The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter Ten)
"Ugh!" I went as I came down the stairs, lugging my heavy backpack over my right shoulder.
The weekend had finally ended, and now it was time for me to go to school. I really wasn't looking forward to it. I had heard that magicians had taken care of things in the human world so that no one would notice that Mom, Terry and April's Dad were kidnapped by vampires, but I couldn't help but dread how everyone was going to look at me and April. Or how April would look at me, being the stepbrother of a vampire.
And speaking of vampires, Greg was already at the restaurant floor, backpack slung over his shoulder. He was sitting with his back slightly turned to the window, so some sunlight was cast over the book he was reading. Even though he was wearing a black t-shirt, baggy jeans and a studded, leather wristband, the way he sat and read, with his chin propped on the back of his free hand made me think of an old-fashioned gentleman.
"Judging by those big, neanderthal stomps, I'm guessing it's you, Jay," he said, breaking the long morning silence without looking up.
I scowled at the less than subtle insult.
"What? No 'good morning'? Whatever."
He got up, stretched his arms, and then glanced outside. His face was unreadable. I couldn't tell what he was thinking or feeling as he looked at the people outside go about their morning. Only one or two of those people closely resembled human beings. The rest were monsters or creatures of various shapes, making me feel like I was in some kind of avant-garde art piece.
"Hey," Greg said, abruptly turning to me. "Before we get out of here, I just want to warn you not to make a fool of yourself. It'll be a big pain in the neck to me if you start up a commotion."
I scowled even more. He probably didn't want me to do something stupid like blab about how magic and monsters exist. As if! I've seen enough TV shows to know that I'll look like a crazy person. if I did that. And then my life will be in even more turmoil than it already was. That, I could do without.
"I'm not the one dressed like a Goth," I snapped back.
Greg glared back.
"Have it your way, then," he said, after breaking his gaze from mine. "But don't say that I didn't try to warn you."
"And what is that supposed to - !?"
"Hey!" Simon cut in as he came tumbling down. "The gang's all here! 'Morning everyone!"
We replied back some half-hearted "good morning" and piled out of the restaurant.
"Where's Delilah?" I asked as Greg locked up the shop.
"She's still sleeping," Simon replied.
"Still?" I went.
"The cafe doesn't open for another two hours, and she usually leaves everything to the part-timers, anyway."
"O . . . kay."
The first time I came to this town was through a magic portal that sprouted from the business card that Greg let me keep, so I was a bit excited to see how we were all going to go to school. And . . .
It was by bus.
As soon as we stepped out of the district of wood-frame buildings and cobblestone road, I found myself standing right in front of an alleyway between two buildings of modest heights. The place was crowded, but with only humans all with places to get to and people to see. Cars zipped to and fro as fast as allowed on the two-way road. I didn't need a guide to tell me where this place was. We were in the human world again.
"Come on," Greg said, snapping me out of my stupor. He nodded towards the bus stop where a lot of kids from our school were gathered.
So, me, Greg and Simon waited for the bus just like everyone else around us. It was just a normal day, with normal people doing normal things. The longer we waited, the more doubt I had that everything I experienced over the weekend was just a dream, or some hallucination. And that, for some reason, made me afraid.
I don't know why, but my stomach twisted into a knot when the thought that all that stuff about vampires, werewolves and monsters weren't real. I was beside myself with worry. And then -
"Oh maaaan," went a squeaky voice coming from above my head. "Another day, another group of humans waiting for that giant metal coffin to whisk them away to the great beyond, never to be seen again."
"Those are called buses," said another squeaky voice. "And they're not going to some great beyond never to be seen again. They're just going to another part of town. And they usually come back. See? We just saw that man in blue yesterday."
I looked up and saw two four-eyed jellyfishes with feathered wings hovering above the bus stop, chatting.
"Hm?" went the blue jellyfish. "Hey, look! That human's staring at us!"
"Yeah," went the pink jellyfish. "You're right. He doesn't smell like a monster. He's an honest-to-goodness human! Hey! You! Can you hear me? Can you see me?"
I opened my mouth, and then closed it before turning away, after which I reached up above me with both hands and clapped my hands.
"Got it! Dumb mosquito!" I cried out. I just realized that this was probably what Greg meant when he was trying to warn me.
"Huh," went one of the jellyfish. I kept my back to them, so I didn't know which one was speaking. "It was just a bug. Really had me going there, too."
"Let's go," said the other one.
The jellyfish' voices quickly faded, but I didn't turn around to check. I didn't want to risk exposing that I could see them.
"Smooth," Greg said sarcastically.
I glowered at him sideways, but didn't answer.
"Surprised?" he whispered.
In the bus, he explained how the monster town was full of magic energy and that the longer I stayed there, the more magic energy I absorbed, until I was changed in some way. That's why, after staying there for a couple of days, I could now pierce the Veil and see the world for what it really was.
"The Veil, Barrier, or Mist, as some would call it, is the force field that separates the world of humans from the world of magic," Simon said. "Some people call the world of magic, the spirit world. And they're not wrong. Many of the magical creatures that live in this higher level of existence are spirit-like. You read comic books, right? I'm sure you must've found at least one comic book about kids seeing things other people can't. That's pretty much it."
"So, does this mean that April can see them to?" I wondered aloud.
