untitled teen/murder story - 3 (im back w this story)
Posted May 5th, 2018 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
a/n: soooo i finally finished Scars of the Sea. If you want to start reading that series (my fantasy, Scars being the second book) the link is in my bio :)
now that I'm finished with that and starting to edit Daughter of Light (the frost of the fire), i am going to be working on this book
so expect a lot of this little gang of friends on kidpub because i always have fun writing this.
I fly up, throwing the duvet on the floor.
Lane and Emma are jumping awake beside me. I hear Jess tell me to shut the fuck up.
I blink. What was that?
A hallucination? Or a continuation of my dream? I don’t remember my dreams ever blurring with reality before. Maybe it just felt so real that I forgot what was fake.
I blink again.
I heard Rose scream as clearly as I now see the sunlight slice through the blinds. I saw blood soaking through the mattress of their bed. And glass shattered, I could’ve sworn it had. The window maybe?
But the window is intact. All six of us are safe, and the only threat that we might be facing are the bedbugs.
My t-shirt is soaked with sweat. I climb off the bed, walking carefully across the room to my suitcase, like the stained carpet is going to grow hands and grab at my ankles and never let go. I change into my clothes for the day and look at the clock on the night stand. It’s just a couple minutes past seven. Too early to get up and go. Lane and Emma are already stuffing their faces back into their pillows.
No one seemed surprised by my outburst. It’s like they’re all having nightmares too, and we were all just ticking time bombs waiting to explode. I just happened to go off first. Plus, after that, I don’t feel ready to go walking outside where Denver Jackson could be waiting anywhere. I don’t even know what he looks like, but my mind has created it’s own image of him. Bald with wisps of hair. Sunken, tired eyes. A wide-lipped, manic smile. His teeth are yellow and chipped and his hands are dirty.
That is the face, completely created by my own imagination, that haunts my waking and sleeping hours.
Fucking Denver Jackson.
I’m starting to wish that we’d decided to take our road trip in July instead of June like we originally planned. But Rose had to complain, saying that it would be “too hot” in July for a road trip and they would all be miserable in the ninety degree weather cooped up in Lane’s mom’s van. The rest of us agreed, for some reason, probably just so we wouldn’t have to listen to her reason herself unreasonably until she got her way.
After I’m in dry clothes, I wiggle my way back between Lane and Emma. I stare at the ceiling, gray in the early morning twilight leaking through the blinds. I imagine the shadow of someone’s hand growing across the light, a knife gleaming, poised over my neck. Somehow, I find myself back in my nightmares of Denver Jackson. Only this time, Lane is making a guest appearance.
He’s standing on a beach waving at me, smiling. I start into a run towards him, as if I know that if I don’t get there fast enough, something really bad is going to happen.
Then he appears, materializing out of mist and thin air. Denver Jackson. He grabs Lane, holding a knife to his light brown, vulnerable, soft throat.
I scream, “NO!”
“Dude, what the fuck?” Jess groans. Something soft hits my head. A pillow. Jess threw a pillow at me.
“Did I do it again?” I ask.
“Sorry,” I say.
“It’s okay, Ham,” Emma says.
I feel someone’s fingers in my hair, twisting through the dark brown curls. It makes me feel warm and safe. I think it’s Emma’s, but notice that her little hands are tucked beneath her pillow.
So it has to be Lane. Behind me. Playing with my hair.
My fingers glide over the sheets behind me until I find Lane’s other hand. Our skin makes contact and I let his thumb trace the lines of mine, until our fingers are interlocked between us, creating many things at once. A comforting bond that makes me feel safe, despite Denver Jackson. A barrier of our arms and hands between our bodies. And a secret from the other four. Something only we know. Something only we might ever know.
I can’t help but raise my shoulders as I feel his warm breath against my ear and neck.
“Ham,” he whispers.
That’s how I fall asleep for a third time. With my hand in his and those words in my head and his breath warming my neck.
And I have dreams, not nightmares.
