Caesar woke up in the attic. At least, he assumed it was his attic, though he wasn’t completely sure that he had one. His back was stiff, he was freezing cold and the air was old and stale, causing him to feel sick to his stomach.
“What the hell?” he mumbled in confusion as he forced himself to sit up and look around. “Hello?” he called out while massaging the palm of his hand against his sore neck. “Anyone there?”
Caesar propped himself up on his hands and knees and slowly stood upright. The room spun briefly and he stumbled to keep his balance. And that’s when he noticed it. Blood. Blood was smeared against his hand.
His hand immediately found its way back to his neck and he prodded it with his fingers, trying to find the source. “Mom!” he yelled in a panic. “Mom, help!”
The walls suddenly appeared like jelly, melting as quickly as a blowtorch to a marshmallow. “Mom!” Caesar heard his voice crack; its pitch so high it hurt his ears. The last thing he heard was the sound of his head hitting the floor.
All of a sudden he was staring up at his mom. His throat was dry and sore but he was no longer shivering, thanks to a blanket that had been wrapped around him.
“Caesar? Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” he lied, which he was sure his mother could tell. “What’s going on?”
“What on earth are you doing up here?” Caesar’s mother glanced around at the dust and cobwebs.
Caesar tried to sit up but the blanket was wrapped too tightly around his arms. “I… don’t know.” He said while trying to wiggle his arms out from under the blanket, which is when he remembered, “I’m bleeding!”
“No, I saw that. You’re not. You’re okay,” she assured him. “You must have bumped up against that loose piece of wood over there. It’s got two nails hanging out the end that match your neck. It’s a good thing you just had a tetanus shot.”
Caesar finally freed his hands and sat up then tossed the blanket off to the side. His eyes were immediately drawn to his bare legs and bright-blue Hanes briefs, and he quickly snatched the blanket back, covering himself up. “What the hell, Mom?!”
“Don’t look at me. I found you like that,” she giggled and offered her hands down to Caesar. “Come on. Let’s get you downstairs. I’ll whip up some breakfast while you die of embarrassment.”
“Funny,” he said in bleeding-sarcasm as he grabbed his mother’s hands and she pulled him up to his feet. “Oh God,” his voice squeaked and Caesar tore his hands away from his mother’s and rapidly pulled the blanket back up and secured it around his waist. “How did I even get up here?”
Caesar’s mom shrugged as she walked toward the stairs. “I get the feeling that you’ve decided to take up sleep walking again,” she said, looking slightly uneasy. “Hopefully this was a one-off. It freaks me out when you do that.”
“Right, like I enjoy it?”
“Of course not. It’s confusing and embarrassing and really, really creepy,” said Caesar’s mom as she closed the attic door behind them. “Maybe moving’s been a lot more stressful on you than you realize. Take the day off and check out the neighbourhood, or maybe once you finish sorting out your room it’ll feel more like home.”
“I’m okay, Mom,” Caesar stood outside his bedroom. “Now can I go get some pants on?”
Caesar’s mom just rolled her eyes and walked down the hall. “Breakfast in twenty minutes.”
But Caesar didn’t reply. He was too busy trying to get away and have the worst morning ever quickly become a distant memory. Instead, however, when he got inside his room and switched on the light, a rapid flash followed by an impossibly loud pop sent glass in all directions throughout the room. “MOM!” Caesar cried out as he dropped the blanket to the floor and stormed back out into the hallway. “Those damn LIGHTBULBS SUCK!”
Caesar was rattled. He could feel his body shaking and his heartbeat pounding heavily in his chest. His fists were clenched at his sides as he angrily paced back and forth in the hall.
“There’s more in the linen closet!” Caesar’s mom happily announced from the bottom of the stairs.
“And a broom?!”
“Check the spare bedroom. If it’s not there, I’ll bring you the one from the kitchen!”
“Kay…” Caesar stormed down the hall to the linen closet, snatched the box of light bulbs from the top shelf and then stomped back toward the spare bedroom.
“Is there one there, buttercup?!”
