The Cloven Black Part One

by Adam Steele

Preface

This is going to be a long tale that I will break up in parts. I will work on another part in the near future. The story about the happenings of a small town when darkness, light, evil, and earnest come together in a place that is not found by anyone on an interstate map. Enjoy.


Enter Cassidy Marco, the lonely girl in high school. She is the dumping ground that is sensed by no one. She is the prime example of the many other people that scurry down the halls before being beaten by the history that is old as humans themselves in the arts of primitive competition. She kept her senses keen and her books held closely to her forming breasts when she slowly entered the age of adulthood. She kept her eyes close to the floor as her glasses drop a little on the edge of her nose. It is only 10:15 in the morning when entered Chrissie Stiles that came out of the bathroom, wiping her hands on the cardboard-made towel, dropping it on the deck of the floor when she whistled for Cassidy Marco that flinched when she heard the whistle that stopped her cold in her tracks.

"Where the fuck do you think you are going, four eyes?" Chrissie came forward nonchalantly when she met Cassidy Marco that is standing in front of her.

"I'm talking to you, bitch!" Chrissie pushed her when Cassidy turned afterwards, ever so slowly.

"I'm-I'm going to class." That was all Cassidy could say. She could feel the piss filling up in her bladder, hoping that it won't go down her pant leg when Chrissie poised a hand to Cassidy's face.

"No, fuck that. It's medal time. You know the drill so give it to me or I'll break those two eyes from your nose." Chrissie waited with that dark fold in her eyes, casting non-caring and evil over the meek that is only minding their own business.

Cassidy gave her the zip-lock bag full of money when Chrissie felt the weight of it and laughed at the little money that is lying in the bag.

"What the hell? Did your momma run out of her welfare money or something?" Chrissie snorted laughter when Cassidy only shrugged, holding her books tightly when Chrissie looked over Cassidy's shoulder with that same look of evil in her eyes, scoping out the empty hall like a troll finding another mark for lunch money.

"If I see you eating anything for lunch I'll cut that uterus out of your stomach and feed it to the hyenas at the zoo, you hear me?" Chrissie pushed her when Cassidy almost dropped her books on the floor.

"Fucking bitch," Chrissie growled when she left Cassidy alone in the middle of the hall.

Cassidy could only suck it up for another day in high school, hoping that it will end someday when she knew that it will end. But when, will she make it? Cassidy couldn't know when she thought about her own impoverished thoughts that she kept to herself when she could only think about her boyfriend by the name of Bradley Owens, who lives in a house on the hill.

She went to class with just only three seconds before the bell rung on the clock when she thought of something dark in mind, keeping those thoughts in check when she was in the room before the bell rung, perfect attendance like always. She didn't talk to anyone in the class when she sat down and kept her eyes in front. That is before a paper ball hit her in the back of the head.

***

Enter Cassidy Marco in her room with three assignments on her personal dossier. She didn't see her mother again tonight; she was working late when Cassidy kept her privacy in her room, hearing the jazzy sound of Michael Buble from her Micro Speaker as she is bent over her computer, typing out the words that hope are the best answers when she kept her emotions of anger at bay.

Chrissie Stiles, she has been on me ever since elementary school. I would love to string her up and cut her. That would be great to see. I would love to string her up and cut her and skin her like a deer as I felt the relief of goodness wash from my troubled senses. I know she is dumber than me and I know where I can get her. I can get her at the after-party while she is driving home by herself. I can get her.

(What am I thinking? I wonder what my mother would say.)

Cassidy stopped typing on her computer - not knowing that she misspelled something in the middle of the sentence when she corrected the glasses on the tip of her nose. She felt the need of making some coffee when she left her attention from the computer screen to look at the night that is outside her window, seeing the branches on the tree in the front yard that is swaying with the wind back and forth when she went back to the computer screen, typing some more before closing the screen on her laptop and leaving her bedroom with only the nightlight on in her room.

