"I really can't be late." She rushed to grab her last things: her phone, a toothbrush and the tiny backpack with her secret stash of weed. One more look at her old bedroom as she let out a sigh. "Shouldn't have come back here, dad will be sad now." She climbed out the windowsill cutting her hand on her dad's rose bush. It didn't bleed. "That is interesting," she whispered to herself.
Rizz and Grover were waiting for her in their old school black Chevy. It was still running. She still wasn't sure whether Grover looked more like a fox or a mouse. "Get in," she heard Rizz say through the slit of a cracked window. She sat in the backseat. Whiskey and cigars filled the room with a hint of acidity. "Ya won't miss it ya know. No one really does. It's only uphill from here," Grover said with a fox-like grin. "Or downhill, depending on your perspective."
She grabbed her small notebook from her backpack and clutched it tight. "So that's the reason huh?" Rizz said. His eyes reflected as black buttons in the rear-view mirror. His gaze flashed to her hands, "I see that you've already experienced some of the perks?" "Huh?" she said as she couldn't quite meet his eyes in the mirror. "I guess. I haven’t been able to write since mom-" She looked sad for a moment and looked up again, "I'm curious to see who else will be there." Rizz smirked and said, "Oh, I'm sure there'll be plenty."
The drive took several hours of silence, broken only by the sound of Grover counting red cars. She grabbed a pen and tried to write something to calm herself down. "We're here," Rizz said. She looked down at the page where she'd just finished a line she did not know she started. "Must have spaced out," she mumbled.
The sun was setting. They had reached a stretch of desert. She wasn’t familiar with any deserts in the area. Groups of people were gathered in circles across the stretch as several black cars dotted their outlines. Some looked to be around her age. Older ones seemed to stay close to the cars. "Excuse me?" she asked a woman with long grey bushy hair. "How do I get to-" "Follow your instructors kid and join one o' the circles," the raspy voice said as the woman lit up another cigarette. She saw the black suits of Grover and Rizz walking along the circles and hurried towards them. Grover smiled as she came near and said, "We almost thought you'd left, it'd be best if you join this circle here."
A guy the size of a bear, wearing a football helmet stood on her right and as she looked to her left she saw a scrawny girl with red hair wearing ballet shoes. Everyone kept to themselves. On the far end of the stretch a character dressed in black took the stage. She was taking in who the rest of the people in her circle were, but the ceremony was visibly starting. She grabbed her notebook tight.
An amplified shrill voice boomed among the crowd: "You have all signed the papers. Tonight we officiate the contract. Everyone, please throw your designated items on a pile in your circle." The bear took off his helmet and threw it in the middle. Others joined with different items whilst the red-head carefully untied her shoelaces and deftly placed them onto the pile. She placed the black notebook she got from her dad onto the pile last. Its leather binding glimmered in the last red rays of the sun. She felt hopeful and took a step back. Some were softly weeping, others smiled with great excitement. The shrill voice rose again: "And now... Your souls will be forfeit." She welcomed the cold feeling enveloping her body as the pile in the circle suddenly set aflame. The warmth left her body as her head filled itself with magnificent stories.
"I should really buy a new notebook."
This story will be the first out of 4 or 5 short stories.