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Symbiotic - Benji

2016 Halloween Writing Contest  

9 members have voted

  1. 1. Does the Story Reflect a Halloween theme

    • Definitely
    • Mostly
    • Somewhat
    • Its a stretch
    • Not at all
  2. 2. Was the story gripping and Enjoyable

    • Definitely
    • Mostly
    • Somewhat
    • Its a stretch
    • Not at all
  3. 3. Were you able to connect to the main characters

    • Definitely
    • Mostly
    • Somewhat
    • Its a stretch
    • Not at all
  4. 4. Did the Author develop a strong plot within the restrictions of the of the contest

    • Definitely
    • Mostly
    • Somewhat
    • Its a stretch
    • Not at all
  5. 5. Would you recommend this story to others

    • Definitely
    • Mostly
    • Somewhat
    • Its a stretch
    • Not at all
  6. 6. Bonus Question: Would you like to see this story continue?

    • Yes
    • No

This poll is closed to new votes

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The alarm clock went off, buzzing in its grating tone. It seriously sounded like a grinder moving across metal. A 16 year old boy pulled the blanket down from where it had rested over the top of his sandy brown hair and looked over at his bedside table in disgust. 5 AM, time to get in the shower and start getting ready for school. But, first there were chores to do and his mother, he knew, would throw a fit if they weren’t done.

Even as he was thinking that, there was a shout up the stairs. If you could call the 4 steps up to the leftward landing area of the house ‘up the stairs.’ “Adam! The sun is rising, and so should you!” The statement wasn’t entirely accurate, the sun wouldn’t really rise for about another hour. It was, after all, the middle of October nearing the end of October. Damn, mom, Adam thought to himself. Can a guy get 5 minutes to get out of bed before being bombarded? But that wasn’t how it worked in their house, not now and never would be.

He sighed, turning off the alarm clock and resetting it for tomorrow. Climbing out of bed, Adam noticed it was unusually cold for being October. Dressed in only his boxers, the exposure didn’t help matters. He thought hard about retreating back to the comfort of the bed, still probably radiating with his body heat. But the wrath of his mother if he wasn’t in the living room or kitchen in 15 minutes was something that he didn’t care to think about. His gangly, yet muscular, frame moved to where he had left his pants from the night before and put them on. He finished dressing before going down to greet his mother and get his assigned chores for the day.

Instead of taking the stairs as was proper, Adam vaulted over the railing. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a large staircase, but it still made a significant noise when he landed. His mom turned towards the diminutive staircase from the kitchen, giving him a stern look as she heard the boys feet impact with the ground. “Adam, how many times do I have to tell you not to do that!?”

He had already been moving towards her even as she spoke, and standing about arms length away now he stopped and gave a mock military attention and salute. “At least one more, Sgt. Major Amy,” he paused, “sir!?” The whole scene was played by Adam in a very flippant sort of way. Appropriate given his mom wasn’t in the military. And, as far as he knew, she never was.

Amy looked at her son with a bemused expression, reaching out and smacking him playfully in the back of the head. “Sometimes I wonder about you. There’s been something off about your attitude ever since...” She trailed off, as if lost in thought.

But, after about half a minute or so, Adam finished her sentence for her whether it was what she had intended to say or not. “Since Dad disappeared? I SAW what happened! Nobody believed me then and it still doesn’t make sense! That will do things to a kid, you know!” His voice almost cracked, but he composed himself before continuing slightly forlornly, “I’m not sure what the world expects of me anymore. So I do my own thing.”

This snapped Amy out of her thoughts and memories as she looked at her son and her expression steeled. “Nobody believes that story because it’s ludicrous, Mister! I don’t know what the world expects of you, but right now your MOTHER expects you to get in the kitchen and finish the dishes from last night!”

“I thought Candace was supposed to do the dishes last night!” Adam whined, looking at the sink. “You should make HER do her chores.”

“SHE,” Amy shot back, “is going to be raking the yard this afternoon, cooking dinner tonight, and doing her own laundry to make up for it.” Amy crossed her arms and pointed into the kitchen with one hand that was folded over an elbow. “Now, march in there and get busy. When you’re done with that, you can take out the trash then make your bed if you haven’t already.”

As Adam walked resignedly towards the kitchen, he raised his hands in a gesture of defeat, making commentary as he passed Amy, “Why do you have to punish me like that? You know Candace can’t cook. All her food tastes terrible.” He made a face like he had just swallowed something gross.

“Don’t take attitude, Candace’s food is fine. You’ll eat it or go hungry. Finish the dishes and take out the trash, then I want you showered and out the door for school. Understand?” Amy put up a very convincing front for frustration, which was aided by the fact that there was actually some frustration there just not as much as she pretended there was, she actually got some sort of pleasure out of the drama. It was as if her own story wasn’t exciting enough as far as she was concerned so she decided to play a background character to add ‘zest’ to other peoples lives.

Adam just shook his head as he dug into the dishes. “Yes, Ma’am.”

About 3/4 of the way through the dishes, Adam looked into the dish water he had run, and pulled a silver pot out of the rinse, glaring at his reflection as it seemed to shift and deform in the rounded bottom of the pot. As he stared at the deformed figure in the bottom of the pot noting that it almost looked like a rubber mask of himself suspended in mid air. A look came over him as if he remembered something and he hurriedly racked the pot and dried his hands, taking a few steps away from the dishes forgotten for just a moment. He looked around, not seeing Amy anywhere he shouted down the hall, “Mom! I forgot to ask you about it last night! The school is putting on a Halloween bash next week at The Knight’s Hall on the 30th. Can I go?”

About halfway down the hall, a door opened and Amy poked her head out. “What!?” She shouted down the hall at her son. There was a response that she still couldn’t hear quite so she flung on her shirt and sport coat, venturing out into the hall with her blouse half buttoned and fumbling with the rest of the buttons as she walked. Still 3 buttons down when she got to where her son was. “What was that, honey?”

Adam turned to look at her and let out a noise as if he was gagging, “Woah, Mom! Put those things away. You could have taken the time to get fully dressed...”

Amy was still a little immature, a lot of people who knew her or knew her job thought she did it to screw with people outside work. If you only dealt with her at work, though, you’d never guess she was like this. “What, these?” she asked, lifting from the bottom of her boobs, making Adam look away and cover his face with an arm, “They’re just tits!” As she let them drop back into place, she finished buttoning the rest of the buttons on her shirt.

“Yes, Mom... They are tits, but they’re YOUR tits.” Adam gestured with his left hand while still covering his eyes with his right arm, “You’re traumatizing me here, will you act like an adult PLEASE!? One of us has to!”

Amy laughed a bit at that, having finished buttoning her shirt, “They’re ‘put away’ okay? I don’t see what the big deal is, you fed from them for the first 2 years...”

Adam cut her off, “More than I need to know about my infancy!” He cringed slightly and addressed her again, “There’s a school Halloween dance at The Knight’s Hall. It’s next week on the 30th. Can I go!?”

She got a look on her face, at first interested and then slightly suspicious. “What’s The Knight’s Hall? The Knights of Columbus meeting place? How much is this going to cost? All these school functions have money associated with them don’t they!?” She shifted her eyes back and forth while saying this, looking him over and wondering if there was some kind of catch.

Adam rolled his eyes and looked at his mother as if she were an alien. He then resumed doing the dishes as he talked. “No, The Knight’s Hall! It’s the new place the school sponsored for kids to go and hang out. Avalon High Knights...? It’s been in all the news papers lately. It’s opening this week and hosting a Halloween dance on the 30th. They’re charging $10 per student who attends, I should have enough in allowance to cover it.” Adam had been putting away his allowance to spend on things that he would consider important since his dad’s disappearance when he was 5. So, naturally, he had more than enough money saved up to attend. He kept two envelopes with separate stashes. One in his sock drawer and the other under his mattress. Each allowance he divided into two parts and stuck into the two envelopes.

Amy’s eyes lit up almost as soon as her son had mentioned, for a second time, it was a school sponsored event. Then the luminosity of mischief in them doubled as he repeated that it was a dance. “Nonsense, I’ll pay for it. It’s only $10. A Halloween dance, you say... Are you taking someone? Oh, do you have a girlfriend you haven’t told me about? What’s her name? Why haven’t you brought her to meet me yet?” The mom mouth was on rapid auto fire question mode even as she was doing other things to prepare for going to work.

