“S”

Whenever she looked out her window, she saw a big “S” on the red brick building across from her. Just one letter, a simple one, with a serif on either end. It wasn’t the most innocent or joyful of letters; “snakes” and “sadness” and “sordid” all began with it, and she couldn’t help thinking of those and other harsh words whenever she looked at her “S.”

But not everyone had a big, two-story-tall letter painted on the building across the street. She could tell it was that large because she could see the windows next to it. Okay, so maybe it was only one-and-a-half stories tall, but it was up around the tenth or eleventh floor, and everything looks bigger higher up. Or so she thought at least.

It was kind of like Stephen (another “S”, she always reminded herself) who was so beautiful and seemed so majestic. He was tall, and his head was disproportionately large for his body. But she couldn’t help being attracted to him, daydreaming about him, adding the letters to his name to her view of “S.” Stephen, for his part, didn’t know she existed because they’d never been introduced. In fact, his name wasn’t actually Stephen, it was Pedro, but she’d given him a name of her own after she’d seen him at the bagel shop on the corner for the fourth morning in a row.

She wasn’t an obsessive person, no, you couldn’t say that exactly, she thought, but she was definitely aware, and self-aware as well, and she knew there was a certain obsessive quality to her fascination with her “S.” Especially when she knew there must be more letters painted up there, hidden from her by the jut of another building that was angled just right to show her the one “S” and nothing else. She wondered whether she’d ever see the thing, the letter or the entire word, from street level and see what it was referring to. The thought was terrifying.

Sundays on the Bus [Flash Fiction – maybe a beginning to a longer short story?]

Rupert took the bus to work on Sundays. He didn’t have to; the divorce had gone through pretty smoothly and he’d gotten to keep the car, which he drove the rest of the week. Monday through Friday, the bus was packed with loud teenagers going to school and busy businessmen and businesswomen who put him on edge. For a guy who worked six days a week, including Sundays, Rupert considered himself to be pretty relaxed, and the tense atmosphere on the bus every morning made him feel unnecessarily stressed.

But Sundays were special. On Sundays, nobody else in his line of work went to the office. He worked in Finance, at a Big Corporation where he made a Nice Living. He never explained to people anything beyond this, because he’d learned that his job-description made their eyes wander and their mouths open in embarrassing yawns. He didn’t begrudge them. He knew that not everyone found beauty in what appeared at first glance to be monotonous number-crunching.

Three years after the divorce, Rupert had to admit to himself that he also took the bus to work on Sundays because of the chance to see Her. She was taller than him, more giraffe than woman, with a wide mouth, high cheekbones and soft brown eyes. She had a small boy – Rupert saw him grow from a newborn baby to a large toddler of three – and She took him to the big park near Rupert’s office to watch other people flying kites. Rupert toyed with the idea of mysteriously gifting them both with a kite one day, but he never quite worked up the nerve to do it.

He wondered sometimes, especially during the dreary winters when She and her son rode the bus far less often, whether he was obsessed. He didn’t think he was creepy; he never stared at Her inappropriately and never offered Her son any candy. But he kept taking the bus every single Sunday, rain or shine, in the hopes of speaking to Her, even accidentally. He sometimes dreamed of criminals hijacking the vehicle or getting into a dramatic crash so that he’d have an excuse to perform a heroic act for which She’d be so grateful that She’d speak to him. Then he remember his puny arms and his ever-growing paunch and sadly realized that in the event of an emergency, it would probably be Her who would rescue him.

The Evil, Most Feared and Loathsome Count William

The Evil, Most Feared and Loathsome Count William sat in his room and looked up how to make poisons on the Internet. He’d found several promising websites, but he wasn’t sure where he was supposed to get some of the ingredients. He had no idea what nettle-juice was, for instance. He also wasn’t sure that the forums he was looking at were particularly serious. Wasn’t Lithium just the name of a Nirvana song?

