-and the leader had clearly said Tatiana was the only one who could go into the basement. They also assumed I had something special to protect me since I said I’d gone down several times.
All I know, is that the bank’s basement is cursed. How do you protect yourself against a curse? A better question, what really is a curse?
The assortment of candy held no answers whatsoever. I took some change out of my pocket as someone’s head gently slammed onto the side of the vending machine, making it tilt a bit.
“Luke! We haven’t hung out in a while have we? You’re always with your girlfriend.” I said, counting the change I’d need.
Lucas let out a long defeated sigh.
“How’s it going? Prospect of being a big brother still horrible?”
“I broke up with Veronica.” He groaned, twisting his head into the machine.
“Oh…did she really cheat on you? I’m surprised.”
“No she didn’t – I! She hasn’t done anything wrong I just-”
“You’re the one who cheated on her?”
“NO! NO I wouldn’t, ever! But I wasn’t being fair to her you know? I kept imagining her with other guys because she’s too good for me. She’s out of my league man, there was no way it was going to last.” Lucas said, the self-pity rolling out of his mouth in waves.
“Boy are you paranoid.” I snorted.
“Did you know my dad cheated on my mother several times when they were at university? Like a lot?” He said.
“No I didn’t.” I don’t think that something you bring up during family reunions.
Lucas sighed again, his shoulders drooping down dejectedly.
“I broke it off to avoid you know things!” He attempted to justify.
“That you don’t even know for sure is going to happen. Veronica wouldn’t cheat on you, she’d break up with you first. So the only reason I can see you’re being so cowardly is that you think you’d cheat on her.” I concluded.
“I wouldn’t! No no no no no!” He immediately replied.
“Then I really don’t see what the problem is here apart from you being overly paranoid.”
“You know you’re actually making a little bit of sense.” He mumbled. “I don’t think she took me seriously when I broke up with her either…Ah I need to go apologize!” He announced, his face all lit up now as he burst through the cafeteria doors.
I shook my head with a silent laugh as I bought myself some junkfood.
It was still lunch time, but everyone had pretty much finished their lunches and the cafeteria was practically empty, apart from a few stragglers just chilling out.
I ate my candy bar in three bites.
And I have some talking I want to do with some of these stragglers. If Elvis and Sal don’t seem that into the idea of inviting them to eat with us for lunch…
“Hey guys! How’s it going?” I butted into their conversation, picking away at the sticky candy remains in my teeth with my tongue.
Kaan narrowed his eyes at me and I remembered I punched him the last time we talked.
“Mind if I sit down with you?” I asked, already making my way over to the seat beside Tatiana’s.
“Yeah I do.” Kaan grumbled.
Tatiana shook her head. “No it’s fine.”
I’ll take the second response.
I hoisted myself up on the table. “Did you guys know I got caught up in a bank robbery before I met you two at summer camp?” I asked, when no one else seemed inclined to start a conversation.
Kaan seemed just as uninterested, but I noticed Tatiana stiffened, her hand even forming a fist.
“It wasn’t anything grand or scary even though the robbers had guns. But it was a little weird, because they didn’t come for money.”
“Fascinating.” Kaan replied glumly. My attempt at subtly trying to get Tatiana to talk about the bank robbery with me faltered.
“Sorry.” I said. “I didn’t mean to sound as if I’m trying to make our two events similar. I know what you guys lived through was horrible.”
“A few people waving their guns around and shooting down our friends. Nothing grand or scary to it.” Kaan sarcastically rolled his eyes. Shit, I should’ve thought twice before bringing up the subject this way.
I tilted the chair with my feet. “I don’t get their motivations.”
“Just wanted to shoot us all down for our genetics. Some people are just that stupid.” Kaan replied.
“How can someone’s mind even work that way?” I asked him. “How do they wake up in the morning, pick up a gun, and tell themselves they’re going to kill some kids today?”
“Not kids. Monsters.” Tatiana spoke, her eyes glued to the table.
“Yeah.” Kaan said. “That’s what we are to them.”
Monsters. I don’t understand why. I can barely even use my witch powers. Does my astral thing count as supernatural? I slide down into the seat.