She went down the steps of the stairs to go to the kitchen when she felt her bloating come on; probably knowing that it is the time of the month when she thought about the necessaries that are in the bathroom, going to the kitchen anyway to make a pot of coffee that will be done in twenty minutes or less, keeping the light on the kitchen, looking at her phone from her pocket for anything going on from her Facebook page. She only has less than twenty friends, only twenty friends when she wondered if it was possible to slide away from the earth without anyone knowing that she was there in the first place. I'm a good soul so what in the hell is wrong with me? Cassidy couldn't understand the influence of the world of picking on the little people for the sake of what? Just feeling good? Just feeling like the person that is in first instead of second in this long life that will end for the interest of being disregarded and forgotten in a long time passing?

People are people. That is what Cassidy Monroe thinks when she waited for the coffee to get halfway in the pot when entered Bradley Owens on her second floor window, poised out on the edge of a thin tree branch when he knocked on her window ever so slowly with a tap...tap...tap. It will be in this time to spend time with her boyfriend some more when she came up to her room after making the coffee, veering out the window to see him at the edge of that thin tree branch like an angel that came to her in the middle of the night.

They spoke for a long time when she brushed these assignments aside for a little while. Bradley told her everything about getting out of this town to see the city lights that are in the east when Cassidy tried to speak, holding back the shyness for just enough that it made her giddy sometimes. She fiddled with her glasses a lot when Bradley got on the conversation of something that perked up her ears.

"How long have you been wearing those glasses?" Bradley Owens asked her when she started to get red on her cheeks.

"I've been wearing them since I was a little girl. I can't see anything without them." Cassidy felt the arm of her glasses like she melted into her face when Bradley moved his hand to touch them.

"I've never seen you without them. You are beautiful though. Like the Aspin Mountains in the middle of a happy winter or the dewdrops in the warmth of the spring. I just want to see you without them. Can I take them off?" Bradley was already taking them off when Cassidy felt redder with her shyness breaking through. She tried to fight it, fight it, and fight it.

When Brad took them off, she could only make a blotch out of him with the room basked in light. The posters on her wall are only rectangular shapes of blotches also when Bradley stayed in the same place with her glasses in his hand.

"My god, the beauty is better in this light. Can I kiss you?" Bradley Owens sounded like he was pleading with her when Cassidy Marco felt like her heart is beating effusively in her chest.

Time seems longer when a person is under duress or a person is under a situation of nervousness that is inching closer to fear. One second could feel like three seconds and everything starts to slow down like someone is profusely hitting the pause button on and off faster than the speed of a bullet. She felt like she is melting into the floor when she finally says that one word that will change her fate forever when she said that one word and only that one word:

"Yes."

That is when she felt his lips upon hers. Jeez, it was so cold pressing on his lips. They felt like ice cubes when she noticed that it is her first kiss ever in her life. It felt great though as her stress left her in an instant now, like it washed away with the current of nervousness that washed away with it. Cassidy worked on her kisses when she tilted her head a little, feeling the coldness that is somehow cooling with her own lips that is getting warm when Bradley taught her with his movements that are making her giggle a little.

Bradley giggled as well when he went on kissing her, feeling more than a kiss when it started to go into the making out stage as he did something that she didn't brace herself when she felt his tongue dancing her lips, opening her mouth when she met his tongue with hers. As she danced with her tongue on his she felt something odd with his teeth when the tip of her tongue felt the incisors on his upper jaw. When she did that it stung when she reeled back, breaking her center when she wiped her mouth with the blood that is coming from her tongue.

"Oh my god, what in the hell was that?" She could see his reaction on the other side of space that is now hers and his again.

"I'm sorry about that? Are you okay?" He felt bad for that, wiping her blood from her lips when he took that blood and sucked it in. Oh, such sweet blood.

"Why are your teeth so sharp?" Cassidy asked him when he looked at her, not replying.

"Why are your lips so cold too?"

