A decade-old beige Ford truck cruised down Jackson Street of Orlando's downtown district, trying not to go over the speed limit. The driver, Sean Holiday – a twenty-seven-year-old African American male of average build with an astounding height of six-feet/five-inches and short cropped black hair, could only think about the reason why he was bolting down the road at one-thirty in the afternoon. An hour's drive earlier, he received a call from West End Elementary School about a fight that broke out in the cafeteria between his eight-year-old nephew, Patrick Holiday, and another kid. Principal Wheaters would not say over the phone what the fight was about; she only requested Sean's presence at the school as soon as possible.
It was Sean's intention to visit the school and handle the matter on his own. Unfortunately, as he expected the moment that he got off the phone with Wheaters, his twin sister – Shelly Holiday – found out about the phone call and joined him on the visit, not taking "no" for an answer. Shelly was Patrick's aunt and, like Sean, cared about him deeply. Even though she was Sean's twin sister, her appearance was dramatically opposite of his. Shelly was Caucasian, standing at five-feet/three-inches with a lean, toned physique, blue eyes, and long blond hair. There was a common misconception between the Holiday twins and anyone they would come across in Orlando that one of the siblings was in fact adopted; but this was immediately debunked once Sean or Shelly would explain that they were in fact biologically related.
The siblings had no exact reason for the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon of their interracial birth. Their parents had died in an accident when they were infants, leaving them in foster care, from which they earned their surname "Holiday." Living in the Holiday family, they gained a brother who would grow up to be Patrick's father. Much like the way Sean and Shelly lost their parents at infant age, Patrick lost his at the same time of his young life. As a result, Sean and Shelly became his guardians, being the only living relatives to be so.
The job had its disadvantages though; and those disadvantages came to a head during the emergency meeting at the elementary school that day. Sean and Shelly were not just total opposites of each other in appearance, but in personality as well. This showed through the attire they chose for the meeting – Sean wore nicely-pressed khakis with black dress shoes and a blue button-down dress shirt, while Shelly wore ripped jeans, sandals, and a dirty gray top that was ripped itself, exposing her midriff and cleavage. Sean did not necessarily believe Shelly's attire to be appropriate for an elementary school; Shelly, on the other hand, saw no harm in it. "I'm not a teacher," she excused herself. "Why should it matter?"
It turned out to matter a great deal once the twin siblings arrived in the school. Many students and teachers looked their way as they passed the hallways to reach Principal Wheaters's office. Between Sean's impressive height and Shelly's raggedy clothing, the stares were understandable. From the way that the teachers gawked at Shelly, some might as well have wondered if she had been in a fight – or an explosion. Things became even more complicated when the siblings finally did arrive in Wheaters's office and saw the parents of the boy Patrick fought with; they were a middle-aged black couple by the name of "Miller," appearing high class from their debonair clothes and upstanding attitudes.
"Posers," Shelly whispered to her brother on their way into the office. It was obvious from the moment she first caught sight of the Millers how much she didn't like them.
Sean started to sweat beneath his bright blue shirt, but not from the room's temperature. Glancing around the office, he realized that – with the exception of his raggedy-dressed twin sister – everyone there was just as black as him, including his little nephew. The pressure was on high for him and Shelly to make a good first impression to Wheaters, who had only met them face-to-face that afternoon. She had plenty of chances to meet the Millers, who were in fact friends with the governor of Florida, thus having Sean and Shelly already beaten by a mile. The twins would have had their chances to meet Wheaters, but their "private life" kept them away from the school more often than they cared to admit it.
When Sean sat down in one of the cushy chairs situated on the left and right sides of Patrick, who sulked in his own, he felt only slightly relaxed. Whereas he sat normally in his chair and Patrick sulked in his, Shelly sat lotus style in hers. Sean could not understand how she was so mellow over the whole ordeal. Their nephew had gotten into a fight with the Millers' son, who looked older and bigger than Patrick – possibly been held back a year or so and ate a lot of candy, and Shelly seemed more proud than disappointed. There were signs of how intense the fight was from the cuts and bruises on both boys' faces. Traces of blood could be found on Jai Miller's white Captain America shirt; he also had a cold compress held against his swollen jaw.
