The Pumpkin King A/n: We're back. It is us - the Most Marvelously Mad Mistresses of Magnanimous Mayhem (we feel that the title should elongate with every passing year) - and we are here to tell a tale more frightening than four April Fool's Days spent locked in a closet with Odd! (Please feel free to gasp in horror). We are here for entertainment, for amusement, for causing people with heart conditions expensive hospital bills! We are here to tell a story. Warnings, we now come with a warning lable. Please note: The following people should not read this fic - those with preexisting heart conditions, those riding on public transport, those who are pregnant (or think they're pregnant), those who are easily scared and/or traumatized, those with neck/back/any other serious injuries, those who cannot laugh freely, those with asthma, those who are surrounded my people who Just Don't Understand, and most importantly: those with no sense of humor! Note: I'm terribly sorry about the format problems, I believe I've fixed most of them. FFnet has been giving me all kinds of trouble. Thanks for your patience
The Pumpkin King
A/n: We're back. It is us - the Most Marvelously Mad Mistresses of Magnanimous Mayhem (we feel that the title should elongate with every passing year) - and we are here to tell a tale more frightening than four April Fool's Days spent locked in a closet with Odd! (Please feel free to gasp in horror). We are here for entertainment, for amusement, for causing people with heart conditions expensive hospital bills! We are here to tell a story.
Warnings, we now come with a warning lable. Please note: The following people should not read this fic - those with preexisting heart conditions, those riding on public transport, those who are pregnant (or think they're pregnant), those who are easily scared and/or traumatized, those with neck/back/any other serious injuries, those who cannot laugh freely, those with asthma, those who are surrounded my people who Just Don't Understand, and most importantly: those with no sense of humor!
Note: I'm terribly sorry about the format problems, I believe I've fixed most of them. FFnet has been giving me all kinds of trouble. Thanks for your patience"Odd, it's been six months…"
"I know this Ulrich," I call. My voice is muffled by the inordinate amount of dust residing under my bed. I swear there's a dust bunny down here twice Kiwi's size. No wonder my poor dog never sleeps under here. "What's your point?"
"Not after what those…those…those…"
"Need a dictionary? Or maybe a thesaurus?"
"Shut-up," I growl. I emerge from under my bed, tugging along the box of necessities I keep stocked down there. Along with extra socks and my history textbook. "Look, this will be perfect, and after what they did to me last year…"
"Actually, it was six months ago. Anyway, aren't you a bit slow on your time management? Shouldn't this have been done months ago?"
"Yes. Most likely," I concede. "But come on, I just got off of that infernal nursery job. Gah!" I still shudder at the thought of the toddlers and little kids staring at me. Eyeballing me like I was a filet mignon and they were starving cannibals. Ew. "My partner's been thinking, though."
"I'm not…your partner?" Ah, silly, silly Ulrich. He thinks I'm going to recruit him again, but I'm not, or won't, rather. He'll come to me eventually – he always has and always will, I'm sure. It's my natural charm, you see. "You have a partner?"
"Yes, I do. Don't act so surprised, Ulrich-dear."
"Oh, you'll see," I say with a grin. He holds up a mirror and I wince as I see the dust clinging to my face and a spider web in my hair. I look like I just crawled out of the factory. Gross. "Perfect," I chuckle. He gives me a blank stare as I dissolve into demonic laughter.
The door is promptly kicked open and Ulrich jumps back a bit. The only things in view are long legs in dark jeans and black flats. The rest, of what I could only assume to be my partner, is covered by cardboard boxes, piled four high in her arms.
"Ugh! Odd help me before I drop these!" Yep. That's her! I brush some the dust from my hair and hurry, closing the door behind her and grab the top two boxes. "Thanks." Her face is flush and I understand why as I put the hundred thousand pound boxes on the floor. She flips dark hair out of her face and sets her boxes down next to mine.
"Hey, Yumes." Ulrich gives the girl a smile and looks back to me to say something.
"Oh, hey Ulrich. I didn't know you'd still be here." His attention snaps back to her, to the boxes and back to her.
"No. You're kidding. Haha, good joke." He glares at me. "You're kidding." Yumi shrugs, stretching her left arm across her body.
"Told you he wouldn't believe you," she informs me. "I picked up the shipment from the shop and there's a second one that won't be in till tomorrow night." Yumi's all business again, dropping her backpack off her back onto my bed. "I picked up the glow paint as well." The look of disbelief on Ulrich's face never falters as he takes a step towards her.
"Yumi? Are you ill?"
"Go away, Ulrich," I grumble. "Yumi and I have a lot of Very Important and Highly Top Secret things to do, you see." Yes, I enunciate the capital letters because they are Very Important, you see. He's still gaping like a landed fish with a hook in its mouth. I feel sorry for him. "Go on, I won't corrupt her too much."
"And I won't hurt him too much," Yumi chimes in. There's a grin in her voice and a twinkle in her eyes. For a moment I can almost see why Ulrich and she are together. But once I blink, it's gone, and I'm staring hungrily at those boxes and the treasure they hide.
"You both are nuts," he growls. He shakes his head and grabs his jacket from his desk chair. "Completely raving mad…"
"Aw, that's a boy, Ulrich. Don't worry," I tease. He hurls his physics notebook at my head. I duck and it hits the wall, sliding down to lay on my bed. His notes look horrible even from here.
"Don't be upset Ulrich, it's all in fun," Yumi murmurs. She kisses him while I make gagging noises until they break away looking homicidal. "We should only be a few hours."
"Fine." He storms to the door and before it closes behind him he calls back, "I'll be with Emily."
I open the first box before Yumi can scream or rant or whatever it is she does when Ulrich and Emily hang out together. I really don't see why she's so upset about them being together. Well, not together but together. "Hey Yumi, look at this ulna, realistic, no?" She looks at me like I have a scipizoa stuck to my back.
"He's not funny." She informs me, tearing open the second box. She mutters to herself, pulling out packaging and tossing it on the floor. "Here's a heart, since you lack one of your own." She holds up a kit, and I'm so proud it nearly brings tears to my eyes. I reach for it slowly, eyeing the perfectly realistic valves like gold. She snatches it out of my reach.
"Yummers! Don't tease, babe!" I make grabbing hands in the heart's direction.
"First, confirm the deal we made. Then I'll let you have your toys." The girl is no idiot, that's for sure. Sighing, I sit back on my heels.
"I will not cause bodily harm to Jeremie, you will be exempt from my master plan on April Fool's, and I will not make any sexual innuendo about Ulrich and I in front of you for a three months." Of course I didn't say I'd leave her out of all of my pranks and I never said I wouldn't make sexual innuendo about Ulrich and other people. She considers my words for a minute and finally tosses me the bag.
"You better keep your word. Elise said she'd love to have you back. Apparently the kids absolutely loved you."
I make a face, imagining their terrifying ability to totally swarm and devour a person upon arrival. Xana could learn quite a bit from those monsters. One in particular…Juliana…no. Bad, don't even think about the devil-creature!
"Right. Right. God, this better be worth it." She eyes me warily over the open box flaps and I grin. "I'll be dying to tell you about Ulrich and I and the storm before the three months are up."
"I didn't suggest anything Yumi." I grin at her innocently and she looks ready to kill me. "Oh look, I found Ulrich's brain, no wonder he's dating you."
"Odd!" She also didn't mention me making fun of her and Ulrich.
"What are you planning?"
"Will you shut-up, Ulrich? Do you want the whole school to know?"
"Maybe. What are you planning?"
"What did you do with Emily last night?" He stops in his tracks and glares at me. I grin back at him easily. Ulrich's moods are mercurial. I've learned to handle them with a laugh and a smile or a shoulder and a hug (man hug, not girl hug people).
"None of your business," he snaps. I roll my eyes. "What are you planning?"
"You're planning something, Odd?" Aelita asks, joining us. Great. Just great. Thank you Ulrich.
"Always, Princess, Always!" She doesn't look even mildly amused by the notion and glances over at Jeremie who's trying to catch up with us.
"Jer, Odd's planning something again." He glares at me.
"Would you all hush up? I don't want the whole freaking school to know!" Thankfully Ulrich knows better than to bring up any further details. Milly and Tamiya are probably lurking near by. That's all I need. Besides, it's lunchtime and the only concern on my mind is that deviously delicious lunch Rosa has cooking for me. Love that woman, I swear if it wasn't for… yeah it weirded me out the moment I said it, too. Forget it. It's the hunger pains speaking. We get back to the table and Jeremie and Aelita are trading genius talk while Ulrich stands behind us mid-sulk about not being included in my ingenious brilliant plans. His mood brightens considerably when he spots Yumi at the table. Her head is tilted to one side ever so slightly, and she's bent over a sketch pad, pencil moving in rapid streaks and I can only dream of what she's creating for me at this moment.
