“Can I see your ticket, please?” Peter politely requested as he stood at the front door of the gymnasium as pop music blared in the background.
“Peter, I’m a teacher here!” I objected to his gatekeeping. I never really delved into the rules, but as far as I could tell, the staff didn’t have to pay for their entry! “My girlfriend is in charge of the prom committee, I’m here to chaperone!”
He adamantly maintained his position, “Sorry! I’m under strict orders not to let anyone in without a ticket! Next in line, please!”
I uttered a noise of annoyance as I stepped aside so that the young couple standing behind me could go inside, and then, with much irritation, I drew out my cellphone to call Phoebe. As if this day hadn’t already been bothersome enough, now I had another hurdle to jump over! It wasn’t as though I was anxious to watch over this dance in the first place, so having to fight for my admittance into it really boiled my blood! If it had been an ordinary soiree, I would have delighted in this excuse to skip it, but I couldn’t skip this one- not with that petulant phantom threatening to cause massive mayhem there!
“Uh, Peter… Members of our faculty don’t have to purchase a ticket in order to do work here!” Manuel had apparently overheard our conversation and immediately intervened before I blew my top! He beckoned me to come in, “Welcome!”
“Happy to be here!” I lied. Why did I do that? I could have simply said thank you, I didn’t need to act like this gig was a privilege to experience!
Manuel cordially smiled at me, and I returned the gesture until he could no longer see my expression. I hadn’t gotten any urgent messages during my drive over to Rosemary King, so I could only assume that Damon had not struck yet. I surveyed the room to really gauge the situation at hand. Half the students there wore bright, vibrant colors, and the other half dressed like they were attending a wake! I would have thought, in light of the jubilant spirit of this festivity that they wouldn’t have had the gall to don their dark wardrobe and promote that insane but grim theory of the undead coming to take over the world, but apparently, they were unwilling to give up their gloomy conquest! I wondered if Blaise had given them some sort of instructions for this evening despite the fact that he had not returned to retrieve his phone…
I spotted Fletcher dancing with a woman who proudly displayed a style that she probably wore to her prom in the eighties, so I approached them and asked, “How’s it going?”
Fletcher miserably answered, “Awful! Do I look like I’m having a good time?”
“Uh… Kinda!” I didn’t get any negative impressions until I saw the tortured frown he was bearing as he stiffly shimmied! “You know, nobody is forcing you to move ‘til a student misbehaves!”
“That’s not true!” Fletcher disputed. “She did!”
His wife defended herself, “Well, what am I supposed to do? Just stand there while you correct someone?”
Based on Fletcher’s reaction to that, I inferred that was what he had in mind for this occasion! I could sense an argument brewing, so I bailed out of this conversation, “I’m gonna go find Phoebe!”
I saw Ginger and her partner, Brielle, both merrily swaying to the beat, but prior to me being able to reach them, the girl whose worst fear was bugs found me and dragged her date over to meet me, “Hi, Mister Fenmore! I’m wearing the dress! You know, the one I was trying on when you ran into me at the mall! Remember?”
“I try not to!” I reacted honestly, but because I didn’t want to prolong this interaction, I added, “It looks fantastic!”
“I know! I told you it was worth all the extra trouble!” She spun around and modeled it for me. I gave her a thumbs up to show support, but in actuality, I still couldn’t grasp what prompted her to go out of her way for that garment! It surprised me that she had gotten the zipper up, although it emitted signs of struggling to continue its hold…
Her date’s patience waned, and he urged her, “Hey, why don’t we show off your gown on the dance floor, Cricket?”
I accidentally blurted out loud, “Cricket?” The irony of a person with a phobia bearing a name of an insect flabbergasted me! My slip up caused her to turn around and gaze at me inquisitively, so I had to quickly concoct an excuse for calling to her that didn’t involve me revealing my musing to her, which more than likely would have insulted her- especially since I had never bothered to learn what she went by until right then! I sputtered out, “Have fun tonight!” I rated that cover up as lame, and while she seemed a little confused as to why I stopped her to say that (understandably!), she mimicked my thumbs up gesture and resumed dashing to the dance floor. I breathed a sigh of relief and moved on.
When I got into Ginger and Brielle’s proximity, they didn’t acknowledge my presence until I tapped Ginger’s shoulder. She sort of jumped from shock, and then she strove to present herself as unruffled, “Oh hello, Connor! Is everything alright?”
“I dunno, I just got here… I was gonna ask you that!” I informed her. “You two wouldn’t be forgetting the main reason we showed up here, would you…?” I made sure my tone was playful to keep the mood light, but I was sincerely a little concerned that Ginger had gotten too absorbed in the revelry! If Damon knew that she had become distracted, he could have used her lack of alertness to get away with initiating his sinister plot!
“Don’t worry!” Brielle assured me as Ginger hesitated. “All of the chaperones have their cellphones on them, and everyone agreed to send out a page if they need backup! And as for the kids in front of that we’re supposed to be supervising… Um, well, we’re definitely paying attention to them and not each other!” She nervously chuckled and glimpsed at me in hopes of me buying her claim. I didn’t, but since I had the reassurance of members of the Ghost League having the ability to communicate with each other, I tittered and walked away.
I came across a woman whom I recognized as Aleck’s wife standing alone at the refreshing table, and for a minute, I fretted that Aleck had taken off to deal with a precarious incident, but my worries subsided when she whispered, “What if you get caught with all those baggies full of snacks?”
Aleck brushed off her concerns, “It’s not like our principal checks the teachers’ pockets! Besides, it’s not like the children are even touching the vegetable tray! What are they gonna do, complain that there are no baby carrots or celery sticks at their prom?”