Adam tried to keep up with his mothers questions. “Not planning to take someone. Nope, no one special. And there isn’t anyone so this imaginary girl doesn’t have a name. For one, you’re crazy and would probably scare her off.... For two, there is no girl.”

Amy shot back, “Then why go to a dance? You shouldn’t go to something like that alone. I don’t want you to be the loser in the corner by yourself!”

Her son looked at her and shrugged. “Wow! Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom! Maybe I’m hoping to meet someone there. Maybe I just want to hang out with some friends. They’re having a costume contest and scary movie night before the ‘dance’ starts. So maybe I won’t even stick around for the dance! Everyone I know is going to be there!”

“I suppose if everyone you know was hurling themselves from skyscrapers and bridges for fun, you would want to do that too wouldn’t you?” Granted, this situation wasn’t exactly dangerous in any conceivable way especially compared to base jumping. It was just an auto mom response whenever Adam ended an argument with ‘everybody’s doing it.’

Adam racked the final piece of silverware and unplugged the stoppers from the kitchen sink. “Yeah, probably,” he shrugged and turned a sorrowful look to Amy, trying to play up the ‘sad puppy’ face “I was planning to participate in the costume contest, honestly. And since I have the money, I could have not told you at all.”

Amy looked appalled, getting the stern mom look “There’s that face again. You could have been in a lot of trouble for not telling me, mister! Just who do you think you are!? It wouldn’t take much more than a phone call to stop you from going at all.”

Adam shrugged, “If that’s what you want. I asked you because I know how you feel about these things. You worry that one day I will disappear without a trace like Dad did. I’m not the only one that has been strange since that day. And October 31 is the anniversary for that. I wanted you to know where I was so you wouldn’t worry as much.” In a lot of ways, Adam was more grown up than any 16 year old had a right to be. He’d always helped out with his little sister and he was looking into getting a job, but his mom insisted that school comes first so he’d have to settle for getting a summer job part time. In a lot of ways, though, he was still a kid. He could be self absorbed and moody just like any other teenager.

In that moment, Amy once again saw the flash of Adams father, Chad, in his face. It was as if he were there, even though she knew that it was just a genetic thing. Occasionally, this would shine through in Candace as well even though she did resemble her mother more. “No...” Amy said, pinching the bridge of her nose and turning away slightly, shaking her head, “It’s fine, you can go. Just, check in with me before you leave that night. And come home safe. Be home before 11PM. And, for Christ sake, call me if you need a ride. If I have to come out looking for you, there’s going to be trouble.” She glanced at her watch, then looked back into her sons eyes, “I’ve got to go now or I’ll be late for work. See that your sister is ready for school and gets on the bus if she’s not up in 45 minutes.”

“Yes, Ma’am! Go get ‘em, mom.” It was a strange relationship between them, Adam could be angry at his mother one minute and then crying like a baby the next or respectful and reverent. But right now, he reacted how he thought she needed him to react. He knew his moms job was hard and it kept more than just food in the house. He couldn’t begin to imagine what was needed for the logistics of being branch manager for one of the local banks. Well, maybe he could, but he didn’t want to.

Once she was in the car, Amy turned it on and sat for a minute just holding her head in her hands. Sometimes Adam reminded her of her husband a lot more than she wanted to admit. Funny how it didn’t seem as if 11 years had passed since he had left. People didn’t, she knew with certainty, just disappear. That wasn’t something that happened. He had left, and the thought of it still ripped at Amy. The questions coming back again. Why would he leave? Was there something important? Am I so bad a person he just couldn’t stand it anymore? With work calling, though, it was a thought Amy put out of her head forcefully before exiting the drive and taking off down the street.

Inside the house, for Adam, things were off to a rough start today since his mom had left. While gathering together the trash to take it out, he had stubbed his toe and bashed his shin on the coffee table. He took out the trash as he had been instructed, bothered only slightly by a barking dog on the neighbors lawn. Strange, he thought, those neighbors don’t own a dog. But stray dogs weren’t necessarily uncommon. So he shrugged it off. As he hefted the trash bag into the can, it ripped and garbage spilled everywhere. Thankfully the bulk of it landed in the open can, but what did land on the ground for him to pick up was slimy and gross. He could feel the residue on his left hand peculiarly, and when he sniffed at it tentatively he almost puked. Apparently he had stuck his hand into some left over natto* that had been thrown out. His mom was kind of into trying strange, exotic foods from other countries.

As he was heading back inside, his cell phone rang. It was one of the first good things that had happened to him all day. He swiped the screen of his smart phone right and answered, “Hey, Marty!” Martin McDonald, ‘Marty’, was Adams best friend and closest confidant. Sometimes Adam thought they were more... He was the only one Adam had told he was gay. He didn’t know why he trusted Marty with this, but he felt so much more comfortable around him than anyone else. There had been a strange underlying tension between them for almost a month after he told Marty, but that seemed to have subsided a few months ago and things were back to normal.

“Adam, da man! ‘Sup?” Marty’s reply came over the phone much louder in Adams ear than intended.

“You know, same ole Wednesday morning bullshit... Just taking the trash out. ‘Sup, Marty?” Adam felt immensely better just hearing Marty’s voice. It was something Adam could sense, a deep feeling inside. But he ignored it thinking it was preposterous. He closed the door of the house behind him and went into the kitchen to wash his hands, doing that thing where you sandwich the phone between shoulder and ear.

“I’m going to head to school early today, was wondering if you’d walk with me. We can catch up.” Marty’s voice was a little shaky. Perhaps he was nervous or maybe he was scared of something, Adam couldn’t tell for sure.

“Sure thing, Marty. I’ll take my bike to your place and pick it up there after school okay?” Adam knew Marty’s house was on the regular route he took to school. They lived close enough to his school they would regularly walk or ride their bikes.

“Sounds good, Adam. See you in a bit.”

As the call disconnected, there was a sick sounding popping, sizzling noise that came from Adams phone. It got very hot to the touch and Adam dropped it, cursing and shaking his hand in the open air to try to cool the spot where the phone had rested in his palm. He stared at it in disbelief for a moment, shaking his head, “Cheap piece of shit...” he muttered under his breath, leaving it to go check on his sister Candace before heading out. She was only 2 years younger than he was and didn’t need constant supervision. But, like most kids, she occasionally needed a boot to get her out of bed. Adam thought it was a family thing as he had heard his father was notoriously difficult to wake up as well. He wouldn’t have known if he wasn’t told as Chad was always up before the kids.

He walked up the four steps to the landing area with its sun room off to one side and the hallway of bedrooms. Candace’s room was the last one on the right. He knocked tentatively, hearing the sounds of unfamiliar music coming from the crack under the door. That, in itself, wasn’t unusual with her. Candace was on to some new band or a different kind of music entirely every few weeks it seemed.

There was no response from inside, and the strange music that sounded like some twisted and de-tuned version of a classic symphony continued on louder, building to a crescendo. Adam pounded on the door with a little more force, throwing his voice into the effort. “CANDACE!?” But there was still no response, so he opened the door and went in.

Inside the room, the light was dim and a smelly smoke curled around Candace’s desk. He could see her there, dressed in her jeans and a t-shirt, looking at a canvas propped on an easel just to the right side of her desk. The smoke had a sharp yet fresh smell to it and it burned Adams nostrils as he inhaled. He went over and turned the stereo off, looking over at his sister from where he now stood.

“Hey, Candace! I’m heading out,” his eyes came to rest on the canvas and the brush in her hand for the first time, “I didn’t know you painted.”

She turned to look at him, turning away from the canvas as she snuffed the incense burner on the desk top. The hand that held her brush propped on her hip with the tip of the brush pointing upwards, trying futilely to prevent dripping paint as a drop of an almost luminous and sickly green fell from the brush and landed on her thigh, running down the leg of her pants. Candace gave an audible sigh and then lay the paint brush on the pallet just an arms width away. “It’s a project for art class. I got inspired by a dream I had. What do you think?”

Adam looked at the painting, really looking at it for the first time. There was a semi-spherical object in a crater that seemed to be emitting a green light that cast the stereotypical bad and ominous vibe over the whole image like a lot of Disney movies use when highlighting their villains. There were two shadowy figures, each slightly different and each having distinctive bestial features about it. They seemed to be walking out of the crater, and there was no defining features clearly visible to tell what exactly they were. “Well, it’s definitely creepy...” he then looked back at his sisters face, “You look pale, are you alright?”

Candace rolled her eyes at Adam, “I’m fine. I just haven’t been sleeping well lately.”