Caesar was being teased. Usually he didn’t care, but the day so far wasn’t doing much for his patience. “Yeah!” he said before he had actually opened the door. Thankfully, when he got inside it was laying in on the floor in the middle of the room, saving him from having to do any more talking.
Caesar hated glass. It was scary. The tiny smashed pieces were nearly invisible, which made it really hard not to miss some, and that scared the pants off of him—if he was wearing any pants. So before Caesar started to sweep, he spread the blanket he had dropped along the floor, like a bridge, and tiptoed across to his box of clothes, where he fished out some socks and retrieved his shoes from the floor.
After the careful inspection of his Chucks’ insoles, and realizing how hard it was to put on socks while standing up, Caesar was finally ready to start sweeping. The strange thing was, after putting on his shoes, and as soon as he started sweeping, he started to feel better. It felt weird wearing his shoes with nothing else on but his underwear, and there was no explaining why, but it excited him.
Before he knew it, he was humming the tune to Eye of the Tiger and dancing around the room with the broom. With every beat, he’d bump his rump from one side to the next and then slide the broom along the floor to collect some more shards of light bulb.
And that’s when it happened.
In the middle of a full-bodied booty wiggle, while singing into the end of the broom handle, the corner of Caesar’s eye caught the form of a person staring at him through the window. Without a second thought, Caesar dropped down to the floor. Just barely missing the pile of glass when his knee thumped against the hardwood, he quickly crawled over to the window.
His curtains weren’t up yet, so he had nothing to close. Instead he carefully raised his head above the sill and peered through the glass. The person was still there, staring back at him. In fact, he was waving. Waving and smiling at the same time!
Caesar awkwardly moved his hand up and waved back. The person across the way who was invading his privacy appeared to be around the same age as him. His hair was dark and curly and his skin looked pasty-white. Not a creepy white. It was more of a nerdy, super-cute kind of white.
Caesar sat back down and leaned up against the wall. On the other side of the room he could see his box of clothes and his mind attempted to plot out a safe route to get there without being seen. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be one. The window had been conveniently placed in the centre of the wall and was quite wide, so either the pervy boy had to go away, or he’d have to suck it up and be the bigger man.
But he wasn’t the bigger man. He was humiliated. His first impression to anyone in his new area, probably someone who was likely to be in the same class as him, was dancing in his underwear to Eye of the Tiger. Fortunately, the window wasn’t open and he doubted that anyone could actually have heard what he was singing.
So this was it. He either had to hide on the floor all day, or see how fast he could roll over his bed and put on some shorts.
Caesar prepared himself. He pushed himself forward into a crouch, pressed his hands back into the wall and pushed himself up into a mad dash toward his bed. Two steps forwards, he threw his weight into a barrel roll over his bed, bounced a little too high on the other end and crashed down to the floor.
On the bright side, he made it. His box of clothes was right beside him. The only real set back was there must have been some glass either on his bed or on the floor where he landed, because the back of his right shoulder stung and appeared to be bleeding a little. Of course, with how this morning had been going, he was getting used to bleeding.
While still sitting on the floor, Caesar grabbed his box of clothes and pulled it down beside him to fish out some clothes. He knew that breakfast would be ready soon, but he needed to wash away all of the morning’s grime, so instead of getting dressed he grabbed a complete change of clothes and cautiously made his way toward the door. When he peeked out from behind his bed and looked through the window the boy seemed to be gone, so he quickly climbed to his feet and bolted out the door for the bathroom.
After a quick breakfast, Caesar helped his mom unpack the kitchen and was gathering boxes to take outside for recycling. “Where’s the best place to put these?” he asked her, holding up one of the many flattened boxes he had piled up.
“Um, I don’t know. Maybe just pile them up against the side of the house until we can take them in?” she seemed to be thinking out loud rather than giving an actual answer. “Somewhere out of the way, I guess.”
“All right.” Caesar turned around and picked up as many boxes as he could manage then waddled to the front door. Fortunately, they had been going in and out so much that morning that the door was already open. Otherwise he would have ended up tripping over his own feet trying to get through the door.