"Hey Yumi," Aelita greets. Yumi offers a quick wave, not looking up from her work. Yes, yes, yes. She's got another of those ideas of hers.
"What are you working on, Yumes?" I try to peek over he shoulder and she snatches the notebook up, hiding it from my sight. "Yumi," I whine in protest. She fakes a glare and sets the book back down.
"Not finished," she informs me.
I roll my eyes at her. Fine, she can keep her secrets. I'll just have a little fun myself. I mean who really cares that she's designing another brilliant skeleton or bloody pumpkin (and I mean gore-bloody, not cool-bloody)? I turn to Ulrich who's finally decided to sit down and give him my best, most brightest and becoming smile and sling an arm over his surprised shoulders. He tenses almost immediately.
"So, you were gone a long time last night…" Yumi's pencil slows minutely. Sometimes I pity them. Sometimes.
"Odd…" Ulrich warns. He'll make an excellent father (or mother) one day, what with all his tones. And punishments too.
"So, you and Emily, huh? Did you guys have dinner in? I didn't see you in the cafeteria later."
Ulrich eyes me, eyes Yumi, eyes me again and then does something completely remarkable. He actually grins. Ulrich Stern grinning is a strange sight; like those elusive Jackalopes I hear about from time to time (the ones that live in America or whatever) or actual snow and not slush. Yumi notices, Aelita notices, practically the whole cafeteria (or rather, those near us) notices but Einstein who's still rambling off theories and rationales and whatnot.
"No, actually," he says. "We went out to eat."
"Oh?" I hate him. He's piqued my curiosity, evil monster. "Did you go to that little café?"
"Hm? Oh, no." He glances up and sees Emily approaching, waves at her. She grins, waves back, and comes to sit at the table. I scoot over to give her room but she sits down next to Ulrich, directly across from Yumi.
"What are you guys up to?" she asks, breaking her roll in half and smearing butter on it. "No more rumors, right Odd? Or are you still plotting?"
"You told her?" I demand, glaring at him. So-called-best-friend. He's a Benedict Arnold to friendship!
"It came up over the pasta." She laughs and I want to hurl something at them. Yumi does, too, apparently. And Einstein's finally noticed that Something Is Up. Hoorah.
"What are you drawing, Yumi? I didn't know you were an artist." She isn't, she's a plotter, but I won't mention that now. Not with Ulrich looking smug, with Emily laughing and Yumi murderous. I don't know how Einstein puts up with all her rantings, really, he deserves a week vacation to some island that's free of us. And maybe Aelita in a hula skirt and bikini…nah, that'd just make him go comatose.
Yumi forces air into her lungs and gently continues her sketching, not meeting Emily's eyes.
"Project I'm working on for Manor. To go along with the creative writing assignment he gave us last week. I can use all the extra credit I can pull off in his class." I can't decipher if that was a blatant lie or if she had just been teasing me. I don't know what would disappoint me more. Emily glances at Ulrich and grins and it makes me a little be nauseous.
"Need any help?" Emily offers. Yumi stops drawing and looks up. Her expression is crossed between laughing in Emily's face and confusion of her kindness. She smoothers it in a polite smile and shakes her head.
"Odd? Ulrich? You're both on probation." Pft. She can't put me on probation. She has nothing I want-- oh wait… Ulrich rolls his eyes and checks the clock.
"Sure, Yumi. Dinner at the café?" He finishes his lunch quickly and stands up, waiting for her response.
"Maybe," she teases. Yep, definitely nauseous.
"It's my week to buy; like you'll say no." She rolls her eyes and grins.
"Seven; and don't be late, dear."
"I won't, sweetheart. I have to go talk to Jim about the indoor season, I'll see you guys next hour." He waves and leaves. Yumi waves after him before returning to her book like the whole thing never happened. Emily chuckled sliding over next to me.
"So what exactly are you plotting, Odd?"
"Oh, you know, World Domination, complete Dictatorship of Life…"
"The usual then?" she asks, cutting me off. I catch Aelita's eye across the table as she smiles and ducks her head. "By the way, thanks for stealing Yumi last night Odd," Emily laughs. "Ulrich and I had a lovely picnic last night out under the stars. Rosa was especially happy to give us the food, said we were "charming" and a "lovely couple." Isn't that sweet?" And then, there's times like this when I think I want nothing more than to wrap my arms around her and kiss her soundly, because Emily is really rather brilliant all things considered.
"What?" Yumi demands. I think she just broke her pencil, or else something inside snapped rather loudly. Aelita looks up, grins, and Einstein looks flummoxed. Poor Einstein. Sometimes I think he'd understand us better if he put us into binary code, or made us an equation.
"Mm, yes," Emily murmurs. She eats a forkful of salad.
"I see," I say, watching her eyes dance. "Yes, yes, it was my pleasure of course. So, how long did dinner last? He didn't get back until late after all; I was nearly frantic with worry over him. I hate falling asleep by myself, especially if I don't know where he is. I was almost ready to send Jim out after him," I tease.
She grins. "Sorry for stealing your sleeping partner, Odd." Yumi has developed a twitch in her left eye I notice. "Hope it wasn't that troublesome. I'll be sure to get him home earlier next time. I'll insist he goes straight back to the dorm, his dorm that is."
"Wicked," I reply. Emily grins back, winks secretly, before turning to face Yumi and her twitching left eye.
"Oh, and Yumi? You really should account for the weight more, that knot will never hold the body up," she says. She gestures with her empty fork at the sketch Yumi's been drawing of a body hanging from a noose. "The body's too heavy too, the light fixture will break. You should hang it from a rafter."
"Mmph!" Apparently Yumi has lost the power of speech to the twitchiness.
"Well, I've got to run. Hertz wants to see me. Lovely talking to you all, Aelita, are we still on for our shopping trip later?" Aelita nods, green eyes laughing and Yumi snaps her pencil again. Or maybe that's her sanity saying a fond farewell.
Yumi scribbles something on her drawing with what's left of her pencil and flings the page at me, snatching her bag and leaving her lunch. Jeremie gives her a sad fleeting look as she storms out.
"You guys shouldn't be so cruel," he points out quietly. A pang of guilt sounds in me but is quickly shut out by laughter when I look down at the picture to see 'Emily' scrawled in Yumi's neat print over the skeleton.
"She should know by now that none of us mean it." I dismiss Jeremie's guilt trip, studying the drawing in my hands. Account for the weight? Maybe if it was an actual skeleton. This was done completely out of holographic lights. A strip that would hang out of the fixture, giving it it's power… genius. I checked the note at the bottom and my grin widened.
'Struggle and shriek.'
'Struggle and shriek.'
That sounds like an excellent idea to me.
"My friends, I have a certain masterminded plan to put into action." With a last bite of potatoes I take off out of the cafeteria, leaving Jeremie and Aelita with looks of fear and confusion on their faces.
Later that evening I'm lounging about the room in my pajamas, fiddling with the electrical bits we'll need when Ulrich enters. He doesn't say anything but just stands there, giving me a look until I finally glance up at him. I raise my eyebrows and he shrugs, sitting down across from me.
"Is this going to be a new hobby then?" he questions. He's nervous. I can tell he's anxious because his voice has gained the German burr back. "Is this going to accompany April Fools as well?"
"No. This is a one-time thing to strike fear into the hearts of everyone." He continues to eye me, before he bows his head slightly. I'm not sure if he's praying to some higher being, paying homage to me, or about to be sick. Anything is possible when it comes to Ulrich and his weird head rituals. "Ulrich?"
"Okay, look. What exactly are you planning? Is it another fun house?"
I knew curiosity would wear him down. I also know that he really doesn't want to know. "Sort of but not really. It's more of a…a…a haunted house," I reply eventually. He lifts his head, stares at me. "But very much fun; more fun than those rinky-dink ones. Think Nightmare on Elm Street coupled with Halloween, maybe."
"Hm." His mind is going into plan mode. "Skeletons and mummies then?"
"And ghosts and goblins. Don't worry, my apprentice and I have it covered, love."
"I see." He eyes me and then glances at the space between my bed and the floor. The area I keep all of my genius ideas and plot devices. "So then, of course, you've already decided to infiltrate the school's water system and replace it with either fake blood, corn syrup, or food colored water, right?"
"Of course," I answer as I mentally file the idea away for later. Ulrich nods, a smile hidden in the tilt of his mouth. "One of the best ideas, can you imagine the screams?"
