Disclaimer: Twilight and characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
I always thought it was a kind of ridiculous word. How could blood curdle? Applying it to a sound was even more ridiculous. Sounds don't make blood curdle. Heat, maybe.
I sighed, hanging out the window and watching the gravel swish by as James swerved into an open space. My blood didn't feel curdled. It felt… alive and comfortable. I lazily chuckled, eying the way in which the yellow line of the allotted space ran completely under his beat up Oldsmobile. "You park like shiiiiiit," I sang. I rested my cheek on the door and sighed once again. My insides felt like molten lava. Maybe that'd be kind of like curdled blood to some people, but me? I liked it.
"Get out of my fucking car before you hurl," he ordered in a slur, the sounds of his exit fuzzy behind me.
"Yeah, yeah." I grumbled as I stumbled from the car, steadying myself with a serious expression at the ground. "Hey, you. Stop wobbling," I demanded, narrowing my eyes as I swayed.
"You're both drunk as shit. Remind me why we're here?" Victoria's annoyed voice came from behind me, and I had to clench my teeth to stop from heaving. I don't know how, but the sound of her voice reminded me of eggs. Scrambled. You know what looks scrambled? Curdled milk.
I clamped a hand over my mouth, eyes watering. "Can't miss the Trig test, Big Red," I mumbled, battling to hold down my previous night's dinner.
"We're going to get busted. I don't feel like getting bitched out just because I needed a ride…"
Yadda, yadda, yadda. She kept going, insisting we were going to fuck up.
Whatever. Wouldn't be the first time. Won't be the last.
James clapped me on the back as we clumsily stumbled through the courtyard. "We're late," he sighed, gesturing to the building. "Your pit stop made us late, Eduardo. What the fuck do you suppose we do about it?"
Certain that I could open my mouth without vomiting, I scoffed. "We go in there—" I pointed to the building, our steps halting as we assessed this fine institution known as "Forks High School."
James' eyes narrowed and widened with his attempts to focus. "We go in there, and we say, 'Hey, Mrs.… umm… Trig person with bad lipstick—" He was already doubled over in laughter, clutching his stomach with one hand and resting the other on his knee. "'If a flask holds twelve fluid ounces, and you have three partially filled bottles of… something… then how do you choose which bottle to fill it with?'"
James answered through his hissing snickers, eyes crinkled, "You don't! You just start on the fullest bottle and work your way down. Flasks—" His face turned serious as he turned to me, slinging an arm around my shoulder and making me stumble. He jabbed me in the chest. "Flasks are for pussies."
I nodded my agreement as Victoria passed me, stomping in her tennis shoes as she declared, "You two are the dumbest shits in Forks' history."
James was about to say something else when his mouth snapped shut, head turning to her. "Hey!" He frowned, leading me through the double doors. "I resemble that comment!" The floors were shiny. Definitely not like eggs. Scrambled. Curdled…
A light shudder climbed my spine as I fought to keep the contents of my stomach down, once again. I might have had a little too much to drink, but as James says, "It's noon somewhere.'"
"Oo! Oooo! Oo-oo-oo!" James started suddenly bouncing on his heels, halting me with a yank of my jacket that almost sent me to the ground. "Look, Eduardo! Look it! Look it! Sassy Freshman!" He was pointing vaguely to the other end of the empty hall, a figure crouched down beside a locker that was blurry in my vision.
A small smile crept over my lips as I regarded her, ass sticking out, brown hair all veiled around her school bag. "Wager me," I dared, lifting my chin and staring down at him with determined eyes.
As expected, his face lit up into a grin, his one snaggletooth peeking out from his bottom lip. "First to make the Sassy Freshman say a wordy dird," he gambled with a lazy nod.
I furrowed my brows, groaning. "Come on, man. Give me something worth my time."
Sassy Freshman was so fun to fuck with. James and I were always making wagers on who could piss her off more. She was one of the nerdy types, new from somewhere south, all quiet, loner bookworm and just so… sassy.
Whenever I'd knock her books from her hands or move her stool right before she sat down or spike the volleyball at her head in gym, she always got the most adorable, fierce expression. She'd curl her lips back, and her eyes would flash in the most magnificent way. Nothing was better than seeing her nostrils flare as she jutted out her chin to give me a piece of her mind. Oh, and the blushing. She would blush the most unnatural shade of magenta if I could get her worked up just right.
Most girls in her position would have been sobbing messes as a result of our constant antics, but not Sassy Freshman. She never cried or got sad or hurt or whiney. She just got… like… really pissed off.
It was such a refreshing change from the usual girls at this school, always so flirty and demure and needing constant validation for their low self-esteem. Hers were the best reactions of all. I loved it when she opened her mouth and started calling me names, threatening the welfare of my manly bits and shaking in rage.
