CON – B1: Serenity – Chapter 3


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The Diner

Alexis had an entire summer to stay in this new house and she had not even gone seventy-two hours without finding trouble for herself. She tried to ignore the itch of adventure, by organizing her entire music collection. She placed all her CDs in their racks, the records in their boxes. She organized her racks of cassettes. She checked her record player, her gramophone, her boombox and multiple radios. She organized and organized until there was nothing left to organize. Her walls were a beautiful display of musical players and her mind was no more focused.

The itch of adventure crawled at her skin telling her that it was there and it remembered. She knew that she was not supposed to remember it for some reason. Jordan? Jordan was the cause and the fault and the issue. However the door was whispering at her. come back. help me.

When her phone rang, Alexis thought for a long hard moment. She did not need to go and meet up with the man who had a mysterious long hallway that she couldn’t even remember. But she remembered the door. With each passing minute she remembered the door more. She thought of the black door that seemed to be a blackhole sucking in all light. She thought of the silver handle that was too bright to be old. She thought of the wafting smell of summer that came from under the frame and the fact that there was no keyhole. She could picture the light from the other side, a soft blue that flickered. She had felt so cold, and had wanted nothing more than to open it.

“Are you okay?” Nia asked from the doorway. Alexis’ head snapped up to her sister who was looking at Alexis walls. Alexis’ phone was no longer ringing. Her screen had returned to the image of Tiana holding her blow torch and a bike behind her. She had been fixing something in her shop, casting some sort of metal work. Alexis did not remember now. She had snapped the photo because Tiana looked cool. Nia touched Alexis’ shoulder. “Did you sleep at all? How are you already completely set up?”

Alexis did not want to admit that she had not slept. Tiana had taught Alexis to use power tools and so the installation of her shelves had been easy. She had brainless about it all. She had to focus on something else. She had to think of anything else. She needed… She opened her phone quick and then immediately shut the message. Tiana had messaged her a picture: Up all night. Go to bed. It had been accompanied by a photo of Tiana’s latest project.

Tiana?” Nia asked laughing. Her tone implied a lot that had Alexis flustered?

“Yes.” Alexis showed the photo to her sister wanting to prove something. Why she had to prove that it was an innocent interaction was beyond her in that moment. All she could think of was that Tianna knew her too well. Tiana had stayed up all night and Alexis had as well. Tiana knew that and was calling them both out.

“And here I thought she sent you something naughty.” Nia elbowed Alexis turning and walking towards Alexis’ bed.

Alexis immediately blushed. “Nia! We aren’t like that.” Alexis knew that the outburst was too quick. She steadied herself and her heart before snapping pictures of her room and sending them to Tiana. “We aren’t like that.” This time she believed herself when she said it.

“Yet. You aren’t like that yet.”

“I like boys.” Alexis rolled her eyes holding her phone close before slipping it into the back pocket of her jeans. “What did you want?”

“I was wondering if you wanted to go to the city center and see a movie and get some ice cream.” Nia knew when to drop a conversation and for that Alexis was greatful.

“Have you unpacked at all?”

“I’ll be here all summer. I can unpack at any time.” Nia smiled at her. “So what movie?”

After an hour of contemplation — and forced unpacking for Nia on behalf of Alexis — the two decided on what movie to go see and made their way into town. Alexis drove their father’s truck and they jammed out to some classic rock, singing at the top of their lungs. Alexis had gotten her driver’s license the summer before after Tiana had taught her to drive at school. 

The movie itself was rather boring, but getting ice cream afterwards was everything that Alexis could have wanted. She and Nia sat down in an old 50’s style diner, where they ordered hamburgers and milkshakes. The two girls laughed amongst themselves for a a bit, enjoying their food when a man walked up to their table with a wide grin.

“Hello girls.” The man’s voice made Alexis’ smile drop. She looked at the man before them who was obviously being prompted by his table mates a few tables down. He was not particularly ugly, nor handsome. He was average in every way and made Alexis skin crawl from the way he carried himself. His energy was wrong. It was dangerous in the bad way and sickening. Alexis could taste it, smell it, feel it crawling under her skin like ants biting and clawing at her.

