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It is said perception is reality, and yet, what if the reality in question was twisted and corrupted to a disheartening degree of depravity?  Would the corruption have the power to shift the human  consciousness and control the very nature of what is and is not? Five teenagers will have to answer that very question.  Their souls will be thrown into a pit of malevolent despair where they will come face to face with their archetypal selves.  Their characters will be tested, they will be deceived, given half-truths, and face punishment for crimes they did not commit.

"My phone’s going to die," were scarcely audible and the only clear words to come through Michael’s cellphone, even before he could utter a greeting.
     “Beth? Is that you?” Michael questioned as he leaned forward and pressed the volume button on Christopher’s car radio down in an attempt to hear what was being said.
     The amalgam of static, crackling, and dead air made it nearly impossible for him to hear anything. He shifted in his seat and placed one hand up to plug his right ear while the other crammed the phone tightly against his left.
      “I--crap--can you----at park----club.” Beth said just as the static overtook the remainder of the half-broken sentence.


“Beth?  Beth, you’re breaking up.  Talk louder, I can’t hear you.”  Michael shouted into his cell, paused, and added, with half jest, half anger; “Your service sucks.”

“Gun--Need.” And with those final words the cellphone went dead.

“Hello, hello?  Beth?”  Michael said then shouted, “Shit.”

Michael pulled the cellphone from his ear and immediately pushed on Beth’s icon only to get the familiar straight to voicemail recording which signaled the battery must have been out of power.  He turned to Christopher, shook his head no, and said, “I think you better turn around.”

“What’s going on?”  Christopher questioned, though he pulled the car away from Michael’s block.

“I couldn’t tell, she said park, I think I made out the word club.”  Michael looked confusingly at his phone.

“Clubhouse?”  Christopher said as he turned up the volume slightly and took a left turn.  He was driving without knowing where it was Michael wanted him to go.

Michael’s face had an odd expression when he spoke and reflected back on the clearest word he heard. “She said gun.  Why would she use the word gun?”

“Maybe she didn’t say gun,” Christopher said as he shrugged and stared at the ostensibly bleak road ahead.

“No that was one of the few words I could make out.  I don’t know, maybe Leigh will know.”  His voice sounded muted and distant as worry overtook him.  His thoughts remained squeamish and slightly scared by her broken, timorous sounding voice.

“All right, I’ll swing by her house.”  Christopher said as he turned down Park Lane and flicked on his high-beams to help illuminate the poorly lit street.

“Should I just call her?”  Michael said and then spoke again as he noticed it was past two in the morning.  “No, I guess not.  She would just sleep through her ringtone at this hour.”

“Won’t she get in trouble if we show up in the middle of the night?”  Christopher adjusted his rear-view mirror nervously as he collected and suppressed his worries.

“Doubtful, her mom loves me, besides; I’ve shown up at worse hours.”  Michael leaned back in the seat as though he was relaxed, but truthfully his body felt stiff and on edge.

His eyes kept shifting back and forth from the small clock on the dashboard to the cellphone he held tightly in his hands.  Though Beth’s words had been hauntingly cryptic in nature, and vague with tale-tale signs of serious trouble, it was the time putting him into a state of apprehension.  He had to be home before his father was.  He shook his head at this.  There was no way he would be making it home if he kept going.  He contemplated the seriousness of her tone, thinking now he heard an inexpressible anguish in Beth’s voice.  His mind lolled, reflecting on his father’s nature, his cruelty, and the punishment which would be dealt out swiftly.  He moaned, and with a perfunctory sense of who he was and should be; he decided he would find his friend, even though there would be hell to pay for it.

*******

Beth attempted to dial out again as a chill of deja-vu rose up from deep within.  The lights on her cellphone dimmed then switched off as she caught a slight glimpse of the empty battery icon.  She mumbled a few swear words and threw the phone to the ground which thumped twice, and then tumbled into the darkness.  Beth groaned at the ominous night which fate had delivered her to this evening.

She turned her head to the left, feeling only the wind as it picked up and stung her bare shoulders.  The crisp, crystal night distorted her perception as she suddenly felt odd.  Her toes went numb, her fingers red, while patches of purple began to blotch her face.  Her stomach began twisting in on itself, giving her the sensation of being locked in an ambiguous nightmare, one in which she felt she was slowly disappearing and somehow dissolving into the unflourishing folds of time.  She felt her brain attempt to recalibrate itself while her body slightly shifted her focus back to her gruesome reality.