That is when the front door opened and her mother called her from the stoop of their home. Bradley disappeared like a flick of the wrist when Cassidy only saw the empty chair that is in front of her, wondering how in the hell could he move so fast when the only sound in the room is the sound of the wind blowing into the window. Cassidy got up and closed it when she answered her mother that is juggling the bags of groceries that are in her hands.

***

Enter the town that sleeps on the best part of the week on social graces: the weekend. Many children come out at night to scope out some mischievous acts that could get them in trouble if caught. It is the late night hours in the middle of the month when the moon beamed overhead; casting shadows on the children walking down the sidewalk, passing the bottle that they stole from one of their parents that is labeled 80 proof pure in a half empty whiskey bottle that is too much for them to handle upon their virgin livers. They were talking amongst themselves when they heard the sound of some other laughter in the distance.

"I can't feel my feet anymore. Can someone grab the bottle before I drop it on the sidewalk?" One of the drunkard children say when they lavishly passed the bottle to someone that they can barely see in their misty vision.

Someone took it without hesitation.

"How much if this juice did you drink Eagan?"

"Just enough to not get up in the morning," Eagan laughed when he got on his knees in the middle of the sidewalk.

"Get up before someone sees us." Another child spoke, rapping Eagan on the shoulder when Eagan felt suddenly sick to his stomach.

"Why not, no one will see us. This town is dead. So dead that we can cry out into the night and no one will be bothered." Eagan doubled over on the sidewalk when he waited for it to come up in slimy bursts, hoping not to get anything on his shorts that are billowing in the breeze.

"I don't care about them. What about the cops. They like to bust people like us." The child that grabbed the bottle from Eagan tried to get him up on his feet when Eagan brushed him away like a scarecrow in the middle of a cold and alone cornfield.

"Don't bother. I'll be fine. Don't wait up for me." Eagan coaxed them to go away when all of the children around him shrugged and continued to walk down the sidewalk upon this one light intersection town that cannot be found by any city-dweller on the map if looking hard enough.

Eagan felt like his esophagus is on fire when he waited for it to pass, juggling with the pain that is in the bottom of his stomach when he looked up in a haze at the children that are walking down the sidewalk, conversing with each other when Eagan could feel the coldness of the wind in the air. Little did he realize that there is someone standing behind him, cloaked in shadow across the black background?

"Evening fellow," Someone said behind him when Eagan turned his head, glimpsing at the shadowy figure that is behind him.

"Evening,"

"What a night. You don't mind if I can help you up. It's not a bother for me."

"No I'm fine. Hey, you're not a cop, are you?" Eagan raised his ears up when the person behind him chuckled a little at the thought of him being a cop.

"No, lord no. I'm just a weary pedestrian on my way home. You look a little pale under the gills. I should help you up."

Eagan felt the hands come up under his armpits when he felt a fever come on, looking at his friends that are far in the distance when Eagan felt like a rag doll in the hands of the person that is helping him up. How strong is this person, he thought when he landed on his feet, being weary of his strength. When he turned, Eagan realized the odd color of his face when Eagan felt the coldness on the hands of the stranger that helped him up, realizing that there is a glow coming from the eyes of the stranger that is shimmered in maroon when Eagan felt no weariness in his legs anymore, no faintness of fear in his mind, no shaking in his hands anymore as he felt like he was drifted away into another plane of space.

Eagan couldn't move anymore.

"You feel a little cold," the stranger took his duster that is around his body when he moved it around Eagan like a living doll that is moistened with flesh and blood.

"You need to warm up. Yes, you do." After he did that the stranger came forward to his neck when Eagan could remember the sound of something breaking in the distance that he cannot see, sounding like a broken bottle when he winced at the feel of something piercing his body as he knew no more when he tumbled into the darkness where the plane took him.

Then he heard nothing but the sounds, the sound of his own death.

