For those who haven’t already read them, you can find links to the previous chapters here:
Sleep was hard to come by that night. My dreams were filled with flashes of my accident, and the conversation with the face in the darkness. Regardless of what I saw when I touched Weed’s arm, I knew there was no way my experience in the darkness was anything but a hallucination; a dream. But despite my certainty, that face wouldn’t let me sleep.
When the alarm went off, I should have been exhausted, and to a point I was, but I was also energized. The new day meant a new chance to get on the bike, and I understood what Mr. FInkenbine meant about dancing with the prom queen, though I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I didn’t want to drive my car again. But Pamela still needed a lot of work before she was roadworthy so it wasn’t like I was really cheating on her with the motorcycle, at least that’s what I told myself.
Throwing on some fresh clothes I practically flew down the stairs. Mom hadn’t gotten home from her nursing job yet so I grabbed a bowl of Berry Berry Kix and ate it while shoving a few school supplies into my bookbag. The bag was a couple years old, and showed it, but there weren’t any holes in it so there also wasn’t any reason to spend money we didn’t have on a new one.
After throwing my empty bowl in the sink, I strapped the bag across my back and grabbed my helmet before running out the door. Behind the garage I found the bike exactly how I’d left it underneath the tarp. Once again it only took a single kick for the bike to fire right up which had me grinning before I even threw my leg over the seat.
Taking the long way to school gave me a few extra minutes on the bike and helped me avoid Shawna’s house at the same time. Something about being on it allowed me to forget anything else. I really wanted to stay on it all day, but the school was sure to call my mom if I didn’t show up on the first day, and then she’d stay up all day worrying about me, so reluctantly I gave in and made my way to the parking lot.
“Nate”, Weed yelled before I’d even gotten my helmet off.
He was climbing out of his rust colored ‘82 Chevette with a cloud of smoke following him out the door. The car looked like crap and was the farthest thing from cool, but over the summer Weed had swapped out the stock four-banger engine for a turbo-charged small block V8. It would smoke just about every one of the sports cars I saw scattered about the school parking lot, but Weed didn’t really care about that; He just liked building things, making things better and faster. Being able to blow away the preppy boys and the cars their parents paid for was just a plus.
“This is our year,” he said, clearly feeling pretty good. “You ready for this?”
“I’m ready for anything,” I said, still grinning from the ride in. Then I saw Shawna. “Or at least almost anything.”
Shawna hopped out of Matt’s ‘vette looking even better than she had the night of the party. I tried not to stare, but caught myself doing so anyways. Matt drove off with the obligatory revving of his engine, and I thought that would be it, but then she saw us and with a wave, I knew I wasn’t going to get away so easily.
“You got it done?” She asked Weed as she walked up to the chevette.
“Pretty much,” he replied, “but I still think she could use a slightly bigger turbo to really wake her up.
“You give her a name yet?”
“Not yet,” he replied, “I still have to get to know her a little better.”
“And where’s Pamela?” Shawna asked me. “I thought you’d have her done by now. Didn’t I see her at the party the other night?”
“That’s kind of a long story,” I replied, trying to drop the subject.
“Not that long,” Weed said with a mischievous look on his face.
“So this is my ride for now,” I said, steering the conversation away from Pamela and my little accident.
“A motorcycle?” Shawna asked, her eyes widening. “That’s new.”
“Yeah,” I said, “sometimes new is exactly what we need.”
“You’ll have to take me for a ride sometime,” she said, way more excited than I expected her to be.
“Of course,” I replied, trying not to get too excited myself. I really wanted to say something to her about Matt, to see what they were actually doing together, but before I could get out another word, the school’s three minute warning bell rang.
“We’ll talk later,” she said, before running off towards honor’s English or one of her other college prep classes, while I dragged Weed towards our first period American History. We hadn’t planned to have all of our classes together; it just kind of worked out that way. I’d initially thought I wanted to have all my classes with Shawna but there was no chance of that happening with my grades. Besides, there really wasn’t a reason for me to take college prep classes; there was no way I’d be able to afford college even if I did get accepted. And I was okay with that, I think. Besides, I figured I’d have more fun with Weed, though that didn’t seem to work out the way I thought.
Keeping Weed awake through all of our classes was a losing proposition, especially when most of the time I struggled just to keep myself awake. Lunch was a nice break but Shawna was even on a different lunch schedule than us so by the time our final class let out I was a little anxious to see her again. I knew it was wrong; I mean, she had Matt, but I wasn’t planning on making a move; I just wanted a chance to talk with her again, to prove we could be friends even if she had a boyfriend. Unfortunately, as the last bell rang and we walked out the oversized doors leading to the parking lot, I heard the unmistakable sound of that cherry red Corvette.
“Look at it this way,” Weed said, apparently realizing the shift in my mood, “This way you have more time to dedicate to Pamela.”
I grinned, because he was right. Pamela needed me, and Shawna obviously didn’t.
“Let’s get to it then,” I replied, slipping on my helmet as he climbed into his car.
