After days and days of it, driving can become ridiculously boring. Shay never expected something she had silently anticipated for fifteen, going on sixteen years could just become so despicable. Driving seemed like one of those significant milestones in life, like learning to walk, turning eighteen, being able to legally drink (even though everybody has tried it before twenty-one), getting married, having kids, stuff like that. It opened up a new freedom, but also new responsibilities. Now after all she had been doing recently was driving, it was getting boring beyond all means.
The hours had trickled by, the highway going on and on. She had no idea, no point of destination, she just drove. Her whole body was sick of being stuck in here. She'd been in the back for a while, slipping in and out of consciousness, but now she up here again, performing the task she was beginning to despise. The day's light was beginning to fade away into the darkness of night now, and soon the night owls would start to emerge. The shady bars and places of the like would open their doors, and Shay and her seven would be inside one.
"I need to get out of this goddamn truck," she hissed to Marena, who was buckled into the seat next to her. Shay couldn't take it anymore. Every part of her was itching to move, get out and run, or something. Dancing would probably scratch that itch.
"I figured I was the only one," Marena responded, sighing with relief. "It's like being stuck in a coffin," she mumbled, and Shay could not agree more.
"It's almost six. I think a bar would be open by now?" Shay asked Marena, even though she knew Marena had never been in a ten foot radius of a bar. If she had been, her Dad would have locked her up and thrown away the key.
"I've never been to one. Probably," she inferred, without any real knowledge.
"We're coming close to some city," Shay said, and motioned to a blue sign posted on the edge of the highway. It declared there was a city coming up in thirty miles. "We'll find someplace on the edge, okay?" Shay asked, looking for Marena's approval. It didn't feel right for Shay to act without the advice or second of her friends.
"It's up to you," Marena said, and Shay felt her heart take a dive. She wasn't fit to do this all on her own, not when she was in pieces. She'd never led anything as big as a group in elementary school recess or a sports team and the occasional clique, but she'd only been the most popular a few times. The other times she was that girl's right hand woman. She'd never been responsible for decisions that would determine the fate of eight people. It felt like too much, an oppressing weight on her chest, and she wanted to crumble from it all.
"I need your opinion," Shay said, a grumpy tone prominent in her voice.
"It sounds good to me," Marena said, but by the annoyance in her voice she hadn't given it a flash of a thought. Shay mumbled things under her breath, but Marena hopefully couldn't make out her aggravated mumbles.
Shay had to take a deep breath to avoid blowing a fuse. Her decisions weren't always the best thought out, and could often be considered rash. She was quick to think out things, but hadn't thought about the long run.
It was only a few more minutes of awkward silence before Shay took an exit. She wasn't exactly sure it was the right one, but she needed to get out the truck before she exploded. She felt her heart sink when nothing but a long stretch of road lay before them.
"Go back!" Marena ordered, sounding a little bit scared. The night would fall soon, and Shay could understand Marena's fear. Country roads at night scared the crap out of her, too. She always felt that around every corner Bigfoot or some other legend would be there, waiting.
"I will when it gets dark. Maybe there's something down here," Shay said, but she even doubted her own words. She drove anyways, hoping to find some shady place lurking about.
The trees flashed by as they continued down the road, seeing nothing but woods. Once or twice in ten minutes they passed a trashy, run down home, but besides that there was a lack of signs of life. Then, they came upon the discovery that the road ended, but thankfully, it ended in a parking lot. It was the parking lot of a bar. The sign above the door continued to get brighter as the sun sank lower, and by the name it was obviously a bar.
"It doesn't open until eight," Marena said, pointing to a sign on the door. Shay sighed, wishing she could get out of the damn vehicle faster. "Let's go hide the truck again, and we could out there for a while," Marena suggested, and it seemed like an okay idea to Shay. It would be dark in around an hour, but just a short little time to be free she would accept.