We leave around noon, almost running out of our room, through the lobby, and only stopping for about twenty seconds to check out. We pile into the van, everyone trying to catch their breath from the sprint. If there is a world record for the fastest someone has left a motel room, I think we just won it. Lane starts driving almost immediately, setting off for Charleston, South Carolina. He says we’ll stop there, and we’re not stopping before we get to our hotel room there.
“Do drive-throughs count as stopping?” Rose asks.
“Ah,” I say. “The most important question of them all.”
Lane thinks on it for a second. “No.”
Rose lets out an exaggerated sigh of relief. Emma rolls her eyes. Jess puts his arm around her. I notice Dean put his hand on Lane’s. Their fingers lock. Does Lane think that their hands are a better match than ours? Or is it an awkward fit, like that one time Rose and I held hands during a haunted house. Emma and I have held hands thousands of times and it’s like two puzzle pieces that were made just for that purpose. But Rose, despite being Emma’s twin, has a hand that mine just doesn’t mesh with. We’ve discussed it before, pondered for weeks why it might be, but found no answer. And Lane’s hand…no one knows about the stolen moments Lane and I have. A touch on the arm or a graze of the hand. Early this morning, that was almost more than we’ve ever done. It was so intimate and special and it was more than two puzzle pieces. It wasn’t just a perfect fit, it was meant to be. Not just like his fingers were made to fit with mine, but like his skin was created to touch mine. His warmth was created to perfectly balance mine.
Dean’s staring at me staring at their hands.
I turn to the window, my cheeks burning.
“Tunes, anyone?” Dean asks, holding up the aux cord.
Emma slowly shakes her head at him.
He drops the cord and turns on the radio, not bothering to ask anyone if they wanted to listen to that.
“—a high of ninety and a low of eighty-four. In more chilling news, convict Denver Jackson has taken yet another victim since his escape from prison two days ago. This second victim is young Lindsay Addams. Lindsay was only fourteen years old, walking from her friend’s house to her house, when she just went missing. Later, reports say that her parents received a box at their front porch. They hadn’t noticed Lindsay’s absence, because she usually stayed at her friend’s house for hours. When they opened the box, they found Lindsay’s two severed pigtails, and a used feminine product—”
“Turn it off, Dean,” Emma says.
Dean scoffs, “But, it’s interest—”
“Turn it off, Dean,” Emma’s tone is firmer.
“No,” Dean says.
Lane reaches for the knob and turns the volume all the way down. We all sit in silence for so long that I forget that we usually talk. I find it oddly comforting sitting with my friends in silence while we ride in a vehicle together. Or maybe I just find Lane taking control when Dean is acting like a child comforting. Probably the latter. I smile smugly and sit back in my seat.
I almost forget, for a second, the news we just heard.
This one more brutal, more precise, more planned than the first.
I almost regret turning the news off last night, before we got a chance to see Denver Jackson’s mugshot or something, so that we would know what he looked like. Anyone out there could be him. Though someone knows what he looks like. So it’s not like he’s just going to walk around in public. Right?
I wake up from a nap I hadn’t realized I’d been taking. The van is stopped on the side of the road, in the middle of absolutely fucking nowhere. Golden fields stretch out on either side of us. Just grass. Trees in the far distance. The windows are rolled down and warm gusts of summer air fluctuate through the van, ruffling my hair like bird feathers.
“What are we doing?”
“Out of gas,” Lane says flatly.
I jerk up. “What?”
“We are out of gas.”
“How?” I sputter. “I don’t understand.”
“The tank is empty.”
“I was too distracted. I was stupid and forgot to look. All I could think about was Denver Jackson and that stupid Lindsay girl and Jim and—”
I reach forward and put a hand on Lane’s shoulder and I don’t even have to say anything. He stops and takes a deep breath.
“I’m sorry,” he finishes.
“It’s fine. I just…” I look around the van. Dean is staring blankly out the passenger window. Emma is reading a book. Jess and Rose are gone.
“Where are—” I start.
