A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "Body Swapping as a Solution"
You're too shy and humiliated to say anything about the day's events at school, so much so that you're too tongue-tied to directly suggest Blake or any of his friends as potential replacements. But you might be able to nudge her in that direction.
"A group thing sounds like a good idea," you mutter. "That way there's nothing suspicious, you know, about people hanging out. You have ideas?"
"Some," Sydney replies. "One's that are kind of obvious, though."
"Yeah?" Like the football squad? you hope. Or using one of the masks we already made?
"Which is why I want to think some more about it. I just wanted to check in with you, see what your intuition says. It's our project, you know. What I mean is, you should come up with ideas of your own."
"Oh. Sure." But before you can work up the nerve to say, How about the football squad? Or Blake and some of his friends, seeing as how we've already got a mask of him, Sydney starts chattering again about how great it will be to have your own Brotherhood—one right inside the school!
* * * * *
It's Friday, so thank God you only have to get through one more day at school before the weekend, when with luck you'll be able to prepare for some body-hopping that will get you away from Blake and his friends. (Or into them.) Sydney picks you up, and she bubbles with anticipation all the way on the drive out. Your hopes rise as she says that some of the sports teams would be naturals. "They all hang out anyway, you know."
"Yeah." Then, as casually as you can manage, you add, "Like the football squad. They're always going off and getting high together. No one would think it weird if a bunch of 'em, you know, went off together to do something."
"They'd have to take some girls with them," Sydney says. You're cheered by that observation, until she adds, "So it couldn't be the football guys."
"Why not?" You almost give yourself whiplash as you swing around to stare at her.
"Because there aren't any girls on the team. There's not even a girl football team." She glances over at you. "If we do a team it should be a co-ed team. The swim team or the tennis teams. The track team. Oh! Catherine and Fred and some of their friends would be perfect! Can you imagine Catherine—!" She giggles, but doesn't finish the sentence. "If not a co-ed team, then members of boys and girls basketball squads, or the baseball and softball teams. Like that. So it makes sense that they'd be together."
You don't argue, and only grunt that that it does make sense.
* * * * *
You've parted with Sydney in front of the gym—she has a P.E. class first thing—and are nearing your locker when again strong hands are laid on you. You're thrust through the crowd, and a punch to a kidney slams you face first into a locker. Your knees buckle, but the hand supports you as you're wrenched around. You sphincter loosens to find David Kirkham grinning into your face.
Kirkham is a little smaller than you, but he's compact and strong. He rolls the ever-present toothpick about in his mouth beneath the ever-present shades.
He puts his face close to yours so that he can make himself heard without lifting his voice over the mutter of the crowd.
"I hear you're getting fucked these days, Prescott." His voice is soft, but there's a hard rattle in it, like the scales of a serpent sliding over stone. "Wanna tell me about it?"
Your shoulders rise in a weak shrug. It's never a good idea to talk back to David Kirkham—one of the most fearsome bullies at Westside—but it's an even worse idea to say or do nothing when he address you.
"You're not sure?" His grin widens. "What kind of a pussy-sniffer doesn't know if he's getting fucked?"
Now you just swallow.
"I'm going to do you a favor, Prescott," he hisses. "I'm going to ride you." He tightens his grip on your collar. "I've seen that girl that you don't know if you're fucking or not. Oooh! If I was with her, she's know she was getting fucked. I'd fuck her into a coma then fuck her back out of it. But I was saying I'm gonna do you a solid."
He puts his face so close to yours you can smell the cinnamon on his breath.
"Starting Monday I'm gonna fuck you up every day, in front of her. Give you a chance to prove to her that you got balls big enough for her. You got balls big enough for her, don't you? She inspires you, doesn't she?" He punches you again. "So I'm gonna let you show her how much she inspires you. And as an extra favor, 'cos I like you so much, I won't pull any my punches."
He drops you, and sniggers as he pats your chest. "So get ready for a good show on Monday, Prescott. Play it like your life depends on it." With another hissing laugh, he melts back into the crowd.
You run into the nearest bathroom and throw up.