***

Cassidy Marco came into the school on an early morning when she kept her senses to herself again, not making eye contact as she hurried to the locker that is her own personal space. Mother knew little about Bradley Owens when she took pictures of him and her and posted them on the back of her locker door when he dialed in the combination and opened the locker, seeing his and her face as she could see the oddity in his eyes whenever she looked at it. Brad is a kind soul, a loving soul when she felt like her heart skipped a beat in her chest whenever she looked at his face, knowing that something was off when she looked into his eyes that are glowing a color that she seen from time to time. It is the color of a darken red when she noticed it more and more, wondering if it is the glare coming from the camera.

She got her books from the bottom of the locker when she closed it, not making eye contact anymore when she scurried into the classroom with her eyes only going to her desk in the front of the class. Someone threw something at her when she heard the insult like any other insult that she had heard all of her school life.

"Stupid Bitch," Someone sneered at her, not making eye contact when she moved her hair from her eyes and got to work with something that is penciled on paper that she pulled from one of her folders, noticing that she misspelled something on the paper when she wiped it off with her eraser and spelled the word correctly in between the blue lines that make the paper what it is.

This is before the teacher came into the classroom when people pick on her the worst. She could hear people talking about other things but when she interfered sometimes they told her to shut up bitch and go back to doing something nerdy. She tried to fit in but the last time that she tried, Chrissie Stiles grabbed her in the halls and threw her in the corner of some of the places that are only poised in shadows and punched her in the uterus area, telling her if she ever showed her up again in class she was going to bury her alive in a six foot grave in the middle of nowhere. Cassidy kept to herself from here on out when the teacher by the name of Leslie Greely came walking in like she was punched herself when she ordered the class to stop the chit-chat. Cassidy never saw her so disheveled when she started to speak with her voice cracking.

"Can everyone quiet please; I have something to tell everyone here. I don't like to break this news to you but it concerns the welfare of this town. There has been another death over the weekend. The person that died is Eagan Raines who was a junior in our school. The circumstances are unknown but there have been too many deaths in this town this year. Many people are saying that there could be an epidemic in town and the community is talking about closing the school for a while so they can find what is happening."

The children made a communal uproar in the classroom, talking amongst themselves while Cassidy felt like holding the books to her chest again. An epidemic, we never had an epidemic before. Cassidy felt fear growing inside her like a bad weed.

"Now children that doesn't mean there will be no schoolwork. We will still be doing classes online on Instagram and on our application that is provided by the school. I will post the assignments on a weekly basis so there will be no excuses for people that say, 'I forgot'. It is your responsibility to do it. Now the school will be closed by the end of the week so I suggest that everyone should clean out their lockers and take their textbooks home with them. If there are any questions I will be happy to answer them."

An epidemic, I never seen an epidemic ever; I didn't think those things existed. Cassidy felt the notion of getting out of here as fast as lickety spit. She didn't want to get something from someone that could kill her - unless Cassidy got it first and gave it to Chrissie Stiles for good measure. She wondered what it could be. Is it something that is transmitted in the air? She has seen that movie Outbreak and knew that diseases make many die a horrible death. I don't want to be a victim of it. I don't want to die in some cot, choking on my own phlegm in some FEMA quarantine area. The thought of getting out of school and away from all of these people is the ticket to stay away from them. That's good, so good that it makes her smile.

Cassidy heard the questions that rove around her when she kept her own thoughts to her own self. She felt like the minutes are ticking down on the clock when it felt longer as such, making her wish she didn't come to school in the first place if school is going to be long today. Leslie Greely told them that this will be the last day of coming to school until further notice when Cassidy Marco felt the books getting heavier in her arms when she thought of something that came to her just out of nowhere.

Where does Bradley Owens go to school at? I never saw him here. That makes me wonder if he ever goes to school at all.

Cassidy felt the rise of intentional thought to ask him when the night comes again, wondering why he only sees her at night anyway when the bell to the class rung and made her scarce of that room with so many people that hates her. She wondered if they are going to get infected with something and die off. That would be great to see.

What am I thinking; I could never wish someone dead. Cassidy shook that thought from her mind when she went down to the next class, keeping her senses to her own self again.

