. Every now and again, her whistling would decrease in volume as she took backward glances at everyone in the tiny room: Cooper, Alex, Gregg, and Stephen. Selina, being incapable of being outside on such a sunny day, let alone at a normal school, had decided to bunker down in Gregg's basement for the time being.
As she studied the photographs, Gregg scoffed aloud at her whistling, and, almost instantly, she stopped, her lips now sealed. Cooper watched from the corner as her seafoam eyes darted back and forth from picture to picture, seemingly undisturbed by their nature. Cooper shivered at one in particular: the severed goat's head plopped on Bobby's bedside table, its dead eyes staring off into oblivion. Seemingly finished, Victoria dusted off her hands, as though she had just finished with a hard day of yard work.
"Okay, may as well be blunt with this," she muttered, placing her hand to her chin in thought. Her vibrant eyes disappeared behind her eyelids. "Bobby's not Bobby right now. I think we're dealing with full-blown possession."
"Apparently," Gregg shot back, rolling his eyes, "so how do we fix it?"
"Possession's not something you fix easily," Victoria snickered, "I'll need information if I'm going to have the slightest chance at saving Bobby. Besides, we have bigger problems to worry about."
"Bigger problems being that Buddy now knows exactly what town we're in," Stephen confirmed, shaking his head incredulously.
"Wouldn't be so sure," came a voice from the open doorway. Turning as one, the occupants of the room beheld a grinning Will, dressed in something very unlike him: a dress shirt and black slacks. As Will leaned against the doorframe, Cooper noticed the unmarked shoe box in Will's left hand.
"I got what you asked me to," Will continued, handing the box to a clearly excited Victoria, who quickly stashed it away in her bookbag.
"Did it take you long?" she asked, zipping up the backpack with a large smile.
"Not as long as you'd think," Will reported back, looking over the photos taped up on the obnoxiously bright blue wall. "Jesus, what happened there?"
"That's Bobby's room," said Cooper cooly, staring into Will's sickly yellow eyes. Noticing Cooper's glare, Will chuckled.
"Come on, dude," Will snickered, moving to pat Cooper on the back, "you're not still upset about Thurs"
As if propelled by lightning, Cooper's arm shot out and caught Will's broad wrist mid-movement, holding on with white knuckles. Cooper sneered at Will, who shrank back slightly at Cooper's disdain.
"I am," stated Cooper plainly, his face dark and unmoving.
"Please, let's not get into this," Victoria pleaded, moving back to look at the photographs. As she looked them over, it became obvious that she was just attempting to avoid confrontation, and Cooper knew better than to not take the hint. Reluctantly, he released Will's wrist, and the wolflike boy retreated to the doorway of the room. Embarrassed by being caught off-guard, Will leaned back against the doorframe, his arms now wrapped around his chest, blocking away all interaction and body language.
"Thank you," Victoria muttered, shaking her head, "let's just focus for a second."
"Focus would be good," added Gregg bitterly, staring a hole into the back of Victoria's head. There was a certain dislike in his cold eyes, but no one, aside from Victoria, seemed to notice it. Gregg was not in the greatest of moods, and was certainly not about to explain himself. For the moment, all Victoria could do was continue on her explanation.
"If we're going to get Bobby back, we're going to need to know exactly what infernal has taken up residence in his body. We get the name, I can call it out," Victoria narrated with breakneck speed, feeling Gregg's hateful eyes upon her, "otherwise, it'll be like firing shots into the dark."
"Get the name," Alex repeated with an exasperated sigh, "understood."
"How do you expect us to do that?" asked Stephen, his voice steeped in worry. Vitoria sighed in equal exasperation to Alex's previous sigh and shrugged to herself.
"I wish I could tell you to follow the usual procedure," she grumbled, looking at the photograph depicting a pentagram on Bobby's floor, "usually the symbol used to summon an infernal is somewhere in the pentagram, but this"
She paused, deep in thought. For a moment, her eyes seemed to widen, but, as if countering her own idea, they soon retracted to their normal size. She began to hum the melody she had been whistling moments prior, much to Gregg's chagrin. His eyes only seemed to grow in fury, and at this point, he looked as if he were ready to strangle her. Suddenly, Victoria turned on a dime to address the entire room.
"I have a verydisturbing theory," she said quietly, her voice quivering slightly, "but I'm going to need some proof first."
"Okay, what do you need?" Gregg asked, the words slipping through his gritted teeth.
"Bobby," she stated simply, her lips shaking.
"simple enough," Alex replied with a hard laugh. Immediately, he retrieved his phone from his pocket and began typing out a message.
"Ideas?" asked Stephen, looking over Alex's shoulder at his message. "No," replied Alex simply, "just asking an old friend for some help."
"Oh, no." Stephen yelped. "No, no, no! You're not calling him back here!"
"As if we have a choice, dude," Alex shot back. And, as if to spite Stephen, he dramatically pressed his finger down on the "send" button.
"God dammit," Stephen muttered, rubbing his temples. "Alright, fine. Assuming that even works out for you, we have no idea where Bobby is! He could be on the moon! Hasn't been in school in days. We have no clue where to find him!"
There came a sudden slam from the doorway. Even Will, who would expect himself to have sensed someone approaching, was caught off-guard, stumbling forward into the room in pure surprise. In the doorway, the slight scraping of a metal music stand broke the sudden awkward silence as whoever had slammed the stand against the opposite wall retracted it and tossed it back down the band hallway. An audible gasp escaped the lips of someone present as Todd Langley, in all his greasy glory, appeared in the doorway, a smug smile stretching across his lips.
"You might not know, but I do," he said, a certain evil seeping past his lips.
"Who the f*ck is this guy?" Will snarled, his yellowish eyes now reflecting a deep maroon as his voice lowered to a growl.
