Daylight will never come.
The latter half of this section was written while sitting in the driver's seat of my parked car!
Draft. So much draft:
The first flask had long been downed, but as luck would have it, Stephanie and Nicky found the second flask in Stephanie’s backpack. It had just been tucked away in one of those little pockets inside larger pockets on the outside of a backpack that isn’t the main pocket and usually only stores like, little bits of ripped paper and pencil shavings. This pocket instead held an alarmingly large flask full of whisky.
“You know, I never really understood that phrase,” Stephanie said.
She took a clean and healthy swig. Anyone else at her level of inebriation might have spilled, but Stephanie knew what she was doing. The flask also had a very small mouth compared to Stephanie’s very large mouth, so she had that going to her.
“Beer before liquor, never sicker,” Stephanie continued. “Like, what’s the basis for that? Does it have to do with like the ABV or something?”
She handed the flask over to Nicky who took her own swig.
“I’ve never done it in that order because of that phrase, but like I’ve gone from hard cider to straight vodka with absolutely no issue.”
“Maybe it has something to do with like beer itself?” Nicky questioned.
She shoved the flask into Caleb’s hand. Caleb refused. Nicky squinted her eyes and Caleb drank from it immediately, coughing loudly.
“It’s just boozy bread water, right?” Stephanie said. “I’ve never been sick after eating pizza before drinking liquor, and- wait a minute. What if you like mixed the two, and you’re drinking at the same time? Would you be sicker then? I just, I just really don’t understand.
“It’s a-” Caleb said, hiccupping violently. “It’s a myth.”
Stephanie stopped the trio and turned to face Caleb. A giant smile spread across her face.
“My goodness, Nicky, he talks,” she said to Nicky, staring at Caleb all the while. “Go on, say more things.”
Caleb opened his mouth to say more, and the only thing that came out was vomit. Tons and tons of vomit. An inordinate amount of vomit. Way more vomit than one might have expected to come out of the stomach of an individual on a 500-calorie intern diet at best. Caleb threw the blanket off of him and kneeled closer to the ground trembling, jaw agape, until all that was left was dry, wheezing, hacks.
“Oh dear, the youth,” Nicky said, kneeling down next to Caleb and patting his back. “The poor youth. They understand not.
She leaned her head against his shoulder Stephanie leaned down and embraced Caleb from the other side.
“I n- need help,” Caleb whimpered.
Stephanie began stroking Caleb’s hair. It was really greasy, like he had been living in a forest for the better half of a semester.
“Don’t we all honey, don’t we all,” she said, continuing to stroke the greasy mop without pause. “I can give you my therapists card. She’s an ultra-rich lesbian woman who makes me feel constantly terrified yet incredibly comfortable at the same time.”
Robin dragged Finn by the ankle as they moved through the forest. It wasn’t long until they got bored and gave Finn the slightly more dignified transport of being hovered through the air.
“So what are we going to do with him?” Robin asked. “Cage, hole in the ground, cave?”
“At this point as long as he’s out of sight, I don’t care,” Patrick said. “Throw him in the grotto with Caleb.”
Robin stopped moving and let Finn fall to the ground. Finn didn’t wake up as he was under an aggressive sleeping spell that lasted for a solid twelve hours that could only be broken by Patrick’s choice. And maybe a true love’s kiss? Patrick didn’t fully understand all of the magic he could do. He didn’t have a personal mentor growing up to show him things, so he was predominantly self-taught. He also spent a solid decade or so of his life pretending to be human, and he definitely lost a lot of time there. And in general, Patrick was only giving his magic studies a C+ effort at best. He mostly played things by ear.
“Look at me carrying this boy like he’s a fucking king or something,” Robin said, delivering a swift kick to Finn’s side. “Where’s the temp. He should be doing this grunt work.”
Patrick searched in his mind and swore out his mouth.
Robin zoomed faster than they had zoomed before. Even faster than that time they had tested the speed at which they could zoom, and they zoomed super fast that time. Robin zoomed until they came across a cluster of three bodies: Stephanie and Nicky crouching over Caleb like two lesbian moms comforting their son after a bad first day of the school year.
“Patrick and that Robin, they’re keeping me here,” Caleb said. “I am subject to a tyrant.”
Robin turned invisible and floated down next to the group.
“Oh that’s just the liquor speaking, honey,” Stephanie said.
She felt Caleb’s forehead. It was freezing cold as was the rest of his body. Stephanie frowned. Everyone was super cold, so she didn’t really know what to do with that test result.
