Chapter 4: Uncle
Monday morning. Fantastic. I get on the bus. Hannah's sitting in the front seat as usual. She looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to sit with her. There's an empty seat near the back. I sit there instead. I don't know, I don't think I like the fact that she even considered going out with my ex. I know I said it's not as important as our friendship but right now I just need to be angry. I stick in my flowers and start listening to Breaking Benjamin. Shake things up a bit.
I watch as trees rush by the window and quickly turn into buildings. The highest a building gets in this town is two floors. Aside from the church. I don't know, I never noticed that before. We pass by the church. The image of the giant gargoyle general, Fargrave, pops into my head. Hard to believe someone of my stature could take him on...I owe that to Hannah, actually. Okay, I won't be mad at her for long. I'll forgive her once we get to school. I owe her more than that, so best get started.
The bus stops in front of Darkwater High. I get off the bus behind a line of rowdy teenagers. I discovered that I got the bus with the morning crowd a long time ago, and I hate it. Luckily they're all usually exhausted come home time, so it's not all bad I guess. I look around for Hannah. She usually stands out in the crowd, but everyone's wearing winter gear but me. I guess it's my turn to stand out.
There she is. Talking to David. Fuck it, I'll be mad for a little longer. I go inside and head for my locker. Maybe I'll call home sick today.
Science class is boring. But my lab partner is interesting. Arnold Beck. I met him a few weeks after I sucked the life out of Edmund and used it to revive my mother. He's a red headed, scrawny ass kid, his hair is curly and puffy, which is unfortunate, and he's got a rather large nose. On top of all that, his skin is like...porcelain perfect, which kind of creeps me out, but I'm stuck with him so I deal with it.
He sits next to me when he gets in. "Good morning, Alex," he says.
"Hi, Arnold," I say back.
"And how are you on this lovely morning?" He's also really upbeat. I stare at him a bit coldly. "Right, you're a Scrooge."
"No, I like Christmas, I just hate snow," I say defensively.
"Of course, of course."
The teacher finally arrives. Him and his belly start talking and my eyes suddenly feel heavy. What is it about school that just puts people to sleep? I look around...Okay what is it about school that puts ME to sleep?
Clearly Arnold's noticing that I'm drifting off. He nudges me. "Alex," he says. "You're falling asleep."
"I'm trying to, yeah," I reply a tad groggily. I may not be the best lab partner. Often I let Arnold here to all the work, which...is just mean of me. I admit it. But I'm just so tired!
Eventually I can't do anything more than give in, and my eyes close indefinitely. Words dance around my head. Mostly what the teacher's saying. It comes in little bits and pieces. "Particle" and "Chemical" come in, and...I'm in the street.
No one's around, I'm all alone here. I breathe in an almost sulphuric tasting air. Then the ground cracks. It opens up from down the street and starts cracking all the way over to me, then it cracks around me in a large circle. Soon more cracks come. Buildings start sinking into the ground a bit, then the ground itself starts to collapse. Holes start opening up all around me until almost the entire street is gone.
Then a large stone claw bursts through the pavement down the street. I know that claw. I've seen it somewhere before. It grips into the sidewalk to my left, and soon the beast attached to that claw pulls itself out of the ground. Eyes that glow like molten lava stare at me, a gigantic dragon-like rock jaw with massive stone teeth jutting out from it. It roars as it pulls itself towards me. Its other claw slams down on me and...darkness.
"Deep Earth," my voice echoes in the darkness. "They'll be the first." Red eyes that look suspiciously like mine open in front of me and then a bell starts to ring.
I wake up and everyone's leaving class. Arnold is peering at me with a grin. He does that when I fall asleep in class. David walks past me without so much as a glance...Shit. Now I know where I've seen that claw before. The vision. That I got from Sam. David's dad. The one that hates me.
"Did you have a nice nap?" Arnold asks me.
"Riddled with bad dreams," I say quickly as I jump up from my seat and gather my books. "Okay I will see you tomorrow. Be good!" I speed walk out of the classroom with my books as I try to catch up with David. I'm dreading this, but he knows something. His dad knows something. I don't get the feeling that this "Deep Earth" and the warnings from Uncle Barney are related, though. And that scares me. David's talking to a friend. I grab the ass hole's arm and pull him next to the girl's washroom.
"What the hell?" he exclaims. "Oh...hi." Great. I don't have time for awkwardness right now.
"Deep Earth," I say. "What do you know about it?"
"You heard me, David! Deep Earth! What is it?!" I'm at the point of yelling.
"Calm down," he says. Oh shut the fuck up.
"Answer the question!" I yell. People walk by us, staring. He doesn't say anything yet. "I saw what your dad did! I saw his memories! He knows about Deep Earth and I'm sure you do too!" He gives me a look that says I'm on the right track. I need to stop yelling, but it feels good to yell at him.
He gets in a bit close so that no one else can hear. "It's nothing people have to worry about now," he says, his brows furrowed. He's wrong, but I don't get a chance to tell him because he walks off. I could have conducted myself better in that interaction. I turn to see Hannah staring at me from the middle of the hallway. Now's the time to stop being mad. I walk up to her.
"Hey," I say. She looks at me a bit guiltily.
"I said no," she says. Why that feels like a relief, I'll never know.
"Good, drugs are bad," I reply. "That is what you're talking about, right?"
"You know what I'm talking about," she smiles lightly. "I shouldn't have even been considering it, but-"
"But you like him," I finish for her.
