CHAPTER SIX: WATCHED BY THE MOON
The rest of the week was uneventful up until Friday. I felt as if Dexter wasn’t a threat at the time, so I spent my time enjoying summer as any kid my age would. Gary and James seemed uncomfortable still, and I didn’t know why. When I would ask them to go around town with me, they’d happily agree, and we would have fun hanging out and going places, so I didn’t understand why Dexter still bothered them. Maybe there had to be something wrong with me for not worrying, but I really didn’t care.
I spent that Friday morning in town at the arcade with Gary, James, and Nick. James had made it a lifelong project to beat my high score, but wasn’t having any such luck. Gary and I left James to his obsession to hang out with Nick for a bit. There was a snack bar in the arcade with some places to sit, so we took our seats around a table.
“He’s really determined, isn’t he?” said Nick with a chuckle.
“Oh, James?” Gary looked back at James who was staring at the game’s screen with a strange hypnotic look in his eyes. “Yeah, it gives him something to do, I guess.”
“How are you and Stephanie doing?” Nick asked Gary.
I looked at Gary, who took a moment to answer.
“Okay,” he replied, “but I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Nick asked. “What’s that mean?”
“Uh, well,” Gary looked unsure of himself, “I don’t know if it’ll work out.”
“Some … crazy things happened,” said Gary. “I tried hanging out with Stephanie a few times since then, but ….”
“But she’s not having it?” said Nick with a nod. “Yeah, maybe she’s just not into you. Sorry, bud.”
“Yeah … maybe.”
There was a moment of silence in which I indulged in the dissonant symphony of the various arcade sound effects. I loved that sound.
“So,” said Nick, giving Gary and me a smirk, “you two going out yet?”
Gary’s face instantly turned bright red.
“No!” he said quickly. He looked so embarrassed I couldn’t help but smile.
“Okay, take it easy!” Nick chuckled. “I was just asking, man. Wow, you got really red. Look at how red he is, Krystal.”
If Gary’s face had gotten any redder, it would’ve glowed in the dark.
“Gah!” James had lost his last life on the game and apparently hadn’t reached my high score. He walked over to us while scratching his head.
“Did you beat it?” Gary asked.
“Not even close!” said James. “Krystal, I swear your score is even higher than what it was because now I can’t even get close to it!”
“It is,” I said. “I played it again the other day and beat my last score.”
James’s jaw almost hit the floor. Gary and Nick laughed.
“Looks like you’ve got a long way to go, man,” said Nick.
“Shut up,” James grumbled.
“What do you guys wanna do now?” Gary asked.
“I spent all the money I had on me,” said James, rubbing his penniless pockets.
“Guess we’re not going to the Shady Palm Café for lunch,” said Gary.
“Ugh,” James groaned, “I hope my mom bought some more groceries. I’m sick of frozen waffles and chicken noodle soup.”
“Let’s all just go home for a while,” Gary suggested, “then meet back at my house to do something. My parents are both at work today, so I’ve got to make my own food, so it’ll take a little while. I’m a lousy cook, and I want something more than just a stupid sandwich.”
“Yeah, alright,” said James. “Let’s go.”
“I’ll see ya guys around,” said Nick. “I’m gonna chill here for a little longer.”
“But aren’t you broke, too?” James asked him.
“Yeah,” Nick replied, waving at a table of three girls who waved back, “but I have other stuff to do here.”
“Alright,” said Gary. “See ya.”
“Take it easy, Nick,” said James.
We were on our way out when we were stopped by someone who had a knack for ruining a good day. Gary and James immediately took offensive positions in front of me as if I was in danger. Brandon had just walked in the door.
“What is it now, Brandon?” said James irritably.
“Does it matter?” he asked, grinning stupidly. When he saw me, he said, “Who are you? I think I saw you before. You new or something?”
“She’s a friend,” Gary replied quickly. “Now let us through.”
“Fine, fine.” Brandon moved aside, and the three of us left the arcade easier than we expected.
“At least he didn’t want to fight,” said James as we were walking toward the neighborhood.
“Meh,” said Gary blandly.
“Do you think he’ll want to get back at us?” James asked.
“I don’t know,” said Gary. “Maybe. It wasn’t my fault he was hit by a car.”
“He might not look at it like that,” said James. “To him, it’s always someone else’s fault.”
“I guess you’re right,” said Gary quietly. “That seems like him.”
