Chapter One (Part IV)Mature

“Well, you ought to,” she insists. “Secondhand smoke kills. And I’ll have you know—”

“Johanna,” I interrupt firmly. “You are the only person within twenty feet of me. And this is because you deliberately sat here. I know for a goddamn fact you get picked up by your Jesus freak boyfriend every day after school, so don’t give me this crap. Not today.”

When she doesn’t reply, I care enough to sift through her head a bit for any response, but she’s gone completely silent, even mentally. I can feel a wave of embarrassment vibrate from her skin, and her usual smug yellow-green aura has turned a shameful fuchsia.

I hear Hermes’ beating wings approaching from above, but Johanna still hasn’t moved an inch. So I gaze deep into her eyes, immediately feeling the magnetic pull. Her mouth falls slack and her head tilts to one side in wonder. “Please leave,” I tell her, and she wastes no time in rising to her feet and walking away. I watch her aura flicker to a light grey and plant the intro song to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane into her thoughts. God knows she’s never listened to any music with real substance anyway.

“You ready?”

I exhale. “Yeah.”

“So,” Hermes says. “Big town meeting. You nervous?”

“Why would I be?”

His mouth twitches. “You’ll see.”

“Okay, let’s not with the cryptic.”

Then he gives me that little half-smile he thinks is charming, which, it is a little bit, but it doesn’t work on me—I know him too well to fall for his porcelain face.

“Come on, Charlie,” he says to me. “We’re announcing to the Uniplex that the biggest pain in the ass they’ve ever faced is back from hell—to bring about the Apocalypse! They’ll go batshit up there. And you know what? They’re going to be looking at you. You know why, don’t you?”

The End

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