"As you can see, the boys sustained only minor injuries," said Wheaters, who appeared to be the oldest in the room with short gray hair, a few wrinkles, and coke bottle glasses. She looked to be nearly seventy years of age and reminded Sean of the Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols.
"Minor?" Mr. Miller bellowed in surprise, almost chuckling as he did. "Do you not see how my boy looks right now?" Mr. Miller was not an imposing man, but his baritone voice made him seem like one. His bald head glistened under the sunlight that escaped through the blinds on the windows, and his thick mustache furled as he ranted to Wheaters. He was near-identical to Samuel L. Jackson in the eyes of Sean and Shelly.
Wheaters kept her cool while addressing the disgruntled parent. "I realize your son received more injuries from the conflict, Mr. Miller, and I promise that repercussions will be resolved."
"May I ask what the fight was about?" Sean questioned.
"He keeps calling me 'St. Patty's Dick!'" Patrick angrily exclaimed, pointing directly at Jai.
Mr. Miller snickered at the distasteful nickname that spawned from the fact that Patrick was born on Saint Patrick's Day. This childish act of Miller's did not go unnoticed by Shelly. "Dude? Seriously?"
Realizing he had been caught, Mr. Miller defended himself. "I'm sorry. But it is a funny name."
"John," uttered Mrs. Miller, a perfect Michelle Obama clone if Sean and Shelly ever saw one. "This is not a humorous situation."
"I agree." Wheaters acknowledged. "What we have here is not just an issue with name-calling, but anger management." She looked towards the Holidays and added, "Mister and Miss Holiday, you should know that this isn't the first incident we've encountered with Patrick's anger issues."
"Anger issues?" Sean remarked in surprise.
Shelly giggled. "My nephew does not have 'anger issues,' Mrs. Wheaties."
"Wheaters." The principal firmly corrected her, as if Shelly were one of the students in her school.
"Right." Shelly uttered, sounding confused. "What did I say?"
Sean breathed a bit heavily, seeing Shelly's mispronunciation of the West End Elementary principal's last name as "Strike Two" – the first strike coming from her wild attire. "You said 'Wheaties,'" he whispered to his sister.
Shelly covered her mouth, stifling a laugh. "Oh, crap. I'm so sorry, ma'am."
"Seems pretty clear to me that Patrick comes from poor upbringing." Mr. Miller boldly analyzed.
"Excuse me?" Shelly uncovered her mouth, burning a hole right into Mr. Miller with the fierce glare of her light blue eyes.
"Mr. Miller, please." Wheaters said, becoming impatient.
"Look, let's just put our cards on the table and play." Mr. Miller's odd metaphor drew some confused reactions out of Sean and Shelly, who briefly shared an awkward glance to each other. "Look at the way Miss Holiday is dressed."
Shelly unlocked her legs from their lotus position and sat on the edge of her chair, pointing at Mr. Miller. "You better stop right there, my friend. How I'm dressed is none of your business."
"It is when it pertains to my son's swollen jaw." Mr. Miller fired back.
"You like one to match?" Shelly raised her fist for emphasis.
There was a loud, hollowed slam that came right from Wheaters's desk as she apparently slammed both of her hands down on it, silencing the bickering adults. "That's enough from both of you! My goodness! Seeing the way you two behave makes it no wonder the children are like this!"
Sean felt remarkably embarrassed; his sweat had already stained the armpits of his bright blue shirt, as well as the back of it. He kept his head down for a while but brought it back up to address the infuriated principal. "Mrs. Wheaters, I apologize for my sister's behavior. She's just…"
"Sister?" A baffled Mrs. Miller exclaimed.