***

That night Cassidy looked at the news pages online when she could see nothing about the death of Eagan Raines. She noticed that her mother is out of the house now when the wind outside is nonexistent, non-equivocal to the streets that harbor nothing in the small town. The moon still beamed on the darkness below when she looked out her window, seeing the tree branch where Bradley Owens comes every time when the nights are lonely like her heart when she is away from him. The work continued to pile up when she plowed through it, feeling something and rather feeling nothing when it bores her to the point of exhaustion.

Cassidy wondered if he is coming tonight when she stopped, stretched and got up from her chair that is leaving an imprint from her body when she rounded that chair and left her room. She went down the stairs and went to the kitchen to get a bottle of water from the crisp drawer when she remembered to take out the garbage that is stinking in the container next to the back door. Little did she know she was being watched from the patio window when she did this and went outside to the darkness that is not so dark, going past the car that is sitting in the stall that is not used by her mother or anyone else since the car doesn't start at all?

She dumped the contents into the garbage near the edge of the driveway when she turned and started to go back into her house, feeling the dripping of cold sweat on her back when something whispered in her ear that sounded like it came from her mind.

"Cassie, baby dear,"

She perked her head up and wondered where it came from when she saw a shadow come around the side of the house.

"Bradley, is that you?" She asked the shadow when Bradley came to her with a black shirt on. What was on his feet is a pair of motorcycle boots that look slightly worn when she looked into his eyes and saw that there is light there and not a speck of red entailing it.

Her mind must be playing tricks on her.

"Yes, it's me. I was just wondering why you have so many lights on in the kitchen. Your electric bill must be soaring at the cost of all that is running in there." He whistled when he looked at her in the eyes.

"Say, do you have any plans tonight?" Brad asked her when she realized that he is asking to go on a date with her. She couldn't believe her ears.

"No, I was just finishing up an essay that I have for English Composition."

"Okay, I and a couple of friends are deciding to get out of town for the evening and hang out at a get-together place." Bradley spoke like a person that has it all mapped out.

"Do you want to come? It's no hurt if you say no."

Cassidy couldn't wrap her head around the fact of ever being asked to something. It like a dream to her when she thought about all those years of not being invited to all those local parties, the birthday parties, the girl's sleepovers, the meteor shower events, or anything else that she can think of when it came down to the crossroads that is placed in front of her. Cassidy wished for this day to come and it is finally here for her, just like a dream and waking up to feel that dream actually existing in her realism.

"Yes, I would. Can I just go upstairs and turn off my laptop." She could feel the shakes of excitement coming up on her when she also felt scared that she could die.

"Sure thing, I'll wait out here." Bradley winked at her when Cassidy left him standing out on edge of the sidewalk when Bradley took his phone and called someone that Cassidy was unaware when she went up to her room to save the document on the Word Processor and shut off her computer that was on stand-by before she pressed a button and brought it out of its sleep enactment. When she turned it off, she plugged it into the wall and let it charge, almost forgetting to write a note to her mother when she went down the stairs, snapping her fingers when she went to the kitchen to write her mother a note that she tacked up on the fridge and noticing that she had never tacked up a note on the fridge ever in her life.

She wrote the letter with quick ease, putting the sentence together like so: Going out with a friend. Be back late. Cassie. She capped the pen and placed it back to where she found it when she left the kitchen, turning out the lights when the only light that she kept on in the house is the light in the front entrance area that burned a sixty watt bulb when she gathered her slim coat and walked out into the night with the door locked behind her (remembering to have the door key in her hand before shutting it behind her).

She will know that tonight will change her life from here on out forever.

***

"Wait, someone will be picking us up soon." Brad told her when she moved the collar of her jacket around her neck to keep her warm for just a little while.

"What happened to your winter coat?" Brad asked.

"I threw it in the dirty clothes. It smelled like sour apples." Cassidy stuck her tongue out and made a wrenching noise that made Brad laugh.

"I know what those taste like. My god, sour apples are gross."

The night is getting colder by the minute when Cassidy remembered something.

"You don't go to school, like public school or anything?" Cassidy asked Bradley.

