This choice: Chuck Saratoga Falls for Beverly Hills · Go Back...
You take a deep breath. You’ve been in this town virtually all your life, and what do you have to show for it? Well, besides a book of magic and an insanely hot girlfriend? You’d miss your family, of course, and your friends. But you’re about to step into someone else’s life anyway – and it’s hardly like they’re going to notice that you’ve gone.
“Screw it,” you say. “If we’re going to do this, why the hell should we stay in Saratoga Falls? If we’re going to start a cult, we might as well do it with the rich and famous. Let’s move to Beverly Hills.”
Sydney blinks for a moment. “What?”
“You heard me,” you say. “Why are we only thinking about this one-horse town? You want a new life, dream bigger. I know a cult in the heart of Hollywood or whatever isn’t exactly original, but…”
Sydney raises a hand, leaning back a little. Then, slowly, a smile forms. “Will! It’s brilliant! We’d be following in the footsteps of some of the greatest practitioners ever. Jack Parsons, and…” she begins reeling off names that mean nothing to you. You watch her lips, and wish they were kissing you.
“So that’s a yes?” you mutter.
Sydney smiles, and moves closer to you, pushing her nose to the side of yours. Suddenly your vision is filled with her eyes, and staring face to face, so close you swear you can hear her heartbeat, you can’t help but feel you’ve given the right answer. “Whatever you say, Will,” she says. “This town was always too small for someone like you.”
“Do you know who you want to be?” you ask, feeling your pulse quicken.
Sydney tilts her head, blonde hair curling and pushing up as the strands rest on her shoulder. “Will,” she says quietly, “I can be anyone you want me to be. A movie star. A fashion model. A rich, bored socialite with only one thing on her mind…” She leans in plants a soft kiss, then chews slowly on your lip. “I’ll be your deepest fantasy.”
“If you wanted, you could be the movie star,” you mumble. “I could be a producer, cast you as an undiscovered ingénue. We could get you an Oscar.”
Sydney kisses you again, slow. Your hands wrap around her. “I don’t want fame, Will,” she whispers. “I want…” you don’t hear the next word. Your mind is too filled with the future for the now.
You lick your lips. The air feels dry. Dirtier, somehow. The colors you are used to back in Saratoga Falls, those leafy greens and burnt oranges of Fall, are replaced by a seemingly endless sea of beige. You’re staring out from a raised highway, looking out for miles until the world fades away into a shimmering haze, and all you can see are identical houses, identical streets and chain link fences. Ahead, though, a cluster of skyscrapers seem to beckon you, before you veer off on a different freeway, funnelled north in the twisting, turning spaghetti of the Los Angeles roads.
“I can’t believe we did this,” you mutter. Next to you, wearing oversized darkened shades, the girl with movie star looks turns and beams at you.
“I can’t either,” she says, nudging you a little. “I can’t believe what’s coming next, either. This is going to be so much fun, Will. And what we’re going to create will be so beautiful.”
You left Saratoga Falls eight hours and a lifetime ago. You still can’t believe you convinced Caleb to cover for you with your parents, saying you were going camping together and would be back on Sunday. In reality, you caught an evening flight from the small municipal airport and headed to one of the big city hubs, where you flew west until only the Pacific Ocean was in your way. Now, in a cab, you’re headed to a world you’ve only seen on TV.
Sydney dealt with the tickets, and all you had to do was turn up with your driver’s license and a single bag. Within are four masks and one very special book. The sun has risen, it’s early morning on a Saturday in LA, and you feel like you could do anything.
“Hey, can you pull over there?” Sydney says to the cab driver. She pays with cash, and you wonder for a moment where she got so much. Her controlled step-father, perhaps. Not that it matters. If all goes to plan, it’s not like you’re going to need to worry about money ever again.
Stepping out, you blink in the morning sun, barely stifling a yawn. “Too early,” you mutter. You didn’t sleep on the flight, and the city you’ve arrived in doesn’t seem to have fully woken up either.
“That’s why I stopped here,” Sydney says, flicking her hair back and pointing to a nearby coffee shop. “C’mon, we’ve got some planning to do.”
You nod, glancing around. The coffee house looks identical to just about every other one you’ve ever seen, but the shops around it are markedly different. Words like Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Dior jump out in shimmering metal. Inside, mannequins are dressed in clothes that cost more than your truck. You’re on Rodeo Drive. The Rodeo Dri…
“C’mon!” Sydney says, tugging you gently. You nod, and follow into the café, sinking into a booth at the back, bag tucked firmly and securely under your arm. You’re almost certain it’s conspicuous that you’re holding it too tight, but right now both of your futures are tied into it. You’ve almost dozed off when Sydney places a piping hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll in front of you.
“Thanks,” you mutter.
“No, thank you, Will,” Sydney says. She squeezes herself. “Los Angeles, Will! Beverly Hills! Aren’t you excited?”
“Sure,” you say, blowing on your coffee. “But I’d be just as excited after I got some sleep. Can’t we check into a hotel for a few hours?”
“Since when do hotels let you check in before midday?” Sydney says. “Decent ones, I mean. And there’s no way I’m spending another day in somewhere that isn’t five star.” She smiles at you, and blows on her coffee. “Besides, we need to make our move. You thought about how we’re going to do this?”
You nod. You’ve spent pretty much every evening after school – and most of your free periods too – brushing up on your options while you’ve waited for today. With Sydney, you’ve pulled together a list of the rich and famous you’d love to become. The problem, you quickly realized, is that neither of you had a clue how to get to anyone on the list. Instead, you’ve come up with a list of people who might be a good ‘in’ to the world you desire.
It wasn’t hard to find them on Google. The first option is simple. Johnny Gregson is a young, irritating reporter for some cheesy Hollywood website. You’re not sure how you’d get to him – a fake story, perhaps – but if you could, you should be able to use his contacts list to arrange a short interview with someone interesting.
The next option is just down the road. Dr Miriam Alpin is the shrink to the stars – less a psychiatrist, more a lifestyle guru who advocates reiki healing and steaming uncomfortable body parts. Her practice is on Rodeo, and while her client list is confidential, you imagine most of Beverly Hills is in therapy for one reason or another; you’re sure to find someone fun.
The last option is one that Sydney found, after some heavy research. It turns out that rich assholes love to spend their money on redecorating, and hire an endless list of artists, Fung Shui experts and architects to remodel their houses and one-up their rivals. After an extensive search, she found one face that she hinted it might be fun to keep in the coven, rather than just as a way to transfer into your new homes. She’s a mature woman, a little white in her hair at the temples, with dark skin and a warm, friendly face. Her name is Kali Valentine.
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