Ponyboy POV
I decided it was best to leave, when Dally came in as he did. He was definitely in one of those moods again. The mood that clearly says, "Leave me the fuck alone unless you wanna see stars." However, I noticed that the mood didn't quite carry to his eyes. His eyes were sporting an emotion I never would have imagined seeing in Dallas Winston's eyes: fear.

But what on earth does Dallas Winston have to fear? I thought, laying flat on my back next to Johnny. I had taken him with me when I decided to leave. He was sitting next to me on the bed quietly, clearly lost in thoughts of his own.

Every so often, he would reach up, scratch his head, and then go back into his thoughts. I ignored it for the most part, that is until it started becoming more and more frequent. Pretty soon, he was like a flea bitten dog scratching at his ear!

"You okay there, Johnny?" I asked slightly concerned.

"I don't know." He was just about pulling out his hair, scratching so hard.

"I bet you just need to wash your hair. Prob'ly got some ants or something in there from sleeping in the lot." I strode over quickly to the dresser and pulled out a towel and some clothes for when he got out. "Come on," I waved him to follow me and we stepped on to the cold, tiled bathroom floor. While he was stripping his jacket off, I pulled out some shampoo and conditioner from under the sink. I set the two bottles down on the water-tank of the toilet and left.

The door opened when I was making my way back to my room so I decided to go and see who it was.

"I'm tellin' ya, Soda, it's that horse of yours!" Steve grumbled scratching his head.

"If my horse gave you fleas, how come I didn't get any? I'm the one that was ridin' him." I could tell Soda found Steve's problem humerus, but I didn't; it seemed way too similar to be a coincidence.

I stepped out into view and cleared my throat a little. "Steve?" I asked.

He looked up at his name and when he saw it was me, he scowled. "What kid?"

"I—when did you head start itching?" Curse my stupid stuttering! Real tuff, Curtis!

"I dunno kid. When we left the ranch." His voice was already sounded irritated. I wasn't sure if it was because of me talking to him or if it was because of the itching. I don't know, maybe it was both. Steve was definitely the impatient kind and it made me wonder how someone like Sodapop could be his best friend; they were totally different. Oh well, opposites attract, I suppose.

Just in case I was the cause of his annoyance, I turned to Soda and talked to him loud enough so Steve would be forced to listen. "When'd y'all leave the ranch?"

"'bout noon, but I'm tellin' ya, Micky Mouse has nothing to do with this."

Steve was going to shoot something back at him but I cut him off. "It wasn't the horse. Soda's right."

"Do you have any idea what it is, Pony?" I nodded, took a deep breath and walked towards Steve.

"Do you mind if I look?" Steve rolled his eyes but bent down lower so I could see. I took another step closer and peered into his thick, black hair. What I saw next made me jump back.

There were hundreds—no thousands of little bugs crawling around. Every strand of hair, every complicated swirl, was under the attack of at least twenty bugs. I'd heard of bugs that attack the hair and scalp: lice, but these creatures had to be bigger than those. "Oh my god," I gasped.

"What?" Soda asked from behind me. I pulled the comb out of my back pocket and ran it through Steve's hair (which is much thicker than I thought). When I pulled it back I held it out towards Soda. He was speechless and when Steve looked up, he was too.

"You've got to be kidding me! Those were not in my hair this morning!"

I was sick; utterly sick. This comb was definitely going in the trash. "Call it a hunch, but I think Johnny's got 'em too. He was itchin' earlier."

"What's up with Johnny?" Dally's voice came from the kitchen. I hadn't really taken notice of his absence.

"Him and Steve, they got these bugs in their hair."

Dally took one look at the comb in my hand, then demanded to know where Johnny was. I told him that he was in the shower and that he was almost done, but he insisted on barging in.

I flinched when I heard the doorknob hit the wall and knew Johnny had done the same.

"Get over here," I heard Dally order. Normally, he would have been nicer to Johnny but his voice was rough, as if he was talking to anyone else. I didn't second-guess that it was because he was worried and not because he didn't care. "Pony!"

I glanced at my brother, then moved quickly to the bathroom. I was a little more than glad to see that Johnny had the jeans I loaned him on.

"Close the door, man." He said. I did it quickly and waited for him to say something else, but he didn't. He just stood there for a minute looking at the two of us before collapsing on to the closed toilet seat. Johnny and I looked at each other, then back at the man with his head in his hands.

"Dal...?" I asked.

"You okay, man?"

Dally didn't respond to either of us, just stayed in his position. It kind of scared me and I knew Johnny was a wreck. If his hero Dally was scared, then we knew that we should have been terrified.

"I dunno guys, I need help." Dally whispered. Both our jaws dropped. What on earth was going on.


"An angel?" I asked in disbelief. Dally had explained to the two of us his dream from last night. It sounded pretty scary but I didn't think it was something that would scare him.

"Keep your voice down!" He hushed. "Yeah, that's not it though. He said something about insects, bugs man. "

"Don't worry 'bout it Dal, maybe it a coincidence." Johnny suggested.

"It ain't no coincidence, last time, there was a voice talking about frogs, that happened. And the bloody water, that happened too."

"So... you think someones trying to tell you something?"

"I guess so, the voice keeps telling me to 'ask for forgiveness' but that ain't gonna happen."

I looked at Johnny again, could this voice be God? Could God be talking to Dally? "Did they tell you to repent?"

Dally thought for a minute, "yeah, that sounds familiar."

"Dally, you gotta do it. You gotta ask to be forgiven."

"You're off your rocker! I ain't doin' shit!"

Johnny started scratching his head again. "Dally, you gotta!"

"I gotta, nothing!"

Johnny scratched harder, "Come on Dal!"

"What part of 'no' don't you get?"

"Do it for Johnny!"