David pulled up to the parking lot in front of the theater. Show time. The play was tonight and he’d finally get it over with and done. No more play practice. He would get his evenings back. More Skyrim, Alice, Asassins Creed and Fallout.
All he had to do was get through this one night.
As he closed the car door he looked up and saw a girl standing on the other side of the car. She was short and was bundled up for winter with a puffy, blue coat and an orange knit cap. She had a white scarf around her face and all he saw were her black eyes. Her clothes looked like things she had found at the Salvation Army ten years ago.
“Hey, you’re David, aren’t you?” The girl asked.
Her eyes stayed locked on him and didn’t blink.
David moved his hand to be near his gun.
“Who are you?” He asked.
“I know my friends and I don’t know you.”
“I’m a friend, nonetheless.”
He pushed the button on his key to lock the door.
“What do you want?” He asked.
“Just to give you a kindly warning. Your friend, Gretchen Marsh isn’t what she says she is. She’s dangerous. She sucks the life out of people to fuel her own life. She’ll drain you one day. Mark my word.”
She was talking crap and he didn’t believe a word of it.
“And how would you know this?” He asked.
“You’ll see what I mean soon enough.”
Then the girl turned and walked away in a stiff, formal way.
What the hell just happened? Some weirdo shows up and tells him his girlfriend is a vampire. Ridiculous.
He went into the theater but kept scanning the area for more unwanted visitors.
Beth and Gretchen were already there. They were back stage and in their costumes already. Gretchen just wore one of her old fashioned, bland outfits and Beth wore a dress and a white buttoned up shirt. He had his suit and tie.
“While it’s just us three, let me cast a spell of remembrance so we won’t forget our lines,” Gretchen said.
“Sounds good,” Beth said.
He wanted to tell Gretchen about his strange visitor but figured this wasn’t the time. After the show.
Gretchen chanted a few words in a language that didn’t sound wholesome and waved her hand about them.
“There. There should be no mistakes,” Gretchen said.
The other actors gradually filtered in and soon Beth was going over last minute instructions. She liked to stand on chairs to compensate for her height.
David looked out between the curtains and saw that some professors were already there and a few students; probably other drama majors. It was part of their grade after all.
Maybe he should have been a drama major. Credit just for showing up to a play and writing a report about it? If film class was like that then he could talk about movies all day.
“Are we ready?” Beth asked everyone.
It wasn’t as if they had a choice. They had to be ready.
Once the play started he waited behind stage with the others. Everyone back there stood silent, waiting for their cue. He was to come in during a ball scene, walk in looking aloof and arrogant and say very little. He could do that.
Whatever spell Gretchen used worked because he didn’t once stumble over a line like he usually did or miss a mark. If his acting was up to standard, that was a different matter.
Most of his scenes were with Beth and at the end he had to kiss her. Gretchen was on stage when that happened and he knew she wasn’t happy about it.
Once the final curtain closed and the audience clapped, he felt a weight lift off his shoulders. It was over.
Beth went around patting everyone on the back and congratulating everyone on a job well done.
“You were great, Mr. Darcy,” she said to him.
“Thank you, Lizzy.”
“Its over. That was stressful,” Gretchen said.
“At least you liked it,” Beth said.
“Let’s celebrate,” David said.
“We’re all going out for pizza. The whole cast,” Beth said.
They all met at the pizzeria and he sat next to Gretchen in a booth.
“Did you enjoy yourself?” He asked her.
“No. I wasn’t made to be an actor, apparently,” Gretchen said.
“Oh, come on! You weren’t half bad.”
“The whole thing was silly.”
Beth leaned across the table at them.
“The show went great!” Beth said.
“They laughed at the right spots. That’s a good sign,” David said.
“Yes, they weren’t laughing at us,” Beth said.
“It was all silly,” Gretchen said.
After the celebration he drove Gretchen home. If she didn’t have a test in the morning he would have suggested some more ‘personal time.’ She did kiss him with a slight bite to his lower lip.
He left her dorm and walked back to his car.
Sayako was in his apartment playing X-box.
“I thought you were staying at Gretchen’s,” he said, closing the door behind him.
“No games,” Sayako said.
“Well…turn the sound down, okay.”
He pushed her to the floor and laid down in bed. Ghosts were far more annoying than they were terrifying.
In the morning he drove to Gretchen’s dorm to walk her to class. He parked and began walking across the commons. It was early and the sun was just now rising.
He saw someone lying down under a tree. Looked like a man, a football player judging by the jacket.
“Dude, a little early in the morning to be drunk,” he called out.
The figure didn’t stir.
He walked over and tapped him with his foot.
“Yo! Wake up.”
He rolled the body over with his foot and saw a pale face with eyes wide open.
He stumbled back and looked around. No one was in sight.
David bent down and examined the body. No wounds.
After calling 911 he sent Gretchen a message on Facebook (the only modern way to get a hold of her.) and then called Beth to let her know what was going on.
He had seen bodies before, many in worse condition than this one. The guy got drunk and froze to death or something similar.
The police arrived and asked him questions with the promise of more to come.
“Don’t leave town,” the cop said.
Due to it all he was late to class. He took his seat next to Gretchen.
“What kept you?” She whispered.
“I found a body?”
“Anyone you knew?”
“Then don’t worry about it.”
Her coldness surprised him and despite himself he thought of the message from the creepy stranger. He wasn’t in a habit of taking creepy strangers seriously, but her words came back to him.
David had to find out how the guy died.
After school he went to the police station and asked. They insisted that they couldn’t tell but he did get out of them that they didn’t really know and they were going to do an autopsy.
They couldn’t tell how the man died.
She waited for David outside the pool. She had beaten everyone’s times by a wide margin and received dates for the first competition. The coach said she was set to win.