"Yes, I can." He gets that far away look on his face. "And I'm sure you've already thought up putting black lights in the fluorescents and putting the lights on a timer so they flicker automatically then."
"Of course," I reiterate. He stands slowly and shuffles to his wardrobe, pulling out night clothes. I open my notebook and scrawl what he's suggested down, like usual. "So, you and Emily really had a picnic last night?"
"Yeah, she told me how unromantic her boyfriend is and how he'd never think to do something like that."
"Yeah, I told her he was the one who suggested I take her out there. And that the rose I gave her was from him."
"Oh? And was it?"
"No, but I'm sure he'll thank me for it later."
"I'm sure." I roll my eyes and stretch out, glancing over at him as he pulls his shirt on. "New wound, Soccer?"
"Don't mention it," he growls, pulling the shirt down forcefully over the cut. It looks painful but I turn away, staring instead at the ceiling.
"Don't worry, I won't." Sighing, I turn back to my sketching and decide to change the subject. "How was dinner with Yumi?"
"Peaceful, surprisingly enough." By peaceful he means his Juliet didn't jump him for his picnic with Emily. Speaking of which…
"Do you blame her? I mean you're sure nothing's going on--?"
"Odd." He glared, switching on the alarm clock on the desk.
"Well, you never take me on picnics," I teased. He grinned, rolling his eyes just as my phone vibrated on the end of the bed.
"Is that Yumi?" he asked. I picked up the phone.
'1 new pix message'
'1 new pix message'
I opened the message and a picture of an electric chair pixelized on the screen. Score!
"I would steal her from you for her genius if not for her temper." I texted back a thank you and danced where I sat.
"I'm sure you would." I quickly scribbled in the electric chair into my layout.
"She's amazing and wonderful and conniving and devious and evil and she bought me an electric chair."
"Will you be the first one to try it out?" he cracked, pulling his sheets back and getting into bed.
"Ha ha, Ulrich." He reached over and flipped off his light.
"I assume you have the recording of the girl sobbing we used on Sissi at her séance too, right?" he yawns.
"Of course! It's on the top of my list." I scribble that down on the page in the dark. What would I do without him?
He turns over so that he's facing the wall. "If you want, we can go on a picnic after this fiasco passes."
I grin into the dark. "Of course, you'll have to tell Yumi all the juicy details of our tryst though, since I'm forbidden…ow!" I pick up the pillow he's thrown at me and humph under my breath, tucking it under my head. See if he gets it back anytime soon.
"This won't work."
"Yes it will."
"I'm telling you, it won't."
"It will. Now stop complaining and try it out."
I grumble as I throw a dummy onto the electric chair and hook it up to the outlet nearest Ulrich's bed. Mine is so plugged up with, well, plugs that I don't even want to try and untangle the mess. I stretch as Yumi flips the switch and the lights flash, the doll jerking about. There's a giggle and the dorm door opens (remind me why we aren't doing this at Yumi's?).
We both glance up and I think Yumi's just had a heart attack because there's Emily, staring at us wide-eyed, and then there's Ulrich, with an arm around her waist and looking happy. I can't remember the last time I saw him happy (okay, honestly it was last week when I wrote his physics paper for him). There's this moment of silence, like total silence (the kind teachers dream about) between the four of us and then Emily's brows knit together and her head tilts to the side.
"Odd, why is there an electric chair in your room?"
I start to answer with "to jump-start Ulrich in the morning of course" but Yumi beats me to it. Her voice is a low growl (really quite terrifying) as she snaps "None of your business, but if you want you can try it out. Both of you can try it out." Ulrich pales slightly and Emily looks even more confused before she rolls her eyes at my rather…insane…friend.
"Yumi," Ulrich groans. "Lighten up?" But Yumi's standing now, dragging him out of the room and kicking the door shut behind her. Emily rubs her arm from where Yumi elbowed her and I groan, flopping back onto the rough carpeting. My brilliance will never be recognized it seems.
Aelita corners me after lunch.
Well, it's more of an ambush than a cornering, but the results are the same. She barges into the dorm room, tray of pasta and bread balanced precariously in her hands. I half turn from where I'm sprawled on the floor, carefully articulating the skeleton. She sets the tray down on the end table and dangles Ulrich's room key from the green lanyard I'd gotten him one year.
"Yes?" I ask dubiously.
"So it's true," she says with a grin. I raise an eyebrow and abandon my project in favor of the food. "You are planning something." She tosses the key to me and I catch is absently. "Give this back to Ulrich?"
"Will it be as masterful as your April Fool's pranks?" She's stretched out on Ulrich's bed now, arm behind her head and the fingers of her right hand tapping against her stomach. I glare at her around the mouthful of spaghetti. "Of course it will. Ulrich's told me it's positively brilliant."
"He's right." I glance back at Yumi's blueprints ignoring the grin on Princess's face. That's all I need is for her to get involved and glued to a pole. Again. Behind that innocent face is an evil mastermind, let me assure you. Which is exactly why our resident Einstein doesn't like her around me. You think I'm the bad influence? You've never seen that girl with a glue gun. "Thanks for the food, by the way." I give her a grin and tear another bite out of the garlic bread.
"Of course. Can't wreak havoc on the school on an empty stomach can you?" A girl after my own heart. I wipe my hands on my pants and she makes a face. "I brought you napkins, you know." I shrug, starting to feed the fiber optic cables through the vertebras of the skeleton. You know; to give it that real-life-dead look in the dark.
"I better get back to the lunchroom, then. I'm still refereeing Yumi, Ulrich and Emily, and Jer is no help."
"Yumi and Ulrich are still fighting?" I'm not surprised.
"No, worse. Yumi's got her nose in that notebook of hers and not speaking to anyone. She hasn't eaten lunch in two days now." Aelita pulls herself up. "Exactly how extensive is this plan of yours going to be?"
"Ow, silent treatment. Such a girlie punishment," I tease. She holds her foot over the skull of my skeleton with a 'try me' glare. "Ok! Ok! I take it back! Don't hurt Melinda!"
"Melinda?" She puts her foot back on the ground, eyebrow cocked.
"She looks like a Melinda, don't you think?" Shaking her head, she doesn't respond; she only stares in disbelief. "And to answer your question, if Yumi can come up with it, I can use it. Trust me when I say her nose in that sketchbook of hers is the best thing to happen to me since April first."
"You cause more problems," she accuses, folding her arms.
"A small sacrifice for the love of my art." I turned back to my lunch tray.
"Your art of chaos?"
"Precisely!" I take a gulp of the milk.
"One day someone will write a soap opera about our lives. And that will be your fault from all the drama you've caused our little group." She waves and shuts the door behind her.
"Soap opera, huh?" I glance to Kiwi who is lazing it up on my bed. "I could pull that off. Kadic's Original or, or The Hearts Of Kadic. Nice ring to it, huh?" Man's best friend is currently pillow's best friend and gives me nothing more an ear raise before rolling over. "You'll see." Taking another bite of spaghetti, I finish the last vertebra and get to work on the arms.
"…Mmph augh Odd," Ulrich groaned. I froze where I sat, hunched in front of his bed, as he turned over and opened one eye, staring at me. "What the Hell are you up to?"
"Nothing," I say quickly. "This is all a dream, go back to sleep."
"Right, and Kiwi can fly. The truth?" His breath is warm on my face and I have to wonder how in the world he escapes morning breath (though honestly it's still night). He sits up slowly and I swallow hard, offering him a smile. His eyes narrow suspiciously before darting to the clock on his desk. When his eyes meet mine again they're wide, and understanding. "You're nervous, then?" he questions. He reaches over and pulls me onto the bed next to him.
"I'm not nervous," I grumble as I lean back against the wall. He gives me a look and I roll my eyes. "I wasn't, I was perfecting my schemes."
"Of course." He reaches over, patting my shoulder and I grin. "Tomorrow's a big day."
"I know, now shut-up. Who knows whose listening."
"Right, because our walls talk," he laughs. Oh, if they could, the stories they would tell. I hit him with the pillow he stole back from my bed and he chuckles quietly. "Are you off to wreak havoc then?"
"You wound me, Ulrich!"
"Right. I'm sure I do."
"Oh, you do. Right here," I say, pointing in the general location of my heart. He rolls his eyes and adjusts my hand. Silly science-boy. Oh well. "Anyway, I'm off."
"Shut-up, Ulrich." I ruffle his hair and he glares good naturedly before flopping back onto the mattress and closing his eyes. "Don't wait up for me darling. Melinda and I are going to have a ball."
"Should I be jealous?" he replies dryly.
"Of course. Melinda is fantastic you realize; doesn't brood and sulk like someone I know. I'll be back in time for the alarm. Ta!"