The atmosphere was redolent of the metallic residue left from the gunfire.  Her nose twitched faintly as she contemplated over the situation.   Her attention drew back to the gun while she tried to rationalize how her hand could not feel its cold steel.  She watched, caught in a delusional state, as what appeared to be a soft, billowy white smoke, slowly separated and disbanded into the world around her; a world which had come to a crashing halt and had sent her mind into this unfamiliar state of madness and denial.  She didn’t feel like herself anymore.  Her heart was heavy and demote.  She knew the smoke wasn’t there, and yet it lingered in front of her as though it were now a part of the tactile environment.

Her left brow twitched as he again captured and held her somewhat servile attention.  His body now laid in a clump of half mud, half grass.  His head tilted to the left, his arms flailed out in an obscure position, while his stiff legs sank into the ground as though they had weights pressing upon them.  Her gaze remained on his face, now smeared with dirt, muck, and bits of green.  She sickly smiled.  He would be returning to the sand from which he had come, a most fitting end; at least she believed it to be so.  Her stomach grumbled and churned wanting to regurgitate the bile and acids which grew with each passing moment.  She continued to examine the scenery before her.  Her focus shifted, her stomach, for an instant, was set at ease.

With her eyes averted, she knelt down and went to check his pulse, though failed to do so as her body flinched and her hand snapped sharply back.  She gagged and then dry-heaved.  She had not touched his body, no; she had placed her hand into a pool of blood which had dripped down the side of his torso and onto the semi-wet grass.  She stood up quickly, her hand came up to eye-level, and though dark, she could see the copper color of his blood.  She winced and sought out a place to wipe it away.

She exhaled deeply and tried to get a grip on things.  She knew she could not stand here forever. The sun would come up soon and having a child find the body, which was very possible, as she was standing at the local park, was unacceptable.

All rationality and the ability to think clearly had left, but she knew that she had to get the body off the green area and needed, most urgently, to get rid of the blood on her hand.  She leaned down, quickly smearing the blood on his shirt.  Next she grabbed his arm and began to pull.  The fifteen year old girl groaned and strained, her arm yanked, her feet started to slip.  There was no way he was going to move, at least not by her alone.  Her five-foot-one frame, with hardly any weight to speak of, did not give her enough strength to move a six foot, very limp, body.

Beth’s shaking stopped as a new feeling entered.  Fear remained, but changed and collapsed in on itself.  The world and its crisscross nature of cause and effect seized her and developed into a sense of an organic reality with perceptible rules governing it.  She imagined herself standing before a judge, hearing a banging gavel, as a loud voice began to berate her for being such an evil, vile little girl.  She swallowed in; they often charged children in Utah as adults.  What would she do then?  Could she survive in jail?  Would she want to survive in jail?  Mists of water swelled, her sanity began to rupture, and she felt terribly alone, isolated by her own irrevocable actions.  The moonlight, though a sliver in the sky, was harsh and unyielding.  She blinked several times as a means of stopping the tears from falling.

She let go of her father’s arm as the rush of the wind picked up and blew her brown hair from her pale, hollowed out face.  She placed the backside of her hand against her eye and pressed down hard enough to send stars shooting from behind her closed eyelids.  She had to think, though no real thoughts seemed to enter, only cryptic, half messages of death, fire, and the gun.  Her hand fell limply to the side.  She blinked again as the isolation grew.  The wind, as if sensing her feelings, began to rush down the side of the mountains and swooped down like a hawk.  The sensation caused shivers to move down her spine. The trees began to whip and fight with each other, making rustling sounds resembling an army sneaking up on her; and yet her legs remained frozen to the ground as though she two had become a permanent fixture in the park.

Beth, without warning, allowed the madness to conquer her, and began to laugh, a wild, maniacal laugh.  Next the damn broke and tears dripped and streamed relentlessly down her face, smearing her mascara and leaving black lines to stain her colorless cheeks.  She had to act now, before someone acted for her.  She shifted, finally moving from her trance, and dashed off toward Suzy’s house.

The gun Beth had just used to shoot a hole through her father in the middle of the night, in the backdrop of a park, was Suzy’s gun, a gun which the police had been searching for.

*******

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