Adam shrugged, turning to walk out as he remarked over his shoulder, “Okay, just don’t miss the buss. It should be here any minute. I’m out, getting to school early. Might use the extra time for a study hall or something.”

Candace gasped, a shocked expression on her face that wasn’t really caught by Adam as he was mostly turned the other way. “Are YOU feeling alright? Trying to get homework done on time, that’s a switch! What are you studying?”

Adam cracked a smile, his mind instantly going for grossing out his sister, “Well,” he replied, “With any luck, I will be studying anatomy.” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively as he stepped out her door, pausing and smiling to himself as he heard his sister scream EEEEEEWWW from inside her room.

He ducked down to retrieve his cell phone from the place where it lay in the walking space between the ‘official’ living room area and the landing. Just as he bent over to retrieve it, a shoe went whizzing by inches over his head. The phone was cool now, and he put it in his pocket noting there was no sign of the malfunction from earlier. “You jerk,” Candace shouted at him, “Now that repulsive image is going to be stuck in my mind for an hour.”

“Well...” Adam retorted, “Good luck with that. See you after school!” He then stood from his stooped over pose and hurried out the door, slinging his backpack over his left shoulder as he went.. As he shut it behind him, he hastily grabbed up his bike from where it lay and took off down the street.

Taking a right turn on the next block, Adam slowed long enough to look around. He noticed the crispness in the air and he felt slightly cooler than usual. He wished he had thought to grab a jacket on his way out the door. He took the time to notice the leaves changing colors, bright oranges and yellows and deep reds while a few still clung desperately to the hunter green color characteristic of mid summer which was quickly vanishing. The smell of wood smoke came at him from a few of the near by houses, their chimneys bellowing out smoke from the fire places.

But he wasn’t at his destination yet, so Adam put foot back to pedal and moved the bicycle onward down the block. He traveled the sidewalk, paralleling Arthur Drive, looking for the familiar two story house with green front steps. The presence of Autumn still sharp in all his senses. He loved it, the smell of the air that was always a prelude to winter. The rustle of the leaves, the ones that had fallen already blowing down the street in front of him a mix of red, yellow and brown hues.

Then, with little warning, he slammed the brake on the back of his bicycle and slid into the driveway of the house at 404. He rode right up to the front steps, getting off and letting the bike collapse in the front yard. He rang the doorbell and heard the familiar chime tones in their melodic dinging, waiting for someone to answer the door.

It wasn’t long before Marty showed up at the door, opening it wide and ushering him inside. “Hey, Adam! Come on in! You know you don’t have to ring our bell, you’re practically family. If the door isn’t locked, come on in. Want a soda or something? Did you have trouble finding the place?”

Adam groaned out loud at his friend who gave him a sour look as if he had been scorned. “Nah, thanks, don’t want soda right now. And that joke wasn’t funny the first thousand times you said it, it isn’t funny now. You’re such a geek!” He took a seat on the couch and tossed one of the throw pillows across the room at Marty.

Marty parried it with a fist, deflecting it just enough. His hair was a matted mess with all the hair gel he put in. It didn’t sway so much as a centimeter in the wind of the pillow’s passing. He assumed an innocent look as he got his books together and made sure his homework was all in order in his bag, “What joke!?” He had a hard time keeping a straight face as he said it, “I mean it! You sure took your sweet time getting here, did you have trouble finding the place or something?”

“You know how it is around my house! It was a moral imperative to mess with my sisters mind before leaving! Oh and I had to make sure she wasn’t going to miss her buss. Besides that, you know what joke I was talking about. Yes, you live at the ‘address not found’ on Arthur Drive. We get it, everyone who comes over here knows by now. You’re terrible!” Adams words were only part serious, and he kept his tone jocular in accordance.

“Oh,” Marty intoned, his voice cracking into a stifled laugh, “That.” He took a deep breath and then looked back to Adam, “By the way, sometimes I am glad I’m an only child. Or at least the only one still at home. Lucy hasn’t been home except for the occasional holiday in almost 3 years now.”

Adam shrugged, “It’s a life... My little sister is a weird one. So...?” He shifted his weight, adjusting the book bag on his back a bit.

“Yeah, yeah...” Marty replied rolling his eyes, “Let’s get going. I want to talk to you after school about something though. Had an issue on Saturday I wanted to ask your opinion on.”

“Sure thing, buddy,” As Adam said this, he got a strange and almost perverse look from Marty.

“You know what they say, right Adam? Friends are friends, pals are pals,” he paused, “but buddies sleep together!”

Adam gasped, looking at Marty in shock. “Gee, Marty, I haven’t heard anyone say that since... Hell, think the cave men used it a few times.” Marty got a look on his face as though he’d been slapped by his best friend over something that should have been nothing. Adam, in response, laughed a little, “You’re cute when you pout,” he teased, hitting Marty in the arm lightly.

Marty shouldered Adam out the door playfully, “Knock it off, you!” He kicked the door closed as he exited, pulling his phone and pushing a button on some app. “There, door’s locked. Let’s get to school.”

As they walked to school, Adam looked at Marty sideways, “So, what kind of problem did you want my opinion on?”

“Well...” Marty hesitated for a bit, then sighed, “For now let’s leave it at I had a date that didn’t go well. You will have to wait until we are back to my place for details, you nasty gossip.” He grinned from ear to ear, knowing Adam wasn’t really the kind to talk about anything secretive with anyone usually.

Adam ‘tripped’ sideways, shoving his shoulder into Marty’s shoulder, and they both knew it was on! The shoving match continued for more than 6 exchanges before Marty ducked backwards and let Adam almost stumble over.

“You little shit!” Adam shouted, taking a bean bag out of his back packs left side pocket and throwing it at Marty.

They played catch with it as they walked, occasionally booting it between them. Once in a while, Adam or Marty would go long for a big throw. They talked about life, about family stuff... Things that they wanted to catch up on despite it only being a little more than 4 days since the last time they really talked. But it was their usual walk to school, mostly boring so they entertained each other. Granted, it was only like 3 blocks but they were going to make the most of it in those blocks.

When they got to school, Adam and Marty high-fived and parted ways. It was almost strange how few classes they had together. You would think that they would have more, being that they had so many things in common but they got bad luck in that area. Their schedules as far as what classes they were taking were nearly identical. But their class times were scrambled between periods.

The day passed slowly, a day that anyone who has ever attended school would recognize. Adam and Marty met up at lunch and talked about their classes and what to expect in the next couple. Then when the end of lunch came, they parted again to opposite sides of the building. They both waited excitedly for the end of school.

Then the bell for dismissal rang, Adam springing from his seat in English Lit and Marty practically leaping out the door of the American History classroom. Adam sprinted to the front of the school, leaning casually against a tree near the front entrance.

As Marty came out of the front entrance, passing by the tree Adam was propped against, Adam stepped forwards and put a hand on Marty’s shoulder. “Boo...” Adam said lethargically.

Marty just shrugged, “Hey, Adam. I think you’ve used that one too many times. I have come to expect it.”

The walk back to Marty’s house was a little more subdued and less raucous than the walk to school had been. There was tense anticipation now, for both of them. Adam wondered what Marty could have to talk to him about concerning a calamitous date. He didn’t know anything about girls like that. Marty wondering how to broach what could be a sensitive subject for Adam.

But once they were in Marty’s house and the door was shut behind them, Adam started off the conversation. “So, you said you had something to talk to me about. What’s up?”

Marty looked into Adams eyes and then turned away a little, blushing. “Okay, Adam... I promised to talk about it after school. No getting out of it now. But, when you discovered you’re gay... How did you know?”

“Oh...” Adam looked at Marty, slightly shocked, “Well, I knew girls didn’t really do it for me for a long time... Sure, there were some pretty girls that I sort of fantasized about but for the most part I didn’t really like the gender in general. It was when someone sent me a dick pic as a joke and I got instantly hard looking at it.” He breathed in and then continued, “Well, there was pretty much no denying it at that point. Why do you ask?”

Marty blushed, “Well, I went out with Samantha Saturday night.”

Adam interrupted briefly, “Samantha Stephens? She’s kinda cute, but you know... The whole boobs thing.”

Marty nodded, “Yeah, she’s smokin’ hot. We went to see ‘Peter Pan,’ not even ‘Pan’ from last year but the one from 2004 at Agravain’s Pitcher.** I didn’t really want to be there in the first place. But she apparently loves Peter Pan. Then, roughly halfway through the movie, she starts playing with my dick... And all I can do is look over at her with this stupid expression on my face and then look back to watch the movie. I was really into the movie by this point...” Marty shrugs, “Normally I would have been all over that.”