"Good riddance," I hear him mumble before he's back asleep. I ignore him and his negativity (he really hates being woken up) as I gather my supplies from under his bed (mine was a bit…cramped, see) and make my way out the door. Yumi was supposed to be joining me with her stuff. In fact I'm supposed to let her in to the school in fifteen minutes.
It's really a rather remarkable coincidence that Jim has that cold now so that he's sound asleep on medicine instead of patrolling the halls like usual. Then again, this is October thirty-first, not April first. No one suspects anything and that's really what makes it all the more brilliant in my humble opinion. The night air is crisp as I jump out into it and I do a pirouette, face tilted to see the stars.
"God, you are such a girl at times."
"Great to see you too, Yumers," I grumble as I open the gate quickly. She smirks at me, holding up the duffle bag. I throw propriety and my life to the wind and crush her in a hug. Sometimes Yumi is bloody fantastic and Ulrich's lucky to have her, even if she is a bit of a sadist and more temperamental than any Irish. She's the perfect accomplice at any rate. She gave me a humoring little sigh and waited for me to let me go.
"Alright, Odd. We have some set up to do. Where would you like to start?" I take the duffle from her and sling it over my shoulder. I can see the circles under her eyes; she must have been up the entire night finishing what little bits of work we had left. If I was the sentimental type I would tell her how much I appreciate the work she's put in…but I'm not, sadly.
"I'll take electrical if you want to take the boiler room. We'll meet up in the far end of the science wing and work our way back in?" She took a round container out of the duffle and nodded.
"I'll set the time mechanism for noon?"
"Twelve oh one, if you will."
She gives me an eye roll. "Alright. We have a lot of work to get done, so I'll see you in fifteen." With a deep breath of the crisp fall air, she's running towards the boiler room.
"Wait! Wait!" She turns on her heel and glares. I reach in my pocket and toss her a set of keys. "Boiler room's locked. I checked last night." She waves and takes off again and I head in the opposite direction. I put the timer on the side the of electrical box and set the light flickers to start at nine. There's two off my list. I put Melinda with the mirrors that I had to carry again. My pride and joys are healthy babies, I'll tell you; that's for sure.
I head off for the science building just in time to see Yumi jumping down from a tree where I can only assume she was setting up the first of the two dozen hologram machines we have for the campus.
"Blood is all in place." She tossed me back my keys. "Do you have the skeleton strip?" I nodded, digging it out of the smaller duffle with all our cords as we walked. "How do you even afford all of this?"
"I'm Greg's Pranks and Gadgets best costumer. He gives me great discounts." I swore I saw her smothering a laugh as she took the strip from me.
"I believe it. I'll put this up in the main hallway. Third light?"
"Or forth. They're both grounded; I checked."
"Ok, will you start the speakers? The sound chips are in the blue makeup bag."
I gave her a snort. "And you call me the girl?" She shoved me lightly as we moved to the shadow of the building.
"Security lights are offline, right?"
"Took care of them in electrical." She gave me a little nod and dug something out of her pocket. Crowding behind her at the door, only then did I realize it was a paperclip. It took her under ten seconds to pick the lock and I don't know if that excited me or scared me more.
"Oh, go 'way."
"I'm sure Jer will love to inform you that "ungh" is not a word recognized in any language."
"I's from Odd-lish," I mumble into my pillow. The weight on my back increases slightly and I feel knees dig into my sides. God-awful way to wake up after two hours of comatose sleep if you ask me. "Gerroff, Ulrich."
"Come on, Odd." He bends slightly because I can feel his voice against my right ear suddenly. "It's Halloween."
"Halloween! Right!" I bound up and he makes a muffled "ungh" sound as he falls back onto my bed. Kiwi snorts and curls into a ball on his pillow. "Ulrich-dear, ungh is not a word," I tell him.
"Shut-up," he growls, elbowing me.
"Up! Up! This is a spectacular, momentous occasion of deviant genius. The whole school will be in a mess today because, mon ami, no one suspects. Fantastic, no?"
I'm up though, and throwing on my clothes for the day in a whirlwind of cloth and thread. He rolls his eyes as he continues to lay on my bed looking like the King of Siam or some such. I throw my shoe at him and he ducks easily so that it bounces off the wall and hits me in the shin.
"Smooth Odd, smooth." The door bursts open (did I forget to lock it on my return last night? I was a zombie…) and Aelita's standing there bouncing. "Doesn't anyone knock?" Ulrich questions. She throws him a dark look before throwing her arms around me.
"Brilliant Odd, brilliant!" She's giggling as she kisses my cheek. I hear coughing and look up to see Einstein at the door, looking rather less than amused. Oops. I swing her around anyway and she laughs heartily. "You mummified Jim. How did you do that?"
Ulrich looks interested while Einstein looks put out. Just because he's a genius doesn't make him a genius. "Well, I have my ways," I say mysteriously. In truth Jim's a total dead-sleeper (complete opposite of Ulrich who wakes at the sound of a pin dropping in case you're wondering) and the medicine he took at dinner must have helped. He was dead to the world. "How did you know about Jim?"
"He's hopping around bellowing through the wrappings."
"God, it'll be a long day," Ulrich groans, pulling my pillow over his face. I tickle him on my way past since I know he hates it so much.
Ulrich finally meets us on the main level, groggy but dressed.
"Darling, you didn't wait up for me last night, did you?" Sissi sneers as she walks past us and I wave enthusiastically.
"You were in and out of the dorm three or four times."
"Should have worn your ear plugs!" As we walk towards the cafeteria I glance over to the Einsteins. Aelita has both arms wrapped around Jeremie and an innocent smile on; that he's actually falling for, the sucker.
"Odd!" I snap my attention to the stairs where Emily is leaning nonchalantly. "Are you a Fool for Halloween?" she asks, smirk on her lips. How I'd like to just…
"I don't know, Em. Are you a witch?" She rolls her eyes and waves me off, hauling her messenger bag up onto her shoulder.
"Nice job on Jim." Oh, I am the master. That one actually was my idea. Unlike the mass murder that was Yumi's idea? Mine won't give small children nightmares. Though I know about a handful that I wouldn't mind scaring half to death.
When we get into the cafeteria there's a quiet murmur, all smiles, and plenty of hokey Halloween decorations; none of which were my doing or Yumi's, so don't even give me that pathetic look. Speaking of Yumi.. She seems to be missing from the table. We grab breakfast [oh, look. The eggs are green.] and take a seat. No sooner are we sitting, then Yumi lags through the door looking like the walking dead. Dropping her book bag a good foot from the table, she plops down on Ulrich's lap and buries her face into his shoulder. What a baby.
"Late night?" Ulrich teases.
Yumi groans. "Oh no! I took a half hour power nap. I feel great."
"Yumi, why were you up so late?" Jeremie asks. Oh, he should talk. Aelita, Ulrich and myself give him a blank stare. Yumi barely raises her head enough to glance at him and then resumes her previous position.
"What?!" Jeremie, head on a swivel, gives us all looks of confusion. "What have I missed?"
"Nothing, Jer," Yumi yawns. She may be a mastermind but she's an amateur at the early mornings. You'd think after so many years of Xana attacks she would be used to limited sleep, right? Ulrich lures the girl off his shoulder with his orange juice which she gladly accepts.
"This is why I love you best and most," she informs him with a sickening smile. He snorts, wrapping his arms lightly around her.
"If I knew it was that easy I'd have started giving you orange juice years ago."
"Stern! Ishiyama! Public displays of affection are not for the cafeteria!" Oh, Jim. Everyone's favorite sweat suit walks over unsteadily to the table and continues to bark at Ulrich and Yumi. Yumi merely groans, sinking into the chair next to Ulrich, head on the table, orange juice in hand.
"Jim, you're sounding better!" I say cheerfully. He glares.
"I'm watching you, Della Robbia."
I give him my best innocent look and smile at him. "Whatever are you talking about? I'm only concerned for your health." I shove a forkful of green egg into my mouth as he glares and stalks away. At least Jim's good for one thing – keeping Ulrich and Yumi in line. Trust me; you do not want to see them all cuddly before breakfast. "I think he suspects me."
"You have egg in your teeth," Ulrich replies, handing me a toothpick. Oh, what would I do without Ulrich and his handy toothpicks? Seriously.
I'm tempted to skip out on classes today, but that would raise everyone's suspicions, wouldn't it? And we can't have that. So we all trek down the halls to Hertz's class. Jim's leaving as we enter and she gives me a hard look. Great. Ulrich shoves me into my seat and I glare at him but he's doodling in his textbook.