"It's not just that, but..." she looks around uncomfortably. "Can you walk and talk?"
"Oh I don't know, now you've got me thinking about it," I joke. She smiles again. I'm a real charmer, I'll give myself that.
She talks a bit low as we walk. "Before you guys came here I was pretty much a loner," she starts. "I didn't have any friends, and no one ever asked me out." Great, here comes the guilt. "The only reason why I was considering saying yes was...well..."
"I get it, Hannah," I say. "It's okay if you still want to go with him. He may be a douche but let's face it, he's got great taste in women."
Hannah smiles. "No, it's not okay for me to do that," she says. "It was fun to see you yelling at him, though. What was that about?"
"Oh, you know," I sigh, "end of the world stuff." Her big eyes widen as we turn into the stairs and she stares at me. Heh. Stairs. Stares. Didn't think I'd – Oh stop it. "Relax, I have a feeling we're safe."
"How do you manage to piss off so many people?" she asks me.
"Hey, I don't think half the guys I've pissed off so far count as people," I say as we start walking up the stairs. "But there are...things."
"What kind of things?" Boy, she is persistent.
"I can't tell you now, it'd only scare you." That's not going to help! Fuck I swear to God I am an idiot sometimes. She cocks an eyebrow at me. "Let's just drop it. Lunch?" Yeah, it's lunch time. Best time for socializing and being tormented by visions or ghosts. She nods as we head up to our lockers.
Hannah and I sit at a table with our trays. Hers with carrots and hummus and mine with two cheeseburgers and a thing of poutine. Yum. The fact that she and I stopped a gargoyle invasion didn't help our popularity in any way whatsoever. Like I said, the story's been contorted into something unrecognizable, which made the government's enquiry into the whole thing rather entertaining.
"Do you still like David?" Hannah asks me, examining one of her carrots carefully. I look at her and smile patiently. "Well?"
"No, Hannah, I do not still like David," I smile, then bite into my burger. I'm lying through my teeth but it's not important.
"You're lying," she says. Well, she's good, I'll give her that. "Why do you still like him?"
I swallow, then sigh. "You want to know why?" I ask. She nods. "Okay, I'll tell you," I put down my burger and get ready to pour my heart out when Arnold sits beside me.
"Alex, is this you?" he asks me, holding out his cell phone. It's a fancy one. He has a YouTube video up and running. Yup. That's me. Riding on the back of a certain large white parrot. Someone took a cell phone video of us after I sent Fargrave back to wherever he came from. The quality is awful, though.
"Um..." I um. "No. No, that's not me, that looks...that looks fake."
He eyes me carefully. "That is you, isn't it?" I don't see how he could ever think that, honestly. The quality is so terrible. The only reason I know it's me is because I remember that day like I remember the day I killed Edmund.
"Okay, how do you know if that's me?" I ask him.
"I'm very good with faces, yours in particular. Could pick you out of a crowd a mile away," he says. There's that look in his eye. Great. Another guy in love with me. I'm just such a catch. Hannah's eyes widen. She picks up her tray and turns to leave as awkwardly as she possibly can.
"I..." I start, "have a watch. Wanna see?" Brilliant. This is awkward as fuck.
"I know about this stuff, Alex," he says confidently.
He laughs. "No, about things like gargoyles and shape shifters."
"I've had my fair share of experiences with the supernatural."
"I can't meet one normal person, can I?" Off in the corner of my eye, something just...appears. I look over. Uncle Barney is staring at me from the hall. But the look he's giving me...it's not him. It's...something dark. Something evil. My head's starting to spin and my stomach's starting to turn over on itself.
"Are you okay?" Arnold asks me. I'm visibly contorting, aren't I? I shake my head no. It feels like someone just dropped a hot ball of led into my stomach, caked it in oil and set it on fire. FUCK it hurts! Arnold sees where I'm staring and looks over. Then back at me. "Is it him?" he asks me. Wait, what?
My gaze snaps onto Arnold. "You can see him?!" I ask as I hold my stomach. The entire room is heating up. I can't fucking take this! Uncle Barney is still staring. I have to go. I need to go. "I have to get out of here," I say as I struggle to get up.
Arnold gets up and helps me stand. Hannah runs over. I look around the room, it's all so...hazy. David's staring. I can feel him, he...he cares. Hesitant to come over, like his father's eyes are always on him, but he cares...not enough, though. But I can't think about that right now, I can barely think about anything.
"His warnings cannot save you," the dark voice says in my head. Great, last thing I really want right now.
The office had to call my mom to come and pick me up, since dad's at work. She's driving me to the hospital just outside of town now. We're turning onto the long country road when she asks, "Was it ghosts again?"
Her eyes flit back and forth between me and the road. "Yes," I nod. She sighs. "It was..." I hesitate. Should I tell her that her dead brother is haunting me? It wouldn't be a huge stretch from what we've been through already. Fuck it. "It was Uncle Barney."
Her eyes snap onto me instantly, wide with surprise and a hint of fear. Speak of the devil. Uncle Barney is standing in the snow, staring at us as we drive by. And everything slows down. Mom doesn't notice it coming straight at us. I scream, "Look out!"
She swerves. The large truck smashes into her side of the car. Glass shatters, metal bends, blood dances around. The car behind us smashes into my side. Something stabs. My head hits something else, hard. Then...nothing. The dark voice's laughter is the last thing I hear before I'm completely out.