“Listen hear now, Caleb,” Nicky said. “When I did my Bachelor’s degree in communications, one of the requirements was that we complete an internship. And this was back in the 90s. I landed an internship with this little PR firm, and it was a nightmare.”
“Oh my goodness, yes,” Stephanie said. “Tell him about the coffee thing.”
“Right,” Nicky continued. “There was this one director. Absolute shit bag. He would tell me to go get coffee for him, and when he got back, do you know what he did?”
“Tell him,” Stephanie said.
“That sonofabitch told me he had asked for tea,” Nicky said. “Tea! When he had clearly asked for coffee. He was just playing some sick little corporate game that I did not want to have any part of.”
Nicky shook her head, trying to clear the war story from her head.
“While I do sympathize with your experiences, and understand that they must have been difficult, what I’m getting at is a little different here,” Caleb said.
Robin leaned in to Caleb’s ear, a difficult task given Nicky and Stephanie’s positions, well, difficult for an average individual who’s body was vital to their well being and continued existence, not a superfluous aesthetic choice to house a thousand year old spirit.
“You filthy fucking liar,” Robin whispered.
They whispered quiet enough that Nicky and Stephanie could not hear, and close enough that Caleb heard every word, screamed, and jumped back. Robin had also disguised their voice to make it sound more like Stephanie or Nicky; however, Robin didn’t have the longest sample clip of speech from either of them, so their line of “you filthy fucking liar,” sounded less like Nicky or Stephanie and more like a middle school boy pretending to be a ‘valley girl’, or Stephanie pretending to be a middle school boy pretending to be a ‘valley girl’. Not Nicky though. That wasn’t in Nicky’s character. She was also terrible at accents, despite all the post grad acting workshops she had attended.
“I am not a liar!” Caleb shouted.
“Nobody’s accusing you of being a liar,” said Stephanie.
She produced a joint and lighter out of absolutely nowhere—a figure of speech that should be clarified as figurative; Stephanie did not have any of sort of magical powers, unless you consider a killer singing voice and a charming smile magical—and took a puff. She offered it to Caleb.
“Here, it’ll warm you up from the inside,” Stephanie said.
“No, no, it could make him even more paranoid,” Nicky replied.
Stephanie offered the joint to Nicky who stared at it for a second. Every time she smoked weed—excepting one Halloween part in 2016 and one house party in 2015—she had gotten the spins and vomited, so typically she did not smoke weed; however, she was currently ‘I don’t know how many drinks I’ve had at this point’ drunk. The voice in her head that normally said ‘Nicky, don’t do it, just think of the time you vomited up all that rice and it felt like you were a human sushi canon and you couldn’t eat rice for like, a year’ had not shown up for work, and did not give notice by phone, text, or email.
Nicky grabbed the joint and took a deep drag. She choked and gagged that familiar choke and gag one chokes and gags when one hits it too hard and will definitely vomit later. Don’t do any drugs you wouldn’t do when you’re sober, kids.
Robin leaned in again.
“You’re an untrustworthy little slimeball,” Robin continued.
“I am not a slimeball!” Caleb shouted.
This time when Caleb shouted, he swung his arms like a big drunk baby, smacking right into Robin, sending them directly into Stephanie who was then knocked over onto the ground. In addition, the blunt was knocked out of Stephanie’s hand and into a wet bush, extinguishing it immediately and hiding it from the sight of anyone without a function flashlight, which is to say, anyone out that night. Both Stephanie and Nicky surmised this immediately. They had extensive experience with ‘blunt lost in forest’ encounters.
Cross faded, accosted, and a little bit damp, Stephanie jumped to her feet.
“You’re drunk Harold,” Stephanie shouted. “You’re drunk and now you’ve gotten yourself into trouble.
Stephanie stormed over to Caleb, attempted to pick him up by the scruff of the neck like a cat for about a minute and opted instead for the armpit in a sort of one-armed eighth nelson.
“No more booze for you,” Stephanie shouted. “You’re drunk and delirious.”
Nicky grabbed Caleb’s other arm in turn. Their initial motive of continuing the search party was still in both Stephanie and Nicky’s minds, but at this point it was like trying to read someone’s driver’s license from 60 paces. They knew something was there, and the general shape, but no detail was visible except for ‘continue into the forest’, so that is what they did with their friend-turned prisoner, Caleb.
The blanket laid in the clearing abandoned.