“What? Did my eyeliner leak again?” He asked as I kept staring, his tone made it clear he was joking.
“No…” I muttered, looking back down.
“Good, we’re getting somewhere. You need to try the bubble tea, it’s really great.”
“I don’t have the money for it.” I grumbled more than answered.
He left and I felt a pang of relief, I wasn’t in the mood to be hassled by yet another asshole. Especially one that wasn’t quite human. I couldn’t tell what he was, just that he wasn’t normal, I didn’t know much about the inhuman things; just that they existed and my dad had been one of them.
Can he tell I’m not human too? That line of thought terrorised me…
Then Perky-goth came back with a second cup… Which he handed to me.
“Here you go.”
“You’re weird.” I told him.
I opened the cup and took a sniff, it smelled like strawberries, I wasn’t sure if I could smell anything he could’ve put in it. I cautiously took a sip and it seemed fine.
“So are you!” He said with a light chuckle “What’s your name?”
“Lauren…” I muttered.
“Nice name.” He said, I looked at him, he wasn’t being snarky. “I’m Kaleb. So, what’s the story?”
“Why should I tell you? I don’t know you…”
“Exactly. I don’t know you, and we’ll probably never meet again. You can tell me anything and then forget we ever met. All your embarrassing secrets, your dark fantasies your murderous revenge plans and et cetera.”
I flashed him a look, scrutinizing his expression. Either I sucked at reading people or he was genuine.
“Fine…” What did I have to lose by for once confiding in to someone. “My life at school is awful, nobody likes me, I’m being persecuted by this trio of bitches and whoever wants to get points with them. The faculty is blind to it… And the worst part is I know if I tried to, I could make them pay and I don’t mean just telling on them, I could beat them black and blue, break them, make them dread me. But on the other hand is my mom, she’s always done everything to help me, protect me and all that crap and the only thing she’s ever is for me not to go down that path, so instead I just suck it all up…”
“Wow… That sounds… Pretty awful actually. Why don’t you tell the faculty?”
“Why bother? They’re not dumb enough to do anything that can be proved. Instead they concern troll me, send insulting email from a fake account telling me to kill myself, write messages on my desk, steal my things when nobody’s looking, break into my locker, once to fill it with used tampons… Even if I tried, one of their Dad is a high-profile lawyer, worst case for them, they’ll be suspended -- a.k.a. sent on vacation -- or expelled which will mean they won’t be in a school, letting them just enroll in Emerald high, skipping the wait list...”
Emerald high was the most prestigious public school of the city, only behind the private Mountain High in term of standards, as such there was a long list of people who wanted to be there but were passed over for one reason or another, if Emma and her clique were expelled, Emerald High would have to enroll them since they couldn’t be school-less. Emerald Bay didn’t have the most original names for their schools, most often just being named after whatever locale it was located in.
“So yeah…” I said after a moment of silence. I felt awkward but somewhat relieved. “That’s my situation.”
“Is it my turn to share?” He asked. “That’s only if you want to listen.”
“Well, you listened for me…” I muttered before shrugging.
“It’s your call, I just feel kind of odd to ask you to share but remain closed.”
“Just talk already.” I said.
He chuckled at my pushing. “Well, to sum it up; I’m a cutter.” He said, raising his sleeve, showing me his arm and the many many scars. “And pretty much all of my life, people have been insulting me for it, because I had the ‘perfect life’.” he continued, adding air quotes at the last two words. “Perfect family, perfect parent, perfect kids, perfect dog, perfect house, you know with the little picket fence and all that bull. But it was just an illusion, two parents who hadn’t loved each other even before their marriage, had sex with the neighbors more than with each other. It was just dysfunctional, but it had to appear as if it was perfect, my sister and I had to wear the right clothes, watch the right things and listen to the music good kids listened to, it didn’t matter if it was a gift or you’d saved a year for it, if it wasn’t dad-approved, it was going in the fireplace.
I was maybe nine or ten when I first did it, naturally that didn’t go well with perfect parents. So they sent me to therapy, in secret mind you, perfect family don’t have shrinks… People keep saying that it’s to cope with sadness or to get attention, but no, it wasn’t why I did it. It’s just hard to explain, it was just one thing I could control, control how I felt, what I felt. You understand?” Not entirely, but I nodded regardless. “And it was something that couldn’t be taken away from me, it doesn’t matter if you take away all knives, razors and all that shit, properly handled, you can do it with just a sheet of paper.” That was a little more than I wanted to know.
“Okay, I think I’ve lost you.” He said, his serious demeanor faded quickly, going back to the perky one.
“No, no. It’s okay.”
“Well, eventually my parents had enough, they decided to send me to a camp for troubled teens. The word camp is generous to describe it. In the middle of the night, two hired security guard kidnapped me from my room and dragged me to a van, telling me my parents had signed away their custody to some camp. By the middle of the day, they’d flown down to Arizona only to drive me in the middle of the desert, there wasn’t therapy or anything, everyday, we’d walk for miles until the guy in charge decided to stop then we’d camp for the night, all while going through some culty eight-step program with lots of ‘Praise jesus’ after seven weeks I managed to escape, only came home to steal some of my stuff out and never went back…”
“Wow that’s pretty intense.”
“It was… Worst part is that there’s a whole industry of these things. It doesn’t matter what your parents send you there for; some of the kids were there because they smoked, some because they failed a grade, some for being gay… So yeah, that’s about it for my story, I’ve been crashing with friends ever since.”
I wasn’t sure if it was true or not, but again he seemed genuine.
He took out his phone. “It’s getting late and I have things to do.” he then said. I had no idea of the time as I didn’t own a phone or a watch. He opened his coat and searched around until he found a small card. “Hey, if you ever need to talk or just want a piercing, call or drop by, it’s not too far on the boardwalk. Hell, I’ll do one for free, just for you”
I looked at the card, it was a mack and white card marked ‘Ouroboros Tattoo’ with a set of weird symbols.
“Thanks… Kaleb.” I felt a bit like an ass for the pause it took to remember his name.
We went our separate ways and I couldn’t help but start thinking. Kaleb had escaped the situation that had been suffocating him. But what could I do? Even if I changed school, I doubted things would change, they’d be another Emma, Zoe and Francine. I could defend myself but what for? I’d only get sued and arrested for assault...
I kept walking until I arrived in front of an electronics store. I never remembered what its name was, I think Garytronics or something equally dumb, but I always remembered it because it wasn’t far from the bus home and it always had a dozen tv screens playing the news with subtitles. I stopped in front of it and looked.
With a big breaking news bar at the bottom of the screen. the TV gave me some kind of idea.
SEBASTIAN COIL TO HOST 67TH FIRE DEPT GALA
Above it was a video of the man doing some kind of announcement. I’d never met the man, I’d only seen him on tv, the darling of Emerald Bay. The man who was better than you; richer, smarter, more beloved, sexier; Local billionaire and philanthropist Sebastian Coil.
It didn’t matter it was on TV, I’d know it for a long time too, I’d felt it in my gut since I’d first seen him. Sebastian Coil was not human. But unlike Kaleb, I had a feeling as to what he was. It didn’t matter the amount of makeup he wore for the camera, I could see still that pallor…
I had a better headline for the news:
Sebastian Coil: Vampire.