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episode four

Chapter Four

April 22, 1990

Ted (that's what Professor Weem wants me to call him) has an idea about bringing the Rising Sun into the world. He says it's about time that it happened. He says that it can be done. It's just a matter of finding the right people to do it. I got in trouble with my dorm mother for being late last night, but I told Ted about it, and he said he'd take care of it.

Jason pulled back, propping himself up on his elbows. "Hey," he said gently. "What's wrong?"

"Get off of me," I told him, pushing at his chest.

He looked hurt, but he did what I asked. As soon as he sat up, I jumped off the bed and crossed to the other side of the room.

"Azazel, what's wrong?" Jason said, following me.

"No," I said, "don't come over here."

He stopped. We stared at each other across the dorm room.

"What did I do?" Jason asked.

"I don't like it like that, and you know it," I said. "It's like that time in the hotel, our first time, when you tried to . . ." When he tried to what? When he scared me with his intensity. He scared me so much lately. So much.

"I thought you wanted to," Jason said, staring at the floor.

"No you didn't," I said. "You didn't even stop to see if I wanted to. You just started to do it. And you didn't pay any attention to what I wanted."

"I thought . . ."

"You scared me."

He went back to the bed and sat down. "I didn't mean to. I'm sorry."

I advanced on him, trembling with anger. "After everything that's happened to me. After Toby, and Sutherland, and everything, you should know that you can't just try to make me do it, just because you want to."

"Jesus, Azazel. You make it sound like I was trying to rape you or something."

"That's how it felt," I said.

He shook his head. "Don't say things like that. You know I would never hurt you."

"Do I?" I demanded. "Do I know that? How many times have I watched you hurt someone, Jason? How many people have I seen you kill? And I'm supposed to believe you'll never do that to me?"

He stood up. "Yes. You are. You are, because I love you, and you love me. And I hate to point it out, Azazel, but if I hadn't killed those people, you'd be dead."

"I can take care of myself now. I don't need you to—"

"Right," said Jason, "you can. And while we're on the subject of how many people I've killed, let's not forget that you've killed people too. Your own brothers. And your best friend."

I shuddered. "I did that because of you, Jason."

"And I did what I did because of you."

"Michaela Weem said that you would turn on me."

"She also said that she thought both of us were evil and needed to die."

"She said that being close to you made me evil!" I returned. "And what if—" I didn't finish. What was I saying here? Was I truly accusing Jason of turning me into something evil? Was I saying that Michaela Weem was right, that Jason was an abomination that was destroying everything he touched? I didn't believe that. I didn't.

I went to Jason and touched his forearm. "I'm sorry," I said softly. "I'm so sorry."

He looked into my eyes. "It is my fault. If I'd never met you, none of this would have happened."

"It's not your fault," I said. "If I'd never met you, I'd only be half-alive. I love you."

"I love you," he said, drawing me into his arms. I buried my face in this chest. He kissed the top of my head. "I'd never hurt you. Please believe me. I'm so sorry I scared you."

I looked up at him. "I know you wouldn't hurt me," I said. "I'm sorry I was scared. I should have trusted you."

He stroked my cheek. "Well," he said, "if we can't make passionate love in my dorm room, at least I can do the other thing I wanted to do, which was ask you to prom."

* * *

Prom. Trust Jason to want to milk any "normal" high school tradition for all it was worth. The Sol Solis School didn't have a prom, per se. They had a formal spring ball, just a few weeks before graduation. They didn't call it prom, they call it the Spring Formal, but since most of the students at the school were American students, we saw it as an analogue to a traditional American prom.

I strolled across campus back to my dorm, shaking my head. I barely registered the familiar buildings as I walked by them. I was caught up in my thoughts.

Jason hadn't had a normal childhood. He'd spent his formative years on the run with a member of the Sons named Anton, who'd taught him to shoot guns. He'd spent his early adolescence living in a community of Brothers, being sent on missions to kill sorority chicks. His idea of adolescence had been culled from teen movies. He had some romantic notion about prom. He wanted to go, because he'd been sure that he'd never be able to.

