Supernatural Short BusbyLycandope©
Peter's car rolled to a stop on the shoulder of the small two lane road, gravel crunching beneath the tires. The private road in front of him seemed to lead nowhere and even the full moon, fat and pure silver didn't give him an idea of where it went. His old Volvo shook as it idled. I should just turn around, he told himself. This is such a bad idea. Instead, he turned on the dome light above him to read the email he'd printed yesterday.
"WELCOME TO THE 20TH REUNION OF MS. CHAPMAN'S 7TH GRADE CLASS!!!" the header of the email screamed. Below that was a cartoon-y drawing of Ms. Chapman and their old school bus smiling and dancing around the Johnsonville Jr. High School flagpole. There was something off in the drawing but he couldn't say exactly what so he put it down to his overactive and damaged imagination. Still, he'd have deleted the email without further thought if his therapist hadn't thought it'd be healing to go. Healing. God help him.
Clicking off the light, Peter shifted gears and turned onto the small gravel path. And who holds junior high school reunions? On Halloween? It doesn't make sense. He could feel his heart racing as he wound through the dark, tree covered path. It's all in your head. All in your head. None of this happened. You were a kid. You're fine. You're totally fine. He spoke the words like a mantra over and over. When he finally broke through the other edge of the forest, he felt a chill creep into his heart. A large, multi-storied house loomed on a ridge in the distance. Dozens of old horror movies paraded through his memory. Horror movies revolving around haunted houses with balconies and spires and other old Victorian architecture.
Peter gulped but kept his foot steady on the gas pedal. A minute later, he passed a decrepit old iron wrought fence, the gate hanging loose and broken. The house was closer and he made out several cars parked in a small clearing nearby. An ancient moss covered fountain blocked his view of the front of the house but he saw that quite a few lights where on inside. His stomach relaxed and he rubbed some of the tension out of his eyes as he crept forward. He chose an empty spot to park next to a small white BMW and the Volvo shuddered to a violent death. Again. Peter patted the steering, wishing for the millionth time for the money to buy a new car.
A brisk wind greeted him when he opened his car door. Trees rustled in the otherwise dead silence of the forest behind him. Above him, a small cloud slowly passed the face of the moon. All I need is a wolf howling in the distance and Vincent Price doing a voiceover and then I'll know I'm an extra on some old movie. Peter chuckled quietly to himself and felt a little more of his tension loosen. He could hear someone laughing inside and the clink of glasses. He quickly made his way past the fountain, wrinkling his nose at the fetid smell wafting from the black water. A demonic-looking stone gargoyle's head peeked above the lip of fountain and he could see where it'd broken off from a pedestal ages ago. His pace quickened.
The door held firm when he tried to open it. He turned the knob, rattling it slightly in the frame and then stepped back. One of the shadows from inside the house moved and the door opened. He barely recognized the skeletal figure in front of him. "C... Adam?" He asked.
"Peter! Hey, man! It's good to see you! The door sticks, don't worry about it." Adam's sunken cheeks broke into a ragged smile and Peter could see two teeth missing with two more that were blackened. His breath smelled like nothing Peter had smelled before - a mixture of chemicals and dirt and rotten things. "Come in, sit down and take a drink! We already started."
The conversations had stopped as soon as Peter entered. He looked around the room and saw four other old classmates standing with glasses in hand. He recognized John straight away - he simply looked like a more handsome version of his younger self. Slim with short, cropped hair and a brilliant smile. John nodded to Peter and turned back to the woman standing next to him. Peter's heart skipped a beat. Sandra stood close to John but raised an eyebrow at Peter and then smiled. It was a quick little smile, there and gone again. She was dressed in a business skirt, white button-down shirt and a severe looking jacket. It took longer for Peter to recognize the overweight man standing by the food table but the backward baseball cap brought back memories - Ryan. Peter blinked rapidly at him. Ryan used to be the star quarterback in high school but it looked like he'd let himself go a bit. He wore an open Hawaiian shirt over a stained white t-shirt tucked into a ragged pair of blue jeans.
Adam slapped Peter on the back and made his way back to a young, attractive girl that smiled shyly at Peter. Hannah, he remembered. He smiled back at her, feeling a little bit more of his stress melt away. Hannah had always been kind to him. To everyone. She was stunning now - petite in her casual slacks and modest top. He blushed when he realized he was staring at the small bit of cleavage she was showing. To hide his embarrassment, he made his way to the drink table. At least twelve wine bottles of various types were set out, mixed in with bottles of harder liquors. Ryan grunted at him, a stacked sandwich in one hand and a short amber liquid filled glass in the other hand. Peter could smell the alcohol coming from Ryan in waves and didn't need Ryan's bloodshot eyes to tell him the large man was drunk.
