Authors: Camden McInnis
But the fact was, I knew I didn't have a chance in hell with Melanie, she only had eyes for Jim Darrow, who--if you believed the rumors--only had eyes for black guys. Melanie was, of course, completely oblivious to Jim's sexual preferences because, despite her bubbly personality and pornstar body, I don't think Melanie had even kissed a boy let alone gotten naked with one, so her "gaydar" wasn't exactly all that well developed. But then again, neither were her abilities to tell when someone was hitting on her.
No, even though Melanie was the girl of my wet dreams, I was only talking with her because she was gracious enough to provide the beer. I had my eyes on one girl and one girl only, and that was Ali. And the only reason I wasn't talking her up at the moment was because she been talking to my ex Sarah and her new douchebag boyfriend, Chad. Well, it didn't look like Chad was talking all that much—all he was doing was staring into space and taking occasional sips off his red plastic cup of beer—but Ali and Sarah were gabbing it up non-stop, only breaking occasionally to look in my direction and then they would start giggling like lunatics. I think they thought I wasn't noticing the two of them, but each time they turned their attention to me I started doing internal cartwheels.
Finally, Ali broke away from Sarah and headed my direction, a sly smile playing across her lips. When she finally reached me, she playfully bumped her hip into mine and gave Melanie a huge smile.
"Mel, I've got to tell you, this party is kicking all kinds of ass and it's all thanks to you." She then gave Melanie a huge hug. I won't tell you about what flashed through my mind as the two of them embraced.
"We only graduate from high school once, right?" Melanie said as they broke away from one another. "So we might as well do right."
"Well, it's great, and I can't tell you how much I really needed this after the past couple of weeks."
Melanie gave Ali's shoulder a quick reassuring squeeze and a sad smile.
"He didn't deserve you, girl. Besides, I'm sure there's at least a dozen guys lining up who're a thousand times better than that jerk." As Mel said this, she glanced in my direction and gave me a wink.
Was I really being that obvious?
Ali refilled her beer as I continued to chat with Melanie about her plans for the summer—Hawaii, then a month with her family in the Florida Keys; damn, it must be nice to come from a rich family!—and then Ali turned to me, her eyes sparkling, a smile playing across her lips.
“Do you want to go somewhere so we can talk for a couple of minutes?” She asked.
I was dumbfounded and stunned nearly speechless, but I managed to blurt—maybe just a bit too enthusiastically—out:
“Yeah! Sure! Whatever you want!”
We then turned to Melanie and said our goodbyes and walked off into the night.
Despite being the secret crush of virtually every boy in her graduating class, Melanie Dupree couldn’t help but feel like that she was still nothing more than the fat class clown she’d always been throughout elementary and middle school. Sure, she felt that everyone she knew generally loved her—and not just her dad’s money—but ever since she dropped her baby weight, she thought for sure that boys would be throwing themselves at her feet begging her to go out with them, but none of that had happened. If anything, her transformation had the exact opposite effect she was hoping for. In fact, it seemed like all the boys she’d been friends with her entire life now seemed to avoid her like she the carrier of some rare disease that would melt their flesh off if they came within 5 feet of her. She thought the weight loss would make her feel great, but now she felt lonelier than ever. What Melanie didn’t understand was that all the boys who’d known and hung out with her for their entire lives were now viciously intimidated by her. Yes, she was the same friendly and outgoing girl she’d always been, but now she looked like she should be gracing the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, or maybe even Playboy. All of her male friends practically turned to jello any time they saw her walking toward them. They quaked in their shoes and averted their eyes, at least until she passed by them, and then they couldn’t take their eyes off of her.
Probably the boy most petrified of Melanie and her new body was her long time crush, Jim Darrow. Who, by the way, wasn’t into black guys or any guys at all for that matter, he just happened to be painfully shy. The fact was, Jim had been in love with Melanie since the 6th grade. Back then he didn’t love her for her body, but because she always made an effort to talk and hang out with him during lunch and recess. And when she came back from Florida minus 50 pounds, his love for her grew all the more, but now he was really intimidated by her and thought he didn't have a chance in the world with her, especially with all the attention she was receiving from all the popular boys like Jimmy, Billy, and Stan.
