Chapter 8 Page 29
Posted June 16, 2023 at 01:51 am

Today on Paranatural, everyone is becoming a teen and their feelings are as big as the sky. Thank you for reading



        As the sun set, Suzy’s screeching dwindled to a wail and then a whimper. Starchman had pressed a crisp twenty dollar bill and a Starchman Star into Dana’s hand and wished all of his students a very merry weekend, while his daughter briefly tried to convince a passing stranger to adopt her. In the end, though, her mom compelled a tense farewell from her for her classmates and corralled her into the Starchman family sedan with minimal insistence she’d been kidnapped

        Suzy’s departure meant a brief stay of execution for Dimitri and a fresh target on Isabel’s back, which Suzy stared at until she had slipped from view

        It was Isabel who’d first laughed off her interview back in the sixth grade, Suzy recalled... laughing with that... tomboy laugh of hers. Tossing her weird hair in Suzy’s face. Or at least, like, turning. Which showed off her hair. Well, it was rude somehow (you had to be there), but what mattered was that Isabel was the main reason that Suzy had been so utterly humiliated on her very first assignment for the Journalism Club—she’d left that interaction red-faced TOO! Anybody would have... Isabel was infuriating

        From now on, the face of Isabel Guerra would be the face of the Activity Club, the one she’d conjure up to fuel herself with spite and rage. Or, well, maybe it had always been, but now Suzy was SURE she’d made the right choice way back when

        Ugh! If only she knew ISABEL’S deepest, most embarrassing secret the same way Isabel knew hers. Suzy couldn’t STAND imagining that weirdo looking down on her. She’d have to set the record straight with extreme prejudice... just the kind the best reporting always had!

        Back at Dimitri’s house, Isabel was none-the-wiser. Whatever spark she’d felt from Suzy had been pushed from her attention by Dimitri’s reaction to the news she’d come to share with him.

        “...What do you want me to do about it?” he asked, his voice flat. A pall had passed across his face once stark surprise had left it.

        “I... I don’t know,” stuttered Isabel. “I just... wanted to warn you.” That wasn’t true. Mr. Spender, the sphinxes, the town’s bleak fate, her grandpa... even Eightfold—she’d been hoping he’d know what to do, or say something to help untie the tight knot in her chest.

        “That there’s no way out?” Dimitri’s fists were balled, his eyes locked on the ground between the two of them.

        “Of course there is! I mean, we’ll find one. That weird doctor Spender knows caught the ghost train in a lantern—and there’s Consortium agents who can teleport or something!” Isabel kneaded her hands inside her pockets. “P-probably. There’s gotta be. They’ll figure it out soon.”

        Fine, Dimitri thought. They would figure it out. He had time. He could stall his parents, maybe, or think of some excuse to stay behind until the barrier could once again be crossed. It just...

        ...It wasn’t fair

        It was already too hard to say goodbye. How could he stand being only halfway here a second longer than he’d made himself accept? How could he leave knowing his friends were all in danger? He had to. So why? Why did the only choice he ever had have such a painful cost?

        Something nameless bubbled up inside him, a friction with the world he couldn’t ever quite describe. He glanced up at Isabel, just for one brief moment, and knew at once that he would always envy her.

        “...All right,” Dimitri said, his face still muted. “Thanks for the heads up, Isabel. Stay safe.”

        He turned. The door began to close behind him.


        Dimitri stopped. He looked back over his shoulder towards the thin sliver of Mayview still visible past the threshold.

        Isabel was staring at him with desperate concern, fighting for the right words through confusion. “...Why did you help us the other day?” she asked at last. Too many other questions spilled from the one she chose, an insufficient vessel.

        Dimitri took a deep breath in and out. He’d made the sting that much worse, hadn’t he? He was... jealous of Max, maybe, replacing him, worried for his friends, goaded by Hijack... but he’d ignored fleeting feelings like that before. He’d had to. This time, though, he’d let his guard down. That’s why the pain was fresh. That whole day, for once, he’d done it all—

        “...Because I wanted to.”

        A chill breeze swirled through the growing gap between them. Isabel shivered and shut her eyes. For a moment, she was certain that Dimitri would be gone once they had opened... but there he was, still waiting at the door.

        “I gotta go,” he said. “Good luck.”

        “...Yeah.” Isabel clenched her fists tight in her pockets. “I miss you.”

        He smiled at her as the door clicked shut behind him.