"Since she's only been at the restaurant for a night, I don't think so," Simon replied. "Not unless she was born with some kind of magic talent like those kids in the comic books. It usually takes over a full twenty-four hours before the dense magic energy in the atmosphere gives you the gift of Sight."
"Since we're calling this the gift of Sight, does this mean I can also see ghosts?"
"Probably," Simon said, shrugging. "To be honest, I've never thought to look it up."
"Really? Aren't you a monster? So why?"
That was when Greg cut in.
"Just because we're monsters, doesn't mean we're into all that creepy horror stuff, like ghosts or demons," he said. The left corner of his mouth twitched. "In fact, most of us monsters hate that kind of stuff more than you humans do. We're almost at our stop, by the way."
As soon as I stepped off the bus, I was suddenly hit with a scene that took my breath away. The school before me was not the one I entered last week. Everything was warped. There were castles now, towering over the normal buildings. Humanoids flew high in the sky, too far for me to really make out the finer details. All manner of creatures, from small and whimsical to large and menacing, roamed the grounds. They paid no attention to the students, and even walked right into them.
I saw one elephant-like monster with three eyes and two human-like arms at the sides stomp right into two girls and tried to warn them.
"Look out!" I shouted.
"Hm?" went the girls, turning around to me. I cried out in horror when they were crushed beneath the elephant's tree-trunk of a foot. Then, to my astonishment, after the elephant monster passed through, I saw the girls not only alive, but completely unscathed.
"Weirdo," one of them said before the pair hurried on.
"One of the features of the Veil," Simon explained. "Magical creatures can't do anything with the human world while living on their side of the Veil. The same goes for humans with the magic world. Not unless they use some kind of magic power or something. And only those that actually learn how to use magic can do that. And even that's a really small number."
"Oh, so we're all safe," I said, sighing in relief.
"As long as you don't let them find out you can see them, yes," Greg said. "But if they figure out you can see them, things will get really annoying."
"Does this mean that happened to you?" I asked.
Greg sniffed and turned his nose up from me.
"I'm not human, so I don't have to worry about that sort of thing," he said. "Humans who can see them interest them more than some monsters."
I scowled. I wanted to ask him what he meant by things getting annoying, but changed my mind. If I had to give a reason, it'd be my pride.
I would find out what he meant later, anyway.
Just as I had hoped, I found April at her locker, putting away all the extra books she didn't need for the day. She wasn't looking very good. Anyone with eyes could see the dark circles forming beneath her eyes that were puffed and red probably because of crying a lot. I wanted to see her to see how she was doing and talk to her about, you know, stuff, but now that I saw her, I was hit with a crummy feeling of helplessness. I wanted to say something, anything, to make her feel better, but I couldn't think of anything.
April closed the locker, well, rather, she slammed the locker shut. She probably didn't notice I was here, because she abruptly froze when she saw my face. Her eyes were wide in surprise. But she quickly recovered and averted her gaze. That really stung.
"H-hey," I managed to stammer.
"Hey," April replied softly.
"S-so, how are things?" I asked. And mentally kicked myself for it. "How are things?" What a stupid thing to say!
"Could have been better," she said. Her voice was a little loud, high, and was an obvious testament to how upset she was. "What about you?"
"I-I see," I replied back. "Well, f-for me, I - !"
I froze and broke out in cold sweat.
April tilted her head one side with a puzzled look. Towering behind her was some kind cyclops in dirty black rags. His charcoal face was shaped like a horse, but he had yellowing fangs, and his mouth was open way further than a horse's could. Above his single, huge eye was a horn that branched two ways midway up. Claws were halfway exposed out of the sleeves of his rag robes.
He had appeared so suddenly and out of nowhere that I was taken completely off-guard.
"Are you okay?" April said. She was genuinely concerned now. "What's wrong?"
There was no way. There was no way I could tell her what was behind her.
"Human. You can see me?" The creature spoke with a deep, gravelly, but slow and hissing voice.
I didn't answer. Rather I couldn't. Fear plugged up my voice box.
Calm down, Jay, I said to myself. Calm down. Remember what Simon said. They can't touch you. They can't do anything to you.
"Answer me. You can see me, can't you?"
In front of him, April put her hand to her hip and glared.
"Is something the matter?" she said.
"N-no!" I finally managed to say. "E-everything's all good."
"Hmm," went the monster. "I wonder if you can really see me."
Good, I thought. He was beginning to doubt himself. If I keep this up, maybe he'll leave me alone.
"Well, this is boring. Now what am I to do? I know, how about I play a little prank."
I did not like the sound of that.
"I know just the spell, one that will keep this child here bedridden for days, if not weeks."
My heart leaped to my chest at the mention of spells. In my head, I was going "Oh no! He knows magic! Didn't Simon say that the ones who can do magic were real bad news?"
The monster reached for April's throat.
"No!" I cried out.
Startled, April gaped at me with wide eyes. She wasn't the only one. Everyone was staring at me, like I was weird or something. When I turned their way, the on-lookers took a step back, fearful.
Behind me, I could hear laughter. And that left me fuming, because I had realized then that I had been tricked.
"I knew it!" he cackled. "So you can see me! And just judging by my continued presence here, you are not a magician! Excellent! It has been so long since I've encountered a human who could see me, but can't do any magic. You and I are going to have some fun."
- The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter Nine)
Jay meets the librarian, and then returns to see his stepbrother at work.
- The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter Eleven)
Jay must deal with a new bully.