* * * * *
You can't say anything to Caleb in first period about your run-in with Kirkham. Not that Caleb could do anything about it except grumble sympathetically. But telling him would involve telling him about your new relationship with Sydney, and you've yet to figure out a way of breaking that to him.
But you don't even get to have a normal conversation with him. He is very white in the face, and when you greet him he just folds his arms and stares at the front of the room with glittering eyes. "Caleb," you say. "Caleb, man, come on!" Even when you wave your hand in front of his face he just turns the color of Antarctica and stares straight ahead.
"The fuck is the matter with Johansson?" you ask Keith when you fall into the desk in front of his in second period. "The son of a bitch went all last period ignoring me."
"It's pro'ly on account of your being such a backstabbing asshole," Tilley replies. He leans back, turns his cap brim-side front, and pulls it down over his eyes. "Can't say I blame him," he adds as he lifts his cell phone to block his view of you.
"What are you talking about?" But with a sinking heart you can make a pretty good guess.
"What you think I'm a'talk about? What's her name? Girl wanted to get to know Caleb only you got to her first?"
You grip your desk and glare. "What are you talking about?" you repeat.
"You know exactly what I'm'a talk about, motherfucker. Girl comes on to Caleb, you sling a lot of shit at him so he don't come back at her, you pick her up and walk off with her instead. Not fucking cool, man." He shakes his head and clucks his tongue. "Not fucking cool."
"Okay, first of all, who told you some girl was coming on to Caleb? And second, what makes you think I'm—"
But the words falter and die. You've never been good at bluffing. Obviously Caleb would have told Keith about Sydney, and about how you talked him into ignoring her; and just as obviously word must have spread back to the two of them that you and her had started going out.
"I tell you one more thing," Keith says, "and then I start talkin' to you like you was a wall. As in, I ain't talkin' to you ever again." You can't help rolling your eyes at Keith's attempt to sound "ghetto." "You better go lookin' for some new friends, 'cos you ain't findin' none where you been findin' 'em b'fore. An' that includes Carson and James." He whistles. "Ain't no one cool wit' what you done to Caleb. You gonna find 'em all cold."
* * * * *
So that's how you wind up sitting with Braydon and Christian at lunch time. Oh, you went looking for Carson and James and Jenny. But Caleb and Keith were already with them, and when Carson saw you coming he just yelled, "Go fuck yourself, Prescott!" Jenny shot him a very dirty look, but you slunk away.
You don't have anything to say to Christian and Braydon, you just want some company as you eat, and you're content—insofar as one can be content while super-heated magma is roiling your brain and stomach—to listen as Christian tells Braydon what he missed at yesterday's gaming session. And at the previous day's gaming session. And the gaming session before that.
But when Braydon coolly informs him that "I don't think I've been since Monday," Christian explodes. "You know, instead of carrying your goddamn half-giant around because you're too lazy to animate him," he says, "I'm just gonna tell the guys we're leaving him in the bog."
"What'll you do when I do come back?"
"Are you coming back?" Christian leans forward to glare at Braydon from under a sharply cocked eyebrow.
"Eventually. You're not kicking me out of the group, are you?"
Christian sighs deeply. Then he catches you watching them. "You ever do any role-playing, Prescott?" You shrug. "Come on out and take over running Braydon's character until he's sick of snogging with Gillian."
"You'll have to replace me permanently in that case," Braydon smiles.
That could be arranged, you think.
* * * * *
"So I've got some more ideas," Sydney tells you on the drive home from school. "It's Friday night, but we should get started. Skip the parties."
You'd be up for that, and ask her what her ideas are. "I like the team idea you talked about this morning," you add.
"I don't know why I didn't think of it last night," she says, "but instead of taking over part of the sports teams, we could just take over one of the after-school clubs. Like the A Cappella Society, or the Trivial Pursuit Club. Or—" She titters. "We could change schools. Take over the kids at the Christian school. Wouldn't that be sick?"
* To take over a school club: "Any Club That Would Have You as a Member"
* To take over the Christian school: "Thinking Big"