"No, I'm home schooled. My school is one of those private, mail-in schools that are close to the state capital."

"Then you don't know of the quarantine that is going on around town." Cassidy remembered that as well.

"Quarantine, I don't know of any quarantine that is going on. I never heard of anyone that is sick though." Bradley poked his hands into his duster jacket when Cassidy continued to look at the profile of Bradley Owens.

"Did you hear that another one had died, Eagan Raines that went to our school? They say he is a little younger than us." Cassidy felt the locks of her hair drape on each side of her ears when she took both of her hands and wiped her hair away.

"Eagan Raines, how can that be?" Bradley Owens cocked his head a little when Cassidy flinched like she was jolted by a stint of electricity.

The wind started to blow when somewhere Cassidy Marco heard the blusterous sound of an engine somewhere, coming up the streets to the left of her when she tried to find the words to respond of how?

"So you know Eagan Raines? Why didn't you tell me earlier?" Cassidy says when a car came from the street to the left of them when Bradley didn't respond.

The car is a 1987 Monte Carlo SS that looks boxed in by shape. It rumbled on its 350 engine with its dual exhaust blowing out the clean oxidation of carbon that is pouring into the atmosphere, slowly killing off a little of the clean air one measure at a time. The car came into the vicinity of their stance when it pulled up on the curb of the sidewalk, rolling down its electric window when a plain face appeared through the tinted windows of this classic Chevy piece.

"How's it hanging, Bradley?" A kid of about 18 spoke through the open window when Bradley came up the passenger window with his hands coming out of his duster jacket.

"Just the same as always; did you finish what he commanded?"

"Oh yeah, all tiptoe and tulips from here on out." The kid looked over Bradley's shoulder, through the only streetlight that is on that part of the sidewalk when he whooped at the look of the girl that is standing there.

"She is a sight that is making my heart a quiver."

"I just want to know that she is with me and she won't be marked." Bradley warned the kid when the kid nodded his head with no restraint of argument.

"Okay, that' cool, hey girl." The kid waived his hand up in the air when Cassidy Marco replied that with a weak wave back. It is cold as hell out here, so cold that it could make icicles on the tip of her nose if she stayed out here long enough. I wonder what Brad is talking about with her out of earshot, not hearing clearly over the sound of the baring engine that is firing on all cylinders. What are they saying to each other?

"So, are we going to that get-together or what?" Bradley asked Cassidy when in less than a minute she was sitting in the shotgun seat with the stereo in mid-volume, playing a song from Rihanna on 102.1 The Electric.

The kid of about 18 greeted himself as Rick Anderson when he kept his one hand on the gearshift that is on the floor of the car, cradling it like a woman's leg when Cassidy Marco could do nothing but smile at the caress of his own vehicle. Brad sat in the middle of the bench seat in the back when the streetlights came into the back window in intervals, light and dark and back to light again when the car drove 3 miles over the speed limit.

"You've got the souvenirs, right?" Brad slapped Rick on the shoulder when Rick could only nod his head behind the wheel of the car. Little did Cassidy realize that it is her first time ever going to a get-together when she chocked up inside.

"How many people are going to be there?" She spat out, being nervous by just thinking about it."

"Everyone, I say." Rick didn't look at her when he replied, that is when he felt the hand upon his shoulder when Brad said something in his ear with his other hand cupping it.

"Well, everyone that we know." Rick re-stated when he moved the car in a dance around the corners of the road, straddling the car over the potholes that are deep and boisterous to the Chevy hitting them.

The night felt like an invisible sheet of ice when they drove a little in silence, keeping their minds to themselves when Cassidy caught something out of the corner of her eyes a little when she looked at Rick and noticed something strange about him. His eyes were tracking the road like a predator, scanning the road like something he is protecting when Cassidy saw another notice about the guy that is driving the car down the streets towards the outskirts of town.

