My eyes cramped from trying to wake up so early. The alarm seamed louder than usual and I couldn't stop myself from slamming the damn thing on the ground. With one last groan I finally got out of bed.
The first day of school was never a great time for me. It meant that each and every day I got to eat lunch in the library and pretend I have friends so my mom wouldn't think I am freak. As if she could ever understand what it meant to be a teenager now a days. At least in her day she could do something like party or drink, now, if you aren't half naked and pretending like you're way worse of a person than you are, than you're basically chum bait for the rest of the sharks to eat. Especially the hungriest of those sharks, Marlynn Barton.
We used to be friends, but then she got wrapped in popularity and now she's the queen bitch of Evergreen High school. "Hey, you dirty qweef!" She yelled as she threw an open sandwich at my face. The mayonnaise and whatever else was on that thing stuck to my hoodie and my nose and all I could smell was soggy bread and broken dreams. "Look everyone, Katie can't seem to find her mouth when she eats."
As the throng of mindless goons laughed in her presence I said, "So glad to see you Marlynn. How's your yeast infection? Has it cleared up or are you still baking bread in the slit?"
"Oooh," It echoed among the people in the court yard.
"Hey guys, come on." Mark, Marlynn's brother came to stop what would have been yet another fight between us. "Would you knock it off!" He yelled at his sister.
"Hey, fuck you she started it." Marlynn pointed at me like a witch at a trial.
"No, she didn't I saw the whole thing." He turned to me and said, "Are you okay?"
I simply nodded. He was nice, always nice, too bad it couldn't rub off on his bitchy sister.
"Mark, you're so stupid." Marlynn punched him in the arm.
"Look," He said to her, "You really need to take it down a notch, it's the first day of school do you really want to get suspended? Literally on the first day of school Mar!?"
"God, you're so annoying. You know, if you weren't around my life would be so much easier!" She screamed, I backed up, even for her it was pretty harsh.
"I don't think so, the only reason you're not expelled is because of me." Mark retorted.
"Yeah? Well, maybe if you'd just dissapear I might be expelled but I wouldn't have to listen to your crap anymore." And with that she walked off, her minions following closely.
Mark slumped his shoulders, defeated. Feeling the need to say something to break the awkward silence I said, "You alright, Mark?"
He let out a sigh and said, "Yeah. Yeah I'm alright."
My curiosity was getting the better of me, I always wanted to know what happened to us and why she changed so much. "What is going on with her? I mean, we used to love each other but now..."
"I know Kates." He used to call me that as a kid too. "I think after dad left she kind of...became self destructive and then that turned into outward destruction. So now she just hurts everyone so she can escape her own hurt."
He was always looking at things that way, way out in the field with little bias. "I'm sorry." I said.
"It's okay, it's not your fault. You might want to fix your face though." He pointed at my mayonnaise ridden face and I immediately reddened. He chuckled and said, "See ya Kates."
After the routine giggle and chuckle as the day went by, it was finally time to go home. Finally time to go and detox from all of this hormonal bullshit. The bell rang and the halls became a frenzy of cheers and slamming lockers, everyone eager to get out and hangout with school friends do whatever those people do. I made my way to the buses when suddenly I felt a pull on my backpack. “Hey!” I yelled. I turned around and it was Mark. “Why are you screwing with me? Are you taking on a few of Marlynn’s ideas or what?”
“No, Kates I’m sorry but you have to listen.” He seemed out of sorts for some reason.
“What’s your deal, dude?” I asked.
He took a deep breath and said, “My dad didn’t just leave, okay. You remember he was in the military, right?”
“Yeahhh…I just don’t understand…”
“Just listen!” He pleaded. “I saw him, Katie, I saw him just a minute ago!” He had beads of sweat forming on his hair line, the vein in the middle of his head popped out like he was holding back the loudest scream.
“What do you mean you saw him?” I asked.
“I’m telling you,” he got in closer, “I saw him up on that hill, you know where the Goths go smoke or whatever.” He said it, and it was clear that he believed it.
“What does that mean?” I asked. “I don’t know. But, for some reason I don’t feel good about it. Like, if you just leave and never show up again then creep around my school, what kind of person are you, you know?” Tears were welling up but he turned away quickly. “Look I gotta go.”
“Mark, wait! Maybe you can tell the cops or something?” I ran after him a bit before I lost sight of him in the crowd. I let out a sigh. Talk about a crazy first day of school.
The evening was far more quiet. Mom, as usual sat on the couch after work and watched food network while sipping on a rum and diet coke. More like 3 of them. So far anyway. I sat at the kitchen table doing my math homework when the ugly question finally came. “How was school, honey?”