She had spunk, that one.
I liked her.
"Okay," James sighed, rolling his eyes. "First to make her take the Lord's name in vain." He tried to do that thing where an eyebrow would curve up, but he was drunk, and he sucked at it anyway, so he just looked like he was having a stroke.
Oh. That was a good one. Sassy Freshman was too goody-goody to surpass the already-tawdry "fuck you" she commonly spat at me. I liked it. "S.F. never swears at our Holy Lord and Savior. I'm down for that bottle of Jack in your trunk." I held my hand out to him, and he sort of whined, shoulders slumping.
"But that's for my mom! She'll kick my ass—"
"If I lose, I'll give you my new game system."
His face brightened, lips forming a loose slant. "Really?" James was so easy. His family was pretty low on the rungs, middle-class, low-income. I was the opposite and had more money than I knew what to do with. He was so easily conned with materialistic bullshit. "Fuck yeah!" he exclaimed, smacking my hand in a sloppy grasp.
I licked my lips as I regarded her, still bent over and rifling through her bag. "Shhh." I held my finger up to my lips as we softly padded down the hall, stalking her like predators. …Okay, more like two very drunk and stumbling predators.
James, of course, couldn't stop from laughing. He was as giggly as a teenage girl when he got drunk. Fucktard. I shot him a warning glare, his hand covering his mouth as he hissed more chuckles through his fingers.
This wouldn't be easy. It was a little specific and, truthfully, I had no intentions of giving up my new game system. I'd just gotten to Level Ten on this really hard game, and I was going to beat it before the week's end, mark my words. More than that, however, was that bottle of Jack. I never got good whiskey. Carlisle kept his liquor locked down like Fort Knox, and two no-goods like James and me had to constantly lower our standards and settle for shitty leftover liquor that usually made us sicker than dogs.
We could have two night's worth of fun off that bottle of whiskey. Or I could make it four and make James watch.
Once we were close enough, we could hear Sassy Freshman grumbling under her breath, huffing and causing her hair to fly up. Her locker was propped open, all organized on the inside with prints of some random painter all taped up to the inside. I smirked, glancing at James as a genius idea suddenly struck.
I mean, there's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole and whatnot.
Sadly, she also had one of those small mirrors hanging from her locker. She must have caught movement from the corner of her eyes because she gasped, shooting up from her crouch and spinning around.
"Go!" James shouted, but I'd already caught her around her waist, lifting her from the ground as she kicked and pushed against me.
Shit, she was strong. Her head thrashed, sending her silky hair beneath my nose, and I was dazed for a moment because I was a weirdo, and I liked the smell of a girl's hair. I liked how it shined and flowed and… I couldn't really explain it. I tightened my hold, laughing as she began her predictable tirade.
"Put. Me. Down." Her teeth were clenched tight, and I caught her glare from the mirror.
Jesus, if looks could kill.
Her nostrils were already flaring as her eyes flashed—sparked—ignited—rage.
God, I loved this chick.
I smirked, jostled slightly as she struggled against my already clumsily inebriated body. "Make me," I challenged, laughing when her attempts to elbow me in the ribs proved futile. Her cheeks were already turning a hilarious shade of purple, nails digging into my arms like her stubby little claws could actually hurt me. I had to give it to her. She had a spark like none I'd never seen before. Seeing her like that elated me to an intoxicating degree, and I couldn't even explain why. She was just the epitome of ferocity, all wrapped up into this little frail package, complete with a deceiving bow.
But then I began shoving her forward and she put a foot on either side of her locker, face blanching a ghostly pale. "Don't," she rasped, clutching at my forearms with trembling hands.
James's laugh was derisive as he mocked, "No! Don't! Waaaah!" He rolled his eyes and flicked his hand. "Get on with it. I'm late for Mrs. Big Tits." He leaned against the row of lockers as she kicked and started gasping, pushing into me and making me stumble back a step.
Our eyes met in the mirror and hers gazed back at me with this odd, kind of pleading stare. I could see her mouth form a silent "Please," the stretch of her lips lingering and elongated until I could see her clenched teeth.
Fuck me, Sassy Freshman was kind of… begging. It was the most fascinating thing to see. Humming in thought, I pushed her closer, just to feel her body tense and to see her eyes widen further. Her lip trembled. Trembled!
I almost reconsidered, but I mean… I really wanted that Jack. Really, really, really. Plus, James was standing there, watching me, waiting, and ready to take my game system and… it would only be for a few seconds. Sassy Freshman could take it. We'd done worse than this. I also couldn't deny that uncovering this new, fragile side of her captivated me. I sort of felt a fleeting protective urge at realizing this weaker side of her, but at the same time, I also wanted to poke it around and see how deep it went.