Rick's eyes glowed a little in the color of dark red when he grumbled a little in a whisper and shifted in his seat when the glow went away and his eyes appealed to the darkness again. It was the strangest thing ever to witness about a person in Cassidy's mind when she looked out the window as the car motored down the road into the prevailing night where the only sound is the cooing of the raccoons and the cries of the whippoorwills. She didn't feel scared to know that she is finally with friends, not even her boyfriend when she smiled at the thought of being normal for a change.

***

They arrived at the three story house on the hill, overlooking the pines, the oaks, the hickory, and the spruces in the middle of a small town that is not noticed to the city folk when pin-pointed on the map. The mass string of cars sat all along the front and back lawn of the building when Rick, Cassidy, and Brad arrived to the sound of muffled music happening in the building that looks as old as time as it stood.

"Do you live here Brad?" Cassidy cocked her head to the back of the car when Brad looked out the window when she wondered if he ever heard her at all.

"Off and on sometimes," Rick replied.

"I came here after my aunt died of a genetic illness. This place has given me a second life to live, as I can say."

"What was your aunt like, by the way?" Cassidy says.

"She was a kind soul. Before the end she was close to unbearable." Brad shrugged when Rick parked the car.

"Okay, let's go." Rick pulled the keys from the ignition and jumped out of the car; waiting for the rest to make their exit so he can lock the doors behind them. The crowd is so light outside the place when Cassidy felt a leap in her chest, looking at the couple that is leaning against the house with her eyes locked upon each other; little did she know that they were looking at her when she made her way inside the house?

Inside the house that is the size of a considerable mansion, she smelled the sweetness of the air like it was dipped in the perfection of nature and spruced out into a scene that is lively and robust for a woman that is admired in her age. She glared at the man that is standing beside the door with sunglasses on his nose when Cassidy asked who that is.

"It's security. Some people like to get a little too rowdy in parties like these." Rick answered her when they went to the concessions of the party, meeting a caterer that is dressed in a "P" Suit that looks to be a person that should be catering balls out east for politicians and multi-millionaires. He offered a goblet glass which Cassidy received when he pulled a bottle from the cart that is next to him.

"It is the finest in the house." The caterer smiled when Brad held up his hand a little to get his attention. What Cassidy saw when it happened is Bradley nodding his head sideways down the table when the caterer excused himself, moving to that spot of the table as Bradley went and talked to him with his back to her? They didn't know what they are talking about. The caterer came back when Bradley finished, moving the bottle from the table when he pulled another bottle from the bottom of the cart.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know that you are underage." He uncorked the bottle when Cassidy saw something that she didn't see before. She saw the length of his fingernails when Cassidy wondered what kind of man would grow his fingernails that long when he filled the goblet up and gave her the glass which she took with some hesitation.

Little did she know that a vast many people are looking at her backside, studying her like some type of doe that arrived in the middle of the party when Bradley looked at them with those deep, dark and terrifying eyes that Cassidy didn't see behind her back when she sipped the juice that is in the glass?

"Sparkling juice," She spoke moreover to her own self when she saw Brad looking at her now, smiling like there is nothing wrong.

"What did you say to him really?" Cassidy asked Brad when Brad shrugged.

"I told him to get another bottle other than the one that he wanted to give you. The stuff he was going to pour is no good."

"Why?" Cassidy felt the need of asking Brad some questions about what she saw already tonight when she remembered the touch of his lips, feeling how cold they are when she remembered the cut on her lip when somehow she felt like he did that somewhat on purpose.

Why are you being so mysterious, Brad? She wondered.

"It will make you sick, that's all." Brad smiled to her when someone bumped into him that looked like he is having the time of his life a little too fond for the mood of the party.

"Holy shit on a muddy driven crutch, Brad Owens! Where in the hell have you been?"

"Not right now Langry. I have a guest for the evening."

Langry looked at her when his eyes bulged out of his sockets.

"Is she...?"

"Not right now Langry. I'll talk to you a little later of what an ass you are being."

"Okay, okay. Cool. I see you on the low end." He excused himself when he meddled into the party, being forgotten rather quickly.