I sighed. “Doesn’t help that I think my robbers were supernaturals.” Or at least in some form…I mean you have to be some kind of supernatural to be protected against something magical like curses right?
“What makes you think that?” Tatiana immediately asked and I fought my smirk. She really was that robber wasn’t she?
“They were really focused on going down into the basement. A cursed basement.” I said. “Remember how I asked you about curses Kaan?”
“And then you punched me in thanks.” Kaan snorted.
“Feel like sharing the info you bragged about?” I asked ignoring his comment.
“Ha, you said I probably didn’t have anything good to share anyway.” Kaan said, recounting our last encounter.
I grimaced. “Right I might’ve been a bit…quick to anger.”
“You’re not anymore?” Kaan exclaimed sarcastically.
“You didn’t respect the end of your deal.” I ended up defending.
“Neither did you.” Kaan replied humorlessly.
I sighed. “The treasure was just a jellybean okay? It wasn’t exactly sharable. Plus it’s gone now.”
Kaan crossed his arms. “Still not telling you.”
“Why the hell not?” I stood up, lightly (I swear it was gently) slamming my fist on the table.
“Hello!” A familiar chirpy voice cut in. I looked up to see Sal’s blue eyes assessing the situation. “What are you guys talking about?”
Tatiana’s tense posture dissipated, and she leaned on the table with an oddly amused smile.
“I just asked Kaan to respect his deal and he refuses.” I replied, wondering what Sal was trying to accomplish. I hadn’t hit anyone yet. Not like I was planning to hit Kaan either.
She didn’t really look at me, her eyes went from drifting to focusing on Kaan. “Kaan didn’t you say you had some famous ancestor? Nathan Whitelight?”
“Yeah I did, nice that you remember!” Kaan replied, clearly pleased. Oh yeah, the guy he bragged about in summer camp.
“I did a little bit of research on him too. He was a really good police officer wasn’t he? One of the first supernatural ones even! He helped a lot of people.” She said, and Kaan grinned.
She did? I’d forgotten about that five minutes after.
“He really did. My family has albums of newspaper clippings about his heroic deeds.” Kaan said, and I rolled my eyes.
“In times like these it’s a wonderful thing to still have all this historic knowledge, before people decide supernatural culture is no longer important.” Salandra said almost eloquently. And really there went my chance at getting any kind of answer today. I don’t know where she’s heading with this conversation, but it’s definitely not in my direction.
“Yeah, my family still collects a shit ton of books, diairies from my ancestors mostly, depicting and describing a whole bunch of key events. Used to be my bed time stories.” Kaan said.
Feels a little like Tatiana and I got kicked out of this conversation.
“Is that how you came to know about curses?” Salandra cleverly asked.
I could spot a small smile trying to force itself on her face as she kept her attention fixated on Kaan.
Oh that was clever. Much more effective.
I glanced at Kaan who eyed her a little warily, probably coming to the same conclusion I was. He didn’t seem to mind that he’d been sweet talked into the subject and with an invisible shrug he decided to answer her question.
Who knew Sal had a way with words?
“Hm, they mentioned it once in a book.” Kaan began, and I slid down into my chair, my attention solely on baby wings now. “They described curses as a death sentence, and also as one of the most complex spells to cast. The effect of a curse is usually instant, but the way you die depends on the spell. The more complex it is, the quicker the death. I remember them really emphasizing on how complex it is and how many reality levels it could affect. If you somehow managed to avoid or defend against a curse, it would just keep coming back.” Kaan said, and he glanced at Tatiana and then at me. “It would follow you until it had the opportunity to finish the curse, a.k.a kill you.”
“Hey Zac! Wait up!”
“HEY!” I shouted at him in astral mode. I was seriously done with him literally running away from me.
Zac did his best to ignore me, heading towards his friends like nothing had changed in his immediate surroundings.
I stomped over, my shoes making no sound, and I reached out to grip Zac’s shoulder to force him to stay. For a split second, it felt like my fingers were just going to pass through his shoulder, but then something else happened.
It’s a little hard to describe.
My right arm grew heavy and I suddenly did have a grip on Zac’s shoulder, but it wasn’t his shoulder?