Adam smiled a bit. “What, that’s it? Well, I have to admit, it is sort of suspect. You were more interested in watching a half naked boy prance around on a stage then in what a hot chick was doing to your cock. Did you even get hard from what she was doing?”

Marty looked completely away from Adam and said under his breath, “Yes... But I wasn’t thinking about her.”

“Well?” Adam asked, “What were you thinking about, there has to be a reason you think you might be gay. And there has to be a reason you thought it was important for me to know.”

Marty looked back at Adam, somehow finding courage. “I was thinking of Peter Pan... Well, not exactly, I was thinking of how you would look in a Peter Pan outfit.”

“Nuhuh!” Adam looked at his friend, shocked a little, “You were not! Shut UP! I mean, there’s teasing and then there’s that...” Adam blushed a deep red at the thought. Those skimpy leaf patterned shorts, just a harness made of vines across his chest... And a sword, nothing else. His hair a wild mess from not being combed in years... Riding the wind like it was his bitch.

Marty cast his eyes away, taking in a deep breath. “To be totally honest, Adam, I’ve been thinking strange thoughts about you a lot lately... Mostly wondering what it’s like and why I haven’t ever truly considered it before.”

Adam was cold cocked out of his daydream by those words, “Wait, it.. You mean it, IT!? I dunno what that’s like... I’ve only read stories and watched videos and stuff. As far as why you never considered it... Well, you expect me to know what’s goin’ on in your head? I’m not a mind reader.”

Marty turned his back to Adam, looking down at the ground. “No, you’re not a mind reader... Otherwise I wouldn’t have to tell you I was thinking these things.” He shrugged, “No big deal, don’t worry about it.”

Adam watched as Marty seemed to act strangely, then realization dawned. Marty was reaching out, he had questions that he couldn’t answer and Adam couldn’t answer them either. The only way to know would be to actually try to do it. He thought about that for a little bit, Adam getting slightly aroused at the thought. Then Marty started to sniffle lightly. Adam, without a second thought, hugged Marty from behind. “It’s okay... I will help to find your answers,” He paused, taking a breath and inhaling Marty’s scent, letting his breath out slowly on Marty’s ear in a whisper, “If you want me to.”

Marty smiled then a little, leaning back into Adams chest. Something about it felt right to him, but he still couldn’t put a finger on it. “Adam, come over Friday night... We have a lot to discuss. And I think I need to know for certain..”

It was awkward, but Adam released Marty from the hug and took a step back. “Okay, see you Friday. Maybe we should see if I can sleep over!” He tried unsuccessfully to maintain an outward facade of calm, but in reality, Adam was both excited and terrified at the prospect of his best friend possibly wanting more than just friendship. What if it turned out that he didn’t like him that way once they got started and it ruined everything? He turned to leave when Marty caught his shoulder for a moment.

“That, I think would be a great idea. We’ll have all night to talk that way.” Marty squeezed Adam’s shoulder briefly and then let go. “You probably have things to do at home, though... See you later.”

Adam tried to stammer out a protest, he didn’t want to leave yet and Marty didn’t really want him to but there were chores to tend to, so it sort of came out as “Okay.” He never would have suspected Marty had been thinking those kinds of thoughts, though. Especially about him. It just wasn’t the kind of relationship they had, but that didn’t mean that Adam didn’t want to explore this if Marty was cool with it.

Adam left with a smile on his face, got on his bike and headed down the street. He pumped the pedals hard, taking pleasure in the wind in his hair. The smokey smell of autumn rising up from the ground and permeating his senses. It was then that he noticed it, a cold chill ran down his spine and it made him skid his bicycle to a stop right there in the middle of the block. He strained his eyes against the afternoon sunlight, looking around at his surroundings. It felt as though there was someone watching him, paying especially close attention to every move he made.

The feeling like you would imagine a gazelle gets when it’s being stalked by a lion came over Adam suddenly and he put his feet back on the pedals of his bicycle and took off as fast as he could, hardly slowing down for the left turn, skidding around the corner onto Camelot Court where he lived. Once he righted the bicycle again, he stood on it, exerting maximum force on the pedals pressing down hard to get where he was going fast. Still the strange feeling of something following him didn’t go away. He skidded into the driveway of his house, looking back over the street and even looking up at the rooftops of adjacent houses. He didn’t see anything, but there was still that feeling. It didn’t go away until Adam shut the front door forcefully behind himself.

As the rest of the day went by, Adam couldn’t help but think about that feeling he had on the way home. Something was out there, just beyond perception... watching, waiting, spying. He told his mom about it, but she dismissed it as being his restless mind, the time of year, or someone playing a joke. But he knew it couldn’t be. There was too much going on, things were gathering. He couldn’t put name to any of the stuff going on or site examples but Adam could feel it, a sense of unease that was heavy in the air. He thought about it and decided to mention it to Marty when he saw him.

Adams dreams that night were troubled. Something crashed to Earth from space. Green, sickly looking people with yellow glowing eyes chased him. They were incredibly fast and he couldn’t outrun them. They overtook the city, turning everyone else into green sludge dripping and glowing toxic zombies.

He watched as his sister and mother melted before his eyes, turning into pillars of green ooze that bore human shape. He watched them devour Marty piece by piece. They were just about to tear Adam to pieces when...

Adam woke up in a pool of sweat in the middle of the night, screaming as he sat upright quickly, looking around the room as he grabbed his Viktor Tikhonov autographed hockey stick from its place leaning by the dresser. It was just then that Amy burst into the room, looking around wildly. “What’s the matter!?” she exclaimed, trying to perceive any threat. She held a Louisville Slugger (another thing left behind by Adams dad when he left) and was looking to knock some intruder’s block off with it.

Adam, still being slightly in dream state, crawled to the end of the bed on his hands and knees with hockey stick in hand. He reached the butt of the stick out and gave his mom a good solid poke in the arm with it to which she instantly replied, “What the hell, Adam!? What’s wrong!?” Then the 16 year old gave up all pretentiousness and fell face first on the bed, dropping the hockey stick.

“Thank God! Mom, you didn’t ooze... You’re still human!” He then began to sniffle like a child, something he normally wouldn’t let anyone see under any circumstance. “It must have been a dream! I saw...” he inhaled deeply, tears and snot running down his face, “You and Candace turned into zombies. You ate Marty! Everyone was like green slimy creatures or zombies... Space mutants or something. I...” Adam turned away, grabbing his blanket and balling it from its pool around his knees. He pressed it into his face to muffle his cries and wipe tears into. He hadn’t had a nightmare even close to this in a long time.

Amy dropped the bat on the floor, moving over to Adams bed side. “It’s okay...” She sat on the edge of his bed and rubbed his back with one hand. “There’s no space monsters, it was just a bad dream.” She wrapped her arms around Adam and hugged him to her chest, running fingers through his hair and saying reassuring things. For that moment, at least, he was her little boy again and only she could provide the comfort he needed.

They held and he cried for almost an hour. She cooed at him soothingly as mothers do, the whole ‘shh shh. It’s just a dream’ deal. After he fell back asleep, his dreams were undisturbed the rest of the night. Even after he woke up the next day, though, he couldn’t shake the idea that the dream had been more real than any other he ever had.

His mom was already off to work when he woke up. He looked at the clock and realized he had overslept by almost an hour. Amy hadn’t woken him and the alarm clock failed to do the job. It was the first time since summer something like this had happened. He sprinted around the house, throwing clothes on as he went. He tripped over his pants legs before getting them pulled all the way up, and hit the ground with a thud. It was a hard impact and he would probably have a bruised shoulder from where it hit the ground but he didn’t have time to worry over it.

Adam checked his sisters room, but there was no sign of Candace. But there was a new painting on her easel and the scene before him, made Adam’s heart skip a beat. It was the creatures from his dream, oozing their way down a street kind of sloshing as they walked. The sky behind them was a very bright sunset. But he didn’t have time to think about it. He sprinted out of the room, jumped the landing and pulled a shirt from the fresh (he hoped fresh) laundry that was sitting on the couch and slid his shoes on.