Lane says, “They went walking down the road. There’s no cell service out here so they’re just gonna see if there’s a gas station up the road. If there’s not, I think I remember seeing one like…ten miles back? I’m not sure.”
“Yeah,” Lane says. “We’re gonna wait and if they don’t find one, once they get back, four of us will go walk the ten miles and back, and two will stay here in the car.”
“This sucks,” I say. “I hope we don’t starve, or like, dehydrate or something.”
“I hope we do,” Dean quips.
“I think we’re more likely to die of a heat stroke first,” Emma says. She’s right. With the sun beating down on us, I can barely breathe. It’s like a sauna. The air is so thick and hot inside the van, even with the windows open. And the breeze doesn’t help, really. It’s just moving warm air around.
“Where are we?” I ask.
Lane frowns and thinks. “Somewhere really south in South Carolina.”
Maybe Denver Jackson only commits murders in Georgia. I can’t help but worry for Jess and Rose walking all alone on the road in the middle of nowhere. They’re just asking to get abducted. But I guess it’s necessary, or we’d be stranded on the side of the road forever. Still…I look out the window at the wavering grass, imaging Denver crouched somewhere inside the high blades where I can’t make out distinct shapes from the dark shifting shadows.
I really hope they find a gas station up the road, because I do not want to walk ten miles. I guess I could stay in the car, but I think I would rather do the walking part. Something about being able to run if Denver Jackson did spring up on me is more appealing than being trapped in a car with him outside it.
And oh God, Lane. I feel so bad for him, because I know that he’s probably wracked with guilt. It’s not his fault, really. One of us should have reminded him. I mean for fuck’s sake, I was napping. And I know that I haven’t been able to take my mind off of Denver Jackson, so I can’t blame Lane at all for getting distracted from driving.
I sigh, staring out the window. I wonder if anyone ever takes this road. What made Lane plan for us to take this road instead of an interstate or something quicker? I know what he would say.
Yes, because, like he would also say, scenery is what makes a road trip worth it. Without it, you’re just riding in a car for hours and hours, growing more tired and restless with every passing second.
Hours pass of the same scenery outside the car windows.
“They should be back by now,” I say.
“Maybe,” Emma squints out the window. “But maybe not. Ten miles is a lot longer than it seems.”
“Look at the sun though,” Dean says. “It’s so far down.”
“Almost sunset,” Lane offers hopefully.
Our phones all died about an hour ago, because we were stupid enough to be playing games and trying to stream Netflix on them. Dean had the nerve to comment on our idiocy after we no longer had a way to contact anyone.
I start, “If they’re not back once it’s dark—”
“Then what?” Emma says, turning on him. I take note of her crunched eyebrows, worried lines around her eyes. Her sister is out there. Rose is out there. I put my hand on hers.
“Then we will go looking for them.”
“So if Denver Jackson gets them we’re gonna go running right into his arms?”
“No,” I snap. “Denver Jackson isn’t getting anyone.”
“There’s no other explanation.” Emma folds the page of her book. So anal about so many things in her life, but not about the conditions of her book pages. Lane cringes as she dog-ears the words.
“I’m sure there is an explanation. Maybe they got lost.”
Dean laughs, a dark, throaty chuckle that contrasts with his usual pixie voice. “Right. Like that’s any better.”
“At least if they’re just lost then they’re alive.”
“Can we please stop talking about them like they might be dead?” Lane asks.
We all nod, turning to stare out our windows at the simmering sun sinking over the fields—the sky burnished white and blue and pink and red and orange, the colors of the sunset, bright flares warning of the oncoming night. I reclined my seat and took deep breaths, silently wondering who will leave once we do. I know we’re going to have to—there’s no way Rose and Jess are going to be back in the next twenty minutes.
God, this really sucks.
I just want a normal road trip with my friends.
Finally, the sun sinks beneath the horizon, rimming the world with soft violets and indigos, sprinkling the ink-blue sky with stars.
“Who’s going?” I ask.
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