The bike kicked to life effortlessly, drawing the approving smiles of a couple underclass hotties as I gave it a little gas. With my helmet on they probably didn’t even know who I was but it still felt good to get a little attention, but not as good as it felt to finally get back out onto the long stretch of open road just outside of town. Sure, there was a quicker way to get to Weed’s house but it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable. Apparently Weed felt the same way. He pulled beside me at the first stop sign, his car in the left hand lane of the two lane road. Thankfully no one was coming from the other direction. He gave me a cheesy grin with a thumbs up and I nodded. I cranked the throttle and he floored it, and for a few seconds I managed to stay slightly ahead of him. Then his turbo fully kicked in and he flew past me like a cop going after a donut truck. Still, I kept the handle twisted, enjoying the thrill of the acceleration until I hit the redline and the rev limiter kicked in. By then Weed had already hit his brakes so I did the same, easing back down to the speed limit before we reached his house.
“You’ve got some balls,” he said, grinning from ear to ear as he climbed out of the chevette. “What’d she top out at?”
“The speedo said 120, but it was bouncing a bit thanks to the rev limiter.”
“We can take care of that.”
“Na, the limiter is probably a good thing so I don’t blow the engine.”
“I meant we could add a big bore kit and turbo, you know really make it fun.”
“How about we worry about Pamela first,” I replied, a little uneasy with the idea of going over 120 on two wheels.
“So you’re ready to get a little dirty then?”
“Absolutely,” I said, following him into the garage, but then I saw my car again and she looked even worse than I’d remembered.
“This might take a while,” I said, setting my helmet on the car roof.
“Might?” Weed replied with a grin. “I think that’s pretty much a guarantee; but don’t worry, we’ll get her better than new.”
“Thanks for your help.”
“Of course,” Weed said, heading towards the door leading to the back yard. “That’s what friends are for. Now how about you pop the hood and start cleaning out any corn stalks and field mice you might find while I grab a couple things from the shed.”
The driver’s side door groaned a little as I opened it and slid in. My thoughts instantly went back to that night, flashes of the hallucination running through my mind.
“I was drunk,” I told myself, shaking my head to clear the images.
“Are you sure that’s all it was?” I jumped, as the car stereo glowed red and the voice from my hallucination echoed from the speakers in the door. I could almost feel an electrical charge around me.
“No way,” I said, scrambling to get out of the car.
“There’s always a way,” the voice said, continuing to come from the car.
“What do you want?”
“I want you to remember our deal.”
The voice faded with the last word and the radio stopped glowing a second before Weed came through the back door.
“How’d you do that?”
“What?” He asked. “Use a door?”
“I never should have told you about that dream I had.”
“You’re probably right about that,” Weed replied, “but what does that have to do with anything?”
“Pranking me into thinking Pamela’s possessed is not cool.”
“That’d be pretty funny,” he said, “but I still don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“What’d you do, hook up a mic to the stereo and use the car’s speakers to broadcast your voice? You got me good, but it still wasn’t funny.”
“Dude, there’s no way you heard anything from the stereo.”
“The antenna may not work, but if you ran…”
“No, I’m telling you there’s no way the stereo was putting out any sound. The battery is over there charging.”
I followed Weed’s finger to where he was pointing and saw my battery sitting on a workbench hooked up to a trickle charger.
“No way,” I said, reaching down and pulling the hood latch. Sure enough, both the positive and negative battery cables were dangling empty beside the engine.
“Did you get into my stash already?” Weed asked, setting down the toolbox in his hands.
“You don’t look so hot,” Weed said, “how about we take a smoke break?”
“You swear that wasn’t you?” I asked as he led me outside.
“Look man, I love a good prank but I didn’t do a thing. Just tell me what happened.”
I took a moment, lighting a cigarette and taking a long drag. “I slid into Pamela to pop the hood and I heard that voice. The one from my drunken dream.”
“The voice from the other night? The one you sold your soul too?”
“I didn’t sell my soul, but yeah, that one.”
“In MY garage?”
“And the radio was glowing red.”
“After all the work we’ve put into,” he said, “I’ll be pissed if Pamela is possessed.”
“I know it sounds crazy but…”
“Maybe you just need a little sleep,” Weed said, lighting himself up a cigarette. “We can work on Pamela another…”
“No,” I replied, “I’m good.”
“Yeah, maybe I just needed a smoke.”
“Sure because hallucinations are always a sign of nicotine withdrawal.”
“Shut up,” I said, grinding out the rest of the cigarette. “Let’s get to work.”
Weed cranked up the boombox sitting on the workbench beside Pamela’s battery and The Offspring started blaring from the speakers, telling us how we needed to keep ‘em separated as we got started on my car.
I knew just enough about working on cars to be dangerous, but Weed knew more than most professional mechanics. He couldn’t memorize a single fact about any American president or solve a simple algebraic equation, but he could rebuild an engine blindfolded. With his help I knew Pamela would be on the road again, it was just going to take a little time and a lot of elbow grease.
The sun was starting to set by the time I left Weed’s, and we’d made a lot of progress without any further interruptions, but even with the music blaring and more than enough work to keep me busy, I couldn’t get that voice out of my head.
“Remember our deal,” the voice had said. How could I forget? But that wasn’t really the point. Even if, by some incredible chance, the whole thing turned out to be real, which it wasn’t, the deal was for me to kill whoever he told me too, which he hadn’t done. There was absolutely nothing for me to do. Therefore I was living up to my end of the non-existent deal. Problem solved.