Author: DiNae’ Billingsley
Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance
Title: Livid Shift
Chapter 1: The Best Story Ever
I followed Adrien’s rusty, old Chevy into this rusty, old neighborhood. It was known to most Norcross Georgians as The Strip. It was dark, about 11 pm on a school night. Dressed in all black, my muscled rippled through my fitted jacket. I looked like a cool ass ninja, or a drug dealer, which is what I was going for. My old 2002 black Nissan sputtered and I turned it off, before it died on me, again.
The street was shady and trashy, just like Principal Sal. The houses on both sides were decrepit colors of white, yellow, and pink. White-picket fences and crisp cut grass with garden gnomes did not pertain to its particular qualities. Adrien’s car door opened and he jumped out with a huge black back pack that he carried whenever he was at school, a skate board, and a lit cigarette. Adrien, who was five inches taller than me at 6’4, had “Beiber Cut” and was usually tan. Today he looked like his paler identical twin brother, Andrew.
I took out my camera and started taking pictures.
He walked into a pink house festooned with a ran-over gate and scattered trash on the lawn. Loud music rattled my car windows. I snapped a few more pictures, got out of the car, and started to walk up the street. I looked at the spot I wanted to land and shifted to it in a flash.
I collided into the side of the house.
“Crap.” I said in a hushed voice.
I should have practiced before I came; I hadn’t felt that tug on my abdomen in three years. If I had a sensei, someone, anyone that could have taught me how to master my extra ability of instantaneously transporting from one place to another, there would be no accidents. No horrible, tragically sad accidents that would ruin my life forever and keep me from shifting every again. Until now. I knew I had to use it some day. I still should have practiced.
The house became silent. There was a cock of a gun.
I turned and shifted back into my car. My fingertips started to tingle. The door opened and a tall, slinky, severe looking man with thin hair and a leather jacket came out with a gun. He swiftly pointed the barrel at the spot where I just escaped. His eyes traced the street; he even walked a few feet up and down the street before he went back inside.
A few minutes later my car windows started to rattle again. I inhaled.
“Don’t fuck this up Simon. Your story’s right here. Kye was right here.” I said and pushed my sweaty dark hair out my eyes.
Kye, the reason I’m here. Kye, my brightly dyed, red haired best friend, disappeared three and a half years ago. This is the last place Andrew told me she was.
I checked my camera and, one shift at a time, advanced to the side of the house. I crept to the front window and peeked in. The smell of cigars and booze preceded the picture inside. Heavy smoke intoxicated the air. About eight men of various sizes laughed and played cards. The room was styled with Mitch-match saggy furniture. Principal Sal, the literal definition of “the elephant in the room”, was in the midst of it all. He was a large, bald man, with stubble around his face that I never saw at school. He constantly wore a tie.
“Hey boy, come here.” The tall, slinky man said to Adrien.
Adrien peeled himself off the wall and stood next to him gripping his backpack. The man told Adrien to put it on the table, he complied.
Principle Sal opened the backpack and took out stacks of money.
“It’s all there. My brother Andrew, you know the one that’s good with money, double counted it.” Adrien said, sweaty and nervous.
“Did I ask you anything?” Sal said.
Adrien shook his head and looked down.
I picked up my camera and took a few snaps of Sal, the money, dime bags of white stuff, and a few men.
“Brandy! Get your ass in here.” Sal yelled, clearly agitated.
A woman came out of a dark room. It was Ms. Valentini, the soft spoken, fragile, secretary from school. She was like North Central’s hot fairy god mother. If you asked, she would give you the world if. Or an inspiring pep talk. She could make anything seem possible. Like my parents loving each other again.
“Go count this.” Sal yanked her arm down so that they were eye to eye. “Carefully.”
He tossed her the bag and she left. One of the shorter men slapped her butt. She was about to object but walked off. Adrien’s face mirrored my awed shock. This would explain the black eye she had at the cancer fundraiser she orchestrated, and the busted lip at the annual Honors Banquet. Principal Sal was known for his “tactful” disciplinary techniques. Ms. Valentini would be free after I expose Principal Sal.
I walked around the house to find a better view. There were two windows on one side of the house. The first was a window for the kitchen. Next was a dark bedroom.
Chapter 2: Interview with a Prostitute
The room a mess except for the bed, which had a woman passed out across it. Her revealing blue dress looked like someone had painted it on. She might be the seasoned prostitute Andrew told me about. She knew the ins and outs of Principal Sal’s correspondences, a right hand woman. If she didn’t buy this I was fucked. I knocked on the window till she stirred. Then, upon seeing me, stumbled to the window.
“How you doing honey?” She said as her lids drooped. The smell of alcohol was strong on her breath. Her pupils were dilated.
“Fine. Can I come in?” I asked.
“Who are you?” She demanded. I flipped on my tape recorder.
“Simon. I’m employed by Principal Sal, and a student. You must be Star?” I said.
“Yea, who told you?”
“Andrew. He’s an old friend. He’s the one who set me up with Principal Sal.”
