By AllyTrish34, inspired by the FantasTeen novel of the same name.
We return to class on the next period: history. I don't know why history is Devin's thing. He's like Dad. Do all dudes like to study history? He memorizes all historical dates and everything that happened in each day. Mom and I always exchange glances every time Dad lifts a front page from the book of the subject of history. I mean, come on! It's all in the past!
After waiting since the dinosaur era, the bell eventually rings. Devin calls out to me before we part ways in the corridor — he's picking Rocky up, as usual — and gives me his phone number, in case I have something to tell him. Mom has been awaiting me in her vintage Jeep. That car is very, very old, but everything still goes right, causing my parents not to sell it.
"Hello," Mom greets me as I enter the car and she fastens her seat belt.
I look at her doubtfully. "Hello."
She revs the car up and the car moves in a medium speed. "How's school?" I shrug. "So-so," I answer, Then I remember what Devin said. I clear my throat. "Mom, can you tell me something about Grandpa? I mean, I've got an assignment. Telling about our families. You know, Grandpa kicked the bucket before I was born, so I know nothing about him."
Mom frowns. then nods slowly. "Fine. Which Grandpa should I tell? From my side or your dad's side?"
This isn't part of the plot. I don't know which one Devin asks for. "The one..." I muse slowly, "Both is okay."
Mom begins to tell the long list of my family members before me. The list is complicated, and, like I said, history is a drag! Mom is always everyone's favorite in both the Schneiders and the Foys (Mom's family). She's an only child — just like me — and Dad is the second oldest from his siblings, and they're all male. Dad's family wants a daughter really bad that they treat Mom like their only daughter. She never bickers with her mother-in-law; she gets the most affection. Due to that, she hears a lot of stories from both families, and now, she's passing them down to me.
"If not mistaken, I have your grandpa's photograph when he was young," Mom says as we arrive in our house. She rushes toward the warehouse which objects haven't been tidied up by 100% and rummages through the cardboard boxes until she finds one, labeled PHOTO ALBUMS. She pulls out what seems to be the oldest one. It looks like it has seen better days. It has a brown leather cover and smells like dustbunnies. She shows yellowed photographs that look like they might tear apart, even if I touch it gently.
I stop at a photo that seems to be the oldest. In the photo, Dad is wearing a mortarboard, Grandpa stands beside him, and there's an old man who looks about seventy. He dons a wicked-neat tuxedo paired with a pair of pants, mustached, like KFC's Col. Sanders. I point at him. "Mom, who is this?"
Mom peers from behind my left shoulder. "Oh, that's your great-grandfather. He was a shapeshifter."
My feelings sinks. So that's where I got the shapeshifter genes.
She continues. "He was German as well. He used to own a rubber-tree and a factory that processed rubber into erasers. He moved here after marriage. The neighbors' kids thought his way of saying 'eraser' in his British accent was funny, so they called him 'Admiral Eraser'. I only met him once. He was a nice man. For the 'Admiral' part, I have no idea how they came up with it."
I feel like someone just slapped my face. I dash into my bedroom, scanning everything inside. At the foot of my bed sits my stuffed alligator among my other stuffed animals, comfortably leaning against the wall. I snatch it, bringing it to Mom, screaming, "Mom! Mom! Admiral Eraser!"
Mom blinks, astonished. "No wonder; you have a stuffed gator who you call that. What a freak coincidence, honey."
I agree reluctantly, but at heart, I know that it's no coincidence; eraser, the German accent I play with my doll, the old man who's visible to Devin. I can't see him because he's a part of my family! But, Devin can see him because we don't have blood relation! That means, we can't see family-member ghosts! That means my great-grandfather has been taking care of me since I was young!
I hug Mom so tight that she jumps, surprised. "Great-grandpa takes care of me, Mom. He always takes care of me."
I feel Mom's doubt as she hugs me back. She nods. "Yes, honey. Of course."
I grin wickedly, like an evil genius, as I stare at her, then yank a piece of paper from my jean pocket. "I'm phoning Devin. No eavesdropping from downstairs, please."
Mom chuckles. "You just laid down the law."
While Mom is headed to her work room — in our backyard's porch, she always feel relaxed and inspired if she narrates a story overlooking the backyard, drinking tea and listening to Dean Lindstrom — I snatch my iPhone, bringing it to my bedroom. I dial Devin's number, listening close to the relaxing, buzzing sound in my ears afterward, hoping that Devin has gone home.
Across the phone, someone lifts another phone. I hold my breath.
"Hello, Hubert. It's me, Verona."
I'm half flabbergasted, half surprised. I didn't call Devin "Aprilia" or "Donnie" or "Donatello", but he called me with my dad's name! I'm not used to such kind of friendly joking. And I realize, I've, so far, only telephoned my parents only. Talking of how Devin knows my dad's name, I suspect that it's due to his superhearing sense.
"Hello, Devin. I didn't call you DONNIE!" I counter.
Devin laughs his head off.
I take a deep breath. "Fine. Whatevs."
"You know, 'hello' was created because people didn't know how to start a conversation?"
I sigh again, this time relievedly — Devin is the only one to do that in the whole wide world, I think. Devin snickers at the other end, sensing my jumpiness.
"All right, what's going on? Rhett Austin visiting you, trying to boost your gummy candies this time?"
I laugh. "You have to let go of your candies. They've exploded, and they're gone now. I suggest you should visit their wraiths later on. Have you ever met one?"