The room is decked out in bats and black cats. A ghost is fastened over the black paper covering the windows so that it sort of glows. Hertz has a witch's hat perched on top of her head and I have to admit, she does look particularly bewitching dressed like that. A witchy mad scientist with her lab coat. I kind of like it…ew.
"Happy Halloween class," Hertz greets us. "Today I thought we'd do something a bit more…festive." My ears perk and Ulrich slides his book over to me. You look like an overeager puppy. Chill. I glare at the written words and draw a smiley face sticking its tongue out. "Today we will make Witch's Brew."
"Witch's Brew?" Sissi demands. "Is that even real?"
"It's a delightful drink, Elisabeth." Sissi glares but Hertz ignores her. "Please go to your stations class. Mister Della Robbia, a moment?" I slink over to her desk and she taps the top conspiratorially. "Jim approached me after breakfast, mentioned something about pranks?"
"Uh-huh. At any rate I already checked the room out and discovered a few interesting occurrences. I hope you can refrain from blowing anything up while we make our snacks, yes?" she questions. But it isn't really a question. It's a veiled threat, promising retribution quickly if I don't follow orders.
"Good. Go and join Misters Stern and Belpois and Miss Stones." She turns her back and begins to write the directions on the board.
Aelita cracks a smile as I squeeze in between her and Ulrich.
"So; did she find the blood and gore or the spiders?" she asks.
"Actually they were bloody, gory, spiders. My partner thought they would have a better effect."
"Silly me." Aelita doesn't miss a beat, picking up a piece of dry ice with the tongs, ignoring the looks from both Jeremie and Ulrich. I glanced at the grape juice on the counter. This is my kind of lab assignment!
The hour goes on without much chaos; there's laughing and carrying on and Sissi at one point drops her too-cool act and lets out a witchy-poo laugh, causing the entire class to erupt into laughter and even without my masterful plans today seems like a stupendous day. Of course, it only gets better when during a lull in the chatter a pounding sounds from the science storage room.
"Well that's strange." Hertz gets up and opens the storage door and the pounding stops. She glances around and shuts the door again, only for the noise to start up again a moment later. The class gives a few giggles and returns to their brew as she opens the door again.
Of course, it doesn't matter how many times she does that, the recorder is on a micro-sensor glued to the top of the door. Hertz slams the door and the knocking and banging persists. The laughter has died to nervous bubbles of sounds and I attempt to look just as annoyed as everyone else.
Ulrich, on the other hand, was in the dorm when Yumi went up to the room to get super glue remover for my hands so he knows exactly what's going on. He looks mildly amused.
Nothing more eventful happens after that. Mostly it's what the faculty has set up, not what Yumi and I have done. Of course, there were a few screams when more of my delectable spiders fell from the ceiling at one point during class change, or a truly girlish shriek that was emitted by one William Dunbar when a skeletal hand (my pride and joy after Melinda) reaches up through the soup pot and tries to wrestle the ladle from him. But otherwise nothing of significant consequence (beside Milly being the unfortunate recipient of a shirt full of soup when the ladle was flung at her) happened until after lunch.
That was when most kids were lounging about outside in the grass, soaking up the last bit of warm October weather before November set in. Claire was the one who noticed her first – as she came limping (yes, actually limping) up the drive. A gypsy fortuneteller. She was dressed in gold and reds and oranges and her hair was wispy and tied back with a printed scarf. Every step she took caused her beads and bells to jingle until she stopped before us, smiling wickedly.
Oh Sam, how I treasure you and your costumes and corruptness.
"'Af'noon chil'ren," she rasped, looking every bit the crone. Claire took a step back so that Thomas and Theo were before her instead. "Pleasant Hallow's Eve," she added.
Ulrich shot me a look and I smiled back evasively. "Who are you?" William demanded.
"Mother Theresa, 'o else?" She cackles a truly terrifying laugh and I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. From somewhere she withdraws a glittering crystal ball and smiles. It looks like there's a tooth missing or two. "Me ball 'as shown me yer futures, chil'ren."
"Oh?" Tamiya asks and her voice trembles a bit. I see Jim turning the corner farther down and I glance at Sam to get her to hurry up. Cut the theatrics and get to the best part. Actresses, really, all of them are drama queens and lime-light stealers it seems.
"The halls of Kadic echo screams of the undead. I beg of ye, chil'ren. Do not return!" She gave a sideways glance, backing up a step or two. "Awful fates, awful fates! Ye hear?" Tomas moved to speak, but Sam shrieked, hopping around holding her head and screaming things in a language I had never heard. (Or she had made up.) She reached into one of her sleeves and threw a handful of what I can only assume was salt at the group of students before taking off into the woods.
"Hey! Hey you! Yeah, you better run!" Jim chased after her as she darted through the trees. By now more students had gathered and there was a wave of murmurs setting off. Perfect, Sam. Way to strike fear into their hearts. She nearly had me fooled.
"Odd? Are you listening to me?"
"Hm?" Naomi was waving a hand in front of my face.
"I asked if you knew what she was talking about?" She put her hands on her hips, glancing out at the woods.
"Not a clue." I gave her my own look of confusion and Ulrich elbowed me in the ribs when she turned back to Timothy.
"Was that who I think it was?" Ulrich asked through gritted teeth. I gave him a million watt grin.
"Lighten up, buddy! I'm meeting Yumi up at the dorm, coming?"
He looks indecisive for a moment before following me back to the dorm. Ulrich and his ruddy thinking. I shake my head as we cross the courtyard and begin to climb the stairs to the dorm. He mutters something under his breath and I throw an arm around him, smiling. "Don't worry, she isn't that mad at you and Emily."
"Mm." Sometimes, like now, I wonder why I even bother to put up with the two of them and their moody jealousy.
We're crossing a landing when there's a sudden, eardrum shattering scream. Not a yell, or a William Scream (yes, it really does deserve capitals) but a scream of true, absolute horror. Ulrich eyes me reproachfully before we hurry down the hallway leading to the girls' showers. He doesn't bother knocking or anything, just barges right in and I follow him.
In front of us is Milly, wrapped up in a towel with red droplets clinging to her skin. She's shaking and crying and I see her sopped up shirt stuffed in a corner. Ulrich's next to her, arm around her shoulder and talking quietly to her. I glance into the shower and see the water running thick and red.
"It just…it turned and it was…h-h-horrible," she cries. I glance over and Ulrich glares at me. I lift my arms slightly, I hadn't meant for it to be Milly, honest. I was actually hoping for Sissi, or Claire even. "I don't understand…" she whimpers.
"Its fine Milly," Ulrich says. "I'm sure it's just a prank or something, probably colored water."
"It felt like blood! I hate blood!" She clutches the top of her towel more securely to her.
"At least you have a first-hand story for the paper though, right Mils?" I ask. She shudders and glances at me, eyes narrowed. I can see red soaking into Ulrich's shirt; it looks like he was at a murder or something. I kind of hope he keeps wearing it, adds to the atmosphere and all… "You okay?"
She nods feebly and gives Ulrich a small smile before leaving in a hurry, leaving her bag and clothes abandoned on the floor.
"Smooth," Ulrich growls at me, looking rather unpleased about the whole thing. Personally I think it's a great way to start today's real terrors off.
"I don't know what you're talking about." With a sly grin I head out the door, my annoyed roommate on my heels. When I finally open our door, Yumi is sprawled out on Ulrich's bed, notebooks opened on the end, shoes discarded on the floor.
"Don't you look comfortable," Ulrich teases. Yumi glanced up innocently before her face takes on a look of shock. In less than a second she's off the bed and across the room.
"Ulrich! What happened to you? Are you alright? Let me see!" She's tugging on the bottom of his shirt, words falling over themselves and onto him. A wave of confusion passes before he realizes she's talking about the blood.
"Yumi! It's ok! It's from the shower!" He takes her by the shoulders, holding her still for a moment to let the words sink in.
"The ..shower? Oh! Oh! Right, the shower." She sighs in relief, slightly flustered.
"Yeah, so could you refrain from trying to take his clothes off until I at least get out of the room?" I brush past them, smirk held in place.
"Odd! Would you--" Before she could finish her yelling at me, she turns on her heel back to Ulrich. "Ulrich? Only the girl's showers were rigged." And that doesn't look suspicious.
"It's not as bad as it looks," he defends.
"And it looks pretty bad," I input.
"Shut up, Odd,"they both bark at me.
"Milly screamed and --" Ulrich starts, but Yumi's hands fall away from her hips and she looks back at me.
"Milly?! Odd! That's terrible! I thought were weren't going to ruin the younger kids for the rest of their lives!" I shrug, grabbing a box out from under my bed and then take a smaller one from my wardrobe.
