"She's not tired"
"She's not tired. She wants an excuse to leave."
Arlene sipped over her tea, just barely out of reach of being cool enough to drink.
It was only the two of them now. Arlene, Glenn. There were four total, but their groups shrunk within the last few minutes.
"She figured out you weren't single."
Glenn brushed his 'fro of dirty blond hair away from his Teutonic features and leaned back in suppressed pride.
"Not recently German, but his family was," Arlene thought.
"She came here to check me out? Oh my God!"
"Funny isn't it?" she smiled at him.
"But she won't stay because of you? You're her friend and all," Glenn enjoyed the buildup he was getting. "What did she know about me? What did you say?"
"I told her," she blushed because she didn't like being asked about her gossiping skills, "that I was bringing you along."
"But she had to know something to make her get up and come over."
"No." she put her tea cup down, "Glenn, not in the way you think, and if you leave it at that, I'll swear to it that your imagination is more exciting."
"Oh! You shouldn't have said anything! What? What?" he was prodding.
Arlene wanted to sidestep this, but he was dating somebody else and needed to play it down as much as she could.
"Siobhan is*.incredibly desperate," and suddenly, the tea was colder than she was.
"Oh," he became crestfallen. "So, she likes anything in a, um, pair of pants?"
"Glenn, I don't really know how to say it. Anything, as long as it doesn't have a third eye growing out of its forehead is game."
"So, um, as long as it doesn't have three eyes, and it has three legs, it's OK."
She paused, processing that statement, "Um, yes, but look, you're already seeing someone, so it really doesn't matter, does it?"
"Heh. Sometimes I look."
Arlene acted surprised.
"Amanda and I*..well, I've discussed the possibility of seeing others. I don't know." He sped up in justification, "I feel like there's something missing."
"Do you think Siobhan could fill that?"
"Well, she's not bad looking*"
"A bit sexier, right? Her hips don't spill out over her jeans*"
Glenn shot a look at her to keep her in check.
"C'mon, man, I wasn't the one who went right off into saying what a good looking girl she was."
"I said she wasn't bad," he corrected himself.
"But what else did you think about her?" Arlene already knew every single word to this response, but she enjoyed the ping that every word rang.
Glenn deflected immediately, "so, why won't your friend stay for you? What sort of friend is she to do that?"
"Glenn, she's one of the lost ones, all right? Her friends are the people who introduce her to potential dates, and not much more."
"You keep her around?"
"Hey, you don't see lots of people knocking at my door looking for company, now do you?"
"And Jamie. You two are my steadies. Look, I don't mind that she does it. I can't tolerate her in large doses, anyway."
She drank her tea. She rubbed her fingers over the warm ceramic as other thoughts seeped into her head. She could hear everything around her. She could look at the lawyer couple and know the prissy girl was the good girl who had the respectable babies for the husband who went to the strip bars after work.
She could hear the whispers of mid-October on the wind. They were outside and the sun was hanging at just enough of an angle to make the sky warm and shadowy in appearance while casting no heat onto the ground. She heard the whispers of ancient Gaelic on the wind, here, just north of Maryland in Massachusetts. The wooden houses echoed the hidden Druidian nature buried another the Puritan sensibilities. Dead, transformed, gone somewhere else. They were always looking in the wrong spot, weren't they?
"Glenn, did you hear about those college students?"
"The ones with the cameras who went to Maryland a few years ago."
"I think about them all the time."
"OK, why is it the Catholic Church has to put up with these crappy ass films about stigmata and demon possession?" groused Joey as their car pulled away from the movie theater, his eyes still in that odd state of not adjusting to the outside light.
"No, what's worse is why in the hell do you make us see this crap?"
"Because it's about real stuff, OK?"
"Why? Because the Catholics believe it?"
Tom looked at him, "but don't you think it would be cool if it was real? Just think, God and Satan battling it out in one person!"
"But it's only Catholics who get this! Thank God I'm Presbyterian. Not even Satan gives a @#!!! about us."
"Shut it, McTavish, you wee Scot's @#!!!!" razzed Dat.
"Don't make me.." pow! Pow! "hit you!"
"Ow! You @#!!!er!"
They drove onward through town and soon hit the woody parts.
"Hey, isn't this the part of the woods*"
And there was silence.
"So Joey, what do you think?"
"Do you think it was Scientologists?"
"Oh for @#!!!'s sake!" he muttered.
"C'mon, you as Catholic boy. What do you think?"
"No, Tom, what do us as Christians think," Joey stated.
"So, you're admitting Presbyterians are real?"