“They might gripe that their biology teacher smells like produce!” I joshed him. My unexpected appearance made him shudder a little, but then he laughed at my remark. If I didn’t have a more pressing matter at hand, I would have interrogated him as to why he brought plastic baggies to a function like this, but I decided to save it for another day. “Did I miss anything unusual?”
“Define unusual!” Aleck indicated to George and some of his jock buddies doing an odd jig to the modern tunes currently blasting through the speakers.
Their goofiness made me grin, but then I witnessed Ismeray and some of her peers from the FAUK club intervening. All of a sudden, the athletes’ fun dissipated, which Aleck and I found unacceptable. I ensured Aleck, “I’ll go talk to them! … And by the way, you may as well pilfer all of the tomatoes- I doubt any teens are aching to eat those!”
He approved of both items that I relayed to him, so I headed over to that troublesome group. When Ismeray caught on to my trajectory, she commanded to her cronies to scatter! Disappointment surged throughout me- I had something important to reveal about their organization’s dear leader! Evidently, I wasn’t alone in that sentiment! Ellie materialized by me, and she lamentably commented, “It’s like she knew we were about to crush her little dreams! Ooh, that sounds really bad out of context!”
“She’s the one with the crush on the dead guy?” Victor wanted to gain some clarification on the scope of everything.
“No, that girl’s dressed like a Victorian ghost!” Ellie corrected her husband. “Ugh! Why did Manuel have the chaperones bring dates?”
The subject of Roxy very much piqued my interest. “You’ve seen Roxy? Does it seem like she’s got anything up her sleeves?”
Ellie specified to a section on her right. “See for yourself!”
When I beheld the quarter she alluded to, my suspicions got roused! She stood at the sidelines just staring off at the ceiling as if she were immersed in deep reflection. I studied the rooftop extensively, and I didn’t see any hints of that vexing ghoul’s occupancy in this gym, but her behavior still signaled a major red flag to me! I determined that his peculiarity needed to get investigated, so I went over to her so I could get to the bottom of the deviousness that they had in store for tonight! When I got within her bubble, she glimpsed at me as if I had not seen her abnormal action, and with her visage radiating the satisfaction of anticipating a highly favorable occurrence due to turn up at any moment, she cordially addressed me, “Salutations, Mister Fenmore!”
“Salutations? I haven’t heard that phrase since I watched this ancient movie at my grandmother’s house!” I stared at her in confusion, and she continued to gawk at me unblemished. I attempted to press her, “So, you came here only to hang out all by yourself, huh?”
“I’m not by myself! I’m never by myself!” She had expressed that creepy statement so as-a-matter-of-factly that it unnerved me! It threw me off for a second, and I wracked my brains as to how to proceed after hearing something cryptic and crazy like that!
Before I could unearth a fitting retort to her strange statement, I heard Phoebe’s voice in my ear, “You’ll never get anything out of her that way! Even she’s not dumb enough to fall for that ploy!”
I rapidly realized that she was absolutely accurate- Clearly, Damon had coached her on how to handle our imposition on any activity relating to their unseemly agenda, so attempting to engage with Damon’s dotty counterpart would have probably wasted my time! I therefore concluded, “Well, have fun I guess…” She did not articulate a reply other than to persist with that vacant ogling, and I swiveled away from her view. I couldn’t comprehend what, if anything, was going through her noggin, and it gave me a headache trying to figure it out! I conveyed to Phoebe, “I got something to discuss with you.”
“Let’s go where we can get some privacy!” Phoebe suggested. I trailed after her, and as I did so, I thoroughly enjoyed watching her from this vantage point! Her light pink dress sculpted her silhouette quite nicely, and with the fantasies it inspired within me, I momentarily forgot what I meant to share with her! I snapped out of my torpor when she queried, “Did Blaise ever drag his idiotic butt back to our house?”
“Uh…” I hadn’t seen the final result of Phoebe’s image for this affair until that very juncture, and she almost literally took my breath away! Her hair and makeup were done so flawlessly, and her elegant clothing gave her an angelic aura! She was the vision of ultimate beauty to me, and I could hardly fathom my fortune in standing in her shadow! She peered at me quizzically, and it registered to me that I probably appeared pretty foolish gaping at her in such a clumsy manner, so I apologized, “Sorry! You look so gorgeous that I got tongue-tied like a teenager!”
She giggled, and then she inquired, “What did you need to tell me?”
I asserted, “It can wait! I’ll be right back!” I ran over to the deejay, and I quietly gave him a request. He agreed to play it soon, and I beamed as I instantly returned to Phoebe’s side. “Shall we?” I invited her to the dance floor, and I could ascertain that she knew I was up to something. I supposed that I had been a little bit obvious, but I couldn’t help myself! She looked as breathtaking as a bride, so I took it as a nudge from the universe that I needed to propose to her as soon as possible! Prior to whatever mischief Damon had going on, I was going to make Phoebe my fiancée!
Usually, I didn’t care much for any modern tracks, but that evening, it was rather enjoyable! Phoebe and I danced and had a good time as though were kids again! A few tunes later, my request came! The same ballad that played at the instance during Homecoming where Phoebe and I basically revealed our romantic emotions for one another filled the atmosphere, and Phoebe simpered, “Oh, it’s our song!”
“Phoebe, I…” I started to bend my knee, but I felt myself shaking! And then everyone else trembled as well… The deejay cut off his sounds, and Corvina frightenedly shouted, “Oh no! We’re under attack!”