"I didn't know it was going to be Milly." Of course, she's not listening to me, her eyes have wandered back to Ulrich absently, and she's shivering in, what I can only assume is, a reminder of how he's looked many times over. Dramatic, dramatic. I'm a horrible friend; horrible person- The point is we're on a timeline here and we can't afford to fall behind. "And phase three is ready, are you?"
"Yes," she sighs, and Ulrich rolls his eyes at her playfully. "We should probably go. Change your shirt so people don't assume, please." She slips her shoes on quickly.
"Nag, nag. Play nice with the other ghouls, ok?" She doesn't bother to look up as she shoves him backwards a step with a laugh and grabs the smaller box from my hands.
"Only if they place nice with us!" She waves a small orange flash drive marked with lightning bolt and makes a break for the hallway. Hello phase three.
Sam corners me by the garden shed when I'm on my way to gym class. She's still dressed up as a gypsy fortune teller and I smell cinnamon and vanilla when her hair brushes by my nose. "'Ello dearie," she rasps near my ear. I'm taken back to summers spent at my grandmother's house with wax candles and faded tarot cards.
"Sam," I reply with a grin. Apparently it isn't as flawless as I'd hoped because she raises an eyebrow in curiosity. I can't help it that I wasn't expecting her and was getting ready to move Melinda again when she'd appeared.
"Yer up ta somethin'," she murmurs.
"I'm always up to something love," I agree with another grin. Her fingers tighten on my shirt for a moment before she steps back with a grin and a nod. Her scarf brushes my cheek and I feel soft silk. "You did marvelous you know. Everyone bought it, even Ulrich was impressed."
"Mm, was he?" There's a twinkle in her eyes and a smirk on her lips. "He looked brilliant with that bloody shirt by the way. Was that part of The Plan?"
"Shirt? He didn't change it?"
"Not unless he's changing at the track. Getting lots of looks too."
"Perfect. Yumi's going to kill first him, then me." I slump against the wooden shed and she laughs, twirls a bit and I hear her gypsy bells and her hair dances about her. "You really look good Sammie."
"Thank ye. I am part gypsy you know, so I suppose it helps."
"I suppose." My thoughts are distracted, wondering why Ulrich hasn't changed and hoping Yumi doesn't find out. All I need is for her to blow a gasket now which is entirely to plausible a fact to ignore at the moment.
"Relax, dearie," she coos and the vanilla-cinnamon smell engulfs me once more. "Yer plan will be brill'ant. The cards foretold it." She pulls out a deck of tarot and grins mischievously. I hope her and her cards are right.
I'm late for gym but I manage to sneak onto the field before Jim notices I'm missing. In his coma, induced by cough medicine, he barely mutters that today we'll be taking a cross country jog around Kadic's campus and points off at the trail that snakes through the woods and into the park before slinking down in his lawn chair.
Ulrich has finally changed out of his bloody shirt, much to my dismay, and into his gym clothes. He looks excited for the run but not nearly as excited as I am as Jim blows his whistle and our class heads for the trail. I fumble in my pockets for the small remote that Yumi programmed at three in the morning for the sound system and activate the first series.
We're not twenty feet into the run when a loud laugh radiates from the right side of the trail. A few heads turn to look, but most of the kids shrug it off and concentrate on running. Less than a minute later another laugh rings out over the otherwise silent group, this time closer, and on the left. More heads start to turn and there's small looks of annoyance among the large class as we take the first curve.
'Help! No!'The voice is behind us now and Theo stumbles a step to stop and look around for whomever is screaming. A few others slow down along side him. Ulrich glares back at me from the front of the pack, where he's currently showing off his athleticism by running too fast for normal humans to keep up. There's a scream and this time it's from the class, Sonya has stopped running, mouth frozen open, gaping at the woods. Now everyone has stopped and is looking to where her shaking hand is pointing, but there's nothing.
"What's wrong?" Claire asks, hand on her shoulder.
"Eyes, red eyes," Sonya cracks out. A few take on a look of alarm, but for the most part everyone looks skeptical.
"There!" Tania points forward where a pair of red eyes can easily be spotted amongst the green foliage.
"What is that?" someone asks. A few people shriek and the eyes fade away.
"Let's just go," Emily suggests, skipping a step to start running again. Looks like it's shaken her up a bit. Before the entire group is even running again there's more screaming, high pitched and panicked, that rings out through the woods.
"That's not funny," Timothy barks gruffly, glaring around us. More red eyes start flickering to life from the tree tops and the screaming moves to the other speakers on the other side of the trail. Ulrich screeches to a halt in front as something scampers across the trail at an impressive pace. That wasn't me, but I appreciate the help. Being a mastermind requires assistance at times. Theo grabs one of the girls by the arm, pushing her back behind him.
"Forget this, we're going back." People start turning on their heels to run back out of the woods.
'Leave! Cursed! All cursed!'Someone screamed again as the panic spread and we ran back towards the school, eyes lighting up along the path, branches of the trees shaking and finally, Melinda was spotted. One of the girls gaped for a scream as the skeleton moved and shrieked, but she was quickly dragged by the shirt sleeve back down the trail by Claire and Tania. On the fun you can have on Halloween!
Jim stands up from where he'd been sitting as we all burst out of the trail. He's blowing his nose and glaring at us. "What's going on? You haven't finished yet!"
"There are eyes and screams Jim!" Tania yells. Claire whimpers and Theo pulls her into a tight hug. Ulrich just starts doing stretches, the twit. I glare at him over Tania's shoulder but he doesn't seem to notice, unless a back flip is his way of saying he's petrified.
"What on Earth?" Jim barks. His cold has seemed to been pushed to the backseat at the moment as he glances at each of us. "You load of…" his voice trails off as a howl echoes from the wood. It's not one of mine. I don't have howls, just screams and laughter and eyes. Ulrich raises his head with a hint of interest in his eye. Oh, great, Wolf-Boy to the rescue.
"It's true Jim, we all saw them, and heard them," Timothy explains. "And now the howling…can't we just be in the gym?"
"Yeah," his voice is distracted. "Yeah, come on then."
We fall into a cluster and I'm smack dab on the edge, next to Ulrich and Emily and that's just perfect because there's another howl and I hate wolves. But Ulrich is like, their master so maybe I'll be safe. "You are going to be in so much trouble," Ulrich mumbles to me.
"I know," I grin back.
We enter the gymnasium and as soon as we cross the threshold I hit the button on my remote. The lights flicker on and off ominously and Timothy jumps when Theo bumps him. Claire and Sonya scream and I have to muffle laughter since I really don't want to be found out. Emily scoots closer to us.
"That fortune teller was right," Claire sobs. I feel momentarily sorry, than remember the rumors she spread last week. Trust me, she really does deserve this. "She predicted this, didn't she? We should have listened!"
"I'm going back to the dorms!" Timothy yells. Just then the scoreboards flick to life, showing the numbers 666 in tandem across the board. The sprinkler system turns on as well, but not the full-out shower like that one April first, no; this one dribbles out globby red liquid that splatters down. Ulrich glares at me, accusing, and I shrug back. It's not my fault that two of his shirts got "bloodied" today!
It's amazing how fast frightened students can stampede. It's even more amazing how fast a frightened gym teacher can stampede (since yes, Jim is a stampede unto himself).
"Come on," Ulrich growls. "Let's get out of here." He slings an arm around Emily and grabs me by the shoulder, propelling us both out of the gym. More howls and screams fill the air outside and now the fog machines (placed strategically around the school at 3:15am last night) are kicking in. Oh, this is fun.
Ulrich drags me into the locker room and jumps in the shower five minutes later. He glares at me darkly the entire time we're in the locker room, muttering to himself about give people mental distress and shortening their life spans. Psh. Baby. By the time the bell rings, Emily is waiting outside our locker room, hair hanging in wet pieces around her face. She looks mildly pissed but there's a trace of a satisfied smirk lurking below the surface.
"We're going to be late for history," she says shortly. Though, I can't really see her being upset for being late to Collier's class. I offer her a bright smile as we start down the hall.
A few of our gym classmates are starting to leave the locker rooms, some still covered, others looking shaken and still others are no where in sight. I glance at my cell phone for the time and wonder if Yumi had set up the rest of the electrical correctly before--
"What's wrong with the lights?" I look down the hall to see the lights fizzling on and off, one by one being added to the blinking. There's looks of uneasiness as we enter the mix of students at the end of the stairs. Most are still trying to ignore the lights, passing it off as a coincidence and shoty wiring. One of the girls in front of us I recognize from Yumi's class and she's walking at a rather quick pace towards the doors. That's just about the time half of the lights go out, leaving the hallway in a dim yellowish lights.