William got up from his computer in disgust. How was he going to become a proper member of the Evil Squad if he couldn’t even figure out how to poison anyone?! The ad he’d gotten in the mail had specified that he needed to have certain skills and be able to prove his aptitude at them before he’d be accepted as a member. He’d e-mailed them and asked what he needed to learn, and they’d answered with a terse reply, telling him that if he didn’t know what things he needed to know in order to be evil, then he probably wasn’t suitable.

He’d already got himself a name, though, and he was determined to manage to get into that group. He was evil, he knew it. Nobody liked him at school – they called him Will the Weird, not as good a title as The Evil, Most Feared and Loathsome Count. His parents didn’t particularly like him – they’d yelled at him for over an hour when he’d painted his room black and they’d almost disconnected the Internet as punishment. Then he’d told them that if they did that, he’d need to find where his dad hid his porn magazines and since nobody wanted that, they should probably keep the connection.

He also knew that he was capable of being cruel, which was part of being evil, of course. He’d been horribly mean to his little sister ever since she was born, and even now that she was thirteen and was coming into her own, he still managed to make her cry a couple times a week by taunting her. He saw this as being proper behavior for a Loathsome Count.

William strode up and down his room, looking at the posters he’d hung on his walls. Some were of heavy metal bands, but he didn’t actually like the music – he just liked the pictures of mouths dripping blood or skeletons on battlefields and the like. The other posters were hand-drawn, featuring violent vampires and women lying dead across tombstones. These had been made for him by Hannah, his next-door neighbor, and the girl he loved more than the entire world put together.

She didn’t think much of him anymore. When they were both freshmen in high-school, she’d gone in for his whole black, death, plague and misery sort of outlook on life. She had, in her own words, “grown out of it” and even though she still wore black, dyed her hair purple and had rings going all the way up both ears, she considered his “being evil thing” to be stupid, childish and beneath her. When he’d pointed at her necklace, which had featured a fang the day they had this argument, she’d said “it’s just a necklace, William. It’s just what I like to wear. It’s fashion, get over it.”

But William hadn’t gotten over it. He hadn’t gotten over her, either. But he had to, and in order to do that, he had to join this Evil Squad so he’d have somewhere to siphon his frustration to. He had a feeling that they gave assignments and stuff once you joined. That could keep him busy. Being busy would be good.

Finally, William sat back down at the computer, and instead of looking up poisons, he logged onto his instant messenger program. He had two screen-names that he used. One was EvilWilliam, which he’d been using for years, even before he decided to join the Evil Squad. The other, the one he used now, was GoodGothKid. He’d created this one only a few months ago.

He saw, with a leap of his heart, that Hannah was online. She messaged him almost at once.

BlackRoses: Hey!

GoodGothKid: Hey :).

BlackRoses: I’m so glad you’re online. I really need someone to talk to.

GoodGothKid: I’m here for you, you know I’m always here for you.

And as Hannah told him about her day, William pretended to be a guy called Tom who lived a couple states over, who was goth but not evil, and who Hannah actually liked.

Lucy’s Diary, May 27th

May 27th, Night, Library

Dear Diary,

Something is going on with R. I’m getting worried. He was supposed to be getting better, but when I visited him today I found him trying to claw his way across the floor. He was sweaty and feverish and I’m positive he was delirious at the time. The doctors aren’t telling me much, because they don’t have proof that I’m a relative.

Diary, I’m scared. I’m terrified, in fact. I feel like every flicker of a light or creak in the floor is someone coming to… to something – kill me, poison me, force me to tell them about R or about how far my parents spread their research on the Parazelli.

Forgive me, my thoughts are completely scattered tonight. I feel a knot in my stomach, and I’m pretty certain that if I try to get up now my whole body will cramp up due to my muscles being so tense.

