Gregg quickly glanced over his shoulder to ensure he was truly alone, and that no one would see him casually open the window. He had been studying in the quietest corner of the library when there came a familiar tapping on the nearby window.
"What the hell are you doing here?!" Gregg whispered hoarsely as Selina floated lazily outside the window.
"Thought I'd come check up on you," admitted his vampiric houseguest, smiling her familiar coaxing grin. "See what it is you do all day in here."
"Yeah, this is called school," Gregg grumbled, sounding a bit condescending. "I don't know if you ever had it in 1,000 A.D., but it's kind of a public place!"
"Oh, you worry," Selina laughed, doing a slow backflip in midair for her own amusement.
"Plus, how are you outside during the day?" Gregg asked, looking past Selina at the broad daylight plaguing the grounds of Ganton High School.
"It's cloudy." Selina chuckled. "And it's September, so I'm wearing long sleeves and all. As long as the sunlight doesn't touch my skin, I'm cool."
"Jeez. Just come in, Selina."
And with the invitation, Selina drifted through the open window, humming an unfamiliar tune to herself. She continued floating, and eventually landed on a nearby chair.
"So, any plans for after your school thingy?" Selina asked, propping her head upon her arm, which rested on the oaken desk in front of her.
"Alex wanted us to gather," said Gregg, peering around the corner of the bookcase shielding their conversation from anyone else's view. "He's learned something bad."
"Oh, does this mean I get to meet your posse?" Selina asked excitedly, sitting bolt upright in her chair. Gregg sighed and shook his head.
"Listen, we have enough issues as it is. I don't think the guys would appreciate another unholy entity in our lives."
"You're cute when you're mad," Selina teased. "And you keep saying unholy. You do realize porphyric hemophilia is a disease, right?"
"A disease with no rhyme or reason," Gregg corrected her. "No origin, and no evidence of foreign agents in the body."
"You've done your homework."
"As crazy as some people are, there are underground networks for this sort of information," Gregg sputtered, attempting to sound rational. "Okay, genius." Selina snickered. "But you do realize I'm going to show up to your little meeting whether you want me to or not."
Alex paced nervously around the walls of the garage, his brow lined with sweat. His hands were shaking uncontrollably and he looked sick as a dog. His bloodshot eyes danced across his friends already in attendance. Bobby coughed uncertainly on his drum throne, itching at the tattoo on the inside of his wrist. It had been burning and tingling stronger than ever before since last night, and it was really beginning to bother him. He growled aloud and dug his nails deeper into his own flesh, hoping to itch out the tingling sensation.
Cooper, meanwhile, looked absolutely serene as he leaned against the left wall with closed eyes. His severely toned arms, accentuated by his bright red tanktop, were crossed in front of him, as if a sort of juxtaposition to the way a yogi would sit with legs crossed. This was his meditation.
With the others preoccupied, Gregg was shaking his head, a vain attempt to rattle out the thought that Selina was floating gently next to him on the leather couch in the corner, humming the same unfamiliar tune. Alex had been oddly accepting of their new guest, and actually seemed dismissive of any worries Gregg attempted to calm. Selina was overjoyed at this acceptance, and immediately took to floating about, showing off her unholy gift.
Alex cleared his throat and looked to the table placed against the right wall. The infamous Ouiji Board lay there, unmoving. Sam hadn't come by yet, and Alex was beginning to worry. Things had gone completely downhill since the previous week. They could no longer pretend.
The room went silent as the garage door fluttered up, and Stephen walked in casually, carrying a small backpack over his left shoulder. He slammed the door back down upon his entry and turned to face his bandmates. He immediately gasped upon seeing Selina floating gently above the couch. Without a second thought, Stephen reached inside his shirt and withdrew the end of a rosary. Charging across the room, he waved the cross in her face.
"Die, unholy matron," Stephen cried, "in God's name!"
Selina didn't flinch, but merely eyed the rosary oddly before chuckling a bit and snatching the beads out of Stephen's hand. She then floated higher, just out of Stephen's reach.
"You think holy objects hurt me," Selina mocked, swinging the rosary on her wrist. "That's so cute."
"What is this?!" Stephen roared at Gregg, who sighed in response.
"Selina. And she's a nightwalker, yes."
"Pleased to meet you," called Selina sarcastically from the ceiling. Feeling generous, she dropped the beads, which landed in Stephen's outstretched hand.
"Didn't know we were into letting monsters in on our secrets," Stephen growled in Gregg's direction.
"She's not a monster," Gregg replied fervently, glaring back at Stephen.
"I was a girl, once." Added Selina.
"Enough." Alex ordered, stepping between Stephen and Gregg. Cooper and Bobby hadn't moved an inch, but instead had chosen to watch the debacle unfold. As the room's atmosphere began to calm, Alex began pacing once more.
"Damn it," he muttered, glancing over at the Ouiji Board on the table. The planchette began to wobble, and then started flying all across the board. Alex nodded to himself as Sam flickered into appearance near the door to the basement. He looked just as annoyed as ever.
"This had better be good, man." Said Sam with arms crossed. "I'm missing important things elsewhere."
"This is much more important," Stephen assured him, taking a defensive pose. He began to elaborate.
"Good. Now that everyone's here, I may as well be honest with some new info."
"I'd like some context," said Selina, descending onto the couch next to Gregg. "Can I get a backstory?"
"Hey, she'd believe it, anyway." Bobby laughed nervously, "wouldn't be too much of a stretch for a nightwalker."
"Fine," Alex sighed, rubbing his closed eyes with his index finger and thumb. "A few months ago, we took a trip down to the Pine Barrens."
