New kid. New parking lot. New... spatula? (Prompt Toffee 20. brand new)
|“I’m telling you, the place is haunted.”
“And I’m telling you, that is bullshit.” Eli raked his finger through his hair as he looked up the hill. 333 Sommerset was a little spooky, even he wasn’t going to argue with that. But haunted? “There’s no such thing as ghosts, Adam. No such thing.” Eli knelt to tie his shoe, and cold air blasted him from behind. Lines of warmth pressed against his side and retreated.
“Oh, sorry. Didn’t see you down there. My bad.” Eli looked up from under the brim of his cap. The new boy was a stark silhouette against the blue September sky. He held out his hand, and Eli took it. It felt small and dry in his own as the stranger pulled him to his feet.
“No, I was just...” He trailed off as the boy’s face came into the light. His eyes were cobalt blue, and blonde shag jutted out from under the lip of his navy blue knit cap. He smiled.
“Hi. I’m Max.”
“Adam. He’s Eli. New here?” Eli felt his stomach clench when Adam shook hands with the pretty blonde.
“Yeah. We just moved here a few days ago.” Eli didn’t remember any houses in the neighborhood being for sale, but maybe someone had been using one of those online realtors who did the whole thing over the computer. “So. What are you guys doing?”
“Oh, we were just talking about the haunted house.” Something sparked in Max’s eyes.
“Haunted house?” Eli sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“There is no such thing as a haunted house, or ghosts, or magic. Do I need to say it again?”
“I’m telling you, the place is haunted!” Max chuckled into his soda as he watched them argue.
“No, it isn’t!”
“Yes, it is! I’ve been watching it, and there are weird lights and noises all the time! The number of incidents has increased exponentially over the last week! The level of paranormal activity is on the rise!” Eli sighed.
"I’m sorry about this, Max. He’s not usually this... nuts. Some people, you know?”
“Oh, I know. Nuts I get plenty of,” Max said, rolling his eyes. Adam sniffed, pushing his big round glasses up his nose.
“So, Max, I guess you’ll have to get home to help your Mom unpack?”
“Nah, Justy threw me out of the house when I moved the boxes that were supposed to go to the kitchen into her room. She gets tetchy about that sort of thing. She’ll come find me when she needs a hand with something.”
“Justy?” Eli asked, pouncing on the most pertinent part of the sentence.
“Justine. Yeah. She’d rather do it right alone than watch an army get it wrong. And so I am banished to the gas station on the corner. Why are you guys here?”
“Skate Park’s a block that way.” Eli pointed. “And nerf herder here is SOL because the Library’s closed on Sunday, so he’s gotta hang with me.” There was a long moment of awkward silence, and then something in Adam’s backpack started to buzz violently. He gasped, yanking the bulky thing around to his front and riffling through it frantically.
“C’mon, c’mon! Where is it?” Max and Eli shared an inquisitive glance, shrugged, and turned back to Adam. “Aha! Gotcha!”
It didn’t look very impressive- it was cobbled together from aluminum foil and a metal cooking spoon, and the handle had a wooden coat button glued to it. There were strange designs doodled all over it with magic marker, and a bright purple strand of yarn was wrapped around the whole kit and caboodle, lashing it together.
“So. You. Um.” Max blinked, his eyes huge behind his shaggy bangs.
“Adam, what the hell...?”
“It’s a magic detector! And it’s sensing something!” Something under the wadded aluminum foil was buzzing wildly. Adam waved it through the air, turning in a circle as he tried to determine the location of the signal. Or something. For all Eli knew, it was the traditional Mystic Dance of the Vibrating Tin Foil Crazy Stick. He took a step back to avoid getting socked in the head with it.
“I’m sorry Max, this isn’t really the greatest introduction to the neighborhood, is it?”
“Oh, no, this is-“ He jumped away from the flailing dufus, missing losing an eye by inches. “It’s interesting.”
"Adam! ADAM! Hey! Chill out, will ya? You’re gonna hurt someone. Chill out!” Eli grabbed his arm, wrestling him for the magic find- hell, it was a spatula and everyone knew it.
“But this is proof!”
“Proof of what, you freaky little tweeb? What are you talking about?” Adam swung wild, and overbalanced Eli, knocking them both to the ground. Eli pinned Adam down on the pavement, stretching to reach the foil wrapped monstrosity. Adam was taller than he was, though, and he couldn’t reach that far.
“333 is magic! It’s a source of paranormal evil! It-“
“Oh, criminy. Would you just drop it?”
“333 Sommerset? That’s your haunted house?” Max asked, plucking the fiendish device from Adam’s fist.
“Yes! It’s a hot bed of paranormal activity!” Adam yelped.
“It’s an old house with bad wiring that’s gonna go up in flames any day now!” Max said.
“Uh-huh.” Max scratched his head, and hair jutted out of the holes on the scrunched up cap. “So, Adam. What am I looking at here, exactly?”
“Oh, God, don’t tell me you are taking him seriously.”
“You’re supposed to humor crazy people, Eli. We’ve got purple, and futhark- I can’t read your handwriting, what does it say?”
“I don’t know. It’s what was written on the website.”
“What website?” Eli frowned at the question. It wasn’t his imagination- Max was definitely too interested in Adam’s crazy hobby.
“The witch-hunting site.” Adam’s face lit up. “I can show you!”
“No need,” Max said, studying the sloppy tool carefully. When he spoke again, it was a mutter. “I finally leave the house and the first person I find is a witch hunter. Fab-ulous.” Eli wasn’t 100% certain, but he figured that merited a sigh of relief.
“Good. I can only stand one crazy at a time, and it would have been a real pain to schedule you two.” He clambered to his feet, dusted off his knees, and hauled Adam to his feet. Max nodded, finally, and held out the still buzzing spoon.
“As it goes, not a bad effort. Craftsmanship leaves a bit to be desired, but then, I don’t suppose you have much call to be making them on a regular basis.” He offered it back to him. “I’ll tell you, though- copper’s a much better material for detections than steel. Not as, oh, what’s the word I’m looking for, not as hostile. Yeah, that’s it. Hostile.” They gaped at him.
“You- you- what?” Adam stammered, and Max shrugged.
“I know stuff. It’s just sort of a thing, is all. So. Haunted houses are where it’s at with you guys, huh?”
“Yeah. Know anything about that?” Adam demanded. Eli blinked stupidly. He couldn’t think of anything else to do.
“Yeah, a bit.” A car horn bleated from the road, and they turned to see a blonde-haired woman leaning across the front seat of a boxy old sedan. She honked the horn again, and waved.
“Maxwell! Come on, I need your help getting the cupboards up the stairs!” Max rolled his eyes good-naturedly.
“Coming!” He shrugged. “So, that’s Justy. I gotta go, but maybe I’ll see you guys around?”
"Yeah, maybe.” Eli waved weakly, befuddled by the strange boy, and the even stranger conversation. Max waved as he headed over to the car.
“Hey, wait!” Adam called after him. “You never told us what you know about the haunted house!” Max laughed and called back:
“I live there!”