“Hello.” Nia nudged Alexis under the table but Alexis did not respond. She was bogged down by the sludge of his aura, trying to break the surface to breathe. Once she had herself, she’d be able to give Nia clues, but for now her silence and inability would be clue enough for Nia.

“You are new around these parts?” He asked them. Alexis’ nerves sat on edge the longer that he stood there. She felt sicker each moment his breath hit their table. It was a dissonance of sound and feeling as her head spun and she tried to steady herself.

“Yes.” Nia answered. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr…”

“Declan Walker.”

Alexis kicked her sister under the table. Alexis was certain she had thrown the entirety of her weight behind it. She was also uncertain. She needed Tiana. She needed fresh air. She needed away from this man at all costs. If Nia felt the kick she did not respond as her smile grew as she faced the man. Nia’s next words were hostile and blunt. “Ah. The man who stalked us yesterday.” Alexis kicked her again. This time she knew she made contact.

“Now now. It was some southern hospitality. You girls looked lost.” He said it in such a way that made it seem like he meant it. Alexis could hear the intonation and the flat lie that was woven into it.

“I can assure you that we most certainly were not.” Nia retorted quick to pick a fight. They needed to flee, not fight. They needed to go, not linger.

“Declan. Leave them alone.” A familiar voice spoke from behind him. Alexis watched as Declan’s face froze. There was the smallest of moments there where his aura turned to fear and with that Heia grounded herself. She had her body again and she had her mind. She had not gotten so lost in the sensation since she was a child. So when he turned to Nathan with a wicked smile, Alexis was ready for the waves of nausea to return. This time she was prepared.

“Fuji.” Declan called out to Nathan.

“Go back to your table.” Nathan’s uniform was different than the rest of the servers. He had a manager tag and all at once Alexis knew he was helping them for respectable reasons. She did not care if Nathan had randomly showed up to help for other reasons, but this one calmed her more and held more power to it. “I will kick you out again. This will be your third time and I will ban you.”

Declan hesitated on what to say before winking to Alexis and Nia. “You girls know I meant no trouble.” He then wrote his number on a napkin, clicking his pen as he walked back to his table. 

“Thank you.” Alexis ripped up the number. She knew he very well did mean trouble.

“He will bother you when you leave. Or he will try. I will do my best to assist you. Anything else I can get you?” Nathan looked over their plates.

“Nothing more. Thank you.” Nia smiled. Nathan smiled before he turned to leave.

“Wait Nathan!” The words were out of Alexis’ mouth before she knew what she was saying. He looked at her waiting. “Can I— Your number?” The look on his face was complete confusion and shock mixed together. The words were tumbling from her mouth. She sought his soothing nature, his presence that put her at ease. She could not let him go. “You seem like a trustworthy person, and you must know where the good food is.” And he was connected to Jordan and the secret door. It was the door, ultimately, that was leading her to reach for him. Was that the real reason she was asking?

“Sure.” He quickly offered up his number and she input it into her phone. “Text me whenever.” It was only as he was headed back to another table that Alexis realized that it seemed like she was asking him on a date.

“What have I done?” Alexis shook her head. Was it for the aura? Was it because he was nice? Was it because of the door? What had she done.

“Asked a boy out.” Nia sipped her milkshake.

“I know that!” Alexis ate her fries starring at the number. She would have to text him to try to get an in to their group. She needed — no. No. What was this? Why was the black door that had a silver handle and that long hall way that led to no where that —

“I didn’t realize you were interested.” Nia. Alexis had to focus on Nia and their conversation.

“I’m not.” Alexis at least knew that was true.

“Then why?”

Alexis did not answer her sister. Nia was smart enough to drop it, letting the two of them finish their food in silence. Alexis focused on things that were not the door, namely the table of men that made Alexis want to disappear. They’d need to avoid them. When they were paying, Declan and the others were headed out. Holding her head high, Alexis walked out of the restaurant past the men, towards her truck. She doubted they would try anything serious. Now that she had a control over his aura’s effect on her, she was no longer frozen by him or the others. This new land meant adapting and Alexis needed to adapt faster to the way their energies and auras fluctuated and grew. They were a product of their nurturing and Alexis was a stranger here.