Mr. Miller nodded, smiling as if he solved a big mystery. "Adopted relatives – another big factor in this."
Upon hearing Miller's judgmental statement, Sean felt the mighty grip of Shelly's hand over his right forearm as she reached out in front of Patrick and whispered to her brother through clinched teeth, "I swear, bro…I'm gonna destroy that man right here in this room."
"Would you just relax?" Sean whispered back to her.
Mrs. Wheaters rubbed her index fingers against her temples, trying to ease the obvious migraine she had received from the stressful meeting. Sean worried for the elderly principal, who was possibly just a few months from retirement. As soon as Wheaters regained composure, she calmly addressed the two families. "I have a suggestion that I believe will bring this conflict at rest. Next Friday is West End Elementary's annual Halloween party. Every year we have our students and their parents come and everyone has a blast. I'm certain if you all were to come, this whole mess will be forgotten, and you all will see that you're decent human beings."
"The black half of us at least," muttered Mr. Miller, who then received a blow to his side from his wife's elbow.
"That sounds like a marvelous idea, Mrs. Wheaters." Mrs. Miller affirmed.
"Yeah, we're with it." Sean acknowledged.
Shelly and Mr. Miller kept their focus on each other, engaged in a fierce staring contest. Patrick and Jai were the same as the adults. These stares went undetected from Mrs. Wheaters, who merely accepted the agreements of Sean and Mrs. Miller with a wave of relief. "Splendid! Well, I'll see you all next Friday then!"
Five Days Later
Elect D.A. Damien Miller for Mayor!
That was the message in big, bold white letters on the poster plastered on the ceiling in the basement of Sean and Shelly's home in Thornton Park. The poster featured the face of Damien Miller, the man who the siblings had the unfortunate pleasure in meeting five days ago at West End Elementary, in front of an American flag, flashing a phony smile. It was discovered on the street by Shelly the day after their meeting, and instead of ripping it up to pieces, she opted to use it as motivation in her workouts. The spot on the ceiling it was plastered on was directly above her horizontal weight lifting bench. Seeing Damien Miller's smiling face brought out enough anger and frustration to bring the weighted bar all the way up.
"Jackass," she grunted while staring past the heavy bar in her hands and towards Miller's poster. After setting the bar back on the racks, she sat up on the bench to catch her breath. Her tight blue tank top and gray shorts were drenched with sweat, signifying one intense session. Her sweat dripped from her face and hair, hitting the concrete floor. "Did you know he was a lawyer?" Her question was directed to her brother, who sat on the couch in his "man cave" adjacent to the workout section of their basement and watched the flatscreen situated across from it. The inquiry fell on deaf ears as he was too occupied with the image shown on the screen.
That image was of a young woman known simply as "Silvania," a Brazilian-American model who was just a year younger than Sean and Shelly. Silvania had been the recent interest of Sean as her image was featured all over the States in many magazines, billboards, television ads, newspapers, and the Internet. She was one of the most well-known models in America and had reached further fame by becoming a reporter for KBC News. Silvania was certainly the most gorgeous woman Shelly had ever seen and understood her brother's infatuation. Her radiance filled the flatscreen as she gave a report on a topic that Sean could care less about.
His focus on Silvania lasted for as long as the young Brazilian-American occupied the screen, looking towards the camera and smiling. He imagined that she was smiling and looking at him – and only him. Much like every time she was on television, he fantasized the two of them at Lake Eola Park, standing passionately under the red pagoda and moving in close to each other. This time seemed different as their faces grew as close as their bodies and a kiss was ready to happen. Unfortunately, the moment was ruined by drops of rain that fell upon the two would-be lovers. But it was raining inside the pagoda? That seemed downright impossible to Sean.
Reality crept itself back in once he realized that it was not rain falling on him, but Shelly's sweat. Her drenched upper body was positioned over him while she gawked at Silvania with him. "She's sexy," she said, mocking his fixation.