"I'm starting to think of a way how to eat wraiths."
I smile. "If so, inanimate objects cannot be curious ghosts, or you could be still related to gummy candies by blood relation."
Devin responds, "Huh?" confusedly, but I sputter as I tell him my discoveries. He considers my speculation, once again, a no-nonsense one. I'm beginning to be proud of myself. I can probably turn this into a profession. Yolanda Schneider: supernatural researcher.
Devin adds in a serious tone, "You know, my mom helped me when we were in trouble. Anyways, not apropos to what I just said, if ghosts can hurt us, is there a possibility for them to help us, too?"
I frown. "What are you talking about..."
"Maybe, you can bring your stuffed gator," Devin says carefully. "Maybe, it can help us."
"What would happen afterward?" I ask unsurely.
"Yeah...probably, we could get the right kind of help in the right time. But I really don't know what would happen to the gator," admits Devin. "But, when I arrived at home, one of the pictures that has my mom on it shattered. Probably, somthing's gonna happen to your stuffed alligator, but I don't know what."
I study my stuffed alligator, looking still new, except for some tiny, singed parts, but I will never trash it. It's the only traffic-accident victim that lives to tell the tale. It can overcome this. I nod, even though Devin can't hear it from his house. "Next: the corridor."
* * *
Hunting in corridors are harder, trickier than in rooms. Corridors are usually crowded and people are crammed in like sardines in a can. Besides, a disciplinary patrolman — dean — can be anywhere in this corridor on the second level. We decide to wait until home time. So, that afternoon — avoiding the lab — we stuff our faces in the art room.
The ghosts in the art room appear calmer and friendlier than in other rooms. Most of them are hanging around because their artistic masterpieces are unfinished. And all Devin does after we find out how to escort the ghosts outside is just finishing their artworks. He opens up one by one: a canvas with dried oil paint, a graded and now-finished rough sketch, and a handless statue.
"You did the whole shebang?" I ask astoundedly, rummaging through finished masterpieces on a table.
Devin shrugs. "I learned some from them. You know, I did 'em all. What matters is that I can shut off my superhearing sense for a while."
"Ghosts in here luck out to have you," I say with a laugh. I unzip my sling bag and yank out Admiral Eraser, my stuffed alligator. "You see my grandpa?"
Devin giggles. "Actually, heck, yes. He's been following you since then, and speaks of rubber history in Mesoamerica with his distinctive German accent. Oh, hear, hear, he just said, 'We call eraser rubber, not eraser. Why eraser? I don't get Americans.' Sorry, sir, I don't mean to mock. I know what they call it in the UK; some words differ in British/American English that actually mean the same thing."
I laugh at him, who's trying to explain the etymology of eraser to my grandfather, invisible to me. "Yeah, right from the start, I always decided he was a German. 'Hello, kid, my name is Admiral Eraser.'"
"That goes to show that you've had supernatural instincts since you were younger. You simply hadn't realized it." Devin snatches my stuffed animal, places it on the table, and studies it seriously. "You know, Yolanda, I found my old files yesterday. I now know when and where I underwent corneal surgery." He looks at me tensely. "June the eleventh. In Rye, by Dr. Mauro Kane."
"I come from Rye, New Hampshire, and I remember..." I trail off.
Awkward silence. Hooray, I guess we should start a collection of awkward silences. I hate it.
We don't say anything during this pressured surprise. There's no way this is a coincidence. There must be something with my hometown, that date...
Devin nods. "I'm trying to look up their database, searching our donor. If the donor has nothing to do, maybe it's...let's say, something else."
Devin pulls out a MacBook from his backpack, placing it on the table. Codes and numbers that I don't understand are displayed on screen. I distract my view. "What have you gotten, so far?"
"Just this," complains Devin. "The hospital's data is quite hard to track down. But, as long as we know which data to find... must be our donor, around May to June. Corneas are best used right away for surgeries instead of longer times. I've been doing this since yesterday, but haven't gotten much. Perchance, just a few more days later..."
Windows behind us suddenly shatter and I hear screaming. Devin and I jerk upward, staring at one another terrifiedly. We may not see it, but we do feel it... This eerie cold, frigid presence, which makes your hair stand on end can only be exacted by...
"Ghosts!" I holler, dragging Devin out of the art room. Out of the corner of my eyes, he snatches his MacBook and my Admiral Eraser before they topple to the floor, thanks to my dragging.
I yank the door hard and scuttle, but I can't afford to take the next step. I freeze in place anxiously, not knowing what to do. Teachers and students lie down on the floor everywhere, bruised, seeming unconscious.
"What the heck is this?" I whisper, shivering nervously. My hand flies to below Miele DiBacco's nose; wow, she is still breathing. I glance around; turns out, everybody breathes air in and out weakly.
Another glass shatters.
Devin grabs my shoulder. I admit, his grip is kind of too strong, and too painful for me. I wince. "Cafeteria!" he hollers.
I fotce my legs to stand up. But for some reason, my body feels heavy, as if gravity is pulling me down. My shivers prompt my eyes to blur. I know this symptom, because I've passed out many times before, due to different reasons. My teeth chatter loudly. Devin — his face looks like a quartz crystal — grabs my hand tightly so we move together in the same time; our hands are as cold as ice due to nervosity.
No doubt, something scary is happening in our school!