As he bolted out the door, he realized he would still make it to school on time. After locking the door, he jumped on his bike and started to peddle for all he was worth. As he was riding, there was a familiar noise of a text coming to his phone. He checked it with one hand, the other still on the handle bars. As Adam crossed a street, still checking his phone, there was the sound of screeching tires that caused him to look up and holster his phone, at the same time slamming on the rear break and sliding the body of his bicycle sideways to change direction. He narrowly avoided slamming into the side of the car. ‘Damn crazy drivers,’ Adam thought, ‘Guess it’s true what they say about texting and driving...’ He joked at himself inside his head and made a mental note to keep off the phone while riding and continued on.

The driver of the car screamed curses at him as he passed, but ultimately didn’t pursue the matter. Adam thought he recognized the driver, but didn’t take time to look again to be certain.

Adam, for his part, arrived at school just as the first bell (judging by his watch) that roughly meant get your ass to class rang out through the school grounds. He sprinted towards his first period class, but on the way past the office he was intercepted by the Gym teacher. “No running in the halls.” Adam slowed down, walking the rest of the way to his first period class.

As he took his seat, the bell for class to start rang. Mrs. Mercer glowered at him from the front of the class. “In the nick of time, I see, Mr. Jackson.” She then launched into the lesson, starting with the traditional “Okay, class, if you’ll open your text books to page...” The class, and the day, drew on slowly until lunch period.

Apparently in the middle of lunch, Marty decided to tell Samantha they shouldn’t go out again. She took it well at first, her response essentially being the typical full of yourself ‘your loss’ sort of thing. But then one of her friends sitting at the table started to whisper something in her ear. Marty sat near Adam and watched as the scene devolved from halfway across the room. While they couldn’t tell all the little details of what was being said, the gradual outrage on Samantha’s face as she whispered back and forth with the girls at the table was apparent.

The week went by, Marty and Adam hanging out even more after school and exchanging little nods and subtle teases in the hall. The whispers in the halls of Avalon High told rumors of when, where and what was going on. People whispering others secrets and suppositions about each other. Dirty gossip, as highschoolers are known to. Other kids making plans for the weekend and just talking about school. Adam and Marty, meanwhile, were wrapped in their own plans. Then Friday came. The day just couldn’t pass fast enough. The boys had cleared plans to have Adam sleep over at Marty’s house. If you’re thinking that 2 16 year old boys having a sleepover is sort of childish, you’re probably right. But would you really turn down a night with a good friend, home made tacos and all the scary movies you can cram into your skull before you pass out? I didn’t think so.

The final bell signaling the end of class rung and Adam put his books away more hastily than usual. As he had finished all his homework during class, he shoved his books into his locker along with his book bag to be forgotten for the weekend. The locker clanked shut and he slapped the padlock on it, scrambling the combination as he turned away. His steps were light and quick down the hallway barely echoing as he went.

Arriving at the tree at the front of the school, Adam found Marty had beat him there. He was leaning on the side of the tree facing the school, waiting for Adam. As Adam emerged from the shadow of the schools overhang, Marty stood up straighter and crossed his arms over his chest. “You’re late...” Although his tone was serious, the shit eatin’ grin Marty wore from ear to ear told Adam he was just foolin.

Adam looked at his watch and then back to Marty, “Hey, I’m here the same time I always am! Not my fault you’re in a hurry to get out of here.” As he talked, Adam kept walking. As he stepped past Marty, he slapped him on the shoulder playfully. “C’mon, you.”

Marty stepped out from under the tree to follow Adam as he passed. “Can you blame me? Lame school vs the night we have planned?” He quickened stride a little to walk beside Adam. “All the Ghost Busters movies, throw in some Evil Dead...”

Adam blurted in, “All the Ghost Busters? You mean that crappy remake too!?”

Marty shrugged, replying, “I haven’t seen it yet and I refuse to pass judgment on a movie I haven’t seen myself. We’ll have tacos for dinner and popcorn and candy for the movies! This is gonna be great!”

Adam looked at him with obviously faked disdain, “Come on... The reviews sucked, the trailers sucked, the cast... Well, no, it sucked. Everything about this movie promises to suck!” He laughed slightly at his own whit, flashing a slight smile at Marty.

Marty sighed a bit, looking Adam dead in the face, “Oh! So you don’t like Chris Hemsworth? I think the last time we watched Thor, you were just loving the scene where he was walking around shirtless.”

“Hey,” Adam exclaimed, cutting in, “That’s different! In Thor, he plays a God who can hurl lightning from his hammer. In this he’s playing... A secretary! He’s basically the male version of Janine from the first two movies. It’s a travesty!!”

Marty grinned, “Ah, now I see your true objection to this movie,” he trailed off, leaving Adam to ponder for just a split second before continuing, “Besides, if the movie sucks, it should still be fun to make fun of it.”

Adam winked at Marty, “I guess that’s what bad movies are good for.”

They chatted back and forth as they walked along, talking about other plans and things to do before dinner tonight. Deciding to race to Camelot Plaza on their bikes and visit the arcade for a bit before returning home. Soon, though, the walk back to Marty’s place was interrupted by screeching tires as a black two door sports car with green accents along the lines where the metal folds and on the rims came to a screeching halt on the left side of the road, one tire up on the curb just in front of them.

At first, despite the radically different vehicle, Adam thought it was the driver who nearly ran him over on the way to school that morning. But then both the doors opened. Out of the drivers door came a tall kid that both Adam and Marty recognized. Marty with a bit more trepidation than Adam... The tall kid had broad shoulders and muscles that flexed menacingly as he moved. He was a Senior in high school and MVP for the high school football team. Oh, and he was Samantha’s brother, Henry. Sure, friends and peers called him Hank, but parents and teachers always called him Henry.

From the passenger side of the car came someone who looked about a year younger than Henry. Again, they recognized the kid. He was a bit on the short side for his age, thin and wiry with glasses. He kept his hair trimmed close and wore lime green Tripps. He was the weird kid in school, always kept to himself. Marty and Adam didn’t know his name even and would never have put him and Hank together in the same picture. Yet, here they were together - cruising in Henry’s Ford.

The strange kid rounded the front of the Mustang and Henry smiled a bit. “Come on, Trip!” The kid didn’t seem to mind the nickname; in fact, he seemed to think it was sort of cool. They advanced in unison, slowly. It was kind of creepy, but Marty and Adam held their ground. The fear in them sort of spiking a little. Trip, as he advanced, gave a smile that would make The Joker proud. If there had been any doubt before, it became crystal clear that these guys were up to no good. Henry, for his part, pointed at Adam and barked at Trip, “Make sure HE doesn’t interfere! I want to ‘talk’ to Marty here...”

Marty put his hands out in front of him in response. He was normally no slouch when it came to a fight, but he’d rather avoid it if possible. But Henry was almost 2 years older and significantly more athletic than Marty. “Hey, Hank... What’s up?” He couldn’t think of anything else to say right then. But it was apparently the wrong thing.

Hank’s expression grew slightly less rational just then and, in the silence between when Marty had spoken and when Hank replied, you could hear the wind rustling through the barely leafed branches of the trees. There was still music playing on the radio in Hank’s car. The music drifted eerily through the open car doors and into the atmosphere, it wasn’t loud or cranked like would be expected but it was a tune that was recognizable. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. Hank breathed in deeply once more before letting go, “You know damn well ‘what’s up,’ Marty! I thought we were bros, man! Now I hear you’re treating my sister like..” His fists clenched and he took a couple steps closer to Marty, getting right in his face, “You treated her like a whore, Marty!” He sort of whispered that last part harshly at Marty, not wanting others to hear and then continued each of the following words getting louder until he was shouting the last part, “You’ve been playing these games for weeks now. Sure, you payed for concessions and dinner... But after it was over you’re gone? Who do you think you are!?”

Adam, seeing the inevitable unfold in front of him, tried to step in to Marty’s defense but Trip was right there in his face and grabbed him by the shirt. He threw Adam to the ground in spite of his attempts to resist, ‘Damn,’ Adam noted mentally, ‘Trip’s a lot stronger than he looks.’ Adam got up from the ground and tried to rush past Trip, but Trip was having none of it. He clotheslined Adam and wrapped him in a headlock. “I was told to make sure you don’t interfere. Can’t you see they’re busy talking?”

Marty started to pipe up, “I don’t know what you heard, Hank! But it wasn’t even like that...”