"Ugh!" He exclaimed, leaping off the couch and wiping his sister's sweat off his head. "Do you ever towel off anymore?"
"Had to wake you out of your daydream somehow."
"Is water too outdated these days?"
She chuckled while returning to her bench to retrieve a long bright orange towel to dry herself off with. "But, seriously, did you know that Miller was a lawyer when we first met that butthole?"
Sean shook his head. "No idea."
"The nerve of that racist punk, calling out my appearance as a reason for Pat's fight. And what was that crap about adoption?"
"Oh, c'mon, Shell. That's not the first time you heard all that."
"I know, but it still cuts like a knife, man. What does being adopted have to do with…?"
She stopped as soon as an overwhelming and familiar sensation came over her head. It was the tingling – the usual sign of what she and Sean referred as "The Event." Sean received a similar sense, having shared a strong mental link with his twin sister. What normally followed after the sensation was a vision of the Event in question – the future happening that would draw the siblings out on their next paranormal investigation. The Events always occurred close to the holidays; and with Halloween only two days away, it came as no surprise to them that the sensation occurred that afternoon.
The vision they received happened at a cemetery – from what they could determine, it was the Greenwood Cemetery – at nighttime. Greenwood Cemetery's groundskeeper ran like mad through the area, dodging headstones and screaming with terror. He ran from something that hunted him down relentlessly, yet Sean and Shelly could not see what it was from the vision. The groundskeeper ran until his elderly body could no longer carry him further across the fields. He collapsed near a freshly dug grave reserved for a future occupant by the name of "Wilson Davies" from the tombstone. The old groundskeeper stood upright near the hole and shrieked as the being that preyed on him finally closed in.
The groundskeeper's fate was left undetermined for Sean and Shelly due to the vision ending prematurely – as it always had. The twins looked to each other in alarm, with Shelly being the first to acknowledge the scene they mentally witnessed. "What do you think it was this time?"
Sean shrugged. "The Calgravan maybe? It's been a few years since we encountered them."
"Whatever it is, it's coming this Friday…and we need to be there to stop it."
A frown masked her brother's countenance. "But Patrick's Halloween party is this Friday."
Shelly moaned in aggravation over being reminded of the other event. "Damn. That's right. What school even throws a party on Halloween night? Shouldn't most kids Pat's age be out trick-or-treating that night?"
Sean dodged her question, focusing on a solution to their dilemma. "We can just swing by, say 'hello' or 'sorry' to the Millers and Mrs. Wheaters, and leave for Greenwood in a heartbeat."
"I am not saying 'sorry' to that butt-sack Damien Miller."
"Alright, fine. Don't say anything at all. Just let me do all the talking."
"Why do we even need to go to the stupid party? Wheaties expects us to forgive and forget all that crap at the meeting, but you know it'll be brought up again. What's happening at the cemetery is way more important. You know for the past ten years what we've been doing, and we can't let anything distract us from it."
"And what about Patrick? We leave him alone at home on Halloween for the eighth year in a row? With Wheaters breathing down our necks this year and us avoiding the school's party, I don't think that'll make us look any innocent – not after the debacle a few days ago."
Shelly folded her arms, biting her lower lip like she usually did while thinking hard. Finally, she told her brother, "We'll take him with us then."
"We can't take Patrick."
"Take me where?"
The small voice of their nephew was heard from nearby, and they turned to find him at the foot of the wooden staircase leading down to the basement. He had just returned from school, which was evident from his backpack still slinging from his right shoulder. He looked questionably at his uncle and aunt, who stared back at him in concern and at a loss for words. The twins knew this moment would come; however, they anticipated it to be when Patrick was at least thirteen years old. But, with circumstances being as they were, now seemed like a better time than later to Sean and Shelly.
After taking a deep breath, Sean calmly told his nephew, "Patrick. Let's go upstairs and talk for a while. There's something your Aunt Shelly and I have to tell you…about us."