A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "The War Chest"
It's Friday night, which gives you the weekend to ponder your strategy.
But the weekend comes with some serious distractions.
* * * * *
You're woken Saturday morning by the sound of someone bustling around inside the trailer, but it's a text from Caleb that really opens your eyes: New guys'll be over abt ten plan to use ur place to make more subs. It takes you a minute or so to sort out what he means.
You pull on some flannel cutoffs—the remnants of old pajama bottoms, it looks like—and pad out into the main part of the trailer. Dane's mom is bustling around, getting it cleaned up. She looks up at you with a crinkly smile—
—which almost instantly falls off her face. Her expression turns haggard as she stares at you without speaking.
"I just got a text," you tell her warily. "Um, some guys are supposed to be out here around ten?"
Mrs. Matthias says nothing, but her gaze narrows. "You know about this?" you ask.
She says nothing, but returns to straightening up the living room. She moves much more slowly and deliberately, and you can tell she's watching you out of the corner of her eye. After she's gathered an armful of old newspapers, she thrusts them at you with the muttered order to take them out to the garbage. When you come back in, she brusquely tells you to clean up the kitchen.
She doesn't know if I'm her son or someone else, you realize. And either way, it's freaking her out.
And that freaks you out a little. You don't know if it would make her feel better if you took off the mask or not.
The two of you eventually settle into a mindless routine of helping each other straighten the place. You take over vacuuming duties when she hauls out the machine but can't get it to work. Gradually, the trailer becomes neater in appearance, though there's a funky smell you can't get rid of. And, all in all, the place just looks dumpier and even more tired after there's no garbage to soften the fundamental cheapness of the place.
At a little after ten the door rattles under a flurry of hard knocks. You open it to find two boys. They're strangers, but they grin at you like they know you.
One of them, at least, you are familiar with. Andrew Webb was the asshole you got in a fight with on the day you impersonated Bhodi. His close-cropped, white-blonde hair bristles and gleams in the morning light, and he smirks knowingly at you. In his red, sleeveless jersey and shorts, he looks like he's trying out for a sophomore-class production of "Future Douchebags of Westside High."
The other kid is even burlier. He has strong legs and and biceps and a trim torso under his tight, yellow t-shirt, and he gives you a faint—but very direct and confident—smile. His brown hair curls stiffly over his ears and off the back of his neck, and a little tuft of chest hair puffs out over the front collar of his shirt. Like Andrew, he looks like he just came, freshly showered, from the gym.
"Hey man," this second kid greets you in a low, strong baritone. "You heard we were coming over, right?"
"Uh, I guess," you stammer. And who are you? you want to add. And who are you supposed to be?
You step aside to let them in. The kid in the yellow shirt nods at Mrs. Matthias, who has stopped in midst of her dusting to stare back at him with obvious, eye-watering lust. "Paulina!" he calls to her. "You were great last night!"
Paulina? That doesn't sound right, but you can't remember what Dane's mom's name is.
But she is melting while you are wondering. "Hi guys!" she coos back. Then she blushes and fiddles with her hair. "Oh God, I'm a mess!"
"We'll get you cleaned up," Andrew says, and his smirk deepens. He winks at you. With an embarrassed murmur, Mrs. Matthias hurries down the hallway into the back of the trailer, leaving you alone with—
"Okay, I give up," you tell them. "Who are you guys?"
"Ethan Clayborne," says the kid in the yellow shirt. He puts out a hand, and almost crushes yours in his grip. "Andrew Webb," says the other, and punches you in the shoulder.
"Uh huh. And underneath?" You wave a hand in front of your face.
The boys exchange a quick, shame-faced grin. "Justin," mumbles Ethan. "Andy," says Andrew. "Jensen," he quickly adds.
Okay, so that would be the kid with the long, acne-scarred face who's playing Kid Handsome, you remind yourself, and Bhodi's best friend who's playing the soccer hooligan that Bhodi hates.
"So your friend thought this'd be the perfect place to make some more swaps," Ethan tells you. "Last night, at the party, it was kind of—" He grins at Andrew, who smirks back. "Well, it was kind of a mess."
"Didn't get as messy as you wanted," Andrew chortles. He punches Ethan in the shoulder.