"Ew, Pineys." Selina commented.
"Yeah, there were a lot of them. But uhyeah, we rented this swanky little cabin for the six of us."
"Six?" Selina pondered aloud before looking over at the ethereal form of Sam, who coughed awkwardly. "Oh."
"But the last night of our trip, we found out that some legends are true."
"Buddy." Sam added, to which Alex nodded. He had a look of fear in his eyes.
"Buddy. The thirteenth child."
"The Jersey Devil?" Selina asked.
"About midnight, we start hearing this screeching. It was inhuman; like a bag full of skinned cats being slowly drowned in sulfuric acid. It froze our blood in our veins. We headed outside to see what the hell was making the noise. From the light of the moon, we could make out this huge birdlike silhouette across the lake. It was eating a deer or something, and we could see it rip the meat off the deer's bones."
"Oh, here it gets good." Cooper commented, as if it were simply an exciting bedtime story. The other members of Loveless shot him a dirty look, and he headed back into leaning on the wall. He grumbled something unintelligible. Alex continued undeterred.
"We just stood there in awe, trying to figure out what it was. But then it turned its head, and thesethese eyes. These glaring red eyes stared right at us. Like"
"Like looking into our souls," Gregg finished.
"And then it took off, ripping across the surface of the water with absolutely no effort. As it came closer, we began to realize it wasn't just some animal. It cleared the lake in like, 5 seconds, flat. It was like a horse with wings. It landed about half a football field away from us, and reared up on its hind legs like a man."
"Then, the voices." Gregg added, as if he had told the story a million times.
"The voice." Alex corrected, emphasizing the singular. "This evil voice. But it didn't come out of thething. It was in our heads, but we all heard it. It asked us what we were doing in its domain."
"But I knew what it was," Cooper interrupted, standing up. He marched across the room, echoing Alex's pacing moments earlier. "The Leeds Devil. I knew it was a demon."
"And he walked right up to it," Gregg sighed, looking at Selina. "And he took things from there."
"Asked it what its name was. It said a name in some odd language, but I called it Buddy, and it seemed to accept it. I tried to explain our situation, but Buddy didn't much like me being so close to it."
Cooper immediately ripped his tanktop off, revealing three long scars across his chest. He smirked, almost as if he were proud of the claw wound. He quickly tossed his tanktop back over his torso.
"So it clawed me real nice. Put a hoof on my chest. I couldn't make out a lot of its body from the darkness, but I could tell it was much taller than me, and probably five times my weight. It felt like a building was pressing on my lungs. I sputtered out something along the lines of "don't kill us." Kind of pathetic in hindsight."
Cooper paused, looking down at the floor in thought. After a moment of silent reflection, he snorted and continued the story.
"And it looked me in the eyes. And for a second, nobody moved."
"We were scared sh*tless," Bobby recalled with an odd snicker.
"Then it took the hoof off of me, and it said no. We were too interesting to simply give up. It leaned down to look at me face-to-face. It had such an awful stink. Its breath smelled like a garbage dump lit on fire. Awful. And then it picked me up with its teeth, grabbing my collar and placing me back on my feet. Then it got to the point. It wanted something from us."
"Your souls," Selina guessed.
"Our souls. Offered us anything we wanted in return. I immediately said yes." Cooper admitted sheepishly. "Silly of me, I think."
"You're downplaying it a little," Sam muttered under his breath, just loud enough for everyone to hear. Cooper frowned sharply.
"Everyone said yes," Alex piped up. "Except for Sam."
"My soul belongs to me," Sam argued. "Wellit used to."
"What happened? What did you sell your souls for?" Selina asked ambitiously, leaning forward in her seat.
"Buddy didn't like Sam's refusal. It leapt right over me and onto him, and just tore him to f*cking pieces. It was too hard for some of us to even watch." Alex continued. "We all did it for different reasons; selfish reasons."
"I almost passed out," admitted Gregg, blushing a bit. Selina smiled a bit and inhaled deeply, having been caught breathless by the recollection.
"Once Buddy wasdone with Sam, it turned back to us and told us that in order to complete the contract, we'd have to bear his master's mark."
"Your tattoo!" Selina shouted, pointing to Gregg's underarm. Gregg nodded and pulled up his shirt, revealing the seemingly burnt-in 666 permanently etched into the skin underneath his arm. Selina gasped, pressing a hand to her mouth.
"Oh, wow." She whispered from behind her hand. "Oh."
Each band member took their turn in revealing the area where Buddy had licked their skin, leaving Lucifer's signature number burned into their flesh. Alex pulled up the back of his shirt to reveal the number of the beast burned into the small of his back. Stephen leaned forward to show Selina the mark behind his right ear. Cooper pulled up his hands, flashing Selina the dual sixes adorning his palms, then turned around to reveal the final six inked on the back of his neck.
"I was clever about it. Three sixes, each in a different place." Cooper boasted proudly.
But when Bobby's turn came to show his mark, he hesitated. Something was very off about how his tattoo had been feeling lately. His face reflected his anxiety as he bit his lower lip. Selina seemed completely on edge, excited to see all the markings.
"Come on, Bobby." Selina urged, "show me yours!"
Bobby gave an exasperated sigh and stood. Hesitantly, he slid his sweatband off his left wrist and threw it aside. But as he held his arm aloft for Selina to see the marking on his inner wrist, the rest of the room went silent, staring at his marking in disbelief. Confused, Bobby turned his wrist back towards himself, only to see that his numbers were gently seeping blood.