Hank cut him off, “Don’t LIE to me! I’m not stupid,” he shouted it even as his balled up fist shot up and forwards unexpectedly, catching Marty in the chin hard. Marty reeled from the impact, a ringing in his ears as he dropped to his knees. It was a dirty punch, but it was effective. “If I catch you or your fagotty friend talking to, looking at, even breathing in the same air space as my sister again it will be much worse next time. No excuses, nobody hurts my family and gets off easy. Consider yourself lucky.” His voice was angry, yet somehow level as he spoke and he wasn’t screaming like you might expect for those last couple sentences.

Hank went to get back in his car and signaled to Trip. “Let’s go! These little kids aren’t worth the time...” Trip, still holding Adam in place. Adam, who was still struggling to get away to help Marty. Trip shoved him in Marty’s general direction and gave him a boot. Adam stumbled forwards and landed face first in the grass just barely off the sidewalk. Hank and Trip got back in Henry’s Ford quickly and peeled out as they took off down the street.

Adam got up, slowly, checking himself to make sure there was nothing broken. He scraped his knee and palm on the sidewalk as he fell, and there was a slight bump where his head impacted the ground. It would likely bruise, but there seemed to be no major damage. He started moving faster, standing full and going over to Marty. Marty just kind of sat there on his knees leaning back, a look on his face like he wasn’t sure what exactly happened. “Marty!” Adam exclaimed, waving a hand in front of Marty’s face, “Are you alright, man?”

Marty took a deep breath and looked back at Adam, “Yeah, I’m good. Just never been hit like that before.” Sure, Marty was scrappy and got into his fair share of fights but never with someone so much bigger than himself. He soon shrugged it off and rose to his feet, rubbing his jaw with a hand as he did so. “Asshole sure can hit.”

Adam tapped Marty on the shoulder lightly, “We’ll probably hear all about this come Monday. The school will be buzzing.” He started out walking again, heading for Marty’s house. He made sure that Marty followed suit, turning to him as they walked, “Want to skip the arcade tonight?”

“Are you kidding? I’m not about to let something like this stop me,” Marty replied, “Camelot Plaza is the best! Even if we don’t do the arcade, there’s tons of stuff to do! There’s even a guy there that has archery tag set up!”

Adam smiled at that. But didn’t say the thought that came into his head... The thought that this was basically a date with Marty, the guy who’d been his best friend since shortly after Marty moved to town in 5th grade. The only one who he’d talked with about himself being gay. No, instead Adam chimed in with, “Well, let’s get back to your place and get ready then!” And he started walking again towards Marty’s house just a couple blocks away.

“Hey!” Marty shouted, taking a quick four steps to catch up with Adam who was striding down the sidewalk. The rest of the walk back to Marty’s was spent with the boys on alert, not talking much to each other, but taking notes of the Halloween decorations that were going up in the different yards along Arthur Drive as they went. One house had a medieval castle and dragon theme, the same one that family had every year. Another was all ghosts and goblins. There was one that had coffins in the yard and looked like it was being decked out as a vampire’s lair. One house had a big maple tree that had plastic jack o lanterns hanging in the tree branches with what looked like Christmas lights wrapped around the base of the tree. But all of them seemed like a place someone was likely to pop out of.

The boys were scanning all around them until they closed the door behind them at Marty’s place. Once the door was locked behind them, Marty and Adam went to take a seat on the couch to just relax for a minute. Adam looked over at his friend, taking time to actually look at his face for the first time since the incident. There didn’t seem to be any visible bruising, but he asked anyways, “How’s your face, Marty?”

Marty looked back at him and shrugged, leaning back on the couch a bit, “Still feels like I took a 2x4 to the chin.”

Adam reached a hand up to touch the bump on his forehead, “The ground hits pretty hard too.” He gave a light smile and Marty looked over at him. Marty’s eyes got wide as he saw the bruise on Adam’s head.

“Crap dude,” Marty exclaimed, jumping up from the couch and moving towards the kitchen, “You need an ice pack!” He rummaged through drawers and came up with a plastic bag and a dishtowel. Opening the freezer door, he found they were out of ice. “Someone didn’t refill the ice tray... They’re always bitching at me about that, but no.” A quick scan of the contents of the freezer, and he came up with a couple of freezie pops. You know, those popsicles that come in plastic tubes? It was sort of strange to have them still in the freezer in October, but he was glad they did. Thinking quick, Marty bent a few of those in half and shoved them into the plastic bag. He wrapped the whole bag in the dish towel and took it back to the couch, pressing it on Adams forehead. “Hold this on it a couple minutes, that should take the swelling out of it.”

Their eyes locked briefly as Adam reached his hand up to take over holding the ‘ice pack’ on his forehead and Adam’s hand brushed Marty’s very briefly as it changed hands. Adam blushed slightly and looked at Marty across the couch with a meaningful smile, “So... You thought about that thing we talked about earlier this week?” He knew the answer before he asked.

Marty looked back at him, his face going into a soft expression, “Yeah, actually, I have.” Marty looked away slightly and scooted a little closer on the couch to Adam. “I know I like you, we’ve been friends for a long time. I would like to find out if I really like you as more than friends... If you’re cool with that.”

Adam reached out with his left hand and grabbed Marty’s hand, “Yeah, that would be real cool. So,” he breathed in a little and looked directly into Marty’s eyes trying to gauge his reaction at it’s most base level, “Is tonight like... A date?”

Marty looked back at Adam, a slight look of shock on his face at first which turned into realization and a thin smile crossed his lips, “I guess it kinda is, isn’t it?” Still holding Adam’s hand, Marty leaned over and laid his head on Adams shoulder.

Adam blinked a little in surprise, “Marty... What are you doing?”

Marty looked up with his eyes to Adam as he began to sit up, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what...”

Adam cut him off, wrapping an arm around Marty’s shoulders. “I didn’t say stop... I like it, actually, it’s good.” He hugged Marty tight and dropped the ice pack to the ground. “I just never would have imagined you... I mean, I thought, being gay here... I knew there were others in other places.” He gave up trying to express the feeling as words kept failing to come and form correctly.

Marty was about to say something else when they heard the front door open. Marty’s mom was home from work. His dad had been on a business trip since last Wednesday. They weren’t sure why, but Marty and Adam both took it as a cue to start wrestling on the couch. Marty pinned Adam’s arm to the arm of the couch and Adam used his other arm to sort of put him in a head lock, pulling back towards the back of the couch and away from the couch’s arm.

Marty’s mom stepped around the corner from the house landing and caught sight of the two boys struggling on the couch and she cleared her throat, “Boys...,” she said in a stern voice, “That will be quite enough of that! I’ve told you both before not to rough house in the living room. Take it outside or to the den. Nothing breakable in the den...”

The wrestling stopped immediately and both boys sat up on opposite sides of the couch and Adam smiled sheepishly, “Hi, Mrs. McDonald!”

Mrs. McDonald looked at Adam, “You’re over here enough, you might as well call me mom.”

Adam shrugged, “I could...”

Marty cut in, “Hey, Mom! We planned to go to Camelot Plaza tonight before dinner! Can we?” He sort of bounced off the couch like an excited puppy.

Mrs. McDonald made a look on her face as though she was thinking about it, then sighed quietly. “Yes, you can go. Just be sure to be back here by no later than 6:30 or else I’m eating dinner without you. And you’ll be in trouble.”

Adam stood and looked at Marty. “Come on! It’s already 4:00,” He then turned to Marty’s mom, “I’ll make sure we’re back on time.”

Marty sort of looked dumb for a moment as Adam grabbed his shirt and started pulling him towards the door. But Mrs. McDonald noticed the bruise on Adam’s forehead. “Wait, Adam, what happened to your head!?”

Adam played dumb, “Huh?” He reached a hand up and rubbed the spot on his forehead that her finger pointed accusingly to, “Oh... Hadn’t noticed that,” he lied, getting a thoughtful expression, “Must have bumped it on the coffee table earlier while we were wrestling.”

Mrs. McDonald shook her head a little and chided, “See? This is just one more reason that I try to tell you kids no rough housing inside!” She glanced at her watch, “Go play! Be home before the sun is completely set!”

Marty and Adam bolted from the front door and grabbed their bikes up from the front lawn, taking off down the street. Bicycle chains buzzing, wheels whirring as they spun. The wind played with the hair of the two boys riding bikes side by side. The typical autumn air smell soon turned to the smell of corn dogs and funnel cakes, fried foods of all kinds as they got close to the small, permanent fair that was their ‘theme park’ Camelot Plaza.

