The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav
Hey there. Here for a story? Well, do I got one for you. But where to begin? How about I introduce myself first. The name's Jay Lin. And this is my tale.
You know, before I met my step-brother, I never knew that they existed. Sometimes I would rather go back to those days. But most of the time, I'm glad I got to know about them. Let me tell you, the adventures I've had since meeting my step-brother are definitely stuff to tell the grandkids.
I was just a normal human boy, going through some normal, human boy stuff. Dad's gone to the great condo in the sky a couple of years ago, so it was just my mom and me for a while. Things were going good. Well, as good as things could get. Then, out of the blue, she meets and marries some guy named Terry Fa.
Now, don't get me wrong. Terry seemed like a good guy when I met him. He's not one of those evil step-dad kind of guys. In fact, he looked like he was totally hippy zen, cheerful and fun to be around, as well as being a gentle giant kind of guy. But I really couldn't wrap my head around this marriage. Like I said, it was really out of the blue. Then, next thing I knew, me and mom were going to move in with Terry and his son, some guy named Greg. I was even going to switch schools from my old one to the one that Greg goes to.
Greg is almost like the total opposite of Terry. Most of the time in the restaurant where we were getting to know each other, he was fiddling with his smartphone with a bored expression on his face, whereas his old man, me, and my mom had what others would call an animated conversation. Well, I tried. He spoke only when someone was asking him a question, and spoke very little. Mostly, his answers were "Yeah," "Sure," or "Uh-huh." When I asked what he thought about our parents meeting, he just shrugged and said "Whatever," before going back to playing on his phone like the modern emo teen that he was. That was going to be my new brother.
So, there I was, riding shotgun in my mom's minivan while the back was crammed with plastic boxes filled with some of our personal stuff. The rest would be put in storage for a while before we can really getting down to turning half of Terry and Greg's place ours. Mom was behind the wheel with her eyes staring daggers at the road from behind those thick-framed glasses of hers.
Julie Lin, a tall woman born from a family of immigrants from China. She's not exactly warm and fuzzy, and a real nightmare when it came to my grades. What parent isn't? But she's still my mom. Like always, she was dressed in a freshly pressed, black pantsuit, ready to bolt back to the office at a moment's notice, which happened not as often as you'd think for someone so high up in the company. The smell of her perfume was just another everyday thing for me. Seeing that same frowning face she wore every day, I never expected that she was dating anyone, let alone got spontaneously engaged and married.
There wasn't much to tell about my new home. It was just one of a couple of two-floor houses (minus the attic) in a suburban neighborhood that usually didn't see a lot of traffic. The house wasn't really as big as my old place, but it was still pretty big with fresh baby blue paint, a garage that could fit way more than just two cars, and a front lawn big enough for a neighborhood barbecue event.
Terry and Greg were waiting outside. Terry, the big guy in the polo shirt and khaki shorts, sporting a scruffy beard, waved cheerfully at us with a huge grin on his face, while his son, the much smaller Greg, with his longish hair and pale complexion, was on his phone again probably playing some mobile game.
"Welcome, welcome, welcome!" Terry called out, spreading his arms like some host of a big fancy hotel. He gave each of us a big hug. And I do mean a big hug. It was the kind of hug that could squeeze the air out of my lungs. Seriously, though. I nearly died from it.
"How was the trip?" he asked after finally letting me go. I dropped to the ground, gasping for air, but no one seemed to notice.
"It was fine," Mom said curtly, shutting the car door beside her without looking. Seeing the two of them together, such great big opposites in both appearance and personality, it's really strange to me how they got to the point of marriage.
She cast a cold glance at Greg, who glanced up and gave her an aloof "Sup?", before rolling her eyes back to Terry.
"Playing on the phone while wearing sunglasses?" she said curtly to Terry. "That can't be good for the eyes."
Terry shrugged. "Well, he can't really be out here in the sun without them."
Oh, yeah. Terry did mention something about how Greg had sensitive eyes, which would explain why he was wearing those old-fashioned, round wire-framed sunglasses even on a cloudy day like today.
Greg glanced up, shrugged, and then went back to playing mobile games.
Seeing like he was there, one would think of him as an aloof, unassuming emo teen. What could be so interesting about him? Well, trust me. Things about him will definitely get more interesting soon enough.
Well, anyway, after that little meet-and-greet outside, Terry took me and Mom inside for a tour of our new home.
"Whoa, nice place!" I commented while looking around.