With a shrug, I promptly began stuffing her into the locker, ignoring her strangled gasp as I fought awkwardly with all of her flailing limbs. My fingers dug into her sides as I was forced to thrust her with a surprising effort. She was stronger than she looked.
Of course, I was strongest.
With one last grunt, I'd finally crammed her in there nice and good, and was able to close the door after one final shove of a stray flapping arm. Once it was finally secured, I slumped my fatigued body against it, mashing the padlock closed with a huff. I caught a fleeting glance at the look on James' face and began laughing. He was staring at the ground intently, hands on his knees.
He was so gonna blow chunks.
The first bang on the lockers was startlingly loud and echoed through the hallway, but there weren't any classrooms in this wing, just lockers. I smiled triumphantly as she began cursing smothered strings of profanity, waiting for the one that signaled her release.
James held up one finger, the noise seeming to upset his stomach. That was just a bonus. "I think I might hurl, dude," he choked as beads of perspiration rose on his forehead.
Sassy Freshman was getting louder, actually moving my body with the brunt of her kicks at the door. "Let me out! My dad is going to blow your fucking brains out for this!" My first instinct was to roll my eyes, because she always used that one, but her voice was off. It cracked and grew uneven as she continued, "Open the door! I swear to fucking God—"
I brightened, looking to James with raised eyebrows.
"Doesn't count," he gagged at the ground, one finger still suspended in the air.
"Does so!" I argued. "Taking the Lord's name in vain. That's it." Then everything went silent. The banging stopped, the cursing, the threats, the gagging. The hall was completely still. I could literally hear leaves falling outside onto the pavement, my vision still blurred around the edges.
It made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
"Please," she whispered, heavy breaths wafting through the metal between us. "Please let me out," she begged and she sounded… so scared and small.
Without waiting for his confirmation, I turned to the locker, ready to release her because she was clearly on the verge of tears and… Sassy Freshman never cried. God knows we'd given her plenty of reasons to in the past. Maybe she really didn't like not having control or something. I was like that sometimes. Maybe it was just the confined space. I wasn't sure why she was acting like that, but I figured I'd probably shaken her enough for the month.
I rolled my eyes as I began fumbling with the lock, and then laughed further as I began tugging at the metal shaking my head as I realized that I'd locked it.
I frowned at the circular knob, turning it over in my hand, before it occurred to me that I could just ask her what the combination was. Startlingly, before I could actually ask, I heard the most visceral shriek emerge from the metal, inches from my face. It made me jump.
My first thought was that her reaction was a bit melodramatic and over the top, but then the banging started again—with a vengeance. It rattled the entire row of lockers. James keeled over and finally lost his stomach, his vomit splashing onto the floor with a sickening "splat" as she kicked and thrashed, her voice projecting a scream that could only be described as… bloodcurdling.
You know that phrase about "all hell breaks loose?"
This was it.
One second, everything was still, and the next, everything was clattering and piercing. It made my stomach flip and heave, lips numb as I pulled at the lock, struggling to get it open.
"Shut up!" I ordered, her voice piercing my ears and making my head throb. I couldn't think straight. But she didn't relent, her scream so loud that it made my chest vibrate with its intensity. "Just… shit. G-g-give me your combination," I hastily implored while yanking at it.
But she couldn't hear me over her own yells and thunderous hammering at the metal between us. I backed away from the locker, my blood curdling as I watched the locker door distort with her every jab and thrash.
I covered my ears and looked to James, who was wiping his mouth with glassy eyes.
"I can't open it," I told him, unable to even hear my own voice. But her voice raised three octaves as it escaped my mouth.
I didn't know what to do. It'd been an accident. I used my locker up to four times per day and it was just habit to secure the padlock once it was closed. And… I was drunk… and I wasn't thinking…
Her cries were incoherent, but it sounded like she was being murdered in there. I'd never heard anyone being murdered before, but I imagined that it sounded much like she did inside that locker. I'd never seen anything like it. It took me a good minute to jump into action.
"Shit! Get the janitor!" I eventually ordered James, shouting over the sounds ricocheting off the walls. Her panic was somehow infectious and I found my own hands trembling as I clawed at the lock, puffing as I tried to pry it away from the door. I considered the hinges and desperately struggled with every point and crevice. My fingers ached as I'd jam them into cracks and try futilely to bend the metal away, but she kept rattling the door and it would pinch me, make it impossible to find any weakness. My usually dexterous fingers couldn't find any purchase as they blearily grasped at the surface.