Now his life had shaped up in a somewhat normal way. He was attending a school. He had a girlfriend. He wanted us to go to the prom. He wanted the whole nine yards. Wrist corsages. Me in a god awful fancy dress. Him in a tux. If we had parents, he'd want them to take pictures on the front lawn.

I sighed. It wasn't that I didn't want to go to the Spring Formal. I'd told Jason that we'd go. I'd gone to my junior prom with Toby, back in Bramford. I remembered how exciting the entire experience had been. My mom had helped me pick out my dress. We'd made a day of getting ready. Toby had come to pick me up. There were pictures of the two of us somewhere: me in my pink satin strapless number, him in stiff black and white with a bow tie. I remembered the picture on the mantle in my parents' living room. There we were. Toby and I grinning out at my parents' house, a place full of empty grins and pseudo-happiness.

That was the thing, I guess. When I was younger, I believed in all this crap. I wanted the typical high school experience. A handsome boyfriend. A limo. Pretty dresses. Dancing.

But now, all of that stuff just reminded me of the person I used to be. Things had changed so much. And wholesome American adolescent traditions like the prom just reminded me that I was different now. I didn't like to be reminded.

But Jason wanted to go to the prom, and so we would. Whatever he wanted, I'd do. He deserved some semblance of normalcy in our ridiculously abnormal lives.

As if to remind me how abnormal they actually were, I passed the library. The library. That's what Jason and I should be focusing on. Not the prom. Not my lack of orgasms. We needed to get inside that library and find out who the hell we were. After all, that was the reason we'd come to the school.

I paused for a second and stared at it. How were we going to get in? The guards stood at attention at the front door, staring straight ahead, reminding me that we had practically no recourse. We'd tried one night, but that hadn't gone well. What were we going to do?

I started to turn away, but stopped when I saw one of the side doors of the library open. That was strange. They almost never used the side doors. The authorities wanted one way in and out of the library. The front door.

The door opened, and a figure clad all in black emerged. This far away, I couldn’t see his features. He looked up at me and froze. We stood like that for several seconds, staring at each other.

Then he quickly opened the door and disappeared into the library again.

* * *

I met Chance outside my dorm. He'd just snuck down the fire escape steps. He looked a little frazzled.

"Hey," I said. "How are you doing?"

He ran a hand through his hair. "I'm, um, I'm okay," he said. "Mina and I talked. It was good."

I nodded. "That is good."


He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at his shoes. Looking at him, I couldn’t help but remember the fact he used to stand like that when he was a little kid and had done something wrong. My little brother. Now he was taller than me, with a goatee and broad shoulders. And he was going to be a father. Weird.

"Zaza," he said. "What am I going to do?" He looked up at me, his eyes full of fear.

"Oh God Chance," I said. I opened my arms to him, and he fell into them. I hugged him and patted his back. It reminded me of our parents' funeral. I had comforted Chance while he cried. I'd been dry-eyed.

He pulled back. "She doesn't want to tell anyone," he said.

"I know," I said. "She's got some silly idea that she's going to be able to hide the fact she's pregnant."

"I don't know who we'd tell anyway. Mina's parents would go through the roof, and Grandma Hoyt would be less than pleased."

I pictured our stern, proper grandmother and grimaced. Chance was right.

"But she's got to see a doctor or something right?" he asked me. "I mean, she can't just let it go."

I shook my head. "No, she needs a doctor. I think." Now that it came down to it, I knew very little about pregnancy. Considering I was the only biological child my mother ever had, I'd never even seen her pregnant. I had no idea what to tell Chance.

"She's just so scared," he said. "But I am too. I'm freaked out. And she's had a few days to adjust to the idea. I've only had a few hours. I want to comfort her, but I don't know what to say or what to do."

"I'm sorry I just blurted it out like that today at lunch," I said.

"No, I'm glad I know. She wasn't going to tell me, and I'm glad I know."

"Well, she's going to have to tell someone sometime, Chance."

"Yeah." He looked so overwhelmed.