Adam let out a sudden wheezing laugh, slapping himself on the thigh. Peter could almost hear Hannah rolling her eyes when she replied with a tired "Aaaaadaaaaam." Some things never change, it seems. Some people never change.
Peter found the bottle of ginger ale and poured himself a wineglass full of it. He'd sworn off alcohol a long time ago - they made his nightmares worse. The house was already set up in a Halloween theme, complete with an old casket propped up next to a dusty Grandfather Clock. Fake cobwebs littered the entire bottom floor and trailed up the double staircase leading to the landing on the second floor. A large crystal chandelier had fluffy black cotton spiders dangling from. A few cardboard monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf-Man, the Bridge of Frankenstein, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon) were set up at various strategic places.
"Looks like my fuckin' wife." Ryan slurred at him.
Peter looked around the room. "Who does?" He asked.
"Tha' thing - the ... Frankenstein's woman. Fuckin' frigid whore." The large man took a large swig of his drink, wincing at the way it burned down his throat.
"O... oh. Are you okay Ryan? It's been a while. I haven't heard from you since college."
"Yeah, s'fine. Doin' fine." The man laughed. "Wouldna come except to get away from the bitch. Nagging, nagging, nagging. Always on my ass about somethin'. Fuckin' glad to get out of that dump." Another cloud of alcohol as the man laughed. "And there's free booze so you bet your ass I'm comin'."
"H...hey, whatever happened to your scholarship? How'd it-"
"Fucked up my knee, son. Got addicted to pain killers, quit school, I'm a bartender now. I gotta listen to other people's fuckin' problems all goddamned day, don't want to share my own. We done? Only, my drink is getting lonely." Ryan stared at Peter, unmoving. Peter stood transfixed. Broken blood vessels in a hard, sad face. Finally, he moved away. "Yeah. Yeah, good to see you Ryan."
A flash of headlights shined briefly through the windows, followed the by low hum of a car engine. The car's door opened and closed and a figure approached the front door. The door rattled a few times before Peter went to open it. A trim young black woman stood smiling in front of him. Peter smiled back. "Hi Tricia. How long has it been?" Rather than answer, she pulled him into a firm hug. "A long time, Peter." She let him go and stood by to look at him again. "You look good without your glasses. Contacts?"
Peter nodded. "Still getting used to them. I'll show you where the drinks are."
Tricia's whispered voice followed him to the tables. "Is that Ryan?"
"Yeah," he answered. "He's drunk so be careful. It sounds like he's had it rough."
Another car pulled up to the house while Tricia browsed through the red wines. Whoever it was (Sarah? Peter wondered) had the same trouble as everyone else while trying to open the front door. Before he could take a step to help, there was a sharp cracking sound and the door bounced open. Peter took a step back. "J... Kelly? You never told me you were invited!"
Kelly stood in the door frame, tracing a finger along the wood. "Someone needs to fix the door." She closed it firmly behind her and looked around. "This place is a disaster. I cannot believe I skipped out on my company's party to come to this. And these decorations! Ludicrous."
Peter felt a light touch on his arm. Sandra stood next to him. "I told your cousin Kelly about the party. You look nice, Peter." He felt himself blush again. "H...hey Sandra. You look beautiful. I'm... I'm sorry I didn't keep in touch. I should've. I'm just..."
"Is this a real coffin?" Kelly stood in front of the casket, studying it. "This is simply morbid." With a light touch on the side of the wood in front of her, Kelly opened it. Hannah screamed. Peter dropped his glass. Near him, Ryan cursed quietly "Sunavabitch."
Ms. Chapman stood in the coffin with her eyes closed. She wore an old yellow and orange dress. Her shoes made Peter think of the fancy red shoes Dorothy wore at the end of the Wizard of Oz. Dull red stones hung from a short chain on her ears. Ms. Chapman's arms were crossed in front of her chest as if she were an ancient pharaoh. Hannah shrieked again when Ms. Chapman's eyes shot open and even Kelly took a step back. From the parking lot came the muted 'meep! meep!' of a car horn and, when Peter turned to look, he saw the school bus parked directly in front of the house.
