Cyanide Killer’s POV
I smirked and held my breath, leaning against the wall next to Blood Butterflies. Wait for it, wait for it… “AHHHHHH!” a shrill shriek sounded from down the hall and reverberated across the empty hallways. We peeked around the corner towards the scream and there she was, our best friend Venom Draconis in action, mid-jump out of the school slut’s locker. The bitch was on the floor, face white as a sheet, breathing dramatically as she clasped her hand to her heart, covering something that had always been revealed through her slightly unbuttoned blouse. One of her perfectly manicured nails was broken and her books were all over the floor. She shot Draconis a venomous glare. We started giggling but soon we were laughing so hard tears started springing to my eyes and Butterflies, even, stumbled against the wall. Draconis swept off dust from her clothes and sneered at the bitch, throwing an empty condom wrapper – which she had found in the locker while waiting – at her before marching towards us. She got up hastily, dusting off her microscopic skirt before running off in the direction of the discipline master’s office in fake tears, which smudged her all-too-overdone mascara.
“Oh my god! Butterflies, you genius! Draconis, you were awesome!” I gasped out in between bouts of laughter and winked at Draconis.
Draconis smiled proudly and tucked her long hair behind her ear. “Her face was priceless!” she laughed.
“Where’s Abyss? I can’t believe she missed this!” growled Butterflies, blowing her wild, multicoloured hair out of her face, all laughter gone, annoyed.
“I’m here! I’m here!” squealed Bleeding Abyss as she bounced towards us excitedly. She wrapped Butterflies in a hug. “What did I miss?” she grinned.
Draconis pouted slightly and fake whined, “Everything! I jumped out of the bitch’s locker and you missed her epic face!”
Abyss’ eyes widened as she shrieked, “WHAT? I FUCKING MISSED THAT? NO, NOT AGAIN!” Abyss crumpled against the whitewashed wall in mock agony. Butterflies’ mouth lifted slightly in a smile as she patted Abyss’ back while she “drowned” in misery.
Well, a brief description of us. The four of us are best friends and we are the pranksters or troublemakers for Battery City High School. Mostly Butterflies, Draconis and I though. Butterflies and I plan the crazy jokes and Draconis would be the actual one to do it.
Abyss was the violent one: always on about guns. She had black hair with purple streaks, wore ripped tights with leather skirts. Draconis was the badass and the joker: Rainbow colored, streaked blonde hair, black shirt and leather jacket, dark denim shorts with aquamarine fishnet tights and red high-cut converse. Butterflies was the quiet rebel: doesn’t talk much but if you get her mad… let’s just say she’s a whole different story. She usually wears black shirt with black jacket, navy blue jeans and grey studded leather boots. She was orphaned when her mother died in the fires of 2012 and her father left. She remembers nothing of them, she was too young then. And I, Cyanide, was the slightly insane leader. Usually quiet but actually crazy, black hair with blonde streaks and blood red tips, red tank top and black leather jacket, ripped black skinny jeans, Batman belt and combat boots.
Soon enough, we heard the angry roar of the stupid discipline master Mr Blad, or what we call him, Baldy. “YOU FOUR!”
The school slut stuck her tongue out at us, smudging her lipstick slightly as she walked past us smugly, fake tears all gone. No doubt she was on her way to the toilet to re-cake her face in makeup and fake, carrot-coloured tan. We all looked at each other and rolled our eyes in unison as we bolted down the hallway, hoping to get the lecture done and over with as soon as possible.
* * *
“The fuck? That was totally stupid. At least we got detention together,” I muttered as we walked to assembly.
“I agree,” Butterflies said, her rage quietly bubbling behind her voice. “She can fuck every other guy in the school and as long as she isn’t caught, or it isn’t obvious, they don’t mind. But a simple prank to teach her a lesson, and we get motherfucking detention.” She switched topics all of a sudden. “Have you heard about what we’re going to be briefed on today? Apparently some people from this organization called Better Living Industries were coming to give us a talk or something. Oh well, anything is better than classes.” Striding into the auditorium, we plopped onto the seats and studied the people who were talking. “Looks like we didn’t miss much.”
“Good morning everyone. I see a few latecomers. May I know your names?” His beady eyes bore into my head as he walked over, his shoes clicking against the linoleum floor, and I started to squirm, slightly uncomfortable. When I kept silent, he turned to Butterflies, who sat next to me. She kept her eyes trained on his, glaring. “My, my, no manners. And look at your attire!” He played around slightly with Butterflies’ meticulously dyed hair, his long, slender fingers standing out against the dark background of her hair, the frills in his clothing tangling it up, his face wearing an expression of disgust.
Butterflies held her breath, clenching her teeth and her fists so tight they nearly punctured her skin. I could tell this man was getting on her nerves already. The man held her gaze, particularly interested in her and she flicked his hand away, flinging herself up from her seat so violently the chair tipped over. “My name is none of your business, you—” she cut herself off. Cursing was something to be punished by detention.
The man smiled, keeping his cool, bending away from us and walking back to the podium. “You see that, students? That is what we are here for. She is angry. She needs to have peace. Inner peace.” Draconis righted her chair as I pulled Butterflies back down into her seat and she sat down. “Many of us today are plagued by the constant challenges life brings – studies, for example, is what all of you should be very, very familiar with. The workload is barely bearable at times! Not that it is your fault, teachers. We understand you are doing your own jobs.” His voice took on a purring quality, persuading, convincing.
“Many of us have turned to anger to solve these problems. Which significant story that made the history books did not involve some sort of turmoil?” There was a murmur of agreement across the entire auditorium. “What is modern society, without its boring, dreadful trials and tribulations, that we can all do without!” he cried, sounding truly convinced of his cause. Everybody started to chatter around us about the topic he was discussing. I snatched up parts of conversations: “What if—”, “No homework!”, “This is going to be—“, “What is he on about?”.