Shay turned the medium sized U-Haul around, and began to descend down the road they had just come. Shay and Marena both had their eyes taking in the area flanking the roads, looking for a good place to hide the U-Haul. All of the woods looked the same, and it might be hard to find it in the dark of night.
Shay just zoned in on a random place and swerved off the road. She heard Marena squeal in surprise as she found something to grab onto. As they bounced off the road even Shay got a little nervous, but she kept driving. She slowed down greatly, looking out the rear view mirror to see the distance between them and the road.
"Tree!" Marena screamed, voice crackling with panic. Shay felt her heart rate jump and she swerved, but was ether too late or she turned in the wrong direction, because the front of the truck rammed into something. Shay and Marena were thrown forward, but their seatbelts restrained them from flying out the window. Sure enough, they had struck a tree.
"Good going slick," Marena grumbled as she got out of the car. Shay took the makeup from the glove box and reapplied her eyeliner, but her mascara was still in place. She had to look good, even if it was just to tell her group she'd driven them into a tree.
Outside a soft breeze was stirring the leaves in the trees, and humidity hung in the air. She could already hear startled voices wafting up from the back. She had to suck in a big gulp of air to keep her sane, anticipating everyone's reactions. They probably wouldn't have a way to get around now, and there was nobody to blame but Shay.
"What happened?" asked a dazed Katrina as she leaned up against the back of the U-Haul, rubbing a bump on her head. Nobody seemed to be seriously injured, Shay was thankful for that, but the truck was as good as gone now.
"I ran into a tree," Shay said, her voice coming out cracked and in a hushed whisper. Every conversation fell silent, the only noise becoming the whispering of the sunset breeze.
"How?" Laylia asked, a rude tone prominent in her voice. Shay felt her lip curl back in a snarl. She would happily kick out Laylia, but her face was on national TV, if they found her alone she wouldn't stand a chance.
"I wasn't looking," Shay mumbled, feeling disapproving glares angled at her. She shrank backwards; worried somebody would start degrading her.
"It's whatever," Marena said, and Shay felt like her best friend was a saint. "Accidents happen. We have some time to get ready before we go to the bar," Marena said, explaining the plan. Shay and her best friend could read each other like a toddler's book- they knew exactly what the other was feeling. Marena could probably see the in-confidence radiating off of Shay, so she decided to do the talking.
"Where's a bar?" Carson asked Marena, and then he turned in a circle with his arms outstretched. "I see nothing but woods," he shouted, and Shay felt hurt. Even though it wasn't directed at her, for some reason it still semi-offended Shay.
"Down the road," Shay croaked, and Carson turned to look at her. Instantly his gaze softened when he saw her, and Shay could see it in his eyes he had lost his will to be a smartass.
"I guess we have to walk," Laylia glowered, and everyone turned to look at her. Kyleigh even did an over-exaggerated dramatic sigh.
"Well no shit Sherlock," growled Marena, returning Laylia's negative tone. "Don't like it, you can stay."
"As a matter of fact I will," she smirked, and she climbed into the back. "Come on Jaycee," she ordered, and Jaycee followed reluctantly.
"And stay in there!" Marena shouted, and then slammed the door down.
"We have some time to get ready," Shay said, and held out the stolen makeup in her hand. Katrina, Kyleigh, and Marena all eyed it with lust. "Yes!" Kyleigh screamed, and was the first to snatch it up. When it came to looks Kyleigh could become very aggressive when she was contending to look better than someone else.
"Should we put on more, since we need to look older?" Kyleigh asked while applying mascara in the rear view mirror.
"Nah," Shay said, but she didn't bother explaining herself. Everybody's hair still looked fine and brushed, and even Carson's hair had managed to stay spiked. They didn't look that bad. They might need some perfume or cologne, however, but there was none to be found. Shay sniffed her shirt, and traces of her perfume hit her nose. Good, she thought.
