Happy Love Week everyone That’s what I call Valentine’s Day week. Make sure to try and take the opportunity to be boyfriend and girlfriend again come V-Day on Saturday, especially if you’re an old married lady like me.
So I got some bad news at the start of the weekend, which I kinda knew was coming, truth be told. My short story that I submitted for inclusion in the HWA’s Scary Out There YA anthology was unfortunately rejected.
Bad news for me, but good news for all of you actually. Because now that means I can post it here for you, for free. It’s a close to 5K word story, so I’ll be doing a few installments throughout the month. And you might not hear from me otherwise, but I’ll try to check in here and there. Make sure to keep following me on my various social media accounts in order to keep up: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram.
Here is “Disconnected.” Part 1. I hope you enjoy it!…
He started to get the itch.
He jiggled his right knee back and forth and tapped his thumb absent-mindedly on the
armrest of the lounge chair that he was sitting in.
He looked around, taking a quick scan of the party to see how it was holding up.
Would he be able to escape without being noticed?
It startled him and made him jump, causing the small group of guys it had come from to erupt in sneers and snorts. They all clutched Heineken bottles by the neck.
“We keepin’ you from something?” asked the same one who’d called out originally. It was Tyler.
The guy was always riding him lately, and it was starting to get on his nerves. And he didn’t even know him that well.
“Nah, man,” Tristan answered as he stood up. “It’s just . . . this party’s lame. I’m gonna get outta here.”
Tyler gave him a look. “Uh, are you blind? Everybody’s here,” he said, motioning to the packed room of people drinking, dancing, and talking.
But Tristan knew that.
Why can’t he just let me go!? he thought to himself.
“Yeah, I’m just not in the mood then, I guess,” he said, moving toward the exit. “I’ll catch ya later.”
Tyler frowned and shook his head. He only gave him a half-hearted wave good-bye.
Tristan was almost giddy with excitement as he reached for the door knob, but it drained out of him all too quickly as he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.
This guy doesn’t give up, he thought as he turned, ready to face Tyler again.
“Oh. Hey, Abby. Sorry.”
Abigail let out a nervous laugh and put her hands down which she’d shot up in defense when Tristan had turned around.
“There was some fire in your eyes there,” she teased.
“I know, I was just trying to get outta here,” he explained, with his hands shoved deep in his pockets and looking off to the side, so as to avoid her eyes.
“Why?” she shrugged. “It’s just getting started.” She flashed him a bright smile.
His eyes softened at that. She really was beautiful. He’d like to stay and hang out with her. But . . .
“Yeah. I’m tired though. I wouldn’t be very much fun. Hey, why don’t you call me tomorrow?” he said, putting a hand on her bicep. That way he’d put the ball in her court.
“OK,” she said, obviously disappointed but seemingly satisfied with that consolation prize.
“OK,” he smiled with obvious relief as he turned, opened the door quickly, and left.
Abby frowned and went back to her friends.
There was a little skip in Tristan’s step as he made his way down the sidewalk to his car.
He felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He started up the car and made his way back to his townhouse. Tristan lived in a small student complex near campus made up of individual condos that formed an L-shape around two sides of a little courtyard. The other two were open and offered stunning views of the Hudson River. It wasn’t cheap, but for him it was worth the money just to have a place of his own that he wouldn’t have to share with roommates.
As he let himself in, the quiet darkness helped any leftover tension drain right out of his body. He felt completely relaxed and at ease as he turned on a couple of lights, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and went upstairs to the loft that housed his bed and desk.
He turned on his e-machine, an archaic desktop he refused to get rid of even though it took a good ten to fifteen minutes to properly warm up. He flopped down on his bed and turned on the television to watch while he waited.
After an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and the rest of his beer, he got up and sat at his desk. He clicked the Favorites tab in his browser, and five new tabs popped up, one at a time.
As the content loaded, he settled back in his chair and began to run his fingers through his longish, dark hair, rubbing at his scalp with his fingertips. He’d scratch and pick at any bumps or flakes he felt, trapping the remnant under his fingernail, and then flicking it off into the room—a disgusting habit he didn’t even realize he did anymore.
He went to the second tab first, always where he’d start lately.
The “Illu” was short for Illuminati.
He clicked the first article in the top rotator entitled, “The 10 Families That Rule the World.” It was full of content he’d read a thousand times before, but it didn’t matter. He devoured it as if for the first time. After that, he moved on to another entitled, “Ebola-Fueled Genocides.” His eyelids drooped slightly and his breathing slowed as he settled into his zone. He continued to run his fingers through his hair with his left hand, picking and scratching, picking, scratching, while his right hand clicked away.
Eventually he moved onto the next tab, DanielIecken.com. It was a natural transition from Illuknows.com as it built off those theories of very secret, very powerful societies to suggest they’re all of one alien, reptilian bloodline. Crazy.
But was it?
He got lost in his fascination, couldn’t get enough, and had to search out any new details he might have missed during his last scan. But it was more than that.
Every time he sat in front of his computer, scouring the conspiracy sites, he got the feeling you get when you meet up with old childhood friends. It was like sitting around a table, talking to people who genuinely knew him, truly understood him, and most of all, loved him.
Nothing “out there” made him feel this way. Furthermore, nobody out there got it and realized how important this knowledge was.
When the shit hit the fan, he’d be ready. Because he was armed.
Before he knew it, it was past 2 a.m. and still only Friday morning. He had a few classes he’d have to get through before he could start the weekend. He let out a quick, annoyed groan and rubbed at his bleary eyes. He clicked out of the browser and shut down his computer. He got up, turned off his nightstand lamp, and was out before his head even hit the pillow.
He downed the last few drops of his second double latte as he made his way down the hill to his News Writing and Reporting class over on campus later that morning.