I rolled my eyes. I always hated when she asked. “It was, okay. Someone threw a sandwich at me.”
“What did you do?” She turned around as she asked.
“What do you mean what did I do?” I asked in return.
“What did you do to get a sandwich thrown at you?” She asked once again.
“Nothing.” I said.
“No, you must of done something for someone to throw a sandwich at you.” She looked at me like I had another head growing out of my neck.
“I don’t know mom, people are mean.” The phone rang, thankfully.
Mom got up slowly to answer the phone, “Hello? Yes. What?” Mom put her glass down. That means something bad must have happened. “Oh my god. Janice, it’s okay, everything is going to be okay. We will come and help you look. Ok see you soon.” She hung up the phone and grabbed the car keys. “Come on lets go.”
“Mom, should you drive?” Bad move. Always a bad move why did I ask that?
“Excuse you? What did you just say to me?” She yelled.
“Never mind, what is happening?” I asked hoping to avoid the fight.
“Mark is missing. We need to help Janice and Marlynn find him.” With that she walked out the front door and into the Sedan.
My heart stopped. He’s gone? What did that mean? Like really gone? I followed mom out to the car and got in the passenger seat. “Maybe he’s at a friends house?” I said.
“I don’t know it doesn’t really seem like Mark to just disappear like that without saying something to his mom.” Mom said while she backed out of the drive way. Jerkily and shaky but never the less, still backing out.
“Why don’t you let me drive, mom?” I asked…again why did I ask.
“Shut your mouth I’m fine.” She said, confident in her ability.
Once we got to the Barton’s house, it was a circus of police officers and other neighbors with flashlights shouting. When I got out of the car the intensity of the situation grabbed me immediatly. Someone shoved a flashlight in my hands and said, “You, go look over there by the trees with that group, we need more people to group up so we have a better chance of finding him.”
“Um, okay.” I said. Mom and I went into the woods with the group all of us shouting, “Mark! Mark where are you! You need to come home!”
In just minutes I could hear the angry stomps of Marlynn. “Her! That’s her. She saw my brother last. Get her!”
She tried to run at me but one of the officers pulled her aside, “Hold on now we don’t know anything yet we just need to talk to her first.”
“Fuck that! She probably murdered him because she’s like some creepy stalker or something.” She glared at me, and I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Are you fucking serious Marlynn? I could never hurt Mark. I would never do that. Actually, weren’t you the one that wished he’d ‘disappear?’” I didn’t brace myself for the punch in the face, but I definitely got one and it hurt very bad.
“Woah ladies, that’s enough!” One of the officers, Officer Joe we called him, said, “Our goal is to find Mark and make sure he is okay. We don’t have time for cat fights and playing the blame game.” He turned to me, his thick mustache catching the red and blue lights of the police cars off in the distance. “Now, where did you last see Mark, Katie?”
“I saw him at school. It was the end of the day and we were going to be bus.” I explained.
“Did anything seem unusual?”
“Not really, only…” I wasn’t sure if I should share. If he hallucinated I didn’t want him to look crazy or anything.
“Only, what, honey?” He asked sweetly.
“He said that he saw his dad. Up in the hill.” I said finally.
“Up where those Nirvana loving chimney sweeps hang out?” Officer Joe asked.
“Okay, lets expand the search,” He said to the other officer. “Lets take a few guys up to that hill and see if we can find anything.”
Marlynn never stopped staring at me, her face went white when I said that Mark thought he saw their dad. I am sure it opened an old wound. “He said…he said he saw dad?” She asked. I nodded back to her. “Well, why did he get to see him and…” She trailed off, unable to utter the selfish words that were going to form.
“I’m sorry Marlynn.” I said.
“Mom said that dad wasn’t really…right before he left. He kept saying things that weren’t true. Like accusing mom of cheating on him and stuff…what if…what if Mark has what dad had and…” She stopped the thought and trailed onto anther one. “How does someone…no…two someone's…just vanish in thin air like that…how does that happen?”
The tears weren’t stopping so I went in for a hug that I had been wanting to give my former best friend for the longest time. I just wish it was for something happy.
The search stopped in the really rise of the morning. Exhausted people trudging their feet back to their own homes hoping to get some rest. Before I climbed in the car with mom, Marlynn came up to me and asked, “Kat…” Her old nickname for me. “Thank you.”
“Sure thing.” I said, before going back into the car.
The next few days were sad. Mark never came back and now they were talking about a dead body. My mind couldn’t wrap around it. I saw him walk into a crowd of people, and then suddenly…he was gone. One night, after school, Marlynn called my house, “Kat. I really need your help.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I want to keep looking for Mark. Will you please help me?”