Where is he? David’s never late.
Finally his car pulled up and she walked over to the door. When she opened the door Sublime was playing almost too loud. Once seated she turned the volume down.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said. “But went to the police station to find out what happened to the football player. They didn’t know. Gretch, do you have a spell that sucks out someone’s life?”
She felt her throat constrict and it became hard to breathe. How could he possibly know that?
“I do,” she managed to say.
He nodded his head and thought for a moment.
“Have you used that spell on anyone at school?”
“Why are you asking, David?”
“Someone told me that you’ve been using that spell.”
“I don’t know. But you don’t deny it?”
“I’ve used it once and it was to defend myself.”
She paused to examine him. She didn’t like the way he was looking at her, like she was under interrogation.
“Just once,” she said.
“I’m starting to wonder if you trust me.”
“I trust you, but I have to be sure. Finding that body was no coincidence.”
“You don’t trust me.”
She folded her arms and looked out the window. She didn’t know what was going on, but someone was interfering with her life.
They didn’t speak as they drove to Taco Bell for lunch and neither of them said a word until they sat down in the corner seat.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
She began to eat her grilled stuffed burrito without replying.
“Hey, this is all strange to me. This weird girl shows up and says you’re killing people with some evil spell and then I find a body outside your dorm.”
“So you assume it was me?”
“No, but I want to know what’s going on.”
It was a quiet lunch after that.
Afternoon classes went by slower than usual. The entire time she kept thinking of what he had said to her and what she wanted to say to him. As many different conversations ran through her mind she couldn’t come up with what to tell David. If there was one person’s good esteem she didn’t want to lose it was David’s.
After her last class she walked back to her dorm room. Sayako wasn’t there; probably over at David’s. They would all meet there later on as usual. But tonight she didn’t want to. She just wanted to be alone.
But then she’d have to make an excuse and she was no good with lying.
After eating microwaved burritos she began walking towards David’s apartment. It was only five thirty but it was dark already.
She buttoned her coat as she walked and tightened the scarf around her neck. Her black beanie hat was pulled down over her ears. Her breath puffed around her as she walked.
All she could do was think about David. Did he really disbelieve her or was he just confused? She trusted him with everything but she wanted those feelings to be returned. Why were things going wrong now?
If someone was doing this to her on purpose, she’d find them and put a pain curse on them so they’d live the rest of their lives in unbearable agony that would drive them mad.
“Hey there,” a male voice said behind her.
She turned to see a man standing there. He looked too wild to be a student. He had one of those puffy coats that rap gangsters liked to wear and a hat pulled to the side. He didn’t look healthy and stared at her with a vacant, hollow stare.
“Don’t come near me,” Gretchen said.
The stepped forward.
“Or what? Little girl? You going to hurt me?”
“Yes I will.”
“Then you’ll have to hurt me.”
He lunged forward and grabbed the sleeve of her Navy coat. She pulled away but he held her tight. He still had the vacant stare but his arms were fast and strong.
She tried to hit his face but he blocked her pathetic blows.
Next she tried to get the gun in her purse but he grabbed her purse and yanked it away, tossing it into the grass by his feet.
“I’m going to have a good time with you,” he said.
He pushed her down to the ground and his large mass almost crushed her. He had her pinned and neither her arms nor her legs could do much of anything.
“What you going to do now?” He asked.
She knew the spell to use. She muttered the words for the stun spell and when she pronounced the final syllable there was a flash of blue light.
But the man was still holding her. It hadn’t worked.
She tried it again and still nothing. Either she wasn’t doing it right or he was immune to her stun spell.
He bent down and began licking her neck and cheek. The man began to describe what he was going to do to her and they were things that rivaled the Esoteric Order of Dagon’s dark rituals.
This was a horrible man that wouldn’t stop.
There was only one thing left to do; she had to kill him or he’d make it wish she were dead.
She began to say the words of the Leech Life spell and when he let go of one of her hands to undo his belt buckle, she reached up and grabbed his throat. She finished the spell and she began draining his life away.
He grew weak and collapsed to the ground.
She crawled out from under him and straddled him.
“Are you enjoying this, human scum? Is this what you wanted? You’re getting what you deserve!”
This was justice. Like the football player before him, he was a wicked man that saw her as easy pray. Now that they were dead they’d never bother anyone again. She was ridding the world of villains and she was glad to do it. Why should she refrain from using the power to do good?
“Gretchen!” Came David’s voice.
She let go of the man and turned to see David standing there.
It was the look in his eyes that horrified her the most. He was staring at her with disbelief and disgust.
“Wait, David. It’s not my fault! He attacked me.”
“Just like the other guy?” He asked.
What was he doing here, anyway?
“No, he attacked me. I had to defend myself,” she said.
“How many people have you had to defend yourself from?”
“Just these two.”
He didn’t believe her and he saw it in his eyes. Why had he come at the exact wrong moment?
“Why are you here?” She asked.
“Got a text message.”
“I don’t know, but they were right.”
“What did they say?”
“Doesn’t matter. You’ve been lying to me.”
“I haven’t! He did attack me. David, please believe me.”
“I don’t know what to believe.”
Then he turned and began walking away.
She picked up her purse and ran after him.
“Twice in one semester?” He asked without looking at her.
“I can’t explain it.”
“You’d better try.”
She couldn’t. She realized that from his point of view the whole thing was suspicious looking.
“I know how it looks,” she said. “But it was self defense. Look at me, David. Haven’t you trusted your life with me before? You know me.”
“I thought I did. I have to think about this,” he said.
He left her there standing in the cold grass. She watched him go and couldn’t think of anything to say. Everything good about the outside world was crumbling around her.
She fell to her knees and wept.