“Need a hand?” asked an unfamiliar voice as soon as Caesar got outside.
“Huh?” he replied, trying to peer over the boxes he was carrying to see who it was. “Um, yeah, okay.” Caesar felt someone grabbing at the boxes he was holding, and he tried to shimmy his hand out the way so that the person could grab some. “Sorry, this is really awkward,” he added.
“Looks like it,” said the voice, just as Caesar saw his face.
It was the pervy boy from the window.
Caesars face went red with embarrassment and he looked away as casually as he could. “Thanks,” he said as soon as the boy managed to grab half of the boxes without them spilling all over the ground.
“Alexander,” the boy said randomly.
“What?” Caesar blurted as he started walking to the driveway.
“My name. It’s Alexander.”
“Oh, duh. Sorry. I’m Caesar,” he introduced himself while dropping the boxes beside the house.
“Cool, like Julius?”
Caesar dusted off his hands and shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay,” Caesar cut in as he watched Alexander drop the boxes in the pile. “My dad’s obsessed with history, especially the Roman Empire.”
“Cool,” he said but looked like he still had more to say.
“Sorry about earlier,” said Caesar, deciding to get it over with. “I didn’t realize your house was so close to mine, and…”
Alexander blushed and he looked away. “It’s okay,” he said while staring at the ground. “I didn’t mean to stare. I just wasn’t…”
“Expecting someone to be dancing half-naked, singing Eye of the Tiger?” Caesar cringed. He hadn’t meant to say that last part.
“Really?” Alexander smirked. “It was driving me nuts trying to figure out what you were dancing to. I mean, not that I was going to ask.”
Caesar could feel his cheeks becoming hotter by the second. All he wanted to do was run back inside and hide in his room for the rest of his life. After putting up some curtains, of course.
“So…” Alexander looked around at nothing in particular. “Are there any more boxes I can help with?”
“Umm, yeah there’s tons of boxes, but you don’t have to help,” said Caesar. “I mean, you don’t have to feel obligated. I’ll be fine.”
“It’s okay,” Alexander sounded genuine. “I’ve got nothing better to do.”
Alexander nodded. “Yeah.”
“Well, all right then,” Caesar agreed. “Guess, uh, follow me,” he said and walked back toward the front door.
When he got back inside, he guided Alexander past the piled boxes and into the kitchen, where his mother was struggling to reach the top shelf.
“Oh good,” she replied without looking back. “Can you grab a chair and help me out? I can’t seem to get high enough.”
“Mom… This is Alexander, our neighbour.”
Caesar’s mother stopped what she was doing and turned around. “Oh, great. Hi Alexander,” she greeted happily. “I’m Karen,” she introduced herself. “Or Mrs. Barnett, if your mother’s more old-fashioned.”
“Hi Miss,” Alexander said timidly. “I’m Alexander. Alexander Arkley.”
“Anyway,” Caesar jumped in. “We’re just going to toss these boxes outside.”
“No way,” Karen stepped in front of the flattened boxes. “Take a break. Go show Alexander around, maybe play some video games. The boxes will still be here later.”
Caesar stared his mom in the eye, trying to see if he was being baited for a trap. “Uh… really? You sure?”
“Of course. Your dad will be back soon. He’ll help me for now.”
“Well, all right then,” Caesar decided. “Guess we’ll just… go do something else.” Caesar looked back at Alexander to see if he had any objections. “Is that okay?”
“Yup,” Alexander replied with a nod.
“Then I guess we’ll just go upstairs for a bit, or something.”
Caesar felt awkward, and slightly cheesed at his mother for suggesting they just hang out and do nothing instead of filling the time with actually doing something. He didn’t know a thing about Alexander. Box moving was meant to be his icebreaker, the thing that was supposed to make Alexander forget about the horrible dancing that morning.
“My room’s just around the corner to the right,” said Caesar as he guided Alexander up the stairs.
“Yeah, I remember.”
“Oh,” Caesar mentally slapped himself, “right.”
As soon as Caesar entered the room he realized he hadn’t finished changing his light bulb. In fact, the pile of glass was still in the middle of the floor.