“Yeah. Yeah I’ll help.”
We met close to where I had seen him last. The sunset gave the trees a very sinister look with the red and orange tinges all over the leaves. We stood there for a moment before I said, “So. I guess we should look in here then.”
“I hope we find something.” Marlynn said as she took the first step into the woods.
“Didn’t the cops look here?” I asked.
“They only looked around near the smokers den. But not much further than that.” She explained.
For a long while we were silent, going further into the trees, the red and orange light now a shadowy blue and grey twilight. “Marlynn, I think we are going in too far.” I said.
“No we have to keep going!” She yelled. “You don’t get it! I can’t loose him too!”
Her tears came up once again, and again, I agreed.
Together we yelled for Mark, for some kind of sign, when suddenly, a branch broke close to us. We jolted and turned our flashlights over to the area. “Mark?” I said. I felt a rough hand cover my mouth, I couldn’t scream. I looked over and Marlynn was being man handled by the same person. She squirmed and kicked ferociously but the man kept his grip tight. “Shh. You ladies aren’t going anywhere.”
My stomach churned…it was Marlynn’s dad, Kurt Barton. This couldn’t be happening. He walked backwards into the woods, the shadows drowning out my flashlight that I held on to dear life. After some time he threw our bodies on the dirt, Marlynn screamed, terrified of her own father.
“Sweetie, shhh.” He said as he shoved a sock on her mouth. “You don’t need to be scared. Daddy’s gone take care of everything.” He looked dirty and his voice sounded like he was dreaming. What was happening? Why was he doing this? To his own kid no less!
“Where’s Mark?” I asked.
He turned to me, his eyes were sunken in and glazed over. “Mark? Mark is good.” He smiled big but his eyes never changed. “He came to see me…but I couldn’t let them hurt him.” He turned to grab another gag and whispered, “I couldn’t let them hurt him.”
“Who would hurt him?” I asked.
He shoved the gag in my mouth before saying, “The monsters, baby.” He laughed as he dragged us again into the woods, this time there was a small fire that light up the surroundings. There it was, the true monster. Scattered around were needles and spoons caked with black tar heroin. The drug that took good men like Kurt and morphed them into monsters. “Now you girls stay put, I’ll get Mark and he can get you some snacks.” He left, I couldn’t see where he went, the blackness of the night engulf his figure, but in moments, he dragged something large on the ground, it must have been heavy because it took him a while to get into view from the shadows. “Here we go.” He said as he dropped the thing on the ground with a thud. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t cry, there was nothing I could do or prepare for what I saw. “Mark, go get these ladies some snack or something, I’ll go hook up the Nintendo.” What? That was such a long time ago…Mark…Mark could never get us snack again because he laid their, dead, his eyes starring off into the void, lifeless. Marlynn screamed through her gag…and tried to wiggle away. “Now honey, you can’t go running off into the woods and expect good things to happen! Maybe a bear will get ya, ha.” He tied up his arm and tapped on the vein before he stuck in the needle. My arms were tied behind me and I couldn’t scream, Mark was dead and his own dad killed him…what am I going to do? Marlynn sobbed and choked on the sock that her father shoved in her face, her body shaking from fear…something must be wrong with me because I can’t seem to do a thing.
He snapped his head around, his face contorted in fear, “Do you hear that?” He bent over Marlynn and said, “The monsters are coming, but don’t worry I can help you escape. Just…sshh.” He hushed Marlynn while he grabbed another needle. “This will only hurt for a sec okay baby. It’s okay.” He hands shook and his face gleamed with sweat. There was so much heroin in that syringe…that must have been what happened to Mark. He stuck the needle in her vein and pushed the poison in. In moments Marlynn stopped moving, only gagging and losing air until she finally went quiet, and just like that…she was gone. He stood up from his crouching position and said, “The monster can’t get her now…and they wont get you either, Kat.” He said my name and chills went through my whole body. I realised, finally, that I was going to die. I closed my eyes as the poke of the needle hit my arm and then…
The candles at the school vigil finally blew out at the end of the night. The three pictures of the students that never returned hung in the school halls and outside the school court yard. The tragic disappearance made it hard to point the finger at anyone. Many people thing Marlynn went insane and killed them both. But for now, everyone mourned, even the sharks of the school put little flowers on Katie Jenkins memorial. Officer Joe walked along the teddy bears and flowers, holding the paper that read, “Teens Vanish in Thin Air, Cases Still Open.” He knew better though. These cases will go cold, and their poor mothers will bury empty caskets.