"Good evening, class! Oh! Kelly, how delightful for you to join us!" Ms. Chapman grinned, stepping out of the coffin. She swirled into the room while eight pairs of eyes swiveled to watch her. "And you've found the refreshments I set out! Splendid! Are we all here? I see Tricia, Adam, John, Sandra, Ryan, Peter, Hannah and young Kelly! Sadly, Sarah sent her regrets that she would not be joining us. Please, please, everyone have a seat on the couch and we shall catch up with each other before the festivities begin!"
Slowly, the former students made their way to the two large couches in front of the second floor landing. Peter found himself between Sandra and Hannah with John on the other side of Sandra. The other four students took the second couch. Ms. Chapman sat on an old flower-patterned chair facing the students. Only now did Peter see the lizard on Ms. Chapman's shoulder. "Is that Chami? The original Chami?" The chameleon's eyes performed a slow survey of the room around herself.
Ms. Chapman's laugh tinkled in the air. "Why, Peter! Don't be silly. This is the fourth Chami. I'm afraid they don't live terribly long. Oh, but you should remember that from our biology lessons! Didn't we have great fun in the Lizard Zoo?! Why, the fun we all had escaping from the beasts there!"
Peter shifted nervously. "Y... yes. But, Ms. Chapman. None of that really happened. My therapist says-"
"Now!" Ms. Chapman interrupted. The current incarnation of Chami swiveled both of its eyes to stare at Peter. "Where were we? Why, yes, introductions! Ryan, we'll start with you. I think you've done quite well for yourself. Tell us about yourself."
Ryan stared at Ms. Chapman with an open mouth. "Are you stu- I..." The poor man seemed lost for words. His mouth opened and closed several times as if he were trying to speak but couldn't. "I... I... Oh God!" Ryan took his face into his hands, weeping quietly. Tricia turned to him, patting his back and murmuring reassuring words quietly.
"Well! Well then! Tricia?" Ms. Chapman asked, apparently unfazed by Ryan's breakdown.
Tricia whispered to Ryan for a moment before answering. "I started my own computer business. It's small but it's mine and I'm happy. I have a small dog and a cat and, well, that's about all. So far. I'm doing well."
"Mmmmhmmmm! Now, Adam!"
Adam held a small Rubik's cube in his hand. He'd been turning and twisting it in different ways but had given up and was now taking off the stickers to make a complete cube. The black cube looked strange with the stickers half off. Occasionally, he'd scratch at the inside of his elbow.
Ms. Chapman waited for a moment before speaking again. "Adam?"
This time Adam looked up. "Oh. Oh! Right! Me!" He laughed and then broke into a coughing fit. "I did stand-up for a while and wasn't bad at it. Did some years in Vegas and then... Now I work on cars. I always liked making things and fixing things." He glanced at Tricia. "Not my own business but I do okay. Workin' on stuff in my own life. I guess... I guess you could say I'm a fixer-upper!" Nobody laughed with him except for Ms. Chapman. Kelly rolled her eyes at the joke.
"Oh, delightful! Now, you, Kelly?"
"I have a successful lobbying firm. Quite successful. I built it myself from the ground up. Honestly, I'm just in town for a day and then flying to Kuwait to represent some of my interests there in person. Or, perhaps I'll leave tonight." She sniffed and looked around the house with a meaningful glance.
Ms Chapman grinned slowly. "Sandra?"
Sandra looked down at her hands. "I sing." Everyone except Ryan turned to her. "I have an album coming out next year. It's... it's kind of pop. Kind of electronica. I... I like it." She looked up from her hands, defiance on her face. "I'm proud of it and I have a damn good voice."
"Why, Sandra, I never knew! I mean, I knew you adored Molly's songs but I never thought for once you'd become a singer. I thought for sure that you'd be a lawyer."
Peter half-raised his hand and then lowered it again, red filling his cheeks. "I'm a lawyer, Ms. Chapman."
Ms. Chapman, still looking at Sandra, replied sharply. "No, you're a failed lawyer and now you represent anyone that'll take you. Anyone from simple drugged out whores to nickel bag junkies."
Peter gasped. "I! No! I don't-!"
"Oh, shush. It's okay, Peter. Nobody expected much out of you. John?"
John glanced at Peter and then back to Ms. Chapman. "That wasn't nice of you, Ms. Chapman."
Ms. Chapman rolled her shoulders. "How silly of me. It must be all the driving I did to get here. The old bus can be demanding! I'm so sorry Peter. Now, John?"
"I direct indie movies. Writing and directing. My last one actually got reviewed well by the New York Times. It was a documentary on the effects of pollution in the poor population around-"
"Yes, yes. That's wonderful. Hannah?" Ms. Chapman seemed to be growing restless. Her hands rubbed together in her lap while her left foot tapped slowly. Chami continued to stare unblinkingly at Peter.