"Hey," I said, reaching out to touch him, "you're doing the best you can. She needs you. If you're just there for her, it'll be enough."

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know if it will or not."

In the distance, the clock tower on campus began to toll the hour.

"Damn it," said Chance. "I've got to go. I'm going to miss curfew."

"Me too," I said. "Take care of yourself, Chance."

"You too," he said. He started off, then stopped. "And watch the drinking, huh, Zaza? I don't need to worry about you and Mina too."

"Sure," I said.

But when I got up to my room, I downed half a bottle of vodka. No way was I dealing with one of those dreams tonight. No way.

* * *

I awoke to Jason bending over my bed, shaking me. "Azazel," he was whispering urgently. "Wake up."

Making a face, I sat up in bed. "What are you doing here?" My head was pounding, but I was used to that.

"Shh!" he said.

I rubbed my face with my hand. "What are you doing here?" I whispered.

"Come with me," he said. "I'll explain once we're out of the dorm."

We snuck out the fire escape again. Outside the dorm, there was a cool, night breeze that licked at my skin. I pulled my pajamas close, shivering a little. "Jason," I said, "what are we doing out here?"

He grabbed my hand. "Come on." He pulled me with him as he walked.

"If you're taking me out for some tryst or something, I am so not in the mood for that kind of thing right now."

"Are you drunk again?" he asked.

I glared at him. "I wasn't going to have another one of those dreams. You don't know what they're like."

"I do know what they're like. I've had nightmares before. They're bad. But you've just got to come to terms with whatever it is you're trying to run from."

"What?" I said.

"I think what we've got to do tonight will help you with that," he said.

"What are we doing tonight?" I asked. "Where are we going?"

"The assembly hall," he said.

The old church. "You are trying to get me to have sex with you again, aren't you?"

Jason stopped and pulled me close. He kissed my forehead. "Azazel, I'm an eighteen-year-old guy. I'm always trying to have sex with you." He pulled back. "But no, that's not why I snuck you out of your room tonight."

"So why?" I said.

Jason started walking again. "It's not going to be easy for you to hear," he said. "Especially if you're drunk."

"I'm not drunk," I said. "Or even if I am, I'm always about this drunk, so it's not that big of a deal."

He sighed. He just kept walking. I hurried to catch up. It didn't take long to get to the old church. We went around to the side door. I expected Jason to pick the lock, but it was already open. I shot him a look of confusion. He just pulled me inside.

"I've already been in here tonight," he explained, shutting the door behind us.

I gazed up at the stained glass. Tonight, it seemed as if it were watching me, judging me, telling me that I was unworthy to set foot inside this building. I shivered again, but this time it wasn't from the cold.

Jason was looking at the floor, shifting nervously on his feet. "This isn't going to be easy for you to hear," he said again.

A mounting feeling of dread seemed to pour down through the stained glass windows. "What?" I said again.

"It's Chance," said Jason.

"What happened to Chance?" I asked. Chance was all I had left. My family was all dead, and if something had happened to Chance—

"Nothing happened to him," said Jason. "Not yet, anyway."

What did that mean?

Jason took my hand again. "Come with me." He led me through the back of the old church and down some steps into its basement. The basement was ancient, constructed from old stone. It smelled musty and alive somehow. Jason found a light bulb, hanging on a chain, and turned it on. The light bulb swung violently, casting moving shadows throughout the room. In the corner of the basement, in the shifting light, I saw Chance. He was tied up and gagged. His eyes were closed.

"I knocked him out," said Jason.

I was shocked. I was appalled. "You did what?"

"I told you this wasn't going to be easy for you to hear," said Jason.

I went to Chance. Knelt by him. Touched his face. There was a slight sheen of sweat on his forehead. His breathing was labored.

Jason yanked me away from Chance. "Don't go near him," he said.

"Jason, what have you done to my brother?" I demanded, struggling against him.

"Hold still and listen to me," Jason said.