The dirt had since been wiped away, and her cuts were healing and the bruises were fading away. The dirt had come out of her shirt and jean shorts easy enough, and Shay felt like she looked presentable again. She looked nowhere near her popular girl perfect look she did for school, but she barley had anything. Shay had learned to make do with what you had.
"It's okay," Carson said, but he didn't do much in effort to comfort his girlfriend. He didn't even walk up to hug her or anything, and instead he kept his distance. Shay stared at him, but never said anything.
"Ready to walk?" Marena asked with a sarcastic chuckle, but nobody had a fit of anger like Laylia had. Shay and Marena knew the bar wasn't all too far down the road, so they weren't concerned, and if Carson wanted to he could run it in a flash.
Quickly the six of them weaved their way through the woods until they reached the shoulder of the road, then they began to trek alongside it. There was just a sliver of daylight remaining in the air as they walked on, cars speeding by from time to time. Shay hoped it would be dark in there, which would make it difficult for people to see her face. Shay had two reasons for thinking that- everyone unless you lived under a rock was now fully aware of who she was and what she looked like, and she didn't look her best, and she couldn't help but meddle with her hair every passing minute.
"Quit worrying about how you look," Carson said, taking note of Shay's appearance hassles. "You look fine."
Fine! Fine? That was all he could say? Not beautiful, or gorgeous, or stunning? Just fine. Shay felt her mood take a hit as Carson wasn't that descriptive with his words, but maybe she did just look fine. She didn't feel gorgeous, but she didn't feel like she looked fine, ether.
"Aw thanks Carson," Kyleigh said, and Shay gave her a fiery glare. Kyleigh flashed Shay one of her looks and Shay pursed her lips in return. Pretty sure he wasn't talking to you, Shay snarled in her head, but on the outside she kept blank.
"I was talking to my girlfriend," Carson commented, and Kyleigh aimed a look at him too. Carson gave an "I don't care," smirk back. Katrina and Owen were lost in their own world again, whispering to each other and not giving any note to the argument occurring beside them. Shay glanced down and saw that the two were holding hands, and she felt jealousy flow through her like a river. She let her eyes travel down her arm to her own empty hand and felt her heart break just a little.
The parking lot was only lacking a car in three spaces. This surprised Shay. She figured that a place this far back wouldn't even be known but instead there was a large amount of people already through the door. Shay felt a small prickle of nervousness travel through her…. Knowing their luck they would run into someone who knew just who they were, and soon those government agents would be on their asses again, but they would single Shay out because she killed an agent.
Horrifyingly enough, Shay didn't even feel a twinge anymore. She had overcome the task of banishing the thought from her mind, and it no longer loomed there like thick, boiling storm clouds. She felt better about it now. She had still ended a life with the pull of a trigger, but he would not have hesitated to perform the same act on her and her friends. Now it was a modified version of kill or be killed, in her eyes, and she was armed and ready to play the game.
The music was radiating through the brick walls to Shay's ears. She could hear the pump of the bass from outside in the twilight, and she already felt her adrenaline spike. She'd heard whispers of bars from naughty seniors in the halls, or hilarious stories from her parents' young days, and now, here she was, preparing to step foot into the legendary venue for the first time. She felt older just being within a radius of it, and Shay straightened herself out and walked with a higher dignity.
In movies, the scene would have gone in slow motion. The six of them striding with elegant confidence towards the entrance, and a fan would be blowing their hair back (of screen of course). People would be turning heads, still in slow motion, and some pop song would be playing over the scene. It wasn't a movie like Shay had wished, but instead it was her own life and the reality she resided in.
"Stop right there!" A deep, gravelly voice barked at them. Shay shuddered to a halt and stopped moving completely. To her horror, she was nose to nose with a large, intimidating man. His eyes were a deep brown like hers, but there were no haunting rings residing around his pupils. She could faintly see her own reflection in his dark orbs, but she could see her big YO, I'M A CARRIER rings reflecting into his eyes. Shit, she thought, bracing for what was to come next.