Our walk was just like every other normal walk with Gary and James goofing off about silly stuff. I took time to notice the flowers and how they added a nice touch to the neighborhood. The day was sunny, and the flowers dazzled in the sunlight. It was amazing how much a little color can make a difference. I kept a mental note of it to use in my artwork.
“Hey, guys,” said Gary as we got close to his house. He sounded serious, so James and I stopped walking to see what he had to say. “I know we’re enjoying ourselves, and I don’t want to ruin our day or anything, but shouldn’t we be thinking about Dexter a little? He is our responsibility, you know?”
James took a deep breath and looked at the ground.
“Yeah,” he said, “I’ve been thinking about him the whole time, but what can we really do?”
“Tomorrow,” said Gary, “we should find a nice place somewhere to see what we can do with our Soulpower. Nothing major has come up on the news, so Dexter probably isn’t doing too much right now.”
“You watch the news?” James asked.
“Kinda.” Gary shrugged. “It’s important, in case Dexter destroys more restaurants and things.”
“Okay,” said James, “we’ll do that tomorrow. But right now, let’s enjoy the rest of the day! It’s beautiful, and we don’t wanna stress ourselves out, right? We haven’t had too many days like this yet.”
“Yeah,” said Gary, smiling.
When we got back to the suburbs, the three of us headed to our homes for lunch. I didn’t have much to eat at my place, so I just made a few cans of ravioli to hold me over. When I finished scarfing it down, I walked out to the backyard where the pool was. The water was clear and sparkly. I lied down on one of the pool chairs and stared into the sky. Watching the clouds float by made me a little sleepy, so I closed my eyes for a bit and began to drift off. The nice summer breeze was so relaxing.
I snapped back awake. Looking around, I realized the sun had nearly gone down. What time was it? Gary and James were probably waiting for me. When I stood up, my eyes caught the water in the pool. It was completely calm.
I kneeled down next to the water and looked at my reflection. It was just like looking into a mirror. There wasn’t a single ripple in the water at all. With one hand, I swished the surface a little, but I immediately jerked it back. The water was freezing. In fact, everything was freezing. The sun had just set, and it was so cold I could see my breath.
I turned around to go back into the house, but the sliding glass door was locked. As I struggled to open it, I tried to remember if I had locked it myself. I didn’t think I did. No, I didn’t lock it. Something else did.
The backyard was fenced in and there was no gate on the side, so that meant I would have to climb over a fence to get around the house. When I looked around, I saw everything was covered in an icy, silver light. The blood in my veins ran cold as I looked up at the moon that was hanging over the world. It took my parents, and now it was looking back down at me. Watching me … waiting ….
Something on the other side of the pool caught my attention. Shivering, I peered across the frozen water to see a little girl with blonde hair standing on the other side. She was staring right at me. It was too dark to see her face, but her eyes were piercing my soul. My head began to hurt, and with every pulsing throb, the moon’s silver light grew brighter and colder. I fell to my knees. The world was spinning. I felt so weak. An angel was there with me, but not a real angel. The little girl on the other side of the pool was observing me. I knew her. But I didn’t see her face. Her white, lifeless wings fanned out as I fell into a boiling blackness.
Darknae had found me again.
A hand grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the water. The warm sun shined in my eyes as I coughed the water out of my lungs. Gary and James dragged me out of the pool and carried me into the grass.
“Krystal, are you all right?” Gary’s face was still blurry. I gasped for air as he and James helped me back onto my feet. The taste and smell of chlorine invaded my senses.
“We waited around at Gary’s house for you,” said James, “but you never showed up, so we came looking for you.”
“I must’ve fallen asleep,” I said weakly, forcing myself to smile, but it hurt, “that’s all.”
“That’s all?” said Gary, unsatisfied with my answer. “We found you floating facedown in the pool! What were you doing?”
“I just had a dream,” I said.
“Must’ve been a hell of a dream,” said James, scratching his head.
“We were going to go to the movies,” Gary told me, “but if you’re not feeling good, you don’t have to go.”
“No, I’m okay,” I said.
“Well, alright,” said Gary. “We should go there before it gets too late. Are you sure you’re okay? I really don’t want to push you.”
“He’s right,” James added. “You almost drowned!”
“I’m fine,” I said assuredly. “Let me dry off real quick.” I glanced at the pool and the warm water that filled it. “I wanna go to the movies with you.”