“Whoops, careful,” he warned. “The lights here keep bursting for some reason.”
“Really?” asked Alexander as he watched Caesar struggle to sweep up the rest of the glass. “Maybe you’ve got a ghost?”
Caesar wanted to laugh and brush off the joke, but what he had said made a degree of sense. It would explain the bulbs, the voices and footsteps and probably even the sleepwalking. “Nah, I don’t believe in ghosts…”
“Then what else is smashing your bulbs?” asked Alexander as he sat down on the end of Caesar’s bed.
Caesar shrugged. “Bad wiring?”
“No. I bet it’s a ghost,” Alexander decided. “A ghost from the 80s.”
“From the 80s?”
“Yeah. That would explain your dancing to Eye of the Tiger this morning.”
“You were possessed. Probably by a creepy dude with a mullet.”
Caesar finished sweeping the last of the glass into the dustpan. “I’m never going to live that down, am I?” he said as he carried the glass over to a small garbage bin in the corner of his room.
Alexander smiled and shook his head. “I really hope not,” he said as he stood up. “So where’d you come from?”
Alexander crooked his eyebrow. “And you’re moving to Windsor, why?”
“Dad got a job offer at the university.”
Alexander shook his head. “Doesn’t sound worth it.”
“It probably isn’t,” Caesar had to agree. “The only bright side is we get a bigger house.”
“A haunted house.”
“Is that what they say?” asked Caesar, becoming more and more curious.
Alexander walked over to the window and looked across at his own room on the other side and couldn’t help but smile. “I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts?”
“I don’t. It’s just…”
“What?” Alexander turned back around. “Has something else happened?”
“Uh…” Caesar wasn’t sure if he should say anything. It was hard to tell if Alexander was actually interested, or if he was just digging for more ammunition to tease him with. “Yeah, maybe,” he finally said, against his better judgement.
“For real? Like what?”
Caesar eyed Alexander. He appeared to actually be interested, which put his mind at ease a little more. “Okay, but you gotta promise you won’t think I’m a nut.”
Alexander shook his head. “Nope, no can do. I already think you’re a nut, but go on.”
Caesar rolled his eyes and went to sit on his bed. “All right, so last night when we first got here, all of the light bulbs were smashed. Every single one, so we were going around changing them all. Anyway, when I was up here alone, I heard whispering and footsteps in my parents’ room. But no one was there.”
“It was an empty house. Maybe it was an echo?”
Caesar shook his head. “But then later on when I was in bed, something kept whispering my name, and every time the voice got closer and closer.”
“You’re lying,” Alexander interrupted. “Really?”
“So what happened?”
Caesar gave his shoulders a shrug. “That’s the weird part. The next thing I knew, it was morning and I was waking up in the attic with a bloody neck.”
“Seriously?!” Alexander’s eyes widened with intrigue. “So something cut you? Bit you? Lemme see,” he said and moved toward Caesar.
Caesar tilted his head to the side and pulled the collar of his shirt down to show Alexander the two puncture marks in his neck.
“Jesus!” Alexander moved his face so close that Caesar could feel the heat of his breath against his neck. “That’s crazy. You got bit by a vampire!”
“I thought you said it was a ghost?”
“Nuh uh,” Alexander shook his head and stepped back. “Ghosts can’t bite you, and definitely not like that. Only vamps leave teeth marks like that.”
“But it wasn’t a bite. It came from a two-by-four that was hanging from the ceiling.”
“Are you sure about that?”
Caesar nodded. “Yeah. I can show you.”
“Cool.” Alexander offered his hands to Caesar and helped him up off the bed. “Let’s go then.”
Caesar guided Alexander up to the attic, which was still dimly lit even in the middle of the day. “It was just over there,” he pointed to the centre of the room.
“Oh, okay. I see it,” said Alexander as he crept across the attic toward the hanging piece of wood. “Oh yeah, it’s got two nails hanging out of it, huh? That sucks.”
“Told you it wasn’t a vampire,” said Caesar as he walked over to where Alexander was standing.