I think I actually pulled him out of his own body, because said body was toppling to the ground and he was still standing in front of me.
We both stared as his body hit the ground.
Zac turned to look at me. “What the ever fuc-”
I let go of his kind of glowing shoulder and he vanished. I zapped back into my own body.
An intense wave of fatigue slapped me in the face as I opened my eyes back to the normal world. The wave sent me stumbling backwards into the wall, and my wand slipped out of my fingers.
My wand? I was holding my wand?
Shaking off the sudden fatigue, I grabbed my wand and stuffed it back into my pocket with a frown, as Zac stood up from his space on the floor. His friends had come to his side wondering if he was okay.
“I’m fine, I just- give me a second.” Zac said, leaving the small circle and heading towards me. They cast me some really cautious glares, before turning their backs to us.
I need to slump on the ground. Somehow pulling Zac out of his own body had drained me just as much as learning how to cast the warning spell dad taught me.
“How the fuc- why the- WHAT THE-” Zac tried to begin.
“I have absolutely no idea.” I said, a little out of breath.
“You couldn’t – didn’t you – you know I – ” Zac appeared to be struggling with trying to tell me to leave him alone and knowing that wouldn’t do anything.
“In the end, I guess this is just proof of the cool things-” I cut in, blinking myself back to awakeness.
“Cool!? Your definition of cool is twisted.” Zac said, his eyes still wide open. He looked back, as if he was expecting to see his body still on the ground.
“Well…we can certainly qualify that as an out of body experience!” I said with a tentative smile. Zac didn’t seem to see the humor.
“You…” Zac said, and I could see the motors running behind his eyes: How do I get rid of Niko right now? “Look, hey I just remembered something. You know that favor you owe me? I’m cashing it in.”
“You can avoid this all you want, as you’ve so clearly tried to, but something like this can’t be ignored.” If I’ve learned anything from my dad and his lessons about his experience with magic, is that things tend to come back to bite you if you let them sit too long. “Imagine the cool things we could do if we combine our powers Zac!”
“This wasn’t us combining our powers, that was all you.” Zac said, gesturing at the empty air behind him.
All me…to think I can pull people into this world with me…unless it just applies to Zac since he can ‘see’ it anyways…
“We need to go back down. Jellybeans weren’t the only thing you know. And now that the thing’s gone…” I tried to get his curiosity running again.
“I’ve been wondering…where the hell did you send it?” A good question as any.
“So you really are curious?” I smirked.
“No. I’m not getting into this again…” He said with a very noticeable hesitation. “But either way you have to fulfill your promise first. Like I said a minute ago, I’m cashing in that favor.”
“The one where you take a friend out?”
I exhaled through my nose. “Oh yeah. That weird one where I can’t figure out what your motive is.”
“It’s a simple enough favor don’t question it.” He grumbled.
“So if I fulfill it you’re willing to have fun and stop running away?”
Zac grimaced and I grinned. “Certainly increases your chances.”
“Who do I have to entertain?”
“Salandra.” He said. I stared at him.
“Why? I already hang out with her.” I asked, frowning.
“Outside of school.” He specified.
“Yeah, outside of school.” Sometimes we walk part of the way home together, and well she joins me and Nato on walks too.
“No like, going out into town and stuff.” Zac specified even further, glancing back at his friends who were getting impatient.
“But why?” How does me and hanging out with Sal benefit him in any kind of way?
“Will you stop asking questions?” Hahahaha! That’s a good one.
“You could’ve asked for anything, but you asked for this? How does this help you?”
Zac glanced away. “Um, Sal wants to go into town and I can’t take her because of…family things?”
“Really now.” What bullshit.
“Stop cross-examining this favor. Just take her out! As friends! Shopping, I don’t care!” He insisted. I kept eyeing him skeptically. “You shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth you know.”
“Fine, fine. You’re just weird, I’m beginning to get it.” I said with a shrug.
“Zaaaaccc,” Maelig called, slapping his hand on the wall.
“Fantastic and do it soon, like next week or something.” Zac added before heading off to his friends.
I shook my head. Seriously, what kind of no-win favor is this for him? I really don’t understand his motive.