"How old are you?" He barked again, and Shay felt her heart leap to her throat as she backed away. Shay this time bumped into Carson, who in turn wrapped his arms around her waist.
"We're twenty one," Kyleigh said, approaching him and puckering her lips. Shay leaned close to Carson. "What is she doing?" Shay whispered softly to her boyfriend, making sure Kyleigh couldn't hear a word. "Judging by how she's sticking her ass out, trying to slut our way in," Carson said, adding a little laugh to the end. "Stop looking!" Shay said, a little bit louder than a hushed whisper should be, and she lightly slapped his cheek.
"Sorry, sorry, it's hard to miss," Carson retorted with a sarcastic-yet-flirty laugh. "I didn't mean her ass was hard to miss, I meant what she's doing is hard to miss," he said, yet Shay could detect a slight un-comfort in his voice. Busted, she thought, and felt that little crack in her heart get a millimeter bigger.
"Show me ID," He bellowed, unrelenting despite Kyleigh's efforts.
"Well, that's the thing. We got in a car accident and lost them," Kyleigh said, doctoring her voice in a vain attempt to sound sexy. Shay just wanted to burst out laughing at this point it was so bad, but she doubted she could perform any better. At least Kyleigh's excuse for a lack of an ID was half true.
"Shame, shame, shame. See, I just don't think you and your punks are twenty one. No ID, no entry."
"Such a shame," Kyleigh muttered, and then seductively placed her hand on his arm and wrapped her hands around. Shay instantly recognized what her friend was doing and elbowed Carson in the shoulder. He didn't return any physical roughhousing back, for his eyes were glued to the scene.
"Well, maybe I could make an exception for…" he froze when suddenly his brown eyes bulged. Soon, the brutal hacking started up. Shay had now experienced this scene far too many times for it to shock her; she just shrugged and brushed past.
"Thanks for the entry," Kyleigh muttered in his ear, and then they strode into the bar.
The music was so loud in here Shay had to cover her ears at first. The amount of people, the volume of the music, actually getting in, having access to beer (it wouldn't be her first one, but still) was all starting to make her shrink back into her, becoming wary. Kyleigh instantly lit up like a Christmas tree and she made a beeline for the dance floor. Katrina and Owen took two steps towards the bar, but Shay caught them and gave them a look. She shook her finger.
"Just don't get drunk," she said, not wanting to have to walk back in the dark with the two lovebirds staggering over each other.
"We won't," Owen shouted over the commodity, doing a rock and roll sign with his hand. Katrina just laughed flirtatiously and the couple moved towards the bar, leaving Shay, Carson, Marena alone in a room full of strangers. Shay felt unnerved surrounded by so many people she'd never met, and would probably never meet again. Any of them could know who they were, or worse, be some of the government agents. Shay scanned the bar for the cliché suits, but she didn't see any, but that only supplied her with slight relief.
"We're probably going to be the only three who will do anything," Marena muttered to her two friends. "Katrina and Owen will get so drunk they'll probably blow our cover and Kyleigh will totally forget why we're here," Marena said, and pointed to Kyleigh, who was already dancing with a guy.
"Well maybe she'll infect some of them?" Shay said, her response sounding more like a question than an argument.
"She better," Marena said spite present in her voice. With that her best friend drifted into the crowd, but was careful not to brush into people. Why was she holding back? Shay sighed and rubbed her forehead, kind of thirsting for a drink.
She poked Carson in his boney shoulder before she made her way to the bar. Katrina and Owen already had an empty shot glass resting in front of each of them, and Owen was digging in his pocket for more money. Shay sighed heavily and stole the empty seat next to Katrina, resting her elbow on the cool bar.
"Hey, three more shots!" Owen hollered at the bartender, a pretty young girl with large brown eyes. She sighed and prepared three more in exchange for the last of Owen's money. Shay pursed her lips, not exactly happy with the hasty spending.