“But it can still be a ghost.”
“Sure, let’s stick with that.”
Alexander reached for the two-by-four to give it a closer inspection. “Wait a second,” he touched his finger and thumb to the tips of the two nails that protruded from the wood. “Come here a second.”
Without moving the distance between his finger and thumb, Alexander brought them as steadily as he could manage from the nails to the punctures in Caesar’s neck. “I don’t think they match.”
“What do you mean?”
“The spacing’s wrong. Look, come here a second,” he said and grabbed the two-by-four again. “Just let me line the nails up with your bite. I won’t stab you… on purpose.”
Caesar tilted his head again and stretched his collar away from neck. “So?”
“Wait.” Alexander moved the nails as close as he could manage without actually stabbing Caesar. “The height’s right for it, but the nails are too far apart.”
“Maybe it bent, or one of them’s loose?”
“No, they’re stiff,” Alexander said and immediately giggled. “Sorry… I must have been thinking of your booty dance this morning.”
“Shut up,” Caesar stepped back from the nails. “So now what?”
“Dunno. I guess we go back to your room and dig out a video game or something, maybe?”
“What about the ghost?”
“Whatever. What about the vampire?”
“Well, I’m guessing it won’t come out until the sun goes down, so we might as well do something to fill the time.”
“All right, well, my TV’s downstairs somewhere, so I’ll have to go and find it. Why don’t you go see if you can find my PlayStation in one of the boxes in my room?”
“Okay, sounds good.”
Caesar had made it halfway down the stairs when he remembered that the movers had put some of his things in the guest room, so he quickly doubled back and hopped back up the stairs. When he turned the corner he saw Alexander standing in the middle of the hallway. “What are you doing?”
Alexander didn’t reply. He just stood there, completely still, staring blankly down the hall.
“Alex?” Caesar stepped closer. Alexander’s skin looked pale and dry and his eyes looked like he hadn’t blinked in a long time. “Alex, are you okay?”
The closer Caesar got, the colder the air felt. But it wasn’t just that. It gave him an empty feeling inside, which seemed especially odd because he couldn’t shake the idea that someone was watching him.
Now standing directly in front of Alexander, Caesar waved his hand back and forth in front of his eyes. “Alexander? Hello?” he tried again, just as Alexander’s jaw dropped.
“What?” Caesar wasn’t sure how to react. The voice came from Alexander, but it wasn’t his voice. In fact, his lips hadn’t even moved. “This isn’t funny, Alex. You’re freaking me out.”
“What?” Alexander’s eyes suddenly blinked and he stumbled back a few steps. “Whoa, hey, what the hell are you doing?”
“Alex?” Caesar moved forward to try and help Alexander regain his balance. “Are you okay? What happened?”
Alexander wrinkled his nose and coughed. “Ugh, jeez, what’s that smell?” he asked while waving his hand in front of his nose.
“What smell? What the hell were you doing? Are you epileptic or something?”
“What? No,” Alexander leaned against the wall.
“So you’ve never actually gone into a trance like that before? Are you sure?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You, just now.” Caesar’s mind was racing. “You seriously don’t remember standing there like you were possessed or something? Really?”
“Possessed? Are you going nuts? You just left to get your TV.”
Caesar shook his head. “Yeah, like five minutes ago…”
Caesar nodded as his thoughts filled with dread, while mentally preparing himself for when Alexander inevitably freaked out.
“Seriously?” Alexander grinned. “That’s fracken awesome!”
“I was possessed by a ghost, for real? You’re not lying?”
The fact that Alexander wasn’t freaking out was freaking Caesar out even more. “I thought you said it was a vampire.”
Alexander shook his head. “No, it can’t be. Vampires can’t possess people.”
“But couldn’t Dracula put people in a trance? You looked like you were in a trance.”
“Dracula’s a story.”
“Yeah, and so are ghosts,” Caesar pointed out. “Up until yesterday, none of them existed. Who’s to say what’s real and what’s not anymore?”
Caesar stopped to think about what he had just said, wishing so badly that he had just let it be. Hearing it out loud made it real, and the world he had once known immediately shattered around him.
