Chapter 3

Zariah watched Jason walk off. Nice kid. Too bad he's afraid of social standards. Zariah stood up, tray in hand, and crossed the room to the garbage can. He dumped his remaining food and placed the tray on the counter.

Once he turned, an array of voices began to chant, "Fight! Fight! Fight!" and a wave of people darted toward the bathroom. Zera wanted to go see, and since both she and her brother loved to watch a good fight, she hurried to the center of the fast growing ring of people.

Zariah squeezed, ducked, shoved and dodged the massive amount of boys to get near the center of the semi-circle, but once there, he found another semi-circle created by the boys of Nightide, who were blocking most of the view of the fight. Zariah squeezed through a few more people and came out on the side where the smallest member, the nerd, stood, blocking people.

Zariah, being a half inch shorter tiptoed to see what was going on then decided to slide to the left and look past the boy's shoulder. What he saw enraged him, for Jason was thrown by his shirt against the wall. The first boy he'd seen, the biker one, lifted Jason and plowed him to the wall and held him there while muttering something incoherent.

Zariah pushed the smaller boy to the side with a quick fluid, un-harmful motion and hurried into the fight. He jerked against the biker boy's arm. He lost his grip and dropped Jason. He glared at Zariah and the room silenced.

"What do you think you are doing?" Biker Boy demanded.

"Me? I'm not the one beating up a kid," Zariah spat. Biker Boy pushed Zariah's shoulder then returned his attention back to Jason.

By now Zera was sick of the nonsense, but she feared her actions would not help her brother any. However, her attitude shifted when Biker Boy reached back to punch Jason. Zariah grabbed his arm and jerked him around. Before anything more could be said, Zariah had release a punch with such a force that it toppled Biker Boy over unconscious—which was his intent to begin with.

Everyone stood dumbstruck, except for Nightide, who were stepping closer. Zariah brought up his fist, "By all means, if you want to be on the floor unconscious, step closer!' The group stilled. "Jason, you okay?" he added.

Jason forced his body off the ground and stood behind Zariah, "I'm fine, but where did you learn to knock someone out like that?"

"Doesn't matter." Truth was neither Zera nor Zariah ever liked to mention where they'd learn to fight because they had learned by defending themselves since they were young. He always fought for her, but he never would have interfered with something like this, instead he would have watched and chanted with the other boys. But Zera could not stand for social injustice.

"Zariah," the alluring one began with a frown; "this is a direct violation of your contract. Duskin lead him to the room. We will discuss this incident amongst ourselves."

The small one Zariah had pushed to begin with stepped forward and began to move forward without checking to see if Zariah followed. The crowd split and departed. Zariah, knowing this was going to end like a nightmare, clenched his teeth together and followed like a punished dog. But it was not the fear of these boys that had Zariah worried. Compared to Ross what they were capable of doing was child's play.

As Zariah began to follow, the other members of Nightide lifted the first boy and followed along, however, Zera felt as if they were guarding Zariah from fleeing, which by this point was a high possibility, but Zera had a responsibility and a promise to keep. She had to remain Zariah and fix this.

So, she clenched her fist and marched after the nerdy one. The boy ahead of her glided down the cool halls making no sound as his shoes touched the hard floor. His steps were like that of a ghost, soundless and he radiated a mature air that did not fit his childish and nerdish appearance. Which one is he?

Why hadn't she paid attention to her brother when he spoke of Nightide? The only other thing she could remember besides the band name was their names, but she could not remember whose name belonged to whom.

The kid paused in front of a thick brown door with a gold covered knob and inserted a key. With a small click and a shove, the door opened. "Come in, Zariah. We have much to discuss," his collective voice ordered. Until now Zariah had not realized how silent the hall had been. The kid entered and Zariah followed and found himself in a recording studio mixed with a lounge. The others filed in.

The boy with the black suit on and the boy in complete white lifted Biker Boy into a chair and dropped him. "Dude, loose some pounds," the alluring one huffed.

"Cass, you might just need to exercise more, instead of hanging out with your girls," the boy who'd flexed teased.

"Why would I, Luke? They run after me one way or another," Cass replied grinning from ear to ear. "If I exercise anymore they'll never leave me be." Zera wanted to slap him, but since her brother would not do something like that, she kept her hands in fists.