I really meant what I said. The inside of the house had a really cozy feel to it. The living room was rather spacious with five-seat black leather couch sitting in front of a flat-screen TV that hung above the fireplace. Barring the fireplace was a polished bronze gate with a simple flowery design. A glass coffee table was used to house some books and a series of remote controls in its under-rack.
"I'm gonna go now," said Greg. Taking off his sunglasses inside did little to improve the aloof vibe he gave off. In fact, it made him look a lot meaner now that his sharp, slanted eyes were exposed. In a way, he and my Mom could be kindred spirits.
Just as he turned to leave, I saw a card fly out of his pocket and landed on the ground.
"Hey," I called out to him before leaning down to pick the card up. "You dropped something."
Greg stopped midway up the stairs and glanced down. He looked at me like he didn't care about anything in the world. Or he could just be sleepy. Sometimes, he moved, swaying in a way that seemed like he was only half-awake.
The card in my hand looked like it was some kind of business card with a really amateurish symbol drawn on it. Is that supposed to be a key between the ear-less bat in a top hat and a dog's head?
As if he read my mind, Greg answered: "It's supposed to be a magnifying glass."
That really startled me.
"Keep it," he said. "I don't really need it anymore. Who knows? Maybe it'll be useful to you."
And with that, he was gone.
I gotta say, I could get used to living in this house. I was worried that it was going to be kinda cramp living with two more guys, but with this house having two spacious bathrooms, plenty of spare bedrooms, an office for work related stuff, and a man-cave basement complete with game systems, stereo, and a large TV, those worries just flew out the window.
"And the neighbors are all nice people," Terry said as we continued with the tour of the place. "Now and then we all gather together at the community center for a little meet-and-greet. There's a lot of great grub to be had there. And then there are games with prizes. The school's also pretty great as well. I'm sure you'll make a lot of good friends there, Jay. Who knows? You might even snag yourself a lady as pretty as your mom!"
Oh, yuck! I did not need to hear that. Or see Mom smile and flirt back, saying things like "Oh, stop, you!" Maybe Greg had the right idea skipping out on his host duties.
I decided to excuse myself and leave the two lovebirds to themselves while I went to get used to my new bedroom. After going back to the front to grab my really large, overstuffed blue backpack and my laptop case, I hauled my stuff up the stairs to the room that Terry said would be mine. The room was slightly smaller than the one I had at the apartment, but it wasn't something to really complain about.
After just tossing my stuff into the wall closet, I dropped onto my new bed and admired my room for a bit. The walls were all barren and everything about the room lacked personality. It was just another guest room in this house. So, it wasn't much different from my old room. There was no way I could decorate any of the walls of my old room with anime, cartoon, and comic book superhero posters. Not with a mom like the one I had. I wasn't really interested in stuff like posters anyway.
Figuring now would be a good time to check out what my friends at my old school were doing, I took out my phone and began browsing their online posts. While doing that, I happened to hear a faint squeaking sound. I didn't think much of it at first, thinking it was probably the springs of the bed. But then the squeaking started up, and I knew for sure I wasn't moving.
I got up and started looking around for the source of the sounds, straining my ears hoping they would help me in my search. The sound was close. Very close. So close, that I could have sworn that it was actually coming from my pocket.
Wait. Could it be? Nah. There was no way. But just to be sure, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the only thing in it, the card that Greg let me keep. Printed on the card in gold, bold lettering was: "Got a problem that can't be explained? Then call the Dandy Monsters, Supernatural Detectives! In case of emergencies, just give us a shout for help."
Wow. I didn't know that Greg was into the supernatural. Of course he would be interested in stuff like that if he was carrying a card like this.
To my amazement, I thought I saw one of the wings of that badly drawn bat twitch. I thought it was just my imagination, but then the cartoon bat winked one of its red eyes at me.
Startled, I yelped and dropped the card. Seriously, what just happened? Did that bat doodle just wink at me? It did, didn't it? Calm down. Calm down. There's no way amateur computer doodles just wink at you. Not when they're just printed on cards like that. Unless . . .
I slowly knelt down where I dropped the card and gingerly picked it up, pinching it between two fingers. I felt around the card's surface and tilted it around, but nothing. No winking. No movement whatsoever on the picture's part. It was not one of those fancy trick cards with animation like I thought it was.
Was it maybe my imagination? I wondered, scratching my head. Yeah. It must be. After all, whoever heard of moving drawings? Other than in TV, of course.
- Supernatural Detectives: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter Two)
Jay enters his new school.