"Odd…" Ulrich mutters. I shrug in innocence. I had nothing to do with it. Really. Yumi set it up all on her own… sure I knew about it, but the genius is all hers! There's several slams and then shrieks.
"The doors won't open!"
"Oh no, we're locked in!"
"Hertz is going to be mad if I'm late!" There's more shouts of displeasure and protests and some people even try to lean on the doors to open them. Overhead, the other half of the lights start to go out one by one.
One of the window mirrors comes to life, red eyes glaring inward and Emily is taken back a step, looking at Ulrich and then up at me. I give her no relief, pretending to be petrified in fear. The blackness around the eyes start to fade and reveal a skeleton like face. Screams ring through the halls, backs are slammed into the opposite wall, girls faint on the floor. The timers are triggered and the fog machine slowly starts to fill the hallway and from the ceiling tiles the soundtrack from the woods begins to play.
I wish I could say something truly frightening happened, like Dracula rising from the ground (sadly that would have required a jackhammer and more flooring), or Einstein failing a test (that would be a sign of the Apocalypse surely), or even the wolf man howling his way in (I'm sure Ulrich would have died of happiness at the sight). As it was, the only thing that happened immediately after was Claire screaming her head off about gypsy curses (thank you Sammie), Emily decking some kid who probably tried to cop a feel (I still remember her right hook), and Ulrich telling me that I was beyond brilliant (that really went without saying really).
It was after Claire finally shut up; I think Theo had something to do with that, when something happened.
I have to admit that it was a secret pleasure of mine when the trapdoors in the ceiling (do you know how many nights I spent up there making them all?) opened and the skeletons fell out attached to their nooses, that it was Sissi screaming her bloody head off. One fell above us and hit the foot hit Ulrich in the head. Oops. Kids started pushing and shoving, trying to get away from the skeletons and the empty nooses. Yumi had painted the plastic with blood and goo to make them more lifelike last week in her backyard. I'm pleased to see their affect on everyone.
"What is going on?" Emily demands. She shrieks as someone grabs her shoulder and spins to land a punch. I hide my face as her fist stops an inch from Einstein's stunned face. "Sorry Jeremie," she apologized. In my humble opinion she doesn't look that sorry, really.
"Aren't you supposed to be in Advanced Mathematics?" Ulrich asks from behind me.
"We were let out early because of this. Mademoiselle Dupont doesn't seem to like the dark," Aelita chimes from his side. She smiles brightly and looks around at the madness surrounding them. "I really shouldn't condone it Odd, really," she stresses, "but it is brilliant."
Jeremie gives her a dark look and I smile back. "Thanks Princess, but this is nothing." It's not a lie; it really isn't when compared to previous exploits. "And I'm still not confirming nor denying that I had anything to do with it." Ulrich snorts behind me and I stomp on his foot. He curses in German and I smile, that'll teach him.
"Of course not," Aelita laughs.
"What are we condoning?" Yumi sauntered up the back stairwell, laptop under her arm. Ulrich's glare softened substantially.
"Your mayhem." She grinned and I swear I was going to puke.
"Mayhem? How do you know this is my work? I'm innocent. No record." Emily glared at her and it did my heart good.
"Get me out of here, Ishiyama," she growled. Yumi tried not to laugh.
"But Em, the fun isn't over!" The older girl glanced back at me, leaning against Ulrich. "Soundtracks are set."
I was giddy. "Play them, my dear!" I hoped the panic around me hadn't heard; my overexcitement would be my undoing. She grinned, pulling the small remote from her pocket I had watched her program this morning. Sam's voice boomed from the ceiling.
"I warned you!" she cackled. Screams filled the space. Claire fell to her knees near by in fear, tears streaming down her face. "You'll all pay!" A pounded started in every direction, falling into a steady patterned. Theo shrieked, losing his cool.
"It sounds like a heartbeat!" The halomirrors went opaque, closing all the light from the crowded hallway. Emily gripped my arm.
"Tell me what's happening," she hissed in my hear. "Or else."
"Watch the mirrors," I whispered back.
"Mirrors?" she mouthed, looking to the windows. Even in the dark, even as he tried to hide it, I could see Ulrich's amused look. Paired with Yumi's devious smirk, they looked like quite the diabolical couple. I could use her brilliance next year… my plotting is interrupted as a ghastly face appears in one of the windows, blood dripping from it's blood red eyes, flesh hanging off the bone.
Snarling rang though the building. A split second later, bloody hands clawed at the glass. Emily gasped,, but directed her attention back at me.
"At least you're original." Her nails are still digging into my skin.
"Odd, you are a creepy genius," Aelita whispered.
"Hey! Einstein's said that before!" Jeremie was a pale white, eyes glued to the face that moved over a window pane, hands leaving bloody hand prints behind as it moved. Another snarl filled the hall.
Oh, this was so worth the night and nights of piecing and syncing this.
"Odd you disgusting little creep!"
That's all the warning I had before a fist came flying in the direction of my nose. I jumped back, hitting into Emily who didn't seem too pleased with that. But I avoided the punch. Or maybe Ulrich interceded at the right moment because when I looked over he was holding Tania's arm and Timothy was grabbing at her, trying to pull her away.
"Hey, cool it," Ulrich (Mr. I'm-so-sensible-everyone-will-shut-up-and-listen-to-me-because-I-am-Ulrich-Stern-the-Great) said evenly. She glared up at him, looking rather rabid.
"What have you done this time, you freak? I want out of here, now or I'll feed you to whatever's outside those windows!"
"Hey, hey, it's all in the name of fun and Halloween, right? Not that I'm admitting to setting it up, because I'm not. I just think its brilliant," I argue. She snarls and Ulrich glares at me. Timothy leaps up to grab her other arm before it strikes.
"Oh, honestly," Emily mutters.
"Come on, Tan," Timothy mutters, pulling at her.
"You better run when we escape," she threatens as she's towed away. "You are all freaks and idiots. I think you should all be locked up and never let out!
"Did you have to incite her?" Ulrich demands. I shrug helplessly while Jeremie moans. "What is it Jer?"
"Didn't you hear her? I've been put into the same category as the lot of you. Yumi was the only other sensible one in the group but now it seems that she can be corrupted as well. I fear for my remaining sanity at this rate."
"Oh shut-up, Jeremie," Aelita growls. She's wearing a look equal to Ulrich's and that's a really terrifying sight (and this is after seeing Sissi in an avocado mask, mind). "I'm sick to death of hearing you moan and groan about this and that every time April first comes around, no wonder Odd chose to go ahead with another holiday – I would! Just suck it up and ride it out like everyone else does, maybe even have some fun, or go home over any holiday with potential sliming in it!"
Emily looks impressed, Yumi looks apologetic, Ulrich looks like…well, Ulrich. Jeremie however looks pale and slightly green. "Aelita…"
He doesn't finish though because at that moment the squealing of bats joins in with the shrieks from outside and the screams from inside. We all cover our ears and Emily looks up at the ceiling where it looks like hundreds of bats are taking flight, eyes glowing red. More screams and shouts join in the fray. Jeremie reaches up to touch his face.
"Odd…what just landed on my face?" he asks. I don't have time to answer though because suddenly there are screams of terror and Sissi's soprano rises above them all.
"Oh my God, it's blood!" she shrieks. Yes, that's right, blood dripping down. Lovely, no?
And then there is silence. Sudden, complete, infinite silence. The screaming students even stop. There's a light bobbing from the stairs leading up and we all stare at it. And there's Sam, right on cue, holding a carved pumpkin lantern in her hands and smiling her dark smile. The glow from the pumpkin makes her face look haggard and shadowed.
"I warned 'ou," she exclaimed. "I foresaw this, did I not? I warned 'ou all and yet 'ou didn't lee-sin to me. Did 'ou chil'ren?" She cackled darkly and a crack resonated from the speakers, showing each "window" to have a large spider web crack in it. No one screamed or moved.
"We're sorry!" Claire yelled.
Sam just smiled on the stairs and then threw back her head again, dark hair dancing while she laughed. The shadows thrown up by the pumpkin and obscuring her face made this possibly the second scariest thing I've ever seen – after Aelita's earlier look. I was so proud of her.
There was a whimpering that started at one end of the crowd and ripped through; I'm also sure I heard a few people crying. Emily's nails now left my arm officially numb, and she had positioned herself so I was between her and Sam.
Well I know we've done well if I have Em convinced even after I've told her. A smoke starts from the floor-- and not one of those cheep-o lame fun house smokes that smell like burnt cotton candy either-- a full fledged smoke that was grey and ominous, spiraling up to the ceiling and falling back down again, releasing from the strategically placed holes in the top of the stairs.
