A Pinstriped Finger's My Only Friend (10 page)

BOOK: A Pinstriped Finger's My Only Friend
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*****

 

Chapter 15

 

"I wish I could fall asleep right now and make it all go away," says Judd. "I just wish I could make it all stop."

I never thought I'd hear him say those words. Not large-and-in-charge Judd Ramsey, master of cool, king of the school.

But he did. He did say them.

"I hear ya." That's what I say back to him. How supportive can you get, right?

But the truth is, as unsteady as he feels right now, I feel the same way. I mean, I'm pretty awesome when it comes to bouncing back from crazy situations. They don't call me Killdigit for nothing, man.

But I gotta admit, I'm pretty
fried
right now.
For real
.

Here we are, sitting on the floor of a torch-lit passageway somewhere in the bowels of Serial Killer High School. A half-hour ago, we almost got sliced to pieces by maniacs with knives, hooks, and needles stuck all over their bodies. Judd's got spots and streaks of blood on his face from being kissed by a warrior girl with porcupine cheeks...the same girl who's now down the hall yakking and giggling on the phone because Judd asked her to the prom.

The air is thick with insanity, danger, and death. We're so totally on the edge at this point, it seems like there's nothing left
but
the edge.

"Why is this
happening
to me?" Judd rubs his eyes with his right thumb and forefinger. "
Have
I gone
crazy
?"

"No way." I pat his knee reassuringly. "I'm seeing all the same stuff, and
I'm
not nuts."

"Says the
pinky finger
I'm
talking to
." Judd snorts and shakes his head. "Not exactly
proof positive
."

("Do
not
talk
smack
in
my
house!" is what I'm thinking.)

What I say is, "Listen, dude. Crazy or not, you've gotta get by, remember?"

"Screw that." Judd drops his head forward between his arms.

"But I know you can do it," I say. "Think about it. When you got here, people already
knew
who you were. That tells us there was another version of you living here first, a version you replaced. If
he
survived here,
you
can, too."

Judd doesn't answer.

"Get by or give up," I tell him. "And since you know
another
you got by just fine..."

"Then I vote for giving up," says Judd.

(Holy spit.)

Even after everything that's happened, with all the madness and danger, I can't say I ever expected this moment. He has every right to say what he said, to act like he has, but still.

This is
Judd freakin' Ramsey
we're squawkin' about here! Since when does he vote for
giving up
?

"I know you don't mean that," I say. "This place is just extra sucky."

Judd shakes his head. "The one before this sucked, too, and the next one'll probably suck even
more
. I can't
take
it." He draws and releases a long, shuddering breath, and I can tell.

He means every word. And I...

(...for once...)

...am at a total loss for words. I do not have Clue One as to how to snap him back to his old self.

Dude takes another deep breath and lets it hiss out between his teeth. "I hate
feeling
like this. I hate being so out of
control
."

I pat his knee again. "Quit beatin' yourself up. You're doing fine, dude."

"No I'm
not
." His hands clench on his knees...

(Ow ow ow ow ow!)

...as every muscle in his body tenses up tight. "I'm
losing
it. If I wasn't crazy to
start
with, I'll be crazy
soon
enough
."

My heart (if I had one) goes out to him. "Dude, I..."

(Whoa there, gangsta! Hold the phone!)

(Daddy just
thought
of something.)

"What if you're
not
crazy and never were?" I ask him. "And you're not dreaming or on some kind of unplanned acid trip? What then?"

"Then things are even more effed up than I thought."

I feel bad for him, but there's a point I'm trying to make...

(Finger that I am.)

...and I need him to understand it. "So what if there's more to it than craziness or dreams or drugs?" I keep tapping his knee, trying to get through to him. "What if you've been put here for a
reason
, dude?"

He shakes his head without looking up. "I don't wanna think about it."

"Maybe you
should
." The idea spills out of me like a river, pouring forth with the momentum of a force of nature. "Maybe, if you understand the
why
, you can figure out the
how
."

Judd raises his head and looks at me with bloodshot eyes. I've never seen him like this, so beaten and bleary and
uncool
. "How what?"

"How to get off the crazy-go-round," I tell him. "How to get
home
."

Judd unwraps his left hand from his knee and brings me in to stand up close to his face. "What reason?" he says. "What reason could there
be
?"

"I don't know." I curl and uncurl at the first knuckle as I mull it over. "Maybe, uh..."

(Sometimes I wish I was born with more
brains
than
brawn
and
beauty
, know what I mean?)

"Maybe you're supposed to learn something." That's what I come up with. "Some kind of lesson or something."

Judd scowls. "What kind of lesson could I possibly
learn
from this bizarre mishmash of random
crap
?"

I finger-shrug, flicking my tip to one side. "What if you're meant to change something about yourself?"

"Change
what
?" He looks and sounds insulted.

"Who knows? Just become a better person, somehow."

He looks askance, staring into space. "But I'm a good person already, aren't I?"

"Hey, don't ask me." I twirl my tip in a little circle. "Ask whoever's pulling the strings, man."

Judd's eyes drift up to the stone ceiling. "You think there
is
somebody pulling the strings?"

"Let's find out." I lean back so I'm looking up, too. Then, I let 'er rip, shouting as loud as I can. "Hey,
you
!
Enough
already! How about sending us
home
?"

I don't expect an answer, but I wait for one anyway. So does Judd.

Then, suddenly, I get one...but it's not the one I expected. Does it even have anything to do with the question I asked?

"Judd Ramsey!" The voice sails down the passageway first, followed by the girl--none other than blade-studded
Kaela
, who comes running out of the tunnel like she was shot from a cannon. Who knows how she found us? All that matters is she's got a sword in each hand, and she looks
mad
enough to dice a
dinosaur.
"Thou piece of
garbage
!"