“Ha Andrew. For such a tall boy he is very small.” She smiled.
“I know. He couldn’t impregnate a guppy.” We laughed. “So, can I?”
“Sure, sure babe. Couldn’t reject those beautiful blue eyes.”
She turned to move something. I shifted in and she was started by my sudden appearance. But she shrugged, clearly too drunk or drugged up to care about what I just did. She started to undress.
“No, don’t do that, I would never do that, even though you are very… attractive.” She wasn’t, but the complement wouldn’t hurt. She rolled her eyes and left her right shoulder bare. I eased myself on the front edge of bed. “I wanted to ask you some questions.”
“Oh really? You look nervous. ” She went over to a dresser and came back with something small and shiny. “Here, hit this and you’ll feel better. Hell I know I do.” She stood over me trying to hand me a small mirror with a line of white powder on it.
“No, I’m not here for that, or anything else. I just wanted to ask you some questions.”
“Trying not to mess up that bod huh?” She looked me up and down like a piece of cake at a Weight Watchers convention. “Why did you come through the window?”
“Sal, I didn’t want, well you know.” I said.
“Oh yeah, that bastard.” She laid the mirror on the bed, and then purposely stood in a position that put her lady lumps right in my face. I had no choice but to look .They were her only redeeming quality.
“I swear he has one hell of a men supply. Did you just start? You look new and you’re a cutie.” She smiled and pushed my hair back.
“Yeah, just started a few weeks ago.” I felt my body heating up.
“Nice.” She said as she sat down next to me. “So what did you wanna ask me?”
“Well how long have you been, um, working for Sal?”
“A few years. How old are you?” She started to caress my thigh.
I cleared my throat. “I’m 17.”
“17? You sure you want to get into this? When Sal takes you he has you for life. We’re your ‘new family’.” She rolled her eyes.
“Yes, I need the money. I have things I need to take care of.”
“Ha, we all need easy money. What’s your excuse? Mommy got in an accident? Can’t afford college? Need a new car?”
I heard a laugh that was closer than I wanted it to be. My heart stuttered. Come on Simon, ask her.
“I wanted to know if you knew Kye, Kye Limia.” I said abruptly.
She stilled and her eyes enlarged. “You’re so tense, lay down a sec-“
I grabbed her arms. “Only if you tell me about what happened to her. I know Sal did something to her. Maybe worse than what he has done to you.” I said as I stared into her baggy eyes.
She looked away. “Sal, no he liked her, but she just vanished and-“
We both snapped are heads toward the door as the sound of lagged foot steps approached.
She pushed me down on the bed and mounted me. “Do you know how many men came to visit me everyday since I started?”
“59. Do you wanna be number 60?” She ripped my jacket open and forced her lips on to mine.
I pushed her off and jumped up. My pants got a little tighter.
“Hey babe, bring your ass in-” the tall, slinky man busted through the door. “Who the hell are you?” He pulled out a silver gun and pointed it at me.
“I’m nobody I’m I’m…” My heart plunged into the ground.
“He’s new; I’m just making him apart of the family, Sunday.” She said, edgy.
“Sal! There’s a kid in here, is he ours?” He yelled.
There were a few quick thuds that unnaturally match my pulse, before Principal Sal came into view. His reddened eyes became large then focused.
“It’s Danforth. Shoot him.” Sal spit.
Star and I looked at the man called Sunday. Sunday raised an eyebrow at Principal Sal, which highlighted the long scar above the same eye brow. My life and time seemed to suspend for a little while longer.
Sal’s grubby hands reached for the gun.
I spun and shifted out the window as a rain of bullets pursued me. But like an idiot, I turned around to see where Ms. Valentini was in all the chaos. Another hail of bullets from the front of the house condemned me. I ran, and then shifted into my car.
“Holy shit.” I wheezed.
I turned the key. It didn’t start.
“Come on, come on!” The shots got closer, my hand started to slip.
More gun shots. Glass shattered, shards flew.
“God Dammit START!” I screeched. It started. I whirled around and sped off. Someone cursed.
“Woo hell yeah!” Adrenaline coursed through my body.
I was on the high way, and no one appeared to be chasing me. My hands shook as I checked my camera. It was unharmed. Then I reached inside my pocket for the tape recorder. I pulled it out. It and my hand were covered in blood. My blood. The sensation of numbness twisted into nerve altering pain. An unimaginable, searing pain, pounded in my lower abdomen and back. I searched for where the wound was and applied pressure.
“Holy sh-.” Tears clouded my vision.
Gwinnett Medical Center was 5 miles away. I got into the HOV lane and pushed the petal. The speedometer hit 130. My stomach hit the back of the seat.
I reached the hospital in what seemed like an eternity and parked. As soon as I stood up my consciousness swayed. Colorful dots started to swim around in front of my eyes. I crumbled to the floor. My body felt like a ton of US history books. But still I drug myself farther. Death was just a breath away. I flopped to the floor as my world spun and turned into blackness.