Adam knew Marty wanted to do archery tag, so they went to investigate that. But you had to have a minimum of 6 players and even then it was expensive. With that in mind, they made plans to return with more people and more money one day. They raced the go karts and Marty won, drifting the last corner to slide past Adam at the last second as Adam screwed up the turn and collided with the hay bales lining the track. They played Lancelot’s Arena where they fought with foam swords that looked more like fun noodles. Adam won 2 of 3 rounds. Marty argued that he wasn’t really trying. They posed in the photo booth, making silly faces and took a picture with Marty sitting in Adams lap and one with Adam sitting in Marty’s lap.

When they left from Camelot Plaza, the sun was starting to set. The sky kind of looked like cotton candy with swirls of pink and blue mixing together, the thin and wispy pink clouds making the whole sky look somehow fluffier than it should. As they got on their bikes, Adam turned to look at Marty, “I had fun. Thanks for suggesting this.”

Marty looked back at Adam, “Yeah, too bad about the archery tag though,” he looked at the sky, pondering the quickly setting sun, “We should get back. Mom will have a cow if we’re late.” They headed out from the park until they passed a road that looked like it hadn’t been used in years.

Adam stopped short, looking at the street sign. “Gawain Gateway...” He thought about it for a moment. There were street lights just starting to come on all the way down the road, but the road itself was cracked in places with grass growing up through it. As he recalled, Gawain Gateway was supposed to intersect with Lancelot Lane just two blocks from where Marty lived. A block up to the intersection with Arthur and a block over. “Hey, Marty! Let’s take a short cut!” He pointed down Gawain GTWY and jerked his head that way.

Marty observed the sign and questioned Adam on it, “Isn’t that a dead end? How is that a shortcut?” He crossed his arms skeptically, challenging Adam’s judgment even with his body language. He didn’t want to sound like a bitch, but a dead end was a dead end, right?

“Come on! There’s a small creek... The bridge is out. It would be an easy jump with our bikes if that ramp Billy set up is still there. I honestly don’t know why nobody bothered to repair the bridge, it’s not like it would have taken much!” Adam set off down the road, giving Marty a look over his shoulder as if to say ‘Well... You coming?’ Even though the words were never vocalized.

Marty sighed audibly and loudly with exasperation. “Okay, oooookaaay! I don’t know why I let you drag me into things like this.” A little ways down the road, he spoke up again, “Our first ‘date’ and you’re already causing me trouble. I swear you’re going to make this hard on me, aren’t you?”

Adam looked back at him and started to peddle harder, shouting over his shoulder to be heard. “It’s official then... Our first date! Come on, slowpoke!” He popped a wheelie to show off a bit, riding it as long as he could.

Marty, in answer, just started to peddle faster to catch up. “I’ll show you who’s slow!” They peddled, keeping accelerating as they went. They were almost to the bridge, almost to the point of no return, when suddenly the sky lit up with a bright streak of light as what they thought was a shooting star plummeted to earth. There was an eerie green flash and the lights on either side of the street went out. The sun was still setting and the pinkish purple blue hue of the sky only accentuated the bright streak of light that cut through it as the transformer blew. At the same time, an object the size of a semi truck (shaped kind of like if you cut the trailer in half and welded it to itself side by side) crashed into the ground just off to the right of the street.

The force of the impact drove earth up in mounds around the object and threw the boys off their bikes. The boys fell to the ground about 5 feet away and the bikes fell almost on top of them. Adam stared through the darkness at the brightly glowing object, now embedded into the ground. It gave off a strange and foreign green glow, much like that glow from his nightmares. But something spoke into his mind and called him by name. He stood, slowly, and went to check Marty first.

“Marty,” he screamed, kneeling next to Marty, “are you okay!?”

Marty kind of rolled over and looked up at Adam, his vision a bit blurry and his head reeling from the impact force of the object hitting the ground. “What the hell happened?” Marty asked, trying to get his bearings back and get the ringing in his ears to stop.

“That happened!” Adam replied, pointing a finger at the glowing crater accusingly. “Marty, it’s... calling me. It wants me to touch it! I have to figure out what it is, I have to!” Adam started to make a move towards the object now stuck in the crater, but Marty grabbed his hand.

“Adam, don’t! You have no idea what you’ll find... It could kill you.” Marty’s voice was cracked with fear and the thoughts running through his head at that moment were too many to list accurately.

Adam squeezed on Marty’s hand, leaning in closer to him. “It says it has a present for me! Come with me, Marty... I think it has one for you too. I’ll be fine. Something about it feels...” He took a long pause before saying the last word that lingered on his lips.

Marty cutting into the silence, “Sinister? Evil? Alien?”

“Familiar,” Adam cut Marty off, and then looked into his eyes deeply, “Don’t worry, come on!” He made a move to go towards it, but Marty didn’t let go of his hand to allow him to go. Marty tried to pull him back, now both of them fully standing. The ringing in Marty’s ears all but forgotten. Adam, in response to Marty’s protests, held Marty’s hand tighter. He then moved closer to Marty and hugged him closely, putting his lips right next to Marty’s ear. “Do you trust me?”

“Do I... Of course I trust you, Adam! We’ve been friends for almost 7 years... and boyfriends,” He sort of blushed in the dim light at that admission, “For a couple days now. I,” he paused again, “I think I’m falling in love with you. I don’t want to possibly lose you!”

Adam backed out a little and kissed Marty full on the mouth. “I think I love you too. But there’s something about that thing that I have to know. Like I said, it’s talking to me in my head. It’s calling me by my full name... The ‘voice’ sounds like. You probably already think I’m crazy, especially if you can’t hear it... But it sounds like my dad. It’s an answer to a question I’ve been asking since I was 5. That’s 11 years of this question eating away at me... I have the chance to answer it.” He kissed Marty again, “Will you answer it with me?”

Marty looked Adam square in the eyes, loving the sensation of his lips on his own. He sighed, “Okay, Adam. Let’s go and I hope you find the answer you’re looking for. Just promise me you’ll kiss me more, I like it.” He walked with Adam, hand in hand, towards the brightly glowing crater. It was creepy and it got his paranoia up. But, as they got closer to the crater, he started hearing a voice as well. It spoke to him, telling him details of dreams that Adam had had recently. Details of those dreams that Adam had either missed, forgotten, or neglected to tell him in various conversations that had occurred this week. It told them of its extraterrestrial origin. But said that more details would be revealed inside.

Reaching the mouth of the crater, looking down into it, Adam could feel the pull towards the object even greater than before. Marty could feel it too, now. And with barely any hesitation, they slid down the slope to where the thing had crashed into the earth. Adam held his right hand up to the thing and tapped on a panel in the back. The pattern he made, he had never seen before. Top, bottom, middle, upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right. The backing on the ship seemed to phase out of existence, and Marty stepped through at the same time as Adam.

Inside, the interior was more comfy looking than expected. There was a series of padded chairs that seemed to have digital keypads embedded into the right and left arms of each of the chairs. At the front there was a large V shaped windshield that didn’t seem to be made of glass. It sort of glowed and emitted light like you would expect a computer screen to do. The walls on one side pulsed an odd blue and the others pulsed with yellow. It mixed to a sickly green somewhere in the middle where the two boys walked through the aisle towards the front of the ship.

That strange voice spoke into their heads as they went down the aisle. “Adam, this is your father. I’m sorry, son. If you are getting this message, then I have failed. I left you and your mother all those years ago because I was chosen. I had served our country in 2 wars and I was chosen to serve in an intergalactic conflict as a member of an organization known as the Galactic Defenders. I know some of the things you have seen in your dreams. I know because I have seen them up close. You’ve been having strange dreams because I’ve been trying to send you a message.” One of the screens up front flashed what looked like a radar pattern and numbers that counted down. “They are coming! You, and Marty, may be our last line of defense on Earth. And, Marty, your dad says hi. He’s been keeping me updated on how Adam’s doing every chance he gets. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there... If we should ever meet again, I know there’s more explaining that I can’t cover here. You’ll find 2 sets of what can best be described as armor in the front seats. Please... Use it!”

Adam and Marty walked down the aisle towards the front of the cockpit, still bewildered by all the information they just got dumped on them. Galactic Defenders? Armor? Who are ‘They’? But there wasn’t much time to contemplate such things. The ‘armor’ seemed to be attracting them. They looked at it and it begged to be used. It was sleek, stylish. Sort of looked like an Iron Man suit. And, damn, how they both had wanted something like that. Then again, who wouldn’t? The ability to fly, shooting blasts of energy everywhere... This was going to be awesome. It was splayed open, one set in each of the pilots chairs. But no sign of anyone and no sign of life.