Shay closed her eyes, attempting to shut out the throbbing noises of the social hotspot. A headache was blooming in her brain and she suddenly wasn't in the mood for this anymore. They could be here until the wee hours of the morning, and she didn't feel like she could endure it. She'd seen enough movies to know what goes down in these types of places.
"Let's drink them together!" She heard Katrina shout, and then she felt a rough nudge on her shoulder. Shay jerked her eyes open again, yawning and rubbing her temple. On the bar in front of her was a tiny, filled shot glass. There was one in front of Owen and Katrina too, accompanied by the empty one.
Her mind insisted that she not take the shot, but Shay shut out her consciousness. She snatched the shot glass off the bar and held it in front of her face. She was unaware of what kind of mixture resided inside the glass, but she was sure it tasted foul. The first time she'd had shots was in seventh grade. Her friend's mom had let them try shots of everything in her alcohol cabinet. Shay wrinkled her nose, remembering the revolting taste of some. People always say they drink their worries off the table, so Shay sighed and nodded.
"One," Katrina said.
"Two," Owen continued the countdown.
"Three," Shay finished, then held her head back and took the shot.
It didn't even stay in her mouth. The second the taste registered in her mouth her face got all scrunched up and Shay gagged. She spat it out, making a bleh sound as she did. She recognized the taste the moment it entered her mouth, and it was the most disgusting of all the drinks she'd ever tried- vodka.
Owen and Katrina finished off their shots and they began to laugh profoundly, Katrina laughing so hard her face was on the bar, eyes closed. Katrina was slapping her knee, barley managing to spit out "That's a knee slapper," in between laughs.
Shay frowned and threw the empty shot glass at Katrina, feeling her face get hot. Even the bartender was laughing.
"I knew you'd hate vodka!" Owen yelled, and Shay glared at him.
"It tastes like rubbing alcohol!" Shay sneered back, wiping spit and vodka from her face, but then she smiled a little. The next thing Shay knew she was laughing with them, but laughing at herself got old fast. Her smile vanished and she walked away from the bar.
For about an hour Shay did nothing. She avoided the bar and the dance floor, the foul aftertaste of the vodka in her mouth. Carson had soon filled her seat in the bar, and from what Shay could see he'd been sampling some new things.
"Hey," she heard a voice say, and then someone sat next to her. It was Carson, and in his hand were two beers. Shay looked at him in a funny manner, but Carson just handed one of the bottles to her. Shay read the label on the bottle to make sure it wasn't some bad tasting drink. To her relief it was just a simple bud light. Not the best tasting thing in the world, but it was better than vodka.
"Really?" Shay asked Carson as he slumped back against the booth.
"Really," he muttered. "I've never had a beer before." Shay gazed at him like he was crazy, but she didn't think he was lying. He'd never been to any parties or anything, he wasn't allowed. "I wanna try one."
"You won't like it the first time you try it," Shay told him, but Carson just shrugged. He raised the bottle for a toast. Shay shrugged and thought to herself, why not? She raised her bottle too.
"To the Carriers," Carson muttered sarcastically, and then they clinked their bottles together. Shay took her first drink from the bottle, but she managed to stomach it. Something to wash out the disgusting aftertaste of vodka was a rejoiced thing, but water would have been the best idea.
Shay put her bottle down to watch Carson's reaction. He was trying to gulp down as much as he could at once, and Shay started laughing. His face was scrunching up; it was pretty obvious he didn't favor how it tasted. Carson spat it all out quickly, and Shay started rolling. She understood how he felt because it had happened to her previously, but seeing it happen to someone else was funny as hell.
"You don't have to drink it all at once!" Shay stammered between laughs. Her stomach hurt by now, and she felt a tear beginning to form from laughing so hard. She even heard Carson laugh just ever so slightly, but when she looked over he stopped.
"That stuff is disgusting!" Carson shouted to Shay, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
"You won't like it the first time you try it," Shay repeated, feeling another wave of laughter rearing to wash over her again. She took another drink of her own beer, totally forgetting why she was here.
