CHAPTER 12 BATS
What’s going on? Billy wondered. Why is April so freaked out?
“Don’t you remember me?” the boy asked her.
“I . . . uh . . .” April stammered.
“Rick Tyler,” the boy announced. “From Shadyside.”
“Oh, yeah,” April replied. Taking his arm, she quickly pulled him away from Billy and the others.
“This is an old friend,” she called back to them, hurrying Rick out the door. “I need to talk to him alone. Catch you guys later.”
She and Rick vanished out the door.
“What was that about?” Irene asked.
“Beats me,” Kylie replied.
“Should we wait for her?” Jay asked.
“I don’t see her anywhere,” Nate reported, stepping outside. “Looks like April found somebody new, Jay. Tough break, man.”
Jay nodded sleepily, as if he couldn’t find the strength to answer.
“Let’s go,” Nate urged.
They started into town. Halfway to the arcade, Jay stopped. “I can’t go,” he announced. “I’ve got to get some sleep. I can’t even move.”
“No way!” Billy protested. “Come on, Jay. Stay with us.”
Until I figure out some way to see your neck, he thought.
“Can’t,” Jay mumbled. He trudged slowly away toward the beach—and his condo.
Billy rushed after Jay, the loose sand feeling spongy under his sandals. He caught up with Jay on the other side of the dunes.
“Wait up,” he called.
Jay stopped. “What?”
“Let me see your neck.” Billy reached for Jay’s collar.
“Hey—” Jay protested, knocking Billy’s hand away.
“I need to see your neck,” Billy insisted.
Jay frowned. “Are you crazy? What is your problem?”
“I think you’ve been bitten by a vampire.”
Jay stared at him for a long moment. Then he gave a short laugh. “Billy, go away. I’m too beat to listen to this.”
Billy reached for Jay’s collar again.
“No way!” Jay shouted, pushing Billy away.
Billy stumbled back, nearly losing his balance. I didn’t think Jay had enough strength left to do that, he thought.
“I don’t want to hear this vampire stuff!” Jay cried. “I’m too tired.”
What should I do? Billy wondered. Should I tackle him? Rip off his shirt?
“Billy, I don’t know how to say this,” Jay started. “But you were in a mental hospital. And now you’re acting crazy. I mean, I’m worried about you. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“You think I’m crazy,” Billy muttered.
“You’re talking about vampires!” Jay exclaimed.
“Jay, you have to listen to me—” he began.
But a voice interrupted him. “Hey, Billy! You coming?” Kylie stood on the crest of the dune with Nate and Irene, watching them.
“Go on, man,” Jay told him. “Stop thinking about your old girlfriend. There’s no such thing as a vampire.”
Billy glared at his best friend. But he couldn’t force Jay to show him his neck. Not with the others watching. They would all think he’d gone nuts.
He walked back toward Kylie.
Jay will be okay for tonight, he told himself. He’s too wiped to do anything but go straight home. And April is with that Rick guy.
By the time they reached the center of town, Nate and Irene had disappeared.
“Hey, where did they go?” Billy asked Kylie.
“Don’t know,” Kylie answered. “Maybe they wanted to be alone.”
“I guess,” Billy replied.
Their eyes met. Billy started to look away, but her gaze held him. Her eyes seemed to glow softly, pulling him in. Gently. Slowly.
Billy felt a weird tug in his chest.
He felt as if he were floating.
Gliding in a mist.
Alone with Kylie. Beautiful Kylie.
Drifting past the Mini Market.
The Pizza Cove.
The Harbor Palace movie theater.
Billy shook the weird dreaminess off. Kylie stared at him, frowning, her green eyes smoldering.
They stood in front of the Old Atlantic Chowder House, people pushing past them to get in and out. How did we get here? Billy wondered. Kylie’s eyes still burned into his.
“Uh . . . want some chowder?” he asked awkwardly.
Kylie shrugged. “Sure. Why not?”
The place had fishing nets on the walls and red-checked plastic tablecloths. Waiters hurried past with steaming bowls of chowder, the tangy aroma drifting through the room.
“The menu is over there,” Billy told Kylie, pointing to a large blackboard on a stand. The day’s offerings were scribbled in chalk.
Kylie studied the menu, then shrugged. “I guess I’m not really hungry.” She laughed. “I never eat. I never seem to have the time.”
“We don’t have to eat if you don’t want to,” Billy told her.
They left the restaurant.
“Come on,” Kylie urged, grabbing his hand. “Let’s check out the beach.”
Billy wasn’t sure he wanted to return to the beach so soon. He thought of Mae-Linn. He pictured her body again, half covered with sand. It was hard to shake such an ugly memory.
But Kylie was really hot.
He decided to follow her. As they crossed Main Street, he searched for April and Rick Tyler, or Irene and Nate. No sign of them.
Kylie chose a spot where they had to climb down to the beach through the dune grass. It clung to Billy’s ankles as if the blades were covered with sticky glue.
The moon shone brightly in the star-filled sky, bathing the beach in silvery light. Billy stopped to scrape some beach tar from his sandals.
Kylie seemed distracted, distant. Billy thought she had a strange expression on her face. Needy? Longing?
“Let’s sit down,” she suggested.
“I want to keep walking,” Billy told her.
Kylie’s eyes flashed angrily. Then she smiled. Slipped her hand into Billy’s.
What’s her deal? Billy wondered.
They walked along the beach holding hands. Kylie gazed at him. “You’re sort of . . . well, hard to get to know,” she told him. “You never talk about yourself.”
“I don’t like to talk about myself,” he replied.
“Well, we don’t have to talk,” Kylie murmured, moving closer to him. She tilted her face to his. Billy stared into her eyes. Felt himself falling . . . falling into Kylie’s eyes.
Everything looks blurry, he thought. Can’t see anything.
Only Kylie. He heard her whispering his name, pulling him down to the sand.
A loud flapping sound shook Billy from his daze. Something fluttered past his nose, so close he could feel the breeze from its wings.
Startled, Billy looked up. Something black flashed past his head. A dark shadow in the moonlight.
Something slammed against his shoulder.
He ducked out of the way as tiny claws grazed his cheek.
Yes, two of them.
They swooped down again, one clawing at his shoulder, the other going for his face. He ducked out of the way.
Desperately searching the beach, he tried to find some cover. A dock to hide beneath. An abandoned beach umbrella.
Something. Anything. But there was nowhere to hide.
He glanced up, searching for the bats. They flew over him.
Then they swooped to attack.
Date: 2015-04-20; view: 199