Monday, October 3, 2011

The Demon Next Door (Part 1 of 3)

Ever since the demons moved in next door, my life has gone to hell. At least, I’m pretty sure they’re demons, because: One, they moved in in the middle of the night. Two, I keep getting woken up by all these weird shrieking sounds. And three, they have horns. Not huge ones or anything, but like these yellowish tusk-like things that stick out of their temples and curve back toward their ears, like mini rams or something. Despite this, every girl in school thinks the new guy, DJ, is the hottest guy that ever existed ever. And that includes my best friend Andrea.

His first day of school, Andrea and I both dropped our books as he passed us in the hall. I thought for sure she was seeing what I saw, but then she leaned over and whispered, “Oh my God! Have you ever seen anyone that hot in real life?" And that’s when I knew I was the only one that could see my new neighbors for what they are.

Other girls swoon when he looks them in the eye, I get nauseous. Unlike non-demons, who might have green or brown eyes, DJ’s irises are full of flames. Literally, they’re like, on fire. But only for me. According to Andrea, DJ’s eyes are "the color of the ocean off a tropical island." So, you see what I’m up against.

I looked up demons online and it says they have some kind of magic trick they pull called a “glamour," but that they don’t work on about one percent of the population. Lucky me. The website advised that if you can see them, keep quiet about it or you’ll get locked up with the crazies. Probably by a demon who happens to have a day job as a doctor.

Nobody would believe me anyway. The Harmons are the perfect suburban family. They keep their yard neatly manicured, they barbecue on Sundays, they have two Suburbans, one black, the other gray. And no one but me seems to hear the screams coming from their house at night.

Supposedly, the more human looking demons are mostly harmless. Every fifty years or so, they steal the soul of a young person in order to stay immortal, but otherwise, they’re usually upstanding members of society.

I guess I could be cool with that if DJ wasn’t spending so much time flirting with Andrea. No offense to her, but she’s definitely not one of the more… sought after girls in school, if you know what I mean. She’s plain. Mousy. Not the kind of girl the hottest guy in school – or any guy so far, if we’re being honest – is likely to go for, unless he plans on eating her soul and banishing her to hell, or whatever it is they do with them. And Andrea’s read Twilight like ten times so her danger detector is way off. She actually thinks DJ is into her, like soulmates into her. I don’t know how to break it to her without hurting her feelings.

So now, even though Andrea is all swoony all the time, and has basically forgotten I exist thanks to Demon Boy, I’m going to try to save her. If demons are as reasonable as the internet says, DJ should be willing to hear me out. I just want him to take someone else’s soul. Maybe someone evil, like a serial killer, or Lisa Jansen, who still calls me Brace Face even though I got them off two years ago.

The Harmon family is nothing if not predictable. Every evening at six pm on the dot, DJ’s parents hop in the car and drive off, leaving DJ home alone. They return every night at ten, and the shrieks begin promptly at eleven. I can’t remember the last time I got a full night’s sleep. I wait until his parents have been gone a full ten minutes and then make the short walk across the lawn.

DJ’s house is the mirror image of mine, but meticulously kept. The flower boxes are full of bright red pansies. The kind my mom can only make last for about a month. The only thing spoiling the look is the faint screams coming from somewhere deep inside the house. It takes several knocks before the door begins to rattle and I hear the clicking and sliding of locks. The flames in DJ’s fire eyes flare in surprise when he sees me, but otherwise he seems relaxed, pleasant even. An ear-splitting shriek comes from somewhere behind him.

“Why Erica! Hello!" he says, stepping onto the porch and pulling the door shut. He’s tall and lean, and judging from the way his black t-shirt clings to his chest, he works out. Or maybe that’s just how demons are built. He flashes the smile I’ve seen make girls stumble over their own feet. “It’s so great that you finally stopped by. Andrea has told me so much about you.”

“Right..." His teeth are just a bit too pointy to look human, but I guess I’m the only one that can see that too. I try to stay focused on the plan, but this is the closest I’ve ever been to his horns and I’m fascinated. They grow right out of the skin, with the base surrounded by little tufts of hair that are more blonde than golden brown like the rest.

DJ catches my gaze and ruffles his hair sheepishly, like I just caught him with bedhead or something. “What brings you today?"

Before I can answer, another shriek leaks through the door. This time there’s something familiar about it. I could swear it’s Andrea. “What was that?" I ask.

The flames in DJ’s eyes leap, but he just shakes his head. “Oh, it’s just the tv. I like horror movies.” He reaches back and opens the door. His smile is still friendly, but his voice has a new edge to it. “Would you like to come in?"

No. I don’t want to go in. But he’s got my best friend in there, and I came to save her. I take a deep breath and force my mouth to smile. “Sure."

DJ steps aside. "After you."

I walk through the door.

Come back Wednesday for Part 2 by Natalie!

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