Melanie crushed the empty red cup she'd been drinking from and flung it out into the darkness in frustration and began to wander away from the kegs and the massive bonfire burning behind them. She hugged herself and tried to shake off the sense of loneliness she was feeling.
"Well, how is it a girl as beautiful as you is standing out here in the dark all by your lonesome?"
The man's voice made her practically jump out of her skin. She wasn't expecting anyone to be out here in the dark.
"I ... I just needed to be alone for a few minutes ..." She stared out into the blackness, letting her eyes adjust to the dark. But she found that she didn't need to search hard for where the unknown voice was coming from. The stranger's pale skin almost seemed to glow with an internal light that seemed to flow around his body like a halo. The stranger looked to be in his late 30's or early 40's. His dirty blonde hair hung lose around the collar of his flannel shirt. He was tall and rangy like he had spent his entire life working outdoors, maybe as a lumberjack (Or maybe she just thought that because of his shirt.) or as a farmer. And he was easily the best-looking man Melanie had ever encountered in her short life.
"I can understand wanting a little quiet time," He said calmly as he continued to walk towards her. "Sometimes we all need to get away from the things that ail us."
"I'm ... I'm not sick ... I just want to be alone for a minute."
"No, you're far from sick, Melanie," The stranger was now standing right in front of her, his tall body towering over her's. He smoothed his hand across her cheek, his skin was so cold that it sent a shiver down her spine and her brain yelled at her to run, run back to the bonfire. But yet, she couldn't look away from the stranger, she couldn't move a muscle.
"In fact," the stranger continued, "I think you're the healthiest young woman I've ever met in my life."
He continued to caress her cheek, his fingers now seemed comforting, like the intimate touch of a lover she'd known for an eternity.
"How do you know my name?" Melanie asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
"I know everything about you, girl. Your every thought, your every desire, and I'm here tonight to fulfill every single one of them."
The stranger bent her head back and he kissed her. Their mouths and tongues moved in unison, their breath becoming a single breath, a single life. She felt her body begin to quake and tremble as if her body was about to have the most intense orgasm she'd ever experienced. Her knees buckled, and the stranger caught Melanie in his arms, pulling her tighter to his body, and then he kissed her neck and her entire body shuddered with pleasure. His kiss was so deep and thrilled her so much, that it almost seemed like pain, at least until she suddenly began to feel drowsy and her eyes drifted shut, and she didn't feel anything ever again.
Chapter 5: No Future
We were sitting on the open tailgate of my truck, sipping from our beers, neither of us saying a word and doing nothing but staring up at the stars. My breath felt heavy and leaden in my lungs. There were so many things that I wanted to say to Ali. So many things that had been building and growing in my mind over the years. But it felt like if I opened my mouth, that it would sound like I was speaking in tongues like some huckster preacher and Ali would start laughing at me. Of course, she was probably thinking I would do the same thing to her. Basically, were in an awkward teenager version of a Mexican stand-off, and neither one of was willing to budge on who would speak first. I finally gave an inch and cleared my throat and gave her an apologetic smile.
“Do you still miss Sarah?” She asked. “I mean, do you still love her.”
“Yeah, I guess? But, you know, I’ve also been thinking a lot about how were since she broke up with me, and, like, maybe I’m too young to actually know what love is? I mean, I know what it is, like how I love my mom. But, I’m 17, that seems really young to think I know who I want to be with for the rest of my life.”
I regretted virtually every word that came out of my mouth at that moment. What I wanted to say was how much I loved Ali and how I had always loved her. But my brain made my mouth do funny things when I was around her, it made me tell the truth. I was too young and there was too much of my life still ahead of me, too many things to experience and places to see. And if I really felt so strongly about someone—Ali included—there was a better chance than not that they would wait (Well, maybe?)?