Putting on fresh, dry clothes immediately made me feel better, but there was a slight uneasiness lingering in me. Thinking about my medication, I wanted to take an extra dose to be safe. In the bathroom, I opened the medicine cabinet and looked at the bottles, but closed it without taking any.
The three of us walked into the heart of the town. Gary and James kept asking if I was okay, and it was assuring to know they really cared. I thought more about the dream I had. I had felt Darknae again, but I had no idea what that meant. I couldn’t remember what Darknae was, or why I recognized it. Furthermore, Zenox had mentioned it to me.
While we were on our way to the theater, I kept looking up at the sky. The sun was getting close to setting, and the clouds were making funny shapes.
“See anything?” Gary asked curiously.
“Just the clouds,” I said quietly.
“It’s gonna be a full moon tonight,” he said. “That’s what the calendar said.”
“Oh.” I looked down at the ground as we walked and started fidgeting, thinking about the moon’s silvery glow.
“Is something wrong?” Gary asked me.
“No, nothing,” I said, trying to hide my shaky voice.
“You’re not afraid of werewolves, are you?” James teased. “AWOOO! Ha ha!”
“Dude, shut up,” Gary muttered.
“I’m just playing,” said James. “Sheesh.”
“It’s okay,” I said quietly. “Don’t worry about it. The moon … it just … never mind.”
“Are you sure you’re fine?” Gary asked, stopping. “If not, we can do this some other time.”
“Really, it’s okay.” I smiled gently. “Let’s go, or we’ll miss the start of the movie.”
Walking inside the theater, cool air conditioning and the buttery smell of popcorn hit my face. It was very relaxing and made me feel better.
“I’ll pay for the food,” I said as we made our way to the concession bar. I bought everyone a large popcorn and large drink.
“You didn’t need to get me a large,” said Gary. “We just ate.” I smiled, thinking how dumb I was, but he smiled back and said, “Nah, don’t worry about it. I’ll try to eat it all so your money won’t go to waste.”
“Aw, nuts!” James accidentally let the bubbles overflow down the side of his cup at the drink machine. It got all over his hand and dribbled down his arm. “Pass me a napkin, will ya?”
Laughing out loud, Gary grabbed a napkin and gave it him.
“Just make a huge mess, why don’t ya?” said Gary. I giggled.
“It’s genetic,” said James, shrugging and wiping off his cup. “Blame my folks. C’mon, let’s go!”
We found our seats in the middle of the theater. I sat on one side of Gary and James sat on his other side. There was quite a crowd. As more people came in, Gary took a sip of his drink, looked over at the entrance, and about drowned in his root beer. His sister, Abby, and another girl had just walked in.
“Aw, crap!” Gary slouched down in his seat.
“What’s wrong?” James asked through a mouthful of popcorn.
“My sister and her friend are here,” Gary muttered. “I can’t let them see me!”
“Oh, you mean Jessica!” said James loudly, looking around. “The hot one!”
“Get down!” Gary hissed, pushing James down into his seat. “I can’t stand Jessica, and if they see me they’ll just harass me.”
Luckily, Abby and Jessica took their seats in the front of the theater without even looking in our direction. Gary would only have to deal with avoiding them after the movie.
When the movie started, James reached over and began eating out of Gary’s popcorn. He quickly pulled it away.
“What are you doing?” Gary whispered. “Don’t you have your own?”
“I ate it all,” he said.
“Well, I spilled about half of it on the floor.”
We looked at the floor in front of James. A carpet of popcorn was under him. Gary rolled his eyes, then offered to share his popcorn.
The movie was actually pretty good. It was about an hour in when I had to go to the restroom. Drinking all that orange soda wasn’t a smart thing to do.
“I’m going to the restroom,” I whispered to Gary. I stood up and hurried out of the theater. Once out in the hall, I ran to the restrooms. Why did they have to have only one restroom? Not only that, it was on the opposite side of the building, and we were in the biggest theater in the area. I had heard that even the nearby city’s theater wasn’t as big.
While I was washing my hands, a vision happened in front of me. I blinked a few times, then quickly dried off my hands and made it back to the movie.
As I sat back down, I looked at Gary and James. They didn’t seem to have noticed the vision at all. I wondered if I was the only one who saw it.
“Gary,” I whispered.
“Did you see a vision?”
In the dim light, Gary looked at me. “No.”
We looked at James, who was elbow-deep in Gary’s popcorn bag. He stopped when he noticed us looking at him.