"I help people, Ms. Chapman. I run a shelter for battered women. Mothers and single women. I've heard so many terrible stories and helped so-"
Ms. Chapman stood. "Wonderful, class! SUPERFLUOUS! Now, is everyone ready for the festivities! I promise... it'll be a scream!"
"Superfluous? Don't you mean splendid or some other corny thing?" Kelly asked Ms. Chapman, the contempt nearly dripping off of every word.
Ms. Chapman's grin was wide. Too wide. "No, Kelly. I mean every word I say. Gentlemen, we'll begin with you. Ready? This won't hurt. Much." Ms. Chapman clapped and the stone under her right ear flared blood red. Ryan's sobs turned into hacking coughs. If anything, Ms. Chapman's lips pulled back even further. "Everyone set? Good, now, ladies..."
Before Ms. Chapman could bring her hands together, the window to her left exploded. Shards of glass tore into the wood and carpet nearby. Ms. Chapman turned in slow motion. As if by magic, a long pole appeared through the window. A long pole tipped in sharp, deadly looking metal. Ms. Chapman shifted, ready to run but the spear took her full in the chest, throwing her back. Before anyone could react, the spear embedded itself in the floor. The tip sunk a full six inches into the floorboards and was immediately surrounded by a halo of blood. Ms. Chapman's blood. Her mouth gaped, closing once and then never opening again.
Hannah screamed first. John leaped from the couch, running for Ms. Chapman but stopped when a loud voice came from outside. "DON'T!" John stopped and they all looked to the window.
A young woman dressed in black leather and all brown cloth stepped through the broken window. A large red cross was painted over her entire face. She looked grim. Only her face and fingers were visible in the odd arrangement of clothing. Buckles and knife sheaths and various old weapons lined her body. Her head was completely bald.
"Who... who are you?" John asked, finally finding his voice.
Before the woman could answer, Hannah spoke. "Sarah?" The intruder nodded as she stood erect. "But... but... but... You killed her! You killed Ms. Chapman!"
Sarah strode quickly towards the dead body. Nobody moved to stop her. "Wake up!" She told everyone around her. "Ms. Chapman isn't who you think." She pulled a small red stick from her left sleeve. On the side of Ms. Chapman's pale neck she drew a small red cross with two red marks beneath the horizontal line. Finally, she stepped back and closed her eyes, whispering to herself. With a sharp downward motion of her arm, Ms. Chapman disappeared.
Hannah fainted and, this time, Kelly screamed. In Ms. Chapman's place was a large nude, red-skinned demon. The spear had entered the thing's chest, just below its ample bosom. It had large black wings that were folded back and pinned by the same spear. Two small horns, barely nubs, stood out on her... its forehead. A pure black tongue sat between four sharpened and elongated canine teeth. Rather than fingernails or toenails, thick black animal claws ended each digit. The body was entirely void of hair.
John fell to the floor. "What... what... what..."
"It was never a human. It was never Ms. Chapman. It sat for centuries in that school, draining the dreams and souls of the children it 'taught' and tonight was the final 'lesson' for our class. It planned to finish us off and feed. It just had to impart a small part of its essence on everyone and then drain you all. It warped reality. That was its ability. I spent my life trying to find information on her. So little... so little but I found enough. Where is the familiar?"
Peter couldn't stop staring. At the thing. The thing that used to be Ms. Chapman. Or never was Ms. Chapman. His eyes kept being drawn to the thing's nipples. Deep black and entirely erect. In his shame, he found himself growing hard.
"THE FAMILIAR! WHERE IS IT!" Sarah screamed, her eyes wild.
"I don't - what familiar?" John asked.
Through clenched teeth, Sarah answered. "The lizard. Her demon pet. Her familiar. Where. Did. It. Go."
Before anyone could answer, Ryan's cough turned into a ragged hack and a spray of blood fountained out of him. For what seemed an eternity, his body seemed to empty itself of every single drop of blood it contained. With a final pleading look, he collapsed.
Sarah stared. "I was too late."
Kelly tentatively reached for Ryan. With obvious revulsion, she felt around on his neck and then snatched her hand back. "He's... he's dead. He's fucking dead!" The room erupted into chaos. The men and women screamed, demanding answers, unable to believe what just happened.
"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Sarah roared. "SHUT UP!"
Sandra was sobbing on the edge of the couch while Peter tried to console her. He looked at Sarah. "What happened? What do we do? We have to tell someone."