“Yeah,” Ali said with a sigh, a touch of sadness piercing her voice. I didn’t know if she was sad because of what I had said, or because of what Steven had done to her? “Maybe you’re ri—“
But before she could continue, we heard someone scream back towards the bonfire. And then suddenly, there were dozens of screams. Screams of fear, screams of agony. We both stood up from the tailgate, our eyes wide, searching the darkness to see what was going on. I started to walk back towards the party, but Ali had a hold of my hand, trying to pull me back.
“Jimmy,” She said in a whisper, “No! No, let’s get out of here! Something’s not right!”
I turned to her, her mouth was wide open, her breath was ragged as if she was going to start screaming herself. But I just looked her as the screams of our friends and classmates started growing louder. I didn’t know what was going on, all I knew was that something was happening to people I had known my entire life, something horrible. I started moving forward again, dragging Ali behind me when I saw to figures running towards us out of the darkness. It was Stan and Billy, and both of them looked like they were covered from head to toe in blood.
“Dude!” Billy yelled, bolting past me towards my truck “We’ve gotta get the fuck out of here!”
“What the Hell is happening?” I yelled after him. But I didn’t get an answer because Stan had me the arm and was dragging Ali and me both to the
“No time!” Stan yelled, his eyes wild, his face slicked red with blood. “Just get into the truck and drive!”
We piled into the cramped cab of the Datsun and everything became a blur of motion and muscle memory. I cranked over the engine, flipped on the lights and stomped on the accelerator and we were off in a shot. I’d never tried to push the Datsun very hard mostly because it was a nearly 30-year-old truck that once belonged to my father and I always wanted to keep it in top running condition. But the thing was, as far as I knew, 50 miles an hour was its top speed because I’d never pushed it beyond that. Although, I was now finding out it could do 75 plus as long as I kept my foot glued to the floor. But despite how fast we were going, Stan, Billy, and Ali were all yelling at me to drive faster.
“Oh my god! Jimmy! Go faster! It’s catching up with us!” Ali screamed. All three of them were peering out of the dusty back window, their mouths opened wide in terror, their voices a single garbled scream. I wanted to keep my eyes on the rough, rutted dirt road in front of me, but I couldn’t resist, and I took a quick glance at the rearview mirror and finally saw what my three best friends were so frightened of. Whatever it was looked almost human. It had two arms and two legs, but its skin was bone white and hairless. Its eyes were a piercing red like and albino and its open mouth looked like it was filled with razor sharp teeth. But what was most frightening about it was that it was only 4 or 5 feet behind us.
I wanted to shut my eyes and pretend it wasn’t there. I wanted to think that maybe someone had slipped something into our beers and the thing running behind us was nothing more than some kind of shared hallucination, or vivid nightmare and that at any second, I would wake up in my bed to the smell of coffee and bacon and eggs. What shook me out of this fantasy was that the thing running after us wasn’t behind us anymore. It was now parallel with us, it was running right alongside me. I looked over at it, and it smiled at me as it narrowed its red eyes and then drove its body hard against the driver’s side door.
We were suddenly in the air, rolling and tumbling sideways, the truck skittering off the road and into the juniper bushes and Joshua trees. I don’t know how many times was rolled over, but when we finally stopped, we were upside down, our bodies piled on top of each other. My ears were ringing and it felt like my eyes were full of glass and dust particles. I could feel Ali pressed against me, her body shifting and trying to unbury herself from the crush of bodies around her. My ears finally began to stop ringing and I heard her panicked cries.
“Guys! Get out of the car! Get up and get out! We’ve gotta run!”
Apparently all of us heard her at once and we began to push ourselves out of the shattered windows. I had no idea how we’d survived a crash like that, but I somehow felt that we would live to regret not dying in the wreck. As I scrambled out of the trucks ruined cab, I noticed the tire iron I normally kept under the drivers side seat. I’d never had to change a single flat in the year-and-a-half I’d been driving the truck. But in my hearts of hearts, I’d always been a boy scout and lived by the motto, Always Be Prepared. I grabbed it and took it with me, thinking that maybe it would be the only thing separating us between life and death.