“Oh shit.” Caesar felt dizzy. His heart began to race, and he couldn’t catch his breath. “Oh shit, what the hell?”
“Whoa, hey, are you okay?” Alexander noticed Caesar beginning to panic and reached out and took him by the arm. “Maybe you should sit down,” he suggested and guided Caesar into his room.
“I’m okay,” Caesar lied as he sat down on the bed and gulped for air. “It’s just stuffy in here.”
“Are you asthmatic or something? Should I get your inhaler? Your mom?”
“No, I’m fine.” Caesar rested his head between his knees and stared at the floor. “Just freaked out a little.” And that’s when Caesar realized something. “Why aren’t you freaking out? Your body was just taken over by a ghost or a vampire or… whatever.”
Alexander shrugged. “No idea. Probably because I’m not the one that has to sleep here.”
“Oh God.” Caesar felt it coming again. His mind began to race, the room began to spin and then—there was nothing. Out of nowhere, everything stopped. He could breathe again, the panic was gone and the air moved through his lungs freely. “Huh,” he said in surprise. “That was weird.”
Realizing Alexander was being oddly quiet, Caesar looked up at him. His face had that same blank stare as before and the room’s temperature was quickly dropping. It was even worse than before. There wasn’t a single sound to be heard, not from Alex, not from his mother moving boxes downstairs, nothing.
Caesar stood up to take a closer look at Alex. The air was becoming so cold that he was momentarily distracted by the fog of his own breath. He couldn’t see Alex’s breath, though. He knew that should worry him, but it didn’t. He couldn’t explain it, but the odd feeling he had before, that empty feeling inside, it made him feel powerful. It was like he was in control; he could do anything at any time.
Not that he was about to jump out the window to see if he could fly, but the thought was there just the same. Everything around him, everything that was happening, felt like a part of him, as if everything was, in some unexplainable way, an extension of his mind and body.
Caesar moved closer to Alexander and stared into his eyes. They were blank, almost lifeless, but he could tell that Alex was there, somewhere. Then, without knowing why, Caesar’s hand rose and placed itself on Alexander’s cheek. His skin was still warm, despite the cold, and felt smooth to the touch. The back of his fingers slid gently down, tracing over his jaw and then down his neck.
Alexander’s neck was hot and inviting to his hand, and without knowing why, Caesar wrapped his fingers around the back of Alex’s neck and leaned in. He pressed the tip of his nose against Alex’s neck, and inhaled. The scent triggered a surge of adrenaline to go coursing through Caesar’s veins, then a flash of what was to come entered Caesar’s mind. He was going to bite him.
Caesar pushed himself away and collapsed onto the bed. He was disgusted with himself and his perverse thoughts. He couldn’t understand it. There was no reason for it. No excuse. The fact was, he desperately wanted to sink his teeth into Alexander’s neck, to feel the flesh break and hot, streaming blood to poor from his veins.
Caesar was going to puke. He jumped up, just as Alexander blinked and stumbled toward the bed, and ran for the hallway, hoping to make it to the bathroom before…
He didn’t make it. Vomit spewed from his mouth before he could even fall to his knees, and his body began to heave and shake.
“Damn, are you okay?” said Alexander from the doorway of Caesar’s room. “Should I get your mom?”
“No,” Caesar forced himself to say as he waved his hand aimlessly in the air and stuck up a thumb. “I’m good.”
“Where are the towels? A bucket? Mop? Do you need some water?” Alexander stepped closer, peering over Caesar’s shoulder, then at the puke. But it wasn’t even puke. It was just gooey spit. “Just a thought, but when’s the last time you ate something?”
“This morning,” Caesar replied and rolled over on the floor and lay out on his back. “Why?”
“Just wondering,” said Alex as he leaned against the wall and slid down to sit on the floor next to Caesar. “Last time I upchucked like that it was because I didn’t eat or drink anything for a while. Dehydration, low blood sugar… I dunno. Mom just got me some soup and I was good to go again.”