"I'm not the @#!!!ing Pope."
"My dad saw the footage," offered Dat.
"Oh yes. The police let some of the residents take a look to see if there were any clues as to where they were."
"Don't the police know?" Asked Joey.
"Not really. They don't hunt and fish in those woods like some of them do. Of course, nobody goes in there now. Except tourists."
"Joey's being the non-believer again." Tom whined.
"No, not that. It doesn't sound right. If she exists, she got old Mr. Parmer," the car snickers at the 'old man' bit but he continues on repeating himself, "old Mr. Parmer to take 7 victims. It was done very quickly. "It's been nearly 4 years and all she has taken is three."
"Maybe she has gas from hell from the fava beans."
"What the hell has she been waiting for?" asked Joey in all nervousness.
Dat scratched his head.
The car looked into the darkness all around.
"Maybe she's waiting for the Republican convention. Together they can summon the strength of their ancestors."
"Aren't you getting tired of that schtick yet, Tom?" Joey asked in a very tired voice.
"What? I didn't say anything about Catholics."
"No way, man. I'm going to keep giving you @#!!! until you quit taking us to stigmata movies."
The car reached the town of Burkittsville, and entered the cove of homes huddled together against it's past.
Why nobody moves away, it can't be said. These are people who have been raised in the expectation that the Blair witch will always be there. They knew enough not to believe the cold, hard reality that their town was a holder of the secret.
If you ever spoke to a person from Burkittsville in any situation, and asked how could they live in such a place where children were slain, men were tortured, and the only whisper of evidence was a single stream of mist rising from the water, defying gravity from all angles, their eyes would glaze over as if in a trance. They would not understand your question, or if they did, their answer would come out in nothing but jargon and jibberish, for they were the farmers and the witch was the reaper. The poor, and uneducated for century upon century manipulating the nature of the ground underneath their feet, giving space for the monied crop to rise in due time, slain from the Earth to keep it's keeper alive for one more season.
The witch has no interest in their deaths. The seven dead children were the children of the unpure, of those people who had only recently moved there before the war to escape the world's crumbling sensibilities as empires fell at a steady rate. All of their fathers had returned from the war unscathed only to lose their children at home to the hermit in the woods. What was more interesting about all of the parents of the slain was that their marriages crumbled as quickly as their children's deaths, never considering divorce, but never again to know of the birth of another child in their wedlock.
It was on this same night that a large tour bus started making it's way through these highways, no cloud in sight, the stars clear from the icy cold night.
The driver was half awake. He stared at the roads and was trying to make sure with deadly accuracy that this wasn't the same bridge that he had passed once before.
He hesitated before turning around to the sound of someone rustling through luggage. It was Boz. He lucked out because he knew Boz wouldn't pop him one if spoken to.
"Hey, Boz," the driver whispered, not to disturb the others.
"I think we're lost."
"Don't you have a map? Are you sure we're lost?"
"I think we'll be out of gas soon."
Boz sat down and hid his face in his hand in fatigue.
The engine startling rattling.
"The gas doesn't matter. I think we're having engine problems."
Boz looked at him. "You're telling me that we're lost, we're having engine problems, and we're almost out of gas?"
"So, how much gas do we have?"
"What do you mean?"
"You say that we're almost out of gas and the bus is still running. That implies we have some."
"How much do we have?"
"I don't know."
"Then, how can you tell me that we're almost out?"
"Because we are!"
"Listen to me, Renato, you can't say how much you have if you don't even know. We're still driving. Look," he gestured to the road, "vrooom vroom."
"That doesn't mean anything."
"I thought you got gas back in Baltimore."
"Oh, alright. I lied. I spent the gas money on a cheap hooker."
"Jesus, what's wrong with you people?" he moaned rubbing his head.
"What am I supposed to do? Moz took away my hooker allowance. I'm taking what's mine, damnit."
"You said you wanted more cigarettes."
"I want both!" he whined.
"But you would rather have tarts, right?"
"Um, well, yeah*."
"So, why don't you take your cigarette allowance money and spend it on hookers instead?"
The driver looks at him, "what would I smoke after?"
"Try dipping into your pot allowance."
"That might work*."
Boz redirects the conversation, "so about this bus*."
"Look! This is not a B-2 bomber. I don't have digital readouts or anything. If I say we are almost out of gas, then we are."
Boz stood up and looked straight ahead through the large driver's windshield in big-voiced bravado. "All we can do is wait."
"Oh, I forgot to mention*"
"The low fuel light has been on for 20 minutes."
Boz just shook his head. All these great perks and still, this is the driver they were stuck with.