"Who is that?" Cassidy asked when she remembered Eagan Raines, the latest victim to die overnight upon many nights in this small, quiet town.

"Just an old headache, that man used to beat me up a long time ago before...never mind, he just a headache." Brad looked at her, quickly changing the subject.

"Is that sparkling juice okay?"

"Yeah, great; do you dance?" She fingered the dance floor in the middle of a room that is probably bigger than the size of her house when Bradley smiled and looked at her with those blue eyes.

"Yeah, I've been known to fire up the dance floor now and again."

"So, shall we?"

"Sure."

They came upon the dance floor where they did their grove for more than a half an hour.

When they finished, Cassidy wiped the sweat from the back of her hand when she wondered where Brad learned that stuff from.

"My grandmother, it's the old dance routines, nothing new." Brad was lost in thought when he smiled in nostalgia on the dance floor that is still pressing on its dancing delight. They went to a table that is not reserved for the many people that are here on this occasion that looks almost like the night club scene in a movie.

"You're grandmother, is she around still?" Cassidy worked her hair for a spell when Bradley waited for her to finish before finally helping her.

"Yeah, she not here; she is probably upstairs in her bed now."

"Can I meet her sometimes?"

"Yeah, it's going to be in the night though when you'll see her. I'll probably invite you over to dinner sometime." Bradley raised his hand for a drink when a waiter came to him, pouring a drink into a goblet when Cassidy looked at the refreshment that is going into the glass.

She looked at the thickness of the drink's contents when Cassidy wondered what it is, asking the waiter for some when Bradley placed his hand upon his forearm, speaking something into his ear when the waiter nodded and left without pouring her a glass.

"What about my refill?" Cassidy spoke like she was shot with an arrow.

"You won't like it." Bradley spoke like he wasn't taking it to heart when he drunk from the glass, feeling refreshed when it passed through his lips.

"Why?" She started to feel concerned about all of these secrets that are going on around Bradley. Why is he keeping this on the low-end? Why is he keeping secrets? Are we together?

"It will make you sick, dear." Bradley replied when Cassidy set the glass down on the table.

"I want to know if it will make me sick."

"You won't understand if you do."

"Why?" Cassidy dug deeper when Bradley felt the tears well up in his eyes.

"If I tell you then will you try to understand after?"

"Understand what?" She felt the room getting slower with all the actions that are going around when Bradley moved his hand over his forehead, trying to reel back something that is disturbing him. She realized that his skin is cold.

"I'll meet you behind the house in ten minutes. Make sure that no one is following you." Bradley walked around her when Cassidy is left alone in the middle of the party.

"What?" Cassidy spoke like she was shot with a bullet rather than an arrow when the party went on like it was a couple hours shy near the end of the world. Little did she know that there is someone above her, watching her when Bradley went up the steps and met the person that is watching her like a graceful little dove in the middle of this predatory pit?

Bradley met the person when he sighed.

"This was a bad idea mother?"

"Why? She is going to know sooner or later." The mystery person spoke when Bradley looked at her.

"I almost gave myself away to her."

"Then give all yourself away to her." She replied, turning to him.

"She is going to flip."

"Let her. Soon we will have this whole town to ourselves." She replied, resting her arms on the banister of the balcony floor.

"I didn't ask for this!" Brad looked at Cassidy that is sitting at the table, looking all around her like a frightened lamb unable to interact with the others.

"Did you tell the rest not to kill her?" She told her son when Bradley looked at her like she was going on with something.

"Yeah and I'll tear out their throats if they do."

"Good, that is real good."

The night went on with the dances and the conversation going on in the house upon the hill, shadowing the moonlight that is underneath all the darkness that is slowly consuming the land like the woods that held little life, feeling dead as the cold perfected all of it. It is somber and not enlightened at all when somewhere a branch broke off as something took flight that no one could see, like a tree that hold a sound when it falls dead as no one is around it to hear.

No one knows what broke that branch as it becomes a figment of the imagination for no one to see it.

(Conclusion of Part One)

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