I don’t know who to ask for help – I don’t know how to help R. But I have to help him. I have to find out what’s

Oh no. Oh no. This is too much. This is just TOO much. My phone just rang, and I answered it, thinking it was R calling me for reassurance that I’ll be there tomorrow morning. Instead, it was his doctor. He said he found my number on a note next to R’s phone and called me. R’s being poisoned. The doctor said that the police are coming in first thing in the morning to interview people at the hospital, because he was being poisoned with snake venom, which is not something that could accidentally have gotten into R’s food by a negligent nurse.

The doctor says R is going to be fine, they’re pumping antidotes into his system. But that’s not what I’m worried about anymore. The Parazelli must be very close, and they’re obviously sending us a message. It’s not like they thought R would die of poison while he’s IN A HOSPITAL. No, this is a warning.

Ok, I have a plan. Not a very elaborate plan, but a plan nonetheless. Something to get me through the night. The plan is this: talk to R tomorrow and figure this out. Yes. Good plan.

I think I better go to my room, Diary, and try to catch some sleep. And tomorrow I shall set my brilliant plan in motion.

Yup.

Lucy

Lucy’s Diary, Later on May 16th

May 16th, Night-time, Library

Dear Diary,

Oh. My. Gosh. I know I wrote in you only this morning, dearest, but I hope you will forgive my indulging in scratching my pen over your pages once more today, and I sincerely hope you’re not weary of me yet!

I have been waiting patiently all day for a moment of solitude in which to tell you of the exciting events that followed directly after my last writing in you. Oh, I’m not speaking about my joining Sophie and Maria on their way back to Pratt and Smith this morning – I did join them, and we had a nice walk back to the school, as the day was all May sunshine and breezes, though it is now rather cold.

No, no, Diary, I am speaking of what passed in the few short minutes between my concluding my writing engagement with you this morning and the meeting with the girls. I can barely breathe at the strangeness of it all, but you must judge for yourself the events which I shall now relate.

I got up to leave the diner this morning right after the guy I’d seen on the plane had left. He had finished his phone call in what seemed like a huff, and fairly stormed out of the place. On my way out, I paid the waitress at the cash register at the counter, and I idly asked her where or what Gaitec’s Reach is. She had no idea, so I simply smiled and turned to walk out.

Who should I bump into as I was leaving? Why, who else, but Mr. Mysterious Airplane Man! He knocked you right out of my hands, and we both bent down to pick you up at the same time. Our eyes met for a brief moment, and I cannot describe the lure his gaze, intelligent as it is, had on me. But, Diary, I worried about you first and foremost and I picked you up immediately and left the diner with as much dignity as I could muster.

He ran after me, though! I have never been more surprised in my life. He told me his name was Michael – which was odd, because I’m sure I heard him addressing the man he was talking to on the phone as Michael. He asked me, in a hurried, abrupt manner, what my name was. I don’t know why I did it, but I said it was Annie. I didn’t – couldn’t, wouldn’t – tell him my real name! I don’t know him, after all! He asked me why I had asked the waitress about Gaitec’s Reach. I had to reply that I just liked the sound of the name, because what else could I say? That I was intrigued why he would be searching for some obscure place by that name? That wouldn’t have made any sense.

For some reason that I cannot fathom, he asked me for my cell number. I have one, you know, for emergencies, though my cousin will give me hell if she sees me making outgoing calls on it… Still, I gave him the number, which is even more unfathomable to me – because, as I pointed out before, I don’t know him!

Ah, Diary, what foolishness, what folly – I know you would reprimand me if you could. But this man, this Michael, he seems, for lack of a better phrasing, in NEED of something. I have an odd instinct that I could help him somehow. Then again, perhaps I’m entertaining a mere school-girl crush?

Oh dear, it’s very late, Diary. I have stayed up and out way past our curfew, and now must hasten to my room and my bed or I will surely be found here and I don’t feel like spending time in detention if I can help it at all.

You may call me silly, and I’ll admit to being so, but I will leave my phone on tonight, on my bedside table… Who knows, right?

Much love to you, my dearest confidante,

Lucy