"Tou'ff luck, chil'ren," Sam cracked one last time. She dropped the pumpkin and it splattered down the stairs, candle snuffed on the second bounce before she vanished seemingly into thin air. Even Yumi look impressed. In all reality she fell through the trap door that led to the storage room under the staircase, where we had placed several mats stolen from the gym. Now as long as she landed squarely-- well, I'm sure we'll be just fine.
Sissi lost it, hurling herself at the main doors, fists pounding themselves nearly raw before the pumpkin even reached the bottom the staircase, wax dripping like white blood from its mangled mouth.
"Let me out! Let me out this instant! I want out, I want out!" She screamed and cried, no longer concerned about anything but escaping the madness.
Yumi gave me a wicked smile, grabbing Ulrich by the hand. "See you out front, Odd. And try to look concerned." I swear that girl is pure evil.
And I love it.
She dragged my unsuspecting roommate towards the basement, a key in hand, where the access door is waiting for our escape.
"Where are they going?" Emily growls. I shrugged playfully.
"You know how crazy kids can be."
"I sincerely hope that isn't an innuendo of some sort Della Robbia," she growls again. She hasn't called me by my last name since we first met, must mean she's really pissed. Or something. "I could really do without mental images of Yumi and Ulrich in my head, thank you very much. Well, come on then, how do we get out of here?"
"Huh?" Aelita and Einstein are standing there, staring at me expectantly. "Oh, right, come on, this way. Em, you lead. If I find the way out they'll just blame me."
"And we wouldn't want that," Jeremie mutters. I flash him a hurt look and he rolls his eyes. His glasses are covered in blood splatter and to be honest, he looks sufficiently creepy.
"Be a sport, Einstein, it won't kill you to have a bit of fun now and then."
"I do have fun. I have good, wholesome, non-provoking fun. Fun that doesn't end in threats to my life."
"Now, what kind of fun is that?" I demand. "Turn left Em, that wall is actually a door." She gives me a look and I shrug. "What, the electric chair just fit there. Push against it and it should swing open."
"Heh." She hesitates, and then goes forward while we hang back. A moment later I hear a crash and cursing, but the door is open to the outside.
"Oh, thank God," Tania growls.
She pushes past us, along with half the student body. No one seems to notice that the outside is just as mist-shrouded as in here had been. And there are glowing Jack-o-lanterns set up, in a sort of circle. I see Yumi and Ulrich disappearing into the shadows near the last one they placed. They'll circle back to us once everyone is out; at least that's the plan.
"It looks…magical. Creepy definitely but still magical," Aelita tells me. She smiles brightly and Jeremie mutters under his breath, wiping in a completely futile way at his glasses. It's dry, it'll stay. Now all we have to do is sit back and relax, wait for them to notice the graveyard just outside the pumpkin light, each tombstone with a student's name. Yumi had a sadistic amount of fun with the grave markers, countless nights spent in her backyard until late into the night with grey spray paint and calligraphy pens. Our fingers were paint covered for weeks.
Claire shivered, looking back at us as she stumbled past the line of pumpkins to the stones. "Ha, it has your name, Theo," she rasped nervously.
Theo grimaced. "And this one has yours."
The girl went pale, knees buckling. "What is going on here?"
Emily shivered, glaring past me. "My name better not be out there, or yours might be soon." I heard the doors shut behind us with an eerie creak that couldn't even be written.
You see? This is why Kadic can be perfectly haunted; inspirational to a Halloween genius duo such as Yumi and I. The woods are the perfect place for an axe murderer to escape too, the buildings themselves have been around since before the invention of fire (along with a few of the teachers). It's the perfect set up for the greatest ghost story ever written.
Or lived out. I'm more of a visual person, personally.
The fog that covered the ground was as thick as stone, leaving only shadows to bite at the imagination that was, by majority, already soaring with nightmares of dark figures and candlelight; riddled with the vision of Sam cackling from the top of the stairs; entranced by the scene that played before them in the mirrors.
Put them in the dark, and watch their own imagination drive them insane. It's brilliant really.
Milly's the first to crack. "There's something out there, isn't there?" she whispers. Tamiya clings to her arm, camera motionless and aimed towards the grass in her hand.
"There's nothing--" Tamiya glances around, glaring at me and then to the woods. "--out there, Milly. There's nothing-" a twig snaps and the girls break down into hysterics. Perfect.
Jim appears, quite suddenly. It's actually rather terrifying, seeing him materializing out of the fog that surrounds us. Tamiya shrieks and Milly just goes pale and quiet. I wonder if she's in terrified mode or reporter mode. It's amazing how often those things go hand in hand.
"What's going on here?" he demands. His sneakers are covered in blood and there are twigs in his hair. He eyes the pale faces. "Who put up this graveyard? I walked into at least half a dozen graves on the way here!"
"We…we don't know Jim," Claire babbles. She throws herself on Jim, clutching at him. Heidi follows suit. I have to keep from laughing. "Oh, thank God you're here, Jim," she exclaims.
He looks confused for a moment, then flustered, brave, and then furious. "Della Robbia!" he shouts. I'm trying to hide behind Emily but she sacrifices me to the wolves, or Jim, in this case. She smirks as Jim stomps his way over, trying to disentangle himself from Heidi and Claire. I'm really glad Ulrich isn't dating her at the moment. "Explain yourself."
"Tar and feather him Jim," Sissi screeches. I wince.
"Bury him alive!" I know that voice… I turn and see Jeremie ducking his head and Aelita gaping at him. Some friend he is. And after all the junk I put up with to save his girlfriend. I glare at him and Aelita shrugs helplessly.
"Now, now," Jim tries to soothe. He's not doing a very good job though, he's smiling.
"Who was your partner this time you freak?" Tania demands. If looks could kill…but they can't so it doesn't matter.
"Hey, why do you think it's me?"
"It's always you." There's a rustle in the bushes, perfect timing, but no one seems to notice. I glare at them, trying to get them to understand, but they're riled up. Yelling at me seems to have united them. Hurrah.
"Hey!" I look over at Em and she's glowering at them all. "You know I'd be the first to egg him," there are a few snorts and eye rolls, "but we have no proof it's him. I want it to be him, you want it to be him, but when has he ever been in a mob when he's the perpetrator?"
Maybe I misjudged her; maybe she and Ulrich would be good together. She sends me a small smile, looking amused, and I change my opinion. No, she and Ulrich wouldn't be good together because my life would be miserable then.
"Are you helping him?"
She looks affronted. "No!"
We're saved from anymore mob-cries though by the sudden blood curdling scream coming from the woods. Jim turns to stare, out past the fog and the graves, trying to see into the shaking leaves. And then, as if by magic (really high-tech nearly-invisible string kind of magic), Melinda came sailing out of the woods, covered in blood and a duplicate of Sam's earlier outfit. I stare at her. She's more beautiful than ever.
Emily winces and looks away. Aelita grins and Jeremie looks pale. In the wood I can just make out the figures of Yumi and Ulrich working the strings. "It's the gypsy!" William yells. Really, the girlish screams are rather priceless. I wish I had thought ahead to recording them…eh, I'm sure Yumi did.
Sam's voice floats over us, strangely echo-y and disembodied. I love it.
Jim ducks to the ground in an impressive show of cowardliness and Emily has to smother her amused look with a faux expression of terror which comes out rather distorted and it almost makes me want to cackle.
Melinda disappears through the darkened door, inside, where it's safe, and Yumi and Ulrich make their appearance in a soap opera fashion. She's clinging to his arm, sobbing. I've never seen such acting. Ulrich actually looks pale and he's holding her against him and she blubbering on about death and looks absolutely terrified.
I hear one of the younger girls behind William muttering about even Yumi Ishiyama even being afraid, so it must be real and I know my star actors have won over the crowd.
"No, Ulrich! I won't go back out there!" He pretends to try to calm her as she thrashes, screaming about red eyes and blood and whatever else she can come up with. "We're going to die! We're all going to die!"
She could make a career out of this.
"Yumi! It's alright; calm down," Ulrich argues with her. "Everyone is going to be fine. You're scaring the kids," he stages whispers. She takes a deep breath and glances around.
"We can't leave them to defend their selves."
She wipes at the fake tears and glances over at me for a change. "The spiders were funny, Odd. But we don't want to play anymore." Oh, she's good.
"Yumes, I don't want to play either." All accusing eyes turn away from me to look back into the woods where the red eyes are still leering from.
"Well aren't you just the king of dramatics?" Emily whispers hoarsely.
I gave her an offhanded smirk. "Why be a fool when you can be king?"
So the fool is king... at least until April first.
RenaYumi and Lune-Solei