The two remained quiet for a moment, until Alexander randomly rolled onto his knees and jumped up to his feet.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting you some water,” he explained. “I’ll be right back.”
Caesar stared up at the ceiling, trying to make sense of everything that was happening. But he couldn’t. Nothing made sense. Not anymore. His new home was either haunted or had a vampire squatting in the attic. If it was a vampire, then that would explain what had just happened in his room. Maybe he had been bitten after all, which could mean that he was turning into a vampire; but what about all of that other stuff? Why did Alex seem to just stop existing? Had he been possessed, had time stopped or was it something that he had done?
Caesar’s head started to hurt. There were just too many questions, and every time he thought a question up it felt like ten more would surface.
Out of nowhere a glass filled with water appeared in front of his face. “Here.”
“Thanks.” Caesar took the water and immediately started to drink. He gulped down the cold liquid as fast as he could get it in his mouth, but the more he drank the thirstier he felt. Unfortunately, the water was already gone. “I need to get more,” he said and started to get up.
“Uh, maybe you should slow down?” suggested Alex. “I mean, you kinda just threw up all over the floor. You might want to take it easy.”
Caesar nodded and settled back down against the wall. “I think you were right. I must have just been thirsty or something.”
“Feeling better?” asked Alex as he sat down next to Caesar against the wall.
“Lots,” Caesar confirmed and took a deep, calming breath. “This house is screwed up.”
“No kidding, right? I didn’t think anyone would ever move into this place.”
Alexander gave another shrug. “Dunno. It’s just been empty for a long time. As far back as I can remember, anyway.”
“Huh,” Caesar rolled his eyes, “I wonder why?” he said sarcastically and slid back against the wall, as if snuggling in, and closed his eyes.
“Are you okay?”
Caesar nodded. “Yeah, just relaxed, I guess. Why?”
“I dunno. Probably because your hand’s freezing.”
“Huh?” Caesar opened his eyes and looked up at Alex, who was looking down at his hand. The same hand that was holding Alex’s. “What the?” Caesar snatched his hand away without a thought. “Sorry, I don’t even remember doing that.”
“S’Okay,” said Alex. “If it bugged me, I would have moved.”
“So…” Caesar sat back up. “What do you think the odds are that we’re just imagining all of this?”
Alex gave Caesar an odd look. “What do you mean?”
“You know? The things that are happening. Maybe it’s just our imaginations?”
“No way,” Alex shook his head. “My head’s not that warped. If this was my imagination, there’d be chocolate and spaceships.”
“And that’s not warped?”
“Maybe, but at least it’s a good dream. You never heard of blood-sucking chocolate or Chewbacca whispering in your ear at night.”
Caesar got an instant visual and had to laugh. “THAT would be awesome!”
“See? If it’s anyone’s imagination, it’s all you.” Alex stood up and turned around to look down at Caesar. “Guess we should find something to clean up the floor, huh?”
“Oh right,” Caesar used the wall to push himself up to his feet. “I forgot. But I think there’s a mop in the bathroom, or at least there should be.”
“Great, well chop to it,” said Alex, making it very clear that he wasn’t going to do it.
After Caesar cleaned up his mess, the boys returned to Caesar’s room to do some serious unpacking. Alex was sitting on the floor sorting out Caesar’s games and electronics, while Caesar unpacked his clothes and put them away.
“So what’s the plan for tonight?” Alexander asked out of nowhere.
“Huh?” Caesar stopped what he was doing and looked back at Alex. “What do you mean?”
“The ghost-pire? Tonight?”
“I don’t know, but are we really calling it a ghost-pire now?”
“Do you have a better name?”
Caesar turned back around and grabbed a large pile of socks from one of his boxes. “I don’t have a plan. Figured we’d just hope it doesn’t happen again tonight.”
“But if it does…” Alexander spun around and crossed his legs. “We should have a plan.”
“Like…” Alex looked around the room just as his eyes spotted a small camcorder in Caesar’s box of electronics. “Like this!” he said and pulled the camera out of the box. “We can hide this camera somewhere and record you sleeping.”