“Hey now.” Declan called out to her. 

“Keep walking Nia.” Alexis told her sister.

“Don’t ignore me now, beautiful.” Declan hurried up to them walking by Alexis as she walked. If Tiana were there, she would have punched the guy and emasculated him in the parking lot before making him cry. Alexis was not Tiana. The best she could do was walk forward hoping that her skirt was long enough and that her heels would not break if she ran. If they did break, she knew three ways to get them off in seconds. Once of the ways got the heels into her hands and then she could use them as a weapon. “What is your name? You can at least tell me that.”

“Declan!” Nathan called out to them from behind.

“Shut it Fuji!” The man shouted back when a motorcycle flew into the parking lot. For a second Alexis thought it was Tiana and she almost tripped over her feet. Declan immediately jumped back as the motorcycle drove towards them, around them and then to the front of the restaurant. The parking lot went silent as all turned to where Jordan Brooks removed his helmet. Bike parked, he placed his helmet on the seat. Hand to his pocket, he pulled out black circle shades and put them on his face, before he ran his fingers through his hair and stood. Alexis swore that in the brief moment before he had covered his eyes, Jordan’s eyes had been the color of dark smoke instead of blue. He breathed out and she wondered if her eyes were deceiving her when she saw what looked like white escape his mouth. It was as if his hot breath had hit the cold air a common sight in the winters up north. Only it was far too hot for that. 

Alexis stumbled back with Nia. She watched as Jordan pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his jacket. He stood there lighting them with a flick of his fingers. He took a drag and then breathed out the smoke, speaking loud enough that everyone could hear. It was as if the whole world had lost its melody and lived in a rest of silence. He spoke above a whisper, and Alexis heard him as clear as if he were next to her. “Declan.”

“Jordan.” Declan moved away from Alexis and Nia as if he were not harassing them at all. He too was scared. However, Alexis had no energy from Jordan. He stood there like a ghost, with no positive or negative feedback. Everything about him was manufactured and he had no essence of living at all.

“Who is he?” Nia whispered to Alexis.

“Scary.” Scary enough that he was able to get this man to back off. “But–” Could she trust him?

“I thought I told you not to mess with my friends.” Jordan approached.

“Fuji called you?”

“Fujiwara.” The correction was harsh, swift, and like a knife to the throat. “No. I’m here to pick him up. His car is in the shop.” Jordan was not as tall as Declan, but he was far more intimidating. Declan walked to Jordan. As Jordan approached Declan, he signaled with his hand for Alexis and Nia to go. Taking the out, Alexis dragged her sister away. Unlocking the truck she and Nia got into the truck. Alexis did not watch what happened as she sped out of the parking lot.

“I think they are going to fight. Alexis it has only been seventy-two hours and you have boys fighting over you.”

“No.” She did not. She then tried to explain the sensation of Delcan to Nia. Nia took the words and offered up additional words that Alexis did not know. Her sister heard and knew her. Nia also knew how to calm Alexis from a scare, with music and language lessons. The two spoke about things and sang at the top of their lungs to songs that made Alexis feel safe. However, she had not explained Jordan. The thought of Jordan’s nothingness circled in her head the entire time that she drove home and when she pulled into the parking lot, she hurried to her room, calling Tiana to tell her everything. Nia was her sister, but Tiana was her best friend. Tiana knew more. She had to tell Tiana.

“Yo.” The phone was answered by Tony.

“Where is T?” Alexis asked hearing the vague sound of engines in the back.

“Testing her bike. Give her a minute.” 