Adam could tell which suit was intended for him and he only took a moment to look at Marty, “Well... I think this is an answer. Not sure it’s one I like... But I have to do this.” He gave Marty a hug and moved to step into the suit on the right.

Marty watched as Adam moved towards the suit and he sighed, feeling the same sort of compulsion to put the suit on although he wasn’t ready to let Adam know that. “Well,” he said tentatively, “If you’re going to do this, then you won’t do it alone. I’m with you, all the way.” And he moved towards the suit on the left seat.

It was strange how in sync they were as each one stepped Adam with the right foot and Marty with the left first into the suit so their actions were a mirror of each other. As they sat their butts in the chair and rested their arms on the arm rests, the suits sealed themselves around the boys sort of flexing into place and verifying their DNA signatures before engulfing their heads in the material the suit was made of forming a helmet with appropriate visual feeds and auditory inputs. The suits linked to their minds, and sort of downloaded a users manual to their brains.

The boys screams pierced the silence as they received all that information at the same time. They collapsed on the ground, getting up about 5 minutes later. But now they knew exactly what they had. The suits were capable of changing shapes. They could change almost infinitely. They were semi-intelligent symbiotic biotechnology. The suits could sense the green gooey aliens, which apparently the Galactic Defenders called Leaches. Currently it was estimated that the Leaches would arrive on Earth and start taking over hosts within 2 weeks or less.

Adam and Marty stood up and tried to wrap their heads around everything that just happened, but it was too much to worry about right now. They exited from the ship the same way they had come in and climbed the slope of the crater to get back to the road. They could see everything just as if it was full daylight despite the fact that the sun had sunk lower on the horizon and now cast an orangey glow through the sky, the whitish gray clouds making it look more like a dreamsicle than cotton candy now.

They picked up their bicycles and inspected them for damage. There were a lot more questions than there were answers still, so Adam and Marty decided to come back in the morning. The bicycles were wrecked, bent spokes and rims, so they ditched them in the woods near by. It would be something to figure out when they got back here tomorrow. “Guess it’s time to put the new toys to the test.” Adam said, turning down the road towards Marty’s place.

“Sure thing,” Marty replied, “Race ya?” Without waiting on a response, he took off down the road sprinting.

“Hey!” Adam shouted after him, running to catch up.

It was sort of strange, they were running faster than they thought should be possible. At the same time, they were picking out bark patterns on trees as they passed, individual grains of dust that got kicked up in their path by the others feet moving, little bugs flying by. Every little detail stood out visually and every little sound - birds chirping, the flow of the creeks water as they leaped over it almost effortlessly. The whole world seemed to slow and stand out in high definition. It was kind of cool.

The boys rounded the corner onto Arthur from Lancelot and came to a stop in the alley between fences at 404 between them and their nearest neighbor. Hidden in the alley, they sort of willed their combat suits to change to look like normal clothes. Adam gave Marty a high five as their clothes turned. “That’s sweet, dude!”

Marty smiled and nudged Adam in the shoulder as they came out of the alley way, “I guess, if nothing else, we have the ultimate Halloween costumes now!”

“Sure do,” Adam exclaimed in response. As they walked in the front door together, Marty’s mom looked at them.

“I was beginning to worry you wouldn’t make it,” Mrs. McDonald intoned as they walked through the door. Then her expression became one of inquisition and she did a double take as she noticed the clothes that Marty and Adam were wearing. “Weren’t you two wearing different outfits when you left?”

Marty shook his head, “No, ma’am. Where would we have gotten different clothes?”

Mrs. McDonald gave just a moment of thought to that, “They have a shopping mall near that theme park... You could have gotten them there?

Adam spoke up, “That mall? Where the biggest store caters to tourists who are looking for something that’s ‘uniquely Avalon.’ They don’t have anything there I’m interested in.”

Mrs. McDonald just shrugged now, “Okay, boys... Whatever you did, it looks good on you. Dinner should be ready in about a minute.” She then went back to the kitchen to finish chopping the tomatoes and onions, shredding cheddar from the block and preparing the lettuce.

Adam and Marty, meanwhile, collapsed on the couch that they had sat on earlier with their legs splayed slightly and Adams left knee touching Marty’s right. It had been a crazy day. Marty looked over at Adam and made a mental note that the bruise from earlier was completely healed now. He rationalized, then, and confirmed it in his memories of the ‘user manual’ information that the suit loaded into his brain that the suit also had a healing factor that would heal it’s he wasn’t sure of the word to use... Host? Partner? And at that moment it didn’t matter anymore. Mrs. McDonald called from the kitchen to signal the tacos were ready and Marty could no longer think of anything except that meat and cheese and toppings wrapped in a warm soft tortilla.

As Marty and Adam settled in to dinner and later chilling in Marty’s room, across town, was a different scene entirely. Hank Stephens was tied to a chair in a mostly dark room with a single light source dimly illuminating the scene. “What the fuck!? This isn’t cool, Trip!!” He had been drugged earlier and dragged to that location by Trip.

Trip, for his part, stood halfway across the room holding a green glowing orb about the size of a baseball. He turned around and approached Hank with the object in hand. “Don’t worry, Henry, you’ll soon be one of us...” He extended the spheroid towards Hank and it unrolled from itself, slowly becoming snakelike as it uncoiled from it’s ball.

Hank started to shout a protest, but as he did the green glowing snake-slug thing jumped down his throat and began to wrap itself around inside his sinuses where it thinned to a mucus like membrane that absorbed into his body and infected his brain. Hank screamed in terror as he felt it wriggling around inside him, as it bonded to him and became symbiotic to him. He was now infected with a leach.

The next morning, Marty and Adam went back to check on the crash site and found nothing there. No sign of their bicycles, no sign of the object that had impacted there last night. They weren’t sure, at first, if it had all been a dream. But then they tried to make their armor transform. Adam turned into a werewolf with metal fur sprouting out of everywhere. Marty turned into an armor plated sort of mini Godzilla looking thing. Yeah... This was real. They turned back into their human selves wearing normal clothes. They found that even with it ‘deactivated’ they still had enhanced senses.

The next week was spent with Marty and Adam exploring the ins and outs of being ‘boyfriends’ and no, I don’t mean sex. Although they were excited for that possibility, they held off on it. At least, they figured, until they both were ready. While Adam wanted to, Marty wasn’t sure yet. He didn’t want to possibly ruin what they already had. And that was okay with Adam, he’d waited this long to have someone with whom it was even a possibility, he could wait a little while longer for it to happen.

Every now and then, they would pass Trip or Hank in the hallway and they’d get a strange flash of green in their vision and a cold chill that ran down their spine. They weren’t sure what it meant, but they thought that it might be related to the Leaches. But every time they went to try and find out more, their quarry disappeared. Marty and Adam suspected that they were up to something. And, then, the night of the school dance came. As Adam and Marty were ‘changing into their costumes’ Adam had agreed to go as Peter Pan to settle Marty’s curiosity for how he would look dressed like that. Marty was going to ‘dress’ as one of the Lost Boys.

As they were coming out of their dressing rooms, however, there was an alarm that went off in their heads followed by a mental image of the radar detector from the ship that had disappeared. They heard a voice in their minds simultaneously, “Multiple Leach entities inbound to Earth atmosphere... Multiple Leach entities...” They sighed and stepped out the front door of Marty’s house to see many brightly colored green meteors plummeting to the earth around town.

Adam watched the falling rocks, and with each one he got that cold chill down his spine again. “It’s begun,” he said with finality.

“Yeah,” Marty said, turning to look Adam up and down and smiling, “It’s going to be a busy Halloween this year... and NOT in the way I had hoped.”

Adams eyes went wide at that and his ‘costume’ got a bit of a bulge in the front as Marty watched the suit shift into a more functional armor configuration. “Alright... Let’s get to work!”

....... The End?.....


*Natto is a type of fermented bean from Japan that is popular in some areas as a breakfast food.*


**Agravain’s Pitcher is a theater in Avalon, IL that serves restaurant food in addition to more traditional movie theater fare. This includes alcohol, but like real restaurants in the United States that serve alcohol you have to be over 21. They have 4 screens and show not only current releases, but also old movies from any range of time upon request. Each of the 4 rooms has a double tiered theater with the top area being open and flat with tables that you can sit at and enjoy a movie while you eat dinner. The lower tier is traditional theater seating.


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