Rather ironically, I prayed as I desperately battled with the rattling obstacle. I just had to fix it and then everything would be okay. If I could get her out before the janitor came, we could all laugh it off and go our separate ways. I'd never fuck with Sassy Freshman again if I could just… open the fucking locker.
I heard the bell ringing in some distant portion of my intoxicated consciousness, but so focused was my attention on the locker that I never noticed the crowd of people heading toward the hall from the courtyards and parallel wings of the building. I was sweating by then and utterly defeated as I smacked my knuckles against it in frustration. My livid punch did nothing. It didn't even rival her resounding knocks and smacks against it from the inside. I was completely powerless.
Within moments, the hall was filled, spectators behind me just looking on in a kind of stunned silence as she continued. God, she continued. It was relentless and shrill and crashing and desperate. It wasn't right. It wasn't sassy.
It was the most horrific thing I'd ever heard.
Michael Newton shoved me out of the way, fumbling with the lock and trying to talk to her through the grates of the door. I couldn't hear what he was saying over the screams and banging, but his voice sounded soothing—not a bit like my own had been, even if his face showed his obvious worry.
Much like I'd done, he struggled with the door, Ben and Eric eventually coming to his aid. The three tested different tactics of opening the locker as I cowered into the crowd, covering my ears and flinching with her every wail.
Teachers filtered in, trying to help the boys to no avail. With every passing minute, their faces grew strained and pale, a sea of tight lipped and helpless do-gooders. Mr. Berty threw his hands in the air after an attempt, as if to say, "What the hell do you expect me to do?"
It felt like an eternity, her screams growing raspier and grittier by the second. I imagined that it must have been like listening to someone expel their soul through their lungs. That's what it felt like to me—like if I looked hard enough, I could've seen her soul being pushed through those horizontal grates and dissipating into thin air. I only traveled as far away as I had to in order to reach the nearest trash can, where I vomited my morning joyride binge all over the black plastic.
It took half an hour—thirty fucking minutes—for James to come rushing through the crowd with the janitor, a large bolt-cutter held welcomingly in his calloused grasp.
When he finally cut the padlock free, the door flung open so quickly that it knocked the old janitor backward. Sassy Freshman landed on the cold floor with a resounding 'clap' that silenced the entire hallway.
We all looked on mutely—the entire school—as she laid face-down, back rising and falling with sharp wheezes that fluttered her dark hair. Her gasps were the only sounds to fill the hallway, like maybe everyone was holding their own breath. I know I was. She was still visibly trembling as the vice principal yanked me sharply by the back of my collar. He spoke in venomous hisses that projected a mist of spit onto my cheek, but my wide eyes remained fixed to the appalling sight of her on that floor.
I'll never forget it.
Her bloodied fingertips were gruesome against the stark white linoleum. I swear, it looked like she was missing fingernails, but I couldn't tell. Her knuckles and elbows were already purple and swollen, while her right arm was wedged unnaturally beneath her, noticeably broken as a result of the strength I'd admired only moments before. The arm twitched as she shook, and people hissed painfully in response, the girls turning away as they wrinkled their noses at the air around her, which reeked of her urine.
The last thing I remember seeing as my limp body was ushered away to the office was her watery-eyed stare. Her cheek rested against the floor, hair matted to her sweaty forehead as her wet eyelashes clumped and stuck together in haphazard angles. There was no rage or ferocity or sass or indignation as she looked blankly ahead—no admirable fury, sadness, or even the pain she should have been feeling.
There was nothing at all.
There was an ambulance—I was told that much. There was Chief Swan, and his police cruiser, blue and red lights illuminating the courtyard as she was carried out. There were phone calls to mine and James' parents. There were looks of complete disdain from the faculty and student body. There was Victoria in the middle of it all, shaking her head with 'I told you so' eyes.
There was definite expulsion.
There were charges filed by Chief Swan himself.
There were screams in my house that night, for the very first time.
There were a lot of details about that day that lay fuzzy in some reality I'd made abstract and distant, like an ancient, shadowy dream. I don't really remember much after seeing her eyes though—empty and cold.
I never went back to that school.
Neither did she.
A/N: This story was bought at the Fandom Gives Back auction by all of the wonderfully supportive ladies over at WA Rehab (link on profile). This was born about as half prompt/half random plot choice with focus on the word "rehab" and canon Edward thirst? Thanks to Pastiche Pen for her time beta'ing, and revrag for her feedback during preview. And the rehab ladies, of course for supporting such a great cause!
EZrocksAngel should be like... on everything I write as a collaborator because I swear, without that crazy awesome lady, I would be inspirationless.
This story updates every Wednesday and Sunday. Thanks for reading!