“We’ve been looking in the wrong direction,” Ginger alleged.
“What do you mean?” I inquired. “His voice is definitely coming from this part of the quad!”
Ginger clarified, “No, that’s not what I meant. We’ve been searching through all the plants and garbage cans, but he’s not there! We’re actually on top of him!”
Corvina exclaimed, “Again? … I mean, for the first time…!” We all stared at her in aghast mostly because none of us like to think about our kids engaging in that sort of activity, but she interpreted our glances as more judgmental, so she attempted to smooth everything over with an assertion that may or may not have been a fib, “We were in PE class! It was a coed wrestling match…”
“Yeah, that idea went downhill fast!” Fletcher recalled. “Me and Coach Huppert had to put a stop to that when-.”
“Um, guys!” Phoebe imperatively interrupted, “Don’t we have a student buried alive here?”
We snapped our attention back to the critical mission at hand, and Ginger proclaimed, “We need to dig right here!” She stooped down in order to do exactly that, and an audible crack emanated from her knees. “I’m fine! That’s just something that happens now that I’m in my thirties!”
Fletcher, Corvina, Aleck, Ellie, Phoebe, and I squeezed in next to her and used our hands to dig him out. I passed by these foliage sectors nearly every day, and not once did I ever get the impression that they were particularly deep, so with how long it took to reach Colin, we obviously had been witnessing the effects of a spell! They couldn’t argue that the accounts that Phoebe and I relayed to them about Damon’s potent existence were groundless! We literally had grounds to prove our argument at this point! Although, a part of me was hoping that we would get proven wrong (like we both suffered from the same hallucination as a result of stress over Blaise and Miriam’s visit) so that this nightmare having to fight against a vampiric ghost wouldn’t’ have had to commence, but clearly, no one believed this scenario played out naturally! “If I knew that this S.O.B. was gonna magick a burial this extensive, I would’ve brought my shovel!” Aleck remarked.
“If you knew that he was gonna do this, wouldn’t it have made more sense to get our student out of danger instead?” Ellie quizzed him. Aleck shot her a dirty look, but before he could shell out any kind of retort, Ellie yelped, “Oh no! There’s a fingernail in my pile!”
“That’s mine,” Phoebe let her know. “I lost an acrylic, which is fine ‘cause I’m probably gonna need to have a manicure to clean out all this gunk anyways!”
Bits of his clothing began to surface, and I grumped, “That better be him and not some trick to make us get a false sense of hope that we’re getting closer!”
Fortunately, it was Colin! When we unearthed him (literally!), he bolted up with a gasp! “Saint Peter, I can explain!” he cried out. He glanced around and then noted, “Oh, I’m still alive!” He then grew very shaky and pale, and he fretfully inquired, “How did this happen to me?”
“That’s what we’d like to figure out!” Aleck replied.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Ismeray walked over to us and put in, “The Future Apprentices of the Underworld Kingdom prophesied that this would happen, and indeed, it has!”
Ellie instructed her, “Quit talking like we understand that garbage! What are you trying to say?”
Corvina rolled her eyes and asserted, “Oh, she’s talking about that dumb page on Classbook that’s trying to get people to buy that some underground kingdom is gonna use magic to raise the dead and take over the world! I thought only idiots would join the FAUK-ers!”
“Don’t call the F-A-U-K that!” Ismeray took offense to that slight. “It’s a serious organization! They’ve said accurate facts about magic, and their predictions of and undead planet seem highly likely! You need to embrace that future!”
“The undead was a part of my past, and I have no interest in going back to that again!” Corvina stated with a small shudder. I assumed that most of the bystanders translated that to mean that she had dabbled in sorcery, but only a select few of us knew she was referring to her brief stint of being a vampire and going along with Damon’s deranged plan! I felt a jolt of empathy for her as I imagined how traumatic she would feel if she ever discovered Damon’s presence here once more…
Phoebe asked Ismeray, “So, this FAUK club is promoting some apocalyptic conspiracy theory? What else are they having you do?”
Ismeray dignantly answered, “I’m not revealing its secrets to you! And it’s not a theory! Colin didn’t get buried by an ordinary person! That mouse at the festival didn’t chase Peter randomly either! It’s a spell that’s evoking our deepest fears, and it’s working well! In fact, I bet the F-A-U-K would love to see pix of this!” She took out her cellphone and started to nab a bunch of photos of the aftermath from this stunt, and she chirped, “Come on, Roxy! You gotta get a load of this!”
“No, I’m good here!” Roxy laughed rather nervously as she leaned against a stone water fountain.
“Yeah, Roxy! Come over here and help your friend take pictures!” I almost chided Ismeray for photographing poor Colin in such a distressed state, but it quickly registered to me that the structure she was bracing herself on hadn’t been present previously…
Roxy declined our suggestion, “Nah, I’m just… I just… Oh, I got it! There’s too much dirt there, and I don’t wanna get my new clothes smudged…” With the hysteria of this frantic event along with my lack of sleep, it hadn’t dawned on me until she mentioned it- she switched from wearing all black to all white! Evidently, she fully embraced her role as Damon’s governess, but I wondered if it had any correlation to that Classbook group…
A hall monitor approached the gathered crowd and probed, “So… You all realize that the tardy bell rang, like, ten minutes ago, right?” He spoke into his walkie-talkie and polled, “What’s the maximum capacity for children in detention?”
This prompted everybody to rapidly disperse! Well, everybody except for Roxy! “You’re late for class, Roxy!” I reminded her.
“So are you!” she clapped back.
“Yeah, but we have an important purpose here! We gotta take care of a victim of… Hey, where’d he go?” I scanned the vicinity and observed that he was no longer there. “Please tell me he got up and left on his own! If he’s been buried again, I swear…!”