"Langley," Alex stated, taking up a defensive position, "how the hell did you get into the school?"
"You'd be surprised," Todd snickered, taking up Will's position as he leaned against the doorframe in a faux display of casualness, "they pay no attention if you look the part."
"What do you want?" asked Cooper, stepping forward to represent the group as a whole.
"Honestly?" asked Todd rhetorically, "I want what's mine back."
"Care to elaborate?" urged Gregg, his hateful gaze having shifted from Victoria to the newcomer.
"Not particularly," Todd snickered. "But all I know is, I have information you need, and your buddy Bobby's got somethin' I want."
"So what is this?" Cooper asked, his eyes narrowing in an effort to understand Todd, who merely chuckled at the question, as if it were the most foolish question ever asked.
"A deal," said Todd.
Gregg moved silently through the halls, dodging the usual glances in his direction. He wasn't a friendly soul, but not quite an outcast. Everyone knew who he was, but they knew better than to speak to him. The hatred burning in his eyes didn't make it any better. A few paces behind him, Stephen struggled to keep up. His books, awkwardly cradled in his arms, were shifting about with uncertainty, but Stephen didn't break pace. "You're certainly in a good mood today," Stephen muttered sarcastically, only catching up to Gregg when the pair had finally reached the library and taken seats at the corner table, far from any prying eyes or wandering listeners.
"Rebekkah's been giving me looks all day," Gregg sighed, slamming his massive book of pharmacology open on the oak table, "as if to say, oh Gregg why oh why did you let me go? Pathetic."
He scowled, distorting his face to the point that Stephen believed he might explode at any second, allowing the rage to seep out from his pores. Rather than react or argue, Stephen merely shrugged, hoping instead to change the subject.
"You think Alex is really going to ask him to come back?" Stephen asked, opening his bookbag to remove his homework from some class or another.
"Who?" wondered Gregg, scribbling something down on the back of his hand. There was an odd sort of calming effect that reading had upon Gregg. It was a sort of sedative to his furious mind, even at the worst of times. "El queso maliciosos," said Stephen plainly, a sort of worry spreading across his face.
"The malicious cheese?" replied Gregg with a laugh-snort. "What?"
Stephen sighed aloud, rolled his eyes, and leaned in to whisper, "Gavin."
At this, Gregg scoffed.
"Please," he chortled, "Gavin wouldn't want to come back here. Not anymore."
"I wouldn't be so sure," Stephen assured his friend as he began scribbling down the answers to a worksheet. "Gavin's always beeneager to prove himself."
"He's a show-off, you're saying," Gregg corrected, looking over his book of pharmacology. Stephen hesitated, then finally nodded in cautious agreement.
"Though I suppose we can trust him more than Langley," Stephen admitted, shrugging slightly.
Gregg nodded in silent approval, his eyes now fluttering across the pages of the book carefully held in his pale fingers. Timidly, he pushed a lock of his curly dark hair out of his eyes and glanced over the library. Almost immediately, he wished he hadn't, for across the room, in the opposite corner, was Rebekkah, sending him a glance of despondency. Sighing, he looked back down at the words on the page, but he couldn't shake the feeling of gloom radiating from his former love. He sighed deeply and lowered the book, glancing over at Stephen.
"I really despise women sometimes"
Moving carefully around the bottom of the window, Selina reached upward and drew the curtains of the only tiny window in the basement shut. Being partially underground, the basement's only natural light source would have turned her flesh to liquid in a few minutes' worth of time. Now safe from the effects of an abnormally sunny October afternoon, Selina breathed a sigh of relief as she slunk to the cold ground of the basement.
Cradling her arms about her form, she shivered a bit, feeling the cold of the approaching fall come flowing through the stone walls. Gregg had been gone all day, and with nothing to do, Selina had taken to cleaning the house, if only to stave off the rabid boredom pressing at the back of her skull. She was tired of the life of the lifeless. Not being able to go out during the day made for an incredibly dull life, and she had come to realize this only recently. Having made human friends, she had to come to the realization that the disease coursing through her dead veins made her an outcast to them. She couldn't join them in anything during the day, and the night was not a friend to those still full of blood.
Sighing, she rose to her feet and allowed herself to hover a few inches above the floor. Looking down at her bare feet, Selina made a sour face. Her grayish complexion had always irked her, but never so much as it had since she began living in her old house again. There was a sort of terrible contrast between the time when a pale girl was a beautiful girl and the more modern belief of a tanned girl being a beautiful girl. She would never again have the opportunity to tan.
As she fluttered about the dark room, her mind began drifting back and forth, but always returned to the same thought: the man that had made her this way.
[Silly lina, this won't hurt. Matter of fact, it might feel pretty good.]
She shivered, this time not from the cold. Allowing her feet to land on solid earth, she leaned down to the stone in the wall bearing her initials. She sniffed the air tentatively, her eyes unmoving from the stone.
[I'm doing this to protect youfrom them]
Not even moving a muscle in her face, Selina drew back her hand. In an instant, it had scrunched to her nightwalker form, the fingers now long, angular, and ending in long, pointed nails.
[From all of them.]
Unceremoniously, she thrust her deformed finger into the stone. The hard surface seemed to melt around her hand as she drew the finger back and forth, scribbling in the momentarily clay-like consistency of the wall.
[We can be together. Forever.]
Removing her finger from the wall, the stone returned to a solid state, now bearing a new set of initials just below Selina's. She sighed as her hand reverted to a more gentle form. Falling back onto her rear, she stared at the letters in the stone, the voice in her head having faded from memory. A moment later, she rose to her feet and made for the stairs, muttering to herself.
The wall now read:
"S.N.M. 1921 + G.D.C. 2011"