Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spectra - Installment 4

Chapter 2

Isobel was tailing me to my locker, her lips moving faster than the speed of sound.
“Okay, but dude, get this - I was like, eight feet away from the Verisphydon, getting ready to administer the K.O. blow, and this level fifteen steps in and fuckin’ thwaps him with his twig of a sword and gets the kill! I about threw my VR headset into the wall!”
She made a gesture with her arms that resembled a bird of prey taking to the sky after a successful catch. A puff of air escaped her lips and blew her bangs from her face, exasperation dripping off of her like sweat. I struggled with my lock as she lingered behind me.
“Yeah, man. It’s not like the Verisphydon is an easy boss, either. It must’ve taken you at least twenty minutes to beat him down, only to have some normie steal all the drops and experience.”
She clapped me on the shoulder.
“See? Somebody gets it.” She laughed, a shock of orange hair falling into the corner of her mouth, “You just get it, man”.
I smiled into my locker and fumbled around for my anatomy textbook.
Sobe* was great. We’d been best friends for what seemed like forever. Her and I had such similar interests it was even a little bit scary at times. We were both gamers, had a disdain for competitive sports, and read books like it was nobody’s business. Ironically, Belle and I actually hated each other when we first met in freshman year. Our relationship was a constant battle of one-ups. If I happened to score better than her on an essay, she’d manage to find some way to debunk my best arguments. If she solved the most difficult equation on the board, I would do the next one in half the time it took her to do the first. If she was a level 89 trickster rogue, I would grind all night to be a level 91 scion by morning. If I got the most beautiful girl in the school to be my girlfriend... well she was still working on that one.
It wasn’t until our junior year that we finally laid down our arms and came to a truce. When we learned that we were both shooting for the same university, we figured it would be much more advantageous to conquer the campus as a team. We realized that the constant competition was tiresome, and we actually enjoyed each other’s presence. From then on, our friendship was fated.
The only thing about Isobel that I couldn’t seem to shake was the color of her eyes. The violet of her irises was so pure, that I couldn’t look her in the eyes for more than a few seconds at a time; they practically screamed at me. It made conversation a little difficult, but we managed to work around it. Before she learned I was a Chromat, she was a bit offended by my evasiveness, but she understood once I told her. She said that it happened quite a lot, and she wasn’t about to blame me for it. We just learned to carry on as normally as possible with minimal direct eye contact. It was a bit weird to observe in the third person, but neither of us had a problem with it.
I snatched my textbook from underneath a pile of forgotten graded papers and amateur doodles of Alice. I grabbed a pair of chroma-glasses from the small box at the top of my locker. Slamming it shut and triggering the lock, I spoke into the metal.
“Hey, Alice and I are planning on going up to the cabin this weekend. Wanna join?”
Sobe cocked her head and raised an eyebrow, her left hip popping out past her knee. She did that when the sarcasm inherently programmed within her couldn’t contain itself.
“Yeah, because I wanna subject myself to the torture of laying in the next room listening to you two fucking like a couple of neanderthals.”
I scoffed and punched her in the arm a little bit harder than I meant.
“Dude! That was one time,” I whined, regretting having hit her so hard and rubbing her arm vigorously with my free hand, “And besides, this time will be different. I bought a couple of new VR movies that seemed really good in the trailer. We’ll just be chilling in the lounge all night getting scared out of our skivvies.”
She smirked, punching me back.
“You had me until the skivvies part. I’d quite like to keep mine on, thank you. I usually prefer one partner at a time.”
“That’s not what I heard happened with Landon and Chastity,” I retorted pointedly, giving her the evil eye.
She punched me a second time, her mouth agape.
“Oh my god, Luca. I can’t believe you just brought that up, you asshat,” she laughed.
After a second of silence, she added, “And besides, I was only really in it for Chastity’s rockin’ bod.”
It was my turn to gape at her, trying to act as shocked as possible. “You would, Sobe.” I cackled, reeling into her shoulder as we walked down the hall. “And how ironic that her name of all names is Chastity? Like that’s got to be a universal fuck-up, right?”