"So, we ready?" drummer boy questioned as he shut the door. With his words everyone faced Zariah. Nerd stood closer than necessary, but Zariah figured he was trying to figure something out.

"Well, what do you have to say?"

"If you want me to apologize, you can forget it. That jerk deserved it and I'll do it to anyone else who tries to make me say sorry," Zariah promised locking eyes with Nerd. They stood with an inch separating them—width wise.

"Something's wrong with you," Nerd said. The others stood looking shocked.

"Like what?" Zariah demanded his anger rising.

"You're shorter. You used to be about a half-inch taller than me."

"Excuse me," Zera retorted in a way she knew her brother would have spoken. He hated to fist fight when he could argue—he found more fun out of annoying people; "Not like I could help I got in a car accident and had surgery."

Nerd backed off, "I heard about the accident but not the surgery."

"Ross decided to keep that a secret," Zariah continued to respond curtly.

"Sorry," Nerd apologized; "So, I guess you have amnesia, too, since you have obviously no idea who you just knocked out."

"Yeah," Zariah began softer, "I lost most of my short term memory. I can't remember anything from the past couple of months."

"What do you remember?" a new voice asked. It belonged to the boy in white.

"My name, my age, basics, how to play my instruments, how to sing, how to play basketball, simple things I've done for years, and obviously I haven't forgotten how to fight."

"So you don't remember me?" the blond drummer question with a pout. He's so cute. Zera complained. Zariah shook his head. "Oh, no fair. Don't you remember anyone?"

Zariah shook his head again. "Well, let us begin the introductions," Nerd said.

"That is Jackson Luke Carlon. We call him Luke." he pointed to the boy who'd flexed; "That is Cass Rayford, he refuses to ever tell us his first name, so we are forced to call him Cass," he pointed to the boy in the black suit; "That is Antonio Lucas Jeremiah Leemon, whom we call Jeremy," he was the blond drummer; "That is August Lee Colson. We call him August." the boy in complete white; "The one presently knocked out would be Zachary James Formont. We call him Zach, and I am Duskin Ray Nighting."

"Nice to meet you. So who's the oldest."

"Cass, Zach, Luke and August are 19. Jeremy and I are 18. Zach is older than August. August is older than Luke. Luke is older than Cass, but only by a few days. Jeremy is older than me by a month and two days."

"Wait, did you say I knocked out Zachary James Formont?"

"Yes," Duskin confirmed. Zariah groaned.

"So, you've forgotten everything?" Cass inquired as he plopped down on the couch and propped his feet up on the table. Zariah fought to still his tongue, but the words spilled through his lips.

"Get your feet off the table. Do you know how disrespectful that is?"

Cass laughed, "Well, that hasn't changed any, too bad, I miss putting my feet on the table. Anyways, let's get down to business. You broke the contract, so you have to pay."

The others sat back. Jeremy sat on a stool facing the station. August leaned against the wall, Duskin sat in the chair facing Cass. Zariah remained standing by the table.

"How so?"

"You have to wake up Zach and apologize."

"No!" Zariah replied.

Cass leaned forward and smiled cruelly, "Yes, you will, because you signed a contract stating if you disobeyed the rules you would gratefully accept punishment."

"Well, I don't remember that," Zariah retorted.

"True, but you didn't remember us either, so you will listen and take this water bottle and soak Zach." Cass tossed the bottle.

The wet clear bottle landed in Zariah's hands. "No, I won't. We can wait. And if you're so impatient, you do it." He tossed the bottle back.

"Zariah, use it!" Cass demanded standing and pushing the bottle into his hands. Everyone in the room glued their eyes to the scene.

"No! Cass, I refuse," Zariah shoved the bottle toward Cass.

"Do you want expelled from the band?" Cass growled.

Zariah clenched his teeth. "Fine," he spat. "I'll use it." Cass sat back down with a triumphant grin. Zariah removed the lid and dropped it on the table; then he faced Zach, but paused before throwing it. Zera's mind churned, if she was going to do it, she might as well make sure it was worth it, so again Zariah faced Cass. "Are you sure this is cold enough to wake him?"

"Of course," Cass replied, "You have woken him up many times this way. Course I never had to fight you to do it." Zariah noticed Jeremy chewing his gum quicker. None would have suspected what Zariah did next.

"Well let's see!" He exclaimed and tossed the water onto Cass.