"You can have mine," Carson told Shay before sliding his across the table to her. Shay shrugged and finished off her bottle. She was doing exactly what she feared Katrina and Owen would do, and that was to drink away their worries. Two beers couldn't get you drunk, but she was feeling just a little bit tipsy.
Shay had lost track of time. She'd let it slip through her fingers and plummet into the abyss. She was just sitting there, finishing off her fourth beer (she didn't even know where she'd gotten beer three or four), talking to Carson. Shay looked over and was shocked to discover an empty booth next to her. She put her hand on the seat and revealed it wasn't even warm- he'd been gone for a while. How long had she been conversing with herself? Now that she thought about it, he hadn't been responding back…
Now Shay felt like it was time to do the infecting. Tiredness was seeping into her, making her limbs feel heavy and her mind was in a haze, or was it the alcohol? She couldn't think, her brain refused to function normally. When she stood up and first her legs buckle underneath her and her breath caught in her throat. Maybe she shouldn't have had as many beers as she did. The music seemed louder like it was before, and it throbbed in Shay's head like a drum. She found it difficult to walk in a straight line. She knew she wasn't tired anymore, and it horrified her- she was just, ever so slightly, drunk.
The dance floor was like a living nightmare. Shay shoved her way through the throng, feeling people press and brush up against her. Their mistake. No matter where she went people caged her in, trapping her in the sea of sweaty bodies and flashing lights. Shay was only looking for one person, her boyfriend. She was uncomfortable with the thought of him being surrounded by girls in skanky skin tight dresses.
People were coughing now, they always had been, but the noise was just now registering in Shay's mind over the throbbing music. She tried to move to the sound of the newest outbreak, hoping to find Carson the source of it.
Off in a secluded corner Shay found him. Everyone around him was ether coughing or their eyes held the creepy color within. He was alone in the corner, except for there was someone else, skin tight pink dress, ridiculously high pumps, and a snooki bump that was about four years out of style. Anger surged through Shay at the sight of her, but she remained rooted to her spot to see just what kind of things were going on back there.
The girl was hitting on him all right, but Carson seemed like he was struggling to ignore her. He was trying his hardest, but she kept coming onto him. However, Shay did pick up that he was doing his best not to touch her and infect her. Shay shuffled closer, straining her ears to pick up the conversation. She felt like a bad girlfriend for not placing her trust in him, but Shay pressed her investigation on anyways.
"You're hot," was the first thing Shay heard the club rat say. Her speech was slurred and was stumbling onto Carson, who in turn moved to avoid her touching him. Why wasn't he trying to infect her? Shay was close enough to make out her eye color, and they were not the creepy pale bluish gray.
"Thanks, I'm actually cold," Carson responded with sarcasm. The girl laughed, and her laugh reminded Shay of a dolphin. Shay raised her eyebrows in a slurred chuckle, feeling her mind becoming foggy again.
"You're sooooooooooooooo funny!" she said, her voice scarcely audible through her drunken slurs. "We should go someplace more private," she said, finally resting her hand on Carson's shoulder.
The match was struck inside of Shay, because she strode over there with confidence. Carson looked up, a silent thankful in his dark eyes, right before Shay punched the girl. Her fist made a swift contact with her face and she made a squeaking sound. Shay had shocked herself, she never expected herself to actually land a blow onto somebody, but here she was, and she had just carried out the deed.
The girl fell onto the floor in a heap, her hand resting on the place where Shay punched her. Her eyes, now the bluish gray, were wide as eggs and gazed up at Shay, glazed over with pain.
"He has a girlfriend sweetheart," Shay said, and then walked off, simple as that. Her own heartlessness was a brutal awakening for the teen, but just like everything else she shut it out of her mind.
"Everybody freeze! The Carriers are here!" Then chaos erupted like a volcano.