Sobe snickered, her creepers squeaking across the hallway floor.
“Can you blame me, though? Chastity has some really fuckin’ huge Chas-titties, if y’know what I mea-”
“Luca! Sobe!”
Alice jogged up behind us and squeezed her way in between our shoulders. She was looking as picture-perfect as ever, her pink curls swirling in loose ringlets around her collarbones. She was wearing the dress I liked: black, buttoned, and collared. My heart jumped up into my throat. She kissed me on the cheek and ruffled Sobe’s bobbed hair.
“Is killer over here getting girl-crazy again?” Alice chided, throwing a smirk in Sobe’s direction.
Sobe forced a laugh and stuck her tongue out, wrinkling her eyes and nose.
She gave a real laugh, then retorted, “No, I’m not into Chastity anymore. She’s a bit too ‘quaker oats’ for my taste. I’m actually into someone else right now.”
Putting my arm around Alice’s shoulders, I shot a quick look at Sobe.
“So…? Are you going to tell us who the lucky girl of the hour is?”
Sobe’s cheeks began to hum in my ears with pin-pricks of pink. She put her arms around herself and looked at the floor, her teeth prying at her bottom lip. Sobe never did this. She wasn’t the type of person to show that kind of vulnerability. Alice and I leaned in, our ears trained on her lips.
She finally spoke, “Actually, guys, it’s a boy.”
We stopped. Dead.
“What do you mean it’s a boy?” Alice cooed, “I thought you were…”
“Yeah, me too,” Sobe nodded, tangling her fingers in the metal chain around her neck. She continued to chew her lip, the irritation causing it to get swollen and shiny. I focused on her red mouth, a low rumble against the chorus of yellow lockers. My eyes followed the corners of her lips up to her flushed cheeks that hid behind a spray of beige freckles. Her cheeks sounded a bit like crickets.
It was then, however, Sobe caught my eyes. Her violet irises shrieking against the black charcoal around her eyes. She held me there, my skin jumping from spine. It felt like the electric chair. Were they always that intense? I was trapped, succumbing the the pressure of the howl. Her stare was void - I saw nothing but noise, but felt every pulse of energy that traveled between us. It felt… wrong. It was as if she was trying to tell me something, but she was screaming it into my brain.
When she finally looked away, my breath hitched and stuck somewhere in my throat. My insides were on fire, even though it had only lasted a few seconds. Alice didn’t notice. I felt it was for the better - Sobe and I would discuss that later in private.
Sobe spoke up, her eyes falling to the floor, landing somewhere by Alice’s pedicured toes, “I don’t really think that matters right now. I’m still trying to figure it all out myself,” she looked up at Alice and gave a weak smile, “but I’ll definitely tell you when I’m ready, okay?”
Alice cupped her cheek gently and touched her forehead to Sobe’s, eyes closed. A signature “Alice” gesture of acceptance and understanding.
“Of course, Isobel. Just remember, I’ll love you no matter who you love.”
Sobe nodded at this and resumed walking, Alice and I on her heels.
“So, Sobe,” continued Alice, “I don’t know if Luca mentioned this to you already or not, but we were planning on heading up to the cabin after school for some major chill. Wanna tag along? I brought an extra headset!”
Sobe laughed softly and gave Alice an apologetic look.
“Yeah, Luca asked me to go earlier, but I don’t think I should. I always feel like the third wheel with you guys.”
Alice and I looked at each other briefly, concern washing over her face.
“Sobe, no. You’re never a third wheel. We love to have you around,” She reassured her, letting one of her hands fall on Sobe’s shoulder, “Is this about last time? I promise Luca and I won’t be so… enthusiastic this time.”
“Yeah, Sobes,” I said, placing my hand on her other shoulder, “It’s never the same without you. Not that hanging out with just Alice is boring or anything…”
Alice shot me a look from over the top of the short ginger’s hair, raising an eyebrow. I tried to return one that said, “Hey, I’m serious, but we have a very fragile situation here and I don’t know what else to say”. She shrugged it off and returned her focus to Sobe.
“Well…,” Sobe began, looking between me and Alice, “I guess I’ll go, but I didn’t bring any clothes. Can we stop by my place before we hit the road?”
Alice’s face lit up as she gave Sobe a quick hug from the side.
“Oh, I’m so happy you’re coming, Sobes. This is going to be great!”
“Yeah,” She nodded, a small smile wrinkling the freckles on her cheeks, “I guess it will.”

*pronounced SOH-bee

1 comment:

  1. Every installment takes an unexpected turn. I'm excited to see what happens next.