“What?” he whispered. “Want some?”
Gary shook his head.
“It’s nothing,” he said.
When the movie ended, James and I both stood up and stretched. Gary remained seated, making sure that Abby and Jessica were gone. When he saw the coast was clear, he stood up and the three of us left.
“That was crazy!” said James. “I didn’t expect it to end like that!”
“Me neither,” said Gary. “It was really cool.”
“And the special effects were wicked!” James added. “How’d they make it look like that dude had three arms?”
We followed the crowd of people out of the theater. Gary and James were talking about the movie the entire time, but I kept thinking about the vision and why only I saw it.
“You didn’t see a vision?” I asked again.
“I told you no,” said Gary.
“What are you talking about?” James asked. “I didn’t see anything.”
The boys exchanged looks.
“Why are you seeing them, and we aren’t?” Gary asked me.
“I really don’t know,” I told him flatly.
“If it’s bothering you,” said James, “we can ask Tyler.”
“Okay,” I said. That sounded like a good idea.
As soon as we walked outside, I immediately looked up. The moon was out and shining. I started to tremble. Against my will, my feet stopped moving and my eyes couldn’t look away. My legs seemed to tug at my feet, but they actually weren’t moving, either.
“What are you doing?” Gary asked, looking up at the moon, then back to me.
I didn’t say anything. I was too scared.
“What’s wrong?” Gary asked, leaning close to me. “Are you okay?”
“The moon,” I said quietly. My voice was too shaky to hide my fear. “It sees us.”
“Huh?” James looked up at it. “How can it see us?”
“Come on,” said Gary firmly, grabbing my arm, “let’s go.”
My eyes were finally able to look away.
“I hate the moon,” I said, looking down. “I want to kill it.”
“What are you talking about?” Gary asked. “You want to kill the moon?”
“Again with the killing,” said James. “I don’t like this, Gary. Something isn’t right about her. I can see it.”
“Why do you want to kill the moon?” Gary asked me.
I looked back up at the silver orb in the sky.
“It’s evil.” I was trembling so badly now I thought I was going to start having convulsions. My heart pounded and my head throbbed. That vision flashed in front of me again as a cold pain burst through my chest.
Gary tried to get me to look at him. “Krystal? What are you talking about?”
“My parents were murdered!” I shouted. My chest felt heavy and I couldn’t breathe. Sweat was pouring down my face already. People were looking at us, and Gary tried to act as calm as possible.
“Just settle down,” he said calmly, firmly gripping my shoulders. “It’s going to be just fine.”
I closed my eyes, then took a series of deep breaths. I could feel the moon staring at me. It was laughing at me. I tried as hard as I could to ignore it. I opened my eyes, and Gary took his hands off my shoulders. My fingers craved to claw open my head and dig out the memories of my parents’ deaths, but I fought the urge. I fought the urge hard, and eventually won.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized. “I-I don’t know what came over me.”
“You had us a little freaked out there,” said James, letting out a sigh of relief.
“It’s going to be okay,” said Gary, still calm and firm. “Let’s just take you back home now.”
People began to slowly disperse once they saw that I had settled down, but it was difficult to feel embarrassed. We took off at a swift pace from the theater, not saying a word. I felt bad for ruining the night. It was supposed to be a fun time, and I was going crazy.
“Hey,” said James as we were walking back into the suburbs, “what was that about the moon? And you said your parents were murdered. That was really creepy.”
“Oh, that,” I said dully. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
I could feel the energy draining from my body. I did my best to keep my strength up, but it wasn’t long before I started feeling too weak. Gary and James caught me just before I collapsed onto the sidewalk.
“You’d better let us help you,” said Gary.
“Okay,” I said.
We walked through the neighborhood in complete silence. The moon continued to flood everything in its silver glow, and I did my best to deaden myself to it. I kept my cool, trying not to think about it, but that was easy since I hardly had the energy to stay awake. Gary and James held me up on my feet the entire time by letting me put my arms around their shoulders. However, it was just a matter of time before my legs didn’t want to move anymore.
“Hey, c’mon,” Gary told me when I stopped walking. “We’re almost there. Just a few more blocks.”
My head started to feel heavy, and it was increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open. I tried to keep walking, but it just made me more tired. Eventually, my body didn’t want to respond at all, and I passed out from the exhaustion. The last thing I remembered was the moon’s frozen, silver light blanketing me.