I was angry. I was betrayed. Jason was what everyone said he was. He was evil. He was trying to kill off my entire family. If it weren't for him, they'd all still be alive. Jason had started this whole mess, running into my life out of the woods.

I held still. "I'm listening," I said. This needed to be good.

"I was using Chance's computer to do some homework," said Jason, "and I found something."

"What?" I said.

"You know how you can set AOL Messenger to save your chat history in a file in your documents?"

"You looked at his chat history?" I asked. "Why would you do that?"

"I don't know," said Jason. "I was just suspicious. It seems like it was too easy. Getting us into the Sol Solis. How did Chance have the ability to get us assigned roommates?"

"Jason, we made seventy zillion phone calls and filled out mounds of paperwork to get into this school," I said. "It wasn't exactly easy."

He shrugged. "Whatever. The point is that I looked at the chat history. And I found out that he's in communication with the Satanists."

"What Satanists are there to even be in communication with?" I asked. "Michaela Weem is dead. You shot her yourself. She's the one who masterminded this whole thing."

"I don't know who it is," said Jason. "They use handles, and I don't know his real name. But he and Chance are planning something. They're planning to kill us both."

I shook my head. "No," I said. "I don't believe that."

"I read it," said Jason. "It was all right there. In black and white."


"Listen, you've got to face the facts. Your family can't be trusted. You're all alone in this, just like I am. We can't trust anyone except each other."

"Chance didn't know anything about the Satanists," I insisted. "They never told anyone in town until you were eighteen. And I've never told him. So he still doesn't know." I was starting to cry. I didn't believe Jason. I wouldn't. He was wrong. Not my baby brother Chance. No. He was my only link back to the person I used to be. And I loved him.

Jason patted my back, trying to comfort me, but I shook him off. "Don't touch me," I said. "You're lying. You're just saying this stuff because you want me to be alone like you. Fuck! God knows what you're doing to me, Jason. Before I met you, I would never have done the things that I have done. And now . . ." The faces of my brothers Noah and Gordon flashed in front of me, just the way they'd looked in their final moments. Stunned. Blood trickling out of the holes in their foreheads. Holes that I'd made.

Jason put a gun in my hand. "I know you're upset," he said. "But we have to stop him."

"No," I said. I looked down at the gun in my hands, wanting to fling it away from me. Instead, I flipped off the safety and pointed it at Jason.

"Jesus, Azazel," said Jason, looking frightened.

I sobbed and let the gun go slack at my side. I went back to Chance, tucking the gun into the waist of my pajama pants. I wiped tears away from my face and sniffled as I untied him.

"Azazel, don't do that!" Jason said.

I pulled the gun out and pointed it at him again. "We're not hurting Chance," I said. "No. That's the line. We're not crossing that line."

"He's trying to kill us," Jason said. "Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

"He's not trying to kill us! You're wrong! He's my little brother, and he would never do that!" I broke out into fresh sobs as I freed Chance's hands.

"Azazel," said Jason, reaching for me.

I jammed the gun back in his face. "Stay back," I said.

I shook Chance. "Chance, wake up," I said. "Wake up."

"You're crazy," said Jason. "You're crazy, and drunk, and frigid, and I don't know why I waste my time on you."

I turned to him for a second. "That's what you think of me?" I asked, stunned.

"Well, what is it you think of me?" Jason asked. "That I'm a psycho killer? That I'm evil? Which is worse, Zaza? Huh?"

Jason never called me Zaza.

That was weird. I looked around for a second. In fact, everything seemed a little weird. In fact—

But Chance was stirring. I turned to face him. "Chance, are you okay?" I asked, tears streaming down my face.

Chance had a gun. Where had he gotten that gun?

"Thanks for untying me," he said. "I'm glad you've come around. We've been waiting for you to see what a monster Jason is. Now that you see, it shouldn't be too hard. Kill him."

What? We? I shook my head slowly. "It's true?" I asked. "You're working with the Satanists?"

Chance sighed. "Are you going to shoot Jason or am I?" He leveled the gun at Jason.

episode five >>

Copyright (c) 2009 Valerie Chambers