“How are you?” Alexis asked Tony. Tony was the same age as Nia and completely different. He was going to school for astrophysics, and was a brilliant mathematician. He was also Tiana’s other best friend. The two of them told each other everything and were usually together. Like Nia, Tony went to the movies and arcades, and clubs with his sister. Unlike Nia, Tiana and Tony shared most if not all of their secrets with each other. There were some things that Alexis could never tell her sister, that Tiana never hesitated to tell Tony. They were the same side of the same coin, and reliant on each other. Alexis had once wondered if she could love Tony the way she did Tiana, but it felt wrong. He was his own person no matter how similar they were with each other.

“Bored.” Tony answered. 

“Videogames not entertaining?”

“Not anymore.” Tony laughed. “No. It’s Lexi.” Only Tony and Tiana called Alexis “Lexi.” Only the two of them she accepted the nickname from. “Talk to you later Alexis.”

When Tiana took the phone, Alexis started spilling everything. She told her of the Declan feeling and then of the Jordan feeling. She told Tiana of the door and the hall and the fact that she felt nothing but a highly calculated manipulated aura from Jordan if anything at all. He was changing himself to fit something but she doubted that he knew that she could sense it. There was something otherwordly at play with him and his house. Tiana was quiet for a few minutes before the two started working it out. Tiana, unlike Nia, did not think that Alexis might have found herself in some sort of romantic drama. 

“Girl. That sounds haunted. Don’t mess with that shit. Ignore that white boy. He has to have ties to the devil.” Tiana said the words as a joke but the truth to them was ever present in what she said. Alexis knew better than to get involved in the ghosts. She knew that, which was why she had expressed so much dissatisfaction to where they had moved. She knew it was wrong. Still she knew it was calling to her.

“I had a good feeling about the door.”

“That’s what the ghosts want you to feel.”

Alexis paused. Tiana was right. It could be artificial feelings, but she wanted to learn more. However, just knowing that Tiana was right, made her less inclined to want to press. After an hour of talking, Tiana convinced her that it was a foolish move to investigate the magical door and when Alexis hung up she was certain that she could move on without knowing more about it. Tiana had also convinced her that Jordan was worth ignoring, but keeping on her side. Keep an eye on him but don’t get close. It was the goal. It was the thought. Make friends but don’t get close to Jordan or get close enough that Alexis could find out the truth. However, Tiana believed that if James and Nathan had good aura’s then Jordan did too and it was just his creepy house that was masking him. He might not be dangerous, but the house certainly was.

She was able to stay in that mindset for a full two hours before falling asleep and waking up haunted by the image of the door. She opened her texts and entered Nathan’s contact, before starting and erasing words for more than a half an hour. When she finally sent a text it was the most general text she ever could have sent. She only recognized the time after she sent it, and cursed herself for sending it at all. He’d think she was asking for something she did not mean to allude to.

thank you for today

This is Alexis btw

Alexis did not expect him to respond back immediately after.

np

Made it home safe?

Smiling to herself, she messaged him back. She should ignore the door and talk with the nice boy who could show her around. She should think of different things and ignore them all. She should — not sleep. She could not sleep. The door was there in her sleep and as much as it calmed her, it scared more with each pressing hour.

Alexis: you didn’t need to call in reinforcements

Nathan: He wasn’t lying. He came to pick me up.

Alexis: Excellent timing

Nathan: What are you doing tomorrow?

Alexis: Nothing u?

She had committed to listening to Tiana, and trying to make friends, until a strange message popped up on her phone from a random number. She hesitated to open the messages for too long worried that they were from Declan. How had he gotten her number? Why? Who…

Declan won’t bother you anymore.

You free tomorrow?

Alexis hesitated for a long moment starring at the new message. Her phone lit up with a new message and a notification from Nathan at almost the same time. Two messages that said the exact same thing.

Unknown Number: The guys and I are hanging out.

Nathan: The guys and I are going bowling

Alexis paused before tentatively typing to the unknown number.

Alexis: Jordan?

Jordan: Sorry. Got your number from Nathan. You in or…

Alexis: I’m in.

She told Nathan the same thing and then laid down on her bed starring at the ceiling. Once more the door was circling in her head. The sight was stealing her soul away and she knew she had to open the door. 


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