The hall monitor addressed Roxy, “Come on, little lady! Lunchtime doesn’t last forever!”
Roxy bit her lip, but when she saw that she didn’t have much of a choice, she complied, “Okay, fine! But make sure they don’t hurt my water fountain!” She reluctantly headed out, and while the hall monitor noticeably puzzled over her request, he still surveyed us warily. We all wanted to confront this formation that Damon had taken on, but none of us wanted that hall monitor to report us for arguing with an inanimate object! We relented and resigned to returning to our classrooms, and as we lumbered away, we heard Damon snickering delightfully from his post!
“Why would there be mice in here?” Phoebe barked at Peter, who was timidly standing at the doorway of her class.
“Maybe he brought some in!” Peter indicated to Aleck, who had been sitting with me, Ellie, and Ginger at the back of the room. “Maybe he has to go feed his snakes after this!”
Aleck exasperatedly assured him, “My snakes are too small to eat mice! I feed them crickets!”
One of the girls sitting in the front shrieked, “Crickets? There are crickets in here?” She sprang up and eyeballed the entire proximity in a very alarmed manner.
“Really? You guys really believe he’d bring snake food to a prom committee meeting?” Ellie grilled them. The two students bashfully sat down, and then Ellie quietly inquired, “You didn’t, did you?”
“Of course not!” Aleck disdainfully replied. He gazed at his phone and griped, “Ugh! None of these links are helpful! They all recommend just talking to them! I seriously doubt that’ll work!”
Peter pondered, “Talk to who?”
Phoebe jumped in, “Oh, um… Florists! He wanted to see if there was a way to get extra discounts on our decorations ‘cause it’s not looking good for our budget! Here are the numbers!”
“Aleck isn’t wrong,” I whispered. “Damon is hell-bent on getting revenge on this school, so it seems unlikely that we could negotiate with him!”
“But that’s more money than what we have!” one boy cried out. “What does that mean?”
In a hushed tone, Ginger recollected, “When Brielle and I moved into our house, my grandma told us we had evil spirits there, so she smudged them to make them go away.”
Phoebe filled them in, “It means we’re gonna have to make some cuts.”
“Did it work?” I petitioned Ginger.
“You mean we gotta cut the flowers ourselves?” the first girl wanted to know.
Ginger shrugged. “We never saw any evil spirits in the first place, so…”
Phoebe redressed that girl, “No! It means we have to take some of these things off of the list.”
“What is smudging?” Aleck asked Ginger.
“So, we can’t have any real bouquets?” the other boy who had spoken up previously asked.
Ginger furrowed her brows trying to recall that memory. “She burnt some plant. I can’t remember what…”
Peter whined, “We gotta give it all up? The roses? The sunflowers? The sage?”
“Sage!” Ginger excitedly shouted. Everyone turned to face her when she uttered that. Ginger blushed and then ameliorated her sentence, “I mean, you can’t have all of the flowers, but you can buy at least some! I recommend sage!”
“Well, if can only have one, wouldn’t sunflowers be…” that one girl began to object.
Ginger ardently insisted, “No! It has to be sage!”
Phoebe appeared perplexed by her behavior, but she didn’t make her disposition public. “Uh… Okay… Sage it is! Oh, and I would say the crystal chandeliers should get cut too!”
While the prom committee bickered over their budgetary constraints, I brought up, “Well, the sage might ward off Damon, but we still gotta deal with the fear mongers too! They’re not so hard to kill in their regular form, but they can shapeshift…”
“So, they morph into whatever their victims fear?” Ellie inferred. “But how did it do that for Colin? He got buried alive in the dirt! Yes, it was deeper than normal, but what did the fear mongers shift into?” She gazed at the soil in her fingernails, and a lightbulb went off in her head. “Oh…!”
“Ew! I’ve got pieces of a monster in me!” Ginger shrieked. Everyone glimpsed at her peculiarly, so she grumbled, “Oh sure, you hear that, but when I’m explaining what’s gonna be on your next test, you conveniently tune out!”
Peter queried, “What kind of monster do you have in you?”
Ginger needled him, “A mouse for Mister Thales’ snakes!”
After Peter screamed and ran out of the room, Aleck admonished Ginger, “Why’d you have to tell him that? Now he’s gonna be too scared to go into my class!”
“What was I supposed to tell him that wouldn’t make me sound completely mental?” Ginger contended. “Don’t mind me, I gotta go destroy a plot of soil?”
“How do we do that anyway?” Ellie posed to us. “Get the custodian to overwater it?”
Fletcher suddenly showed up beside us and proposed, “I could have Spike use the bathroom there!”
We all buckled at his abruptness. “Jeez, don’t sneak up on us like that!” I warned him. “And how would Spike’s… droppings… destroy the hole?”
“When the missus and I moved into our place, our landscaper had to treat our dirt ‘cause the last owner had so many dogs in the yard that their urine destroyed the dirt,” Fletcher briefed us.
“Oh, duh! We could use ammonium chloride!” He espied our befuddled expressions, and he agitatedly jogged our memories, “Did you forget what happened Friday?”
Phoebe, who had apparently dismissed the prom committee, half kidded, “I try to!”
Ginger canvassed me, “How many fear mongers did Damon say he had?”
I disclosed, “Sixty-eight.” Everyone groaned at the notion of how many instances we would have to go through this. I mused, “There’s gotta be a more efficient way to handle this than tackling each of them one at time! I wish we had someone who’s more knowledgeable about this subject so we could get advice from them!” As soon as the words left my mouth, the resolution I articulated was actually feasible! But it didn’t bring me any joy whatsoever in pursuing it! “Oh no! I know precisely who we have to reach out to…”