The moment weirdly hangs. Then Ethan flies at Andrew, grappling with him. The boys tumble onto a sofa, then roll off. There's a lot of soft grunting, and Andrew squeals and yelps a couple of times. But in only a few seconds Ethan has the other one pinned to the floor of the trailer. He holds him there a moment, then gets up, slapping Andrew on the ass as he rises. Andrew rolls onto his back to grin up at the other. "Fucker," he says.
You roll your eyes. "So what's the plan?" you ask.
"Gonna get a couple of girls out here," Ethan says. He picks idly at a scab on his forearm before brushing it off. "Someone for whatsername—" He jerks his chin at the hallway Mrs. Matthias disappeared down. "And some'n for Grant." Andrew hoots. "We set it all up last night," Ethan continues. "After, you know." He arches his back and stretches.
He's really enjoying the feel of that body, you think. It does look really fit.
The story, as they explain it to you, is that "Ethan" and "Andrew" invited two girls—Leslie Osbourne and Kaylee Mercier—to a birthday party this afternoon, giving Dane's address as the location. Grant Lowery—who is pulsing so hard with anticipation it looks like he's going to split himself asunder—shows up soon after with the "party favors": a quartet of masks and brain-bands, plus various sealants. Mrs. Matthias appears as the time closes in on noon, looking freshly showered and made up. Caleb is the last to arrive, and he is so late that he has hardly time to greet you before Grant, who is watching from the window at the front of the trailer, shouts a warning that Kaylee has arrived. That sets off a flurry of preparation, with Grant and Andrew almost tripping over each other to get to the front door.
You just have time to get a quick look at Kaylee Mercier as she comes in the front before Grant has grabbed her from the rear and Andrew has shoved a mask into her face. Your first impression is that she's another Chelsea Cooper: short and tanned, with hair like flowing gold and a bright, warm grin. She's dressed in a sleeveless blue blouse and tight jeans. Grant squawks and slaps himself in the face with excitement as Ethan and Andrew carry the girl into the back of the trailer.
"Christ," says Caleb from next to your elbow. "Thank God they weren't this sloppy last night." It seems to you they handled the girl quite expertly, but you only ask him "what happened" last night.
"They were at a party. Dane's mom was there too," he adds in a low murmur. The woman is standing at the entrance to the hallway, watching as the three boys maneuver their first victim down it. "Done up like Paulina and trying to go down on every boy there," he adds in a still lower voice.
Paulina? you wonder yourself. Lindsay's friend? The fuck?
"Anyway, she's the one who got it done. She pulled that Ethan dope off into some upstairs room or other, probably promising to give him a blow job, then pulled Justin in so they could do a switch. Jesus. Glad I didn't find out till after that's how they did it. Then her and Justin went and got the other guy."
"Huh. And now this girl—"
"She's smoking, isn't she?"
You tense all over. Yeah, she sure as fuck looked good. "Uh, is that who Dane's mom—?"
"Her or Grant. Don't remember which."
"Grant?" you ask in some surprise.
"Sure." Caleb gives you a look. "She's got a pussy down there, you know. Imagine having that and those boobs to play with any time you wanted."
You freeze, then gasp at the picture. Why didn't I think of that? you ask yourself.
Caleb gives you a sidelong look. "So," he asks, "have you been thinking about who you maybe might—?"
"What about you?"
"Neh, I'm going to wait. I don't know the kids down in that class, you know? Anyway, Justin and Joe and them are working to some kind of plan."
"Uh huh." Caleb nods, then his tone turns acidic. "They're gonna turn themselves into a bunch of cool, sexy, popular cocksuckers."
Not a bad plan, you reflect.
But you've got one of your own.
* * * * *
The guys are still busy in the back when there's another knock at the door, and you open it to usher in another girl. She's dressed more modestly than Kaylee, in a long-sleeve shirt and white hose under her gray skirt. But you don't take long with her, and a moment after she's introduced herself as "Leslie," and looked around the trailer with a puzzled expression, you and Caleb hit her with a mask. Mrs. Matthias comes running out as you bundle this second girl toward the hallway. She moans with obvious delight when she sees your latest victim.
This must be the girl for her, you reflect.
Next: "A Very Merry Re-Birthday"