“But wait!” The man said, silencing everyone and commanding their attention. “We have solutions. We have solutions to chase away the bad monsters of society, solutions, to help you smile.” A series of logos flashed on the projector behind him. It read, “Keep smiling, Better Living Industries.” “Everything is perfect. Better Living Industries.” “Building a better you. BL/i.” “We can fix you. Better Living Industries.” “Love is a pill. BL/i.” “We can handle it from here. BL/i.”
“My name is Korse and these are my assistants,” He smiled, exposing pearly white teeth and gestured to the men standing behind him with weird masks on, “from Better Living Industries. We are here to promote our new medicine that will make you ten times more at peace with yourself than you already are. Ten times! Imagine, no more stress about examinations because this medication tells you what you need to study and when to study it! And we’re giving you a free sample to you. Tailored, just for you.” Said the bald guy, holding out a tiny white coloured pills in his hand, so, so white it nearly disappeared into his pale skin. “You too, teachers. Imagine no more stress about marking. No more late-night preparation of homework and lessons!” I glanced around me and saw everybody nodding and smiling. True, the sound of not needing to stay up late to revise was tempting. The gang and I shared a glance, however: if it were so “magical”, why would they give it out for free? Is the school subsidizing us?
I narrowed my eyes and whispered, “Guys. Don’t eat the pill. I don’t trust these people.” They nodded in response but everyone else was taking the pill offered, some even taking more than one. Butterflies muttered something about idiots before one of the men came and handed us each a pill and a small glass of water. I pretended to pop the pill into my mouth but slipped it down my shirt instead, accepting a free drink. The others did the same.
Suddenly, everyone stopped moving. Then came the horrific change.
Everyone’s eyes glazed over and a small smile formed on all their faces. They were handed uniforms, identical to that of the “assistants” and changed right there and then. They were passed masks, similar to that of the “assistants”, and put them on there and then. I heard Korse’s voice, now losing its soft, persuasive edge, modulated into a harsh growl, similar to that Butterflies makes when she’s angry. “You will now be known as Draculoids, servants of Better Living Industry.” They all nodded, obeying him like dogs obey their master. “Get in the vans.” A simple order, but firm enough.
I muffled my squeak and tugged everyone and we snuck inconspicuously towards the exit. Korse, now like an army commander, monitored the scene from where he stood on the podium. Suddenly, the auditorium wasn’t full of students and teachers. Suddenly, the auditorium was full of mindless drones. I pulled Abyss, Butterflies and Draconis out of the auditorium and we ran. Not caring about predictions made by the weather caster about high radiation, our feet pounded on the hot cement.
We ran towards my home, our usual gathering place because it was nearest to the school. I got there first, breathing hard. But pushing the door open, I nearly jumped ten feet in the air, only held down by Abyss, who let out a strangled shriek. In my living room was a Draculoid. He stood over two dead bodies, two I recognized… Blood had spilled over the carpet, and I saw my mother’s blank, dark brown eyes staring at me, unblinking. No. no, this can’t be happening. My parents? I may have hated them but… Fuck. They went down fighting. My heart clenched as realization struck me like a bag of bricks. They’ve done it. They’ve taken over Battery City. It was quick, silent, and ruthless.
I pushed the gang back and backed away from the house and headed towards the window to my room. “Holy fuck, guys. Better Living has taken over the whole town. Pack up. We’re outta here,” I breathed and started to climb up the tree by my window. Everyone grabbed a rucksack and began dumping stuff hurriedly into the bag as quietly as possible. I took a few baseball bats and tennis rackets along. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Butterflies stuff two daggers – she always kept that kind of thing lying around – into her bag, Draconis push a leather belt into hers, and Abyss shove a wooden toy rifle into hers (that thing whacked me once, it hurts). I handed them each a walkie-talkie. We started to make our way quietly to the window when Draconis tripped over a drawer I left open.
“Flying fucks,” Butterflies did know some creative cursing. We heard all activity downstairs cease, causing the house to be as quiet as death. Then, heavy boots started stomping up the stairs. I counted. One, two, three, four… Four Draculoids, after four kids. They must have known.
“Get out. Now.” I ordered, and we jumped out of the window, landing softly, and ran towards my parents’ two-seater Trans Am, while Butterflies and Draconis took the motorcycle my parents had promised me if I had gotten my driver’s license, Draconis riding pillion. “Follow us,” I shouted to them as they put on their helmets, and Butterflies nodded okay.
Abyss took the wheel and turned to me. “Where do we go, Cyanide?” she whispered, fear flickering in her eyes.
“To the desert. We’ll be… safer there,” I replied hesitantly as I threw both her bags and mine in the backseat.
Slamming her foot onto the accelerator, we sped off towards the desert. Dust billowed up behind us as the Draculoids ran out, trying to stop us but not daring to shoot. They hadn’t brought their vehicles with them, so they mustn’t have counted on meeting a bunch of kids who took illegal driving lessons with each other. Abyss’ and my walkie-talkie crackled to life and we heard Draconis’ voice. “No plan, no food, no supplies, nothing. We’re fucked, aren’t we?”
There was so much fear in her voice, and I could literally imagine her hand trembling. I picked my walkie-talkie up and talked to her. “We’ll be alright. We’ll figure something out.”
Butterflies came online, and through the rear view mirror I saw Draconis holding it for her. “One thing’s for certain, then,” she shouted over the roar of the motorbike. “We’re turning our backs on the town that we grew up in, turning our backs on the town now overtaken by Better Living. This is war.”