“Oh yeah, like that’s any less creepy than a ghost whispering in my ear.”
“Whatever,” Caesar said dismissively. “Besides, I don’t think that thing has enough memory to record all night.”
“Well do you have a PVR? We could hook the camera up to that and have the PVR record everything.”
“Downstairs, I do, but that’s shared with my parents.”
“I have one,” Alexander offered. “We could run the cable across right from your room to mine and I could keep an eye on you.”
“That’s pretty creepy, too.”
Alexander rolled his eyes. “Come on. I’ve already seen you dancing in your tighty-whities, so it’s not like it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”
“They were blue,” Caesar corrected him and immediately blushed. “But anyway…”
“Well do you have a better idea?”
Caesar sat down on the bed to think. “Well I guess we could. I’ll just change in the washroom or something.”
“Or you could turn the camera off while you’re doing your thing.”
“I guess, yeah. Okay, we’ll do that. But only for tonight,” Caesar decided as his stomach knotted with nerves and a small trace of excitement. “But how’s this going to work?”
“I have a 50 foot HDMI cable. That’ll reach no problem.”
“No,” Caesar rolled to the other side of the bed to face Alex. “I meant the camera. How will it pick up a ghost? And aren’t vampire invisible on film?”
Alexander thought for a moment and then shook his head. “This is the digital age. There’s no film, and I’m pretty sure the reason you couldn’t catch a vampire on film was because cameras used to use silver. Now it’s all circuits and stuff.”
“Yeah but if that were true, wouldn’t people have tons of videos of these things all over the Internet?”
“They do. It’s just no one believes they’re real. Special effects are too easy to fake these days.”
“So then what are you waiting for? Go get the cable?”
“It’s only 3…”
“I know, but if this isn’t going to work, I want to know now instead of tonight when it’s too late.”
“Good point.” Alexander jumped up to his feet. “Keep an eye on your window. I’ll toss you the other end of the cable,” he said just before disappearing into the hallway.
Caesar pretended to sort a few things out while he waited. He couldn’t actually do anything, though. His mind was racing with a strange blend of excitement and dread. The thought of Alexander watching him sleeping all night was forcing his mind to invent all sorts of different scenarios that had absolutely nothing to do with catching a ghost-pire in the night.
The more he thought about it, the more he was forced to question Alexander’s motives. Did he really want to catch the ghost, or was he just some sort of pervert? And if that were the case, wasn’t he, too, a pervert for wilfully letting him do it?
A loud clank against the glass startled him back to reality and he quickly ran to the window to open it. Alexander was grinning at him, holding an end of the HDMI cord as it dangled out the window.
“Ready?” he asked, as soon as Caesar had the window open.
Caesar nodded. “Ready.”
Loosely winding the cable in hand, as if it were a lasso, Alexander swung the cord in one giant circle then released it. Caesar had to lean halfway out the window to grab it, but he managed to get the cord on their first try.
“Have I mentioned how disturbing this feels?” said Alex, as he turned back into his room with the other end of the HDMI.
“You don’t have to. This is really messed up,” Caesar replied as he pugged his end into the camera. “Now what?”
“Just a minute!” Alexander called back. “Okay, turn it on!”
Caesar pressed the power button and removed the cap from the lens. “Can you see me!?” he called out to Alexander.”
“Whoa, hey! I can hear you pretty good, too!” he yelled back. “No need to raise your voice anymore, K?”
Caesar stared at the camera, feeling like an idiot. “Well now what do I do?” he asked the camcorder. “I’m not dancing again.”
“Just wait!” Alexander replied from the window. “I’m making sure it can record. I’ll play it back in a minute!”
Caesar couldn’t take it anymore. It felt too weird. Putting the camera down he tried to pretend that it wasn’t there by doing some more unpacking.
“We’re operational!” said Alexander from the window. “This thing can record for like 24 hours straight if we wanted it to!”
“Great,” Caesar said below his breath.
“Awe, don’t be like that,” Alex replied. “And also, it looks like your mic is pretty good, too. I’ll be able to hear everything all night long.”
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