by Artist Arthur
Kimani TRU, February 2011
© Artist Arthur, 2010
Anyway, they look just like other groups of teens congregating, talking, not buying a thing, just hanging out. In which case I would have normally shrugged them off. Except this group did have one distinct difference—they’re faces aren’t like normal teenagers.The two girls have long, pale faces. Around their eyes are dark brown circles with lashes that don’t look like they are using the store-bought mascara. Both of them have golden eyes and black marks on their face in some weird pattern. But it’s their hair that really startles me. Snakes, that’s exactly what the long, moving strands resemble.
And the boys, their lower bodies remain the same, but again their faces are different. Caved in at the cheeks so that they look more skeletal than human and their complexion, a dusty gray and yet it’s their eyes that have my heart thumping wildly. Or their lack of eyes I should say. The pits where pupils should be are empty, dug out.
Just like the boy at the lake.
My head shakes once, twice. Then I jump as if waking up from a bad dream. Antoine is standing in front of me, his hands on each of my shoulders shaking me.
“You okay?” he’s asking as I look over towards the group of strange teens then back at him.
They’re still there and they still look weird. “Huh?” I finally manage to answer.
“Are you okay? You zoned out for a minute, staring over there like you know one of them. You want to go speak?”
His voice sounds a little irritated. I lick my lips nervously. “Ah, no. No. I don’t know them.”
“Then why are you staring at them like that?”
“I don’t know,” I answer quickly and purposely keep my head still and my eyes trained on Antoine so I won’t look at them again. “I’m fine. Let’s eat,” I say hurrying to move towards the food court.
At the only burger stand in the entire mall, Antoine orders me a cheeseburger, fries and a root beer. For himself he gets a big beef hot dog with every condiment they have dropped onto it. We sit at one of the tables close to the wall and for the most part eat in silence.Until a girl comes up to the table.
“Hey, Twan. Haven’t seen you in a while,” she says.
I finish chewing my French fry and look up at her. The voice is definitely feminine and the body is definitely all girl. She’s wearing a leather push-up bra and a matching swatch of material that just barely covers her other vital parts.
“Hi LaToya,” Antoine says in a less than enthusiastic voice.
“Why haven’t you called me?” she asks.
Now he’s even more irritated. “Can’t you see I’ve got company?”
“Oh,” LaToya says, then she looks my way.
I almost fall out of the chair.
She’s beautiful. I mean, picture-perfect beauty. Flawless golden skin, hazel eyes, thick arched brows, perfect pouty lips painted with a light lip gloss. Her hair is long, an auburn color, rolling down her back in heavy ringlets. But on each side at the top of her head like antenna are two small horns.
I’m losing my mind. I have to be. There’s something in the air, some airborne virus that’s affecting my sight. Or maybe it’s in the food, the brown bag lunch that was packed by Mrs. Cullinson, the crazy cafeteria lady, and given out on the field trip this afternoon. Maybe it’s something from the lake, like poison ivy, or some other bacteria coming from the polluted water.
Something clicks into place in my mind. Maybe…it’s from going to that other plane.
But I’m certainly not there now because Antoine is here. He’s sitting right across from me in this crowded mall with all these other normal looking people. But as I look past LaToya I see that some of the people are normal and others…well, let’s just say they aren’t the face of the American people.
“I gotta go,” I say quickly and stand up.
“What? Sasha, wait. You haven’t finished eating.”
“Yeah, I know. I just gotta get out of here.”
LaToya just smiles at me like she knows I know what she really is. I wonder what Antoine sees. Probably just a perfectly stacked teenage girl, trying to get with him.
“Stay away from him,” I get up in her face and warn. Then on impulse I push her. Hard. She falls back against the table then looks straight at me, or through me.
She throws her head back and laughs, like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. Old and sick and cackle-like.
I start walking and Antoine’s right behind me. “Hey, what’s your problem?”
“What’s your problem?” I say whirling on him. I raise my voice and a few people look at us wondering what’s going on.
Antoine takes a step back, lifting both his hands in the air like I told him he’s under arrest or something. I turn and keep walking fast until I find the escalator and head down. I try not to look at anyone else because I don’t want to see. Or I do want to see, if they’re normal. But those other things I can do without.
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