Is Judd starting to get used to the constant shocks? He just shakes his head and sighs. "What now?"

"Tina Juarez hath
told
me what you
did
st
, Judd!" Kaela marches over and points one of her swords at his face. "How
dare
you asketh that tramp
Eva
to the prom?"

Judd winces up at her. "I'm really sorry, Kaela."

She shoves the sword closer. Tears of rage are trickling down through the blades, hooks, and needles on her face.

(Will they
rust
?)

"How
could
st
thou, Judd? After I saved thy
life
and everything?" Kaela's scarred skin is flushed red. She's quivering with a storm of emotion.

(Hell hath
no
fury like a serial killer chick scorned!)

"How wouldst thou like it if I
gutted
you like a
fish
?" snarls Kaela. "I canst useth the
points
, you know. They shalt putteth me closer to winning the
Permanent Tournament
."

By now, Judd's heart is racing so hard, it feels like it's going to spin right out of his chest. His eyes are locked on the point of that sword which might just be about to kill him.

"Thou two-timing jerk!" Kaela hauls back the sword and swings it overhead, preparing for a death blow. "Let us seeth how
th
ou
liketh having
thy
heart ripped out and
stomped on
."

The end is near! Is it all because of
me
?

Looking up, I call out as loud as I can to whomever might be pulling the strings behind this crazy world. "This isn't what I
meant
when I said
enough already
!"

Just then, a female war cry sounds, quickly approaching from one of the tunnels. Kaela whirls just in time to see Eva barrel out of the passage and leap at her with two gleaming triple-pronged
sai
daggers upraised.

With the clashing of
sai
on swords, the girls throw themselves into fierce all-out combat. Weapons and bodies swirl in an intricate dance of murderous movement, a ballet of brutality and blood-spatter.

"Thou art going down!" howls Eva. "Impertinent boyfriend-stealing
bitch
!"

"Wretched
trollop
!" Kaela slashes with both swords as she says it. "It is
thy
sluttish head which shall ride a
spike
on the
Wall of Slatterns
!"

As the battle carries them away from Judd, he slowly gets to his feet and edges along the wall, inching down the passageway. Why's he moving so
slow
when he should be
running
?

Let's find out. "What the
fuzz
, dude? Forget how to
run
?"

Judd keeps watching the fight and doesn't answer.

(What
is
it with guys watching girls
fight
?)

He
better
not be thinking about getting in the middle of
that
Girlmageddon.

"Dude, come on!" I jab his palm as hard as I can with my nail. "Put it in
gear
!"

But he stays stuck on slow motion no matter what I say.

The frenzy of battle continues and gets wilder. Swords and
sai
lash and crash, whipping and swooping with blinding speed. Both girls draw blood and cut deep, tearing into each other like roosters at a cockfight, giving no quarter.

"I didst
know
Tina wouldst telleth thee!" Eva says it in the middle of a high-speed barrage of
sai
-strikes. "I
wanted
thee here so I couldst
slaughter
thee with all
dispatch
."

"Thy plan hath
backfired
then!" Kaela blocks Eva's latest swings and locks the twin
sai
together with her swords. "Thou art soon to meeteth thy
maker
."

Grinning wickedly, Eva pushes closer. "My
maker
shalt make
thee
as welcome as thy entire
cadre
. For I hath spread word that Judd is for sale only to
lure
them into a
trap
." Eva breaks the clinch and draws back one
sai
, aiming it at Kaela's left eye. "It is all over for thee, Jezebel!"

Just as she's about to plunge the
sai
into Kaela, a loud noise blares down the passageway--a deep
A-OOOOOO
like the blast from a ram's horn or conch shell in a movie about ancient warfare.

There it is again.
A-OOOOOOO.

Judd tenses big time, and so do I. Because
what the hell's next??
What craziness is about to engulf us
now??

A-OOOOOOO.

Sure enough, something completely unexpected happens. The kind of thing that makes you wonder if you're seeing straight.

(What the--?)

The kind of thing that makes you wonder if maybe you
have
finally lost it after all.

What happens is this: Eva stops trying to stab Kaela in the eye with a
sai
. All of a sudden, she just lowers the weapon.

(This ain't
right
, man!)

At the same time, Kaela stops trying to kill Eva. Without a word, Kaela lowers her swords and steps away as if a referee has just blown his whistle.

A-OOOOOOO.

Which, apparently, he did.

Judd looks confused as all get out. He hovers at a safe distance, watching the unexpected aftermath of the fight-not-quite-to-the-death...wondering, as I do...

What the flying monkey spittoons is going on here???

A-OOOOOOOO.

"Just get outta here, bruh." That's my advice to him. "Get while the gettin's good."

But he ain't going nowhere. In fact, he actually takes a step
toward
the girls. "Are you...are you both all right?"

Eva shrugs. "Other than irritated that I didst not get to
finish
her before the
horn
?" She aims a nasty smirk in Kaela's direction.

Judd fumbles forward another step. "The horn?"

"Yea verily, the horn," says Kaela. "The school day 'tis over. I must needs waiteth until the morrow for to resolveth this blood feud most dire."

So the horn is like the bell back home. Plain and simple. All serial killer students must quit trying to murder each other...

(Step away from the battleground!)

...and pick up where they left off in the morning. Makes perfect sense,
not
.

"So what do they do for
homework
?" I ask Judd. "That's what
I
wanna know."

"So what now?" Judd claps his hands together...

BOOK: A Pinstriped Finger's My Only Friend
5.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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