The bus began shaking and everything went very strange. You can ask them later on what happened, but they aren't sure. All they know is that they all woke up and it was early morning. Every one on the bus had fallen asleep or had lost time. The bus did not crash or turn over. It stopped exactly one foot away from a very large oak tree, parallel to the road and out of the way of any traffic. The brakes weren't on and there was no evidence of what had kept the bus from rolling into the ditch next to the road.
"What the @#!!!?" Alain got up. "Cabbie, what the hell happened?"
The driver made a face at him.
"I'm not a cabbie!"
"Ow!" wailed Renato.
Boz came to his senses a bit more quickly than some of the others. "Hey, so we ran out of gas and coasted, right? Maybe not a bad thing!"
Renato cowered and made sure Alain was out of hitting distance. "Um, sir, we have a full tank of gas."
"Look at the gauge, sir."
And the gauge read as completely full.
"Damnit, Renato!" Boz raised his hand.
"Oh! Don't hit or yell!" he screeched, cowering.
"You said we were out of gas!"
Renato thought about it.
"We were last night."
"Last night? Did you stop at a gas station while we were sleeping?"
"Did the squirrels get a gas can out of their acorn stash and fill up our tank?"
"Sir, squirrels don't need gas."
"Bollocks!" Alain threw his hands up.
"Shh*" Boz started again.
"Aw jeezus*" Gary started tightening his fist.
"Say something ELSE then"
He paused, "Sandra Bollocks!"
"Leave Sandra out of this!"
"Sorry, Gaz, to bring your girlfriend into it, but Sandra Bollocks!"
"Are you done?"
Alain stopped again. "Quite. I'm going for a lie-down." And he bounded to the back of the bus and stretched out in his seat.
"Thank God" Boz relaxed. "At least that's normal."
"Hey, look at this!" Gary pointed to his seat.
They all looked and saw little strips of plastic-coated paper. They picked up the shreds.
"What is it?" Gary asked.
"I have no idea. It's like a*puzzle."
They looked at one another in dread of the pieces of paper that had somehow appeared in their bus in those missing hours.
"Boz, let's piece it together."
For hours they meticulously arranged the 20 pieces of paper. It was becoming apparent that it bore one word in large letters. Block letters, boldly stating it's message.
After three hours, they all stood back and stared at what it said.
Boz read it out loud.
Gary: "What does that mean?"
Renato stood up. He said with quiet dread, "I've seen that before."
They turned to him in hushed shocked.
"They're Snicker's candy bar wrappers."
"Go on," urged Boz.
"There is only one man who eats those."
"On the entire planet?"
"No. Millions of people eat Snickers."
Gary-"How come I haven't heard of them?"
Renato-"It doesn't contain alcohol."
Gary-"Renato, you know me well" and he went woo! as he hi-fived Boz.
Renato-"What I mean is that there is only one man in the Morrissey group that eats these things."
Renato looked at Gary and barked in anger, "sir, do you not know your own boss?"
"He's fired me twice. Best not get too attached."
Renato-"understandable, but no, it's not your boss. From the shredding of the wrapper and the drool on the seat, I would have to say that this is obviously the work of Steve Lillywhite."
Boz whispered-"the producer for the last three albums."
Gary-"Well @#!!!! I don't remember him doing Your Arsenal."
Boz-"nevermind. Renato, this is impossible. Nobody knows where Steve is."
Gary-"Maybe he's now working at the Exxon in Burkittsville"
Boz-"Deserved, but unlikely."
Gary-"It would explain the gas."
Boz-"Steve had disappeared from the aerobics gym after his Tae-bo class two weeks ago."
Gary-"speaking of disappearing, has anyone seen Spaz?"
Realization shocked their already nervous state.
"Spike? Now that you mention it, I haven't seen him since Glen Burnie." Said Renato.
A hush fell on the group as they looked at one another.
"Oh. He's a big boy. He'll find us." Boz blew it off.
"Right. So about Steve getting in the bus. Doesn't anyone remember this?"
Everyone looked blankly about Gary.
He re-emphasized, "did anyone see a 6' tall man eating a Snickers bar in that seat within the last 24 hours?"
"Gary," said Renato grabbing his shoulder, "This is not the way to get the answers."
"Gary: the real hothead of the group. Likes to score with the ladies. Wants to own his own Sonic burger and serve Newcastle slushies*"
"Switching off Red Planet internal dialogue generator."
She signaled left and waited at the light a few seconds longer to make sure the man who was having the heated debate with his mistress on his cell phone finished running the red light like he was about to in just 10 seconds.