The Taylight Zone - Anthology Three

12 - Dark Web - Violet

Part One

Bleak whiteness glared mockingly. A few words in black print appeared, then
vanished with a touch of the backspace bar. No good. This wasn’t working.
     She closed her eyes a moment, praying to her goddess that she didn’t feel so pressured to write the next chapter. But the requests had been filling her mailbox consistantly, some bordering threatening. It bothered her that people could get so worked up over words that she combined in her head, then randomly placed to print. Most of the time, it didn’t make sense to her that others could tolerate her work. Still, they did, and what was even more unusual was that they seemed to enjoy it. Often they would plead for updates. Flattering as that may have been, It didn’t make much sense to her.
     She sighed a bit, leaning back her chair. She bordered the black oblivion
that every writer feared, that great looming wall between herand imagination.
     Writer’s block. It haunted her, just then.
      Frustration filled her. It took every grain of self restraint in her body
not to punch a hole in the computer screen. She growled a bit, cursing her lack  of inspiration. Without another thought, she hit the alt-tab buttons,
immediately jumping screens from her word processor to America On-line. Maybe she just needed an escape from the endless white screen of MS Works.
     She logged on. Her eyes fell on her buddy list, where three names caught her attention. Diana, Sheryl, and Stephen were all on-line. If anyone understood her predicament, it would be them.
      An IM screen popped up, causing her heart to brighten. It was Steph.
       “Hey Vi!” She could practically hear his voice in her mind, cheering her
      “hey.” Her response looked none to enthusiastic, and he picked up
      “Anything wrong?”
      “Not really. Blocked.”
      “Writer’s block.”
      “Yuck. That sucks.”
      “Mmhm. Any ideas?”
      “You could write something for the new Taylight
Zone anthology.”
        She smiled, then. That was always an option. A break into the weird may do me some good, she thought.
      “Anything but murder.”
       “LOL” And she did. Her laughter was soft, but it was definately there.
She was starting to feel better already.

        Another IM screen popped up.
     “Hey hey hey” It was Sheryl. Again, she smiled.
     “Hey hey hey back” she responded, leaning back in her seat a bit.
     “Anything up?” Sheryl asked, and again Violet felt the strange sensation of ‘hearing’ Sheryl’s voice in her mind.
     “Not really. Writer’s block, that’s about it. And Steph wants me to write a
new TZ story.”
      “Oh. Cool. What’s this one going to be about?”
      “I don’t know yet.”
      “Hm...” Was all she said. Violet sighed. Not much help, there, though her
frustration was quickly being replaced by wariness. Her eyes fell on the clock
beside her bed. 3:30 am. She hadn’t even taken her shower yet.
      “I’m gonna go.” She typed into both IM screens. Responses of “byes” and
“talk to you later” came up, and she clicked on the “sign off” button. All
things said and done, and she was still horribly blocked.
     Maybe a shower would help, she mused.  Her fingers wrapped around the terry cloth robe that eternally lay on her bed. She walked into her bathroom, shedding her clothing with each step. Before stepping into the waterfalls of warmth, she
looked into her own reflection.
     She looked like hell. Though she was no beauty to speak of, she was looking particularly disgusting at that moment. Her straight, purple streaked brunette hair seemed greasy and flat, her complexion a sickening white palor, her eyes glassy and dead. She could stand to lose a few pounds, and there were dark smudges under her eyes. Stress, probably.
       She slipped under the hot torrets of water, letting it burn away e
verything. And it was hot. Too hot. She blindly reached for the tempature
nozzle, turning it towards warm. Still, the water only increased in heat. It
felt like it was boiling her skin. “What in the...” She mumbled, trying to back
out. She turned the nozzle to cold, with still no success. Her hand shot towards the pressure nozzle, turning it off. No good. It still poured over her, stinging every nerve. “Oh God...” She tried opening the glass door of her shower, but it stuck. She was trapped. Her eyes shot around, feverent. The steam filled her lungs, sending her into a fit of coughs. Her head was beginning to hurt, but not nearly cancelling out the raw pain that still scolded her. She needed to get out. Clausterphobia was quickly sending her into hysteria. She was going to die if she didn’t find some way through the glass door. Some sort of weapon, something to break free. Shampoo bottles were useless. A razor would take to long, God, she needed to think. Sponges, back scrubber... The wooden handle of the back scrubber. It would have to do. She grabbed it quickly, slamming it into the glass. Frantic, scared out of her mind, she continued pouding.
     “HELP! OH GOD, SOMEONE HELP ME!” She screamed, her vision dimming. She didn’t know whether it was the steam or her own loss of conciousness, but it scared her even further. And the pain was so tremendous...
      Her mind couldn’t take anymore. She sank to the hot tile floor of her
shower, crying from pain, from the tremendous fear. She wanted to die, then. The torture was hideous, more than she could bare. Her final thoughts before oblivion gripped her was a prayer to her Goddess.
    ‘Please... oh, Goddess, don’t do this to me, now. Let me die...’

     She awoke with every inch of her screaming in pain. “oh god...” she
mumbled, whimpers falling from her lips. Swollen, blistered, in so much pain.
She could scarcely open her eyes.
     “Shh... It’s okay, now, dear. Just get some sleep...” Someone stroked her
hair lovingly, cautiously. Memories flooded over her as she heard soft mumbles of second degree burns and shock, someone tampering with the shower to make it do all of that... Again, she was gripped by the gentle hands of Morpheous. No longer could she listen to the endless, soothing babble. Instead, she slept.

      Stephen turned off his computer, standing. He ran his fingers through his dark brown hair, a small smile on his lips. She was okay. After recieving the e-mail that Violet had been scolded almost to death, he nearly snapped. But she was okay. She had written him personally, telling him that she was fine, with some “wicked cool scars”. he had smirked a bit at that, still feeling horrible for her. She didn’t deserve that. No one did. And they said that someone had tampered with the shower to make the door stick... Who would do something like that?
      He shook his head in disturbance. He didn’t know who would be capable of that. Pushing the thoughts away, he remembered the task at hand. Had to run to the store.
      His keys found themselves in his pocket. The day was warm, shining
sunlight on his face. It felt wonderful to be outdoors, just soaking in a bit of
sun. He took in a deep breath and released it slowly. Without a second thought he moved to his car.
      The inside of the corolla was stifling. The keys slipped into the ignition
quickly and activated the much needed AC. He had never been known to be a fast driver, always completely cautious. Seat belt, mirrors, everything good to go.
      He shifted gears into drive, rolling out of his driveway. Empty streets,
no one out. Everyone was probably in their back yards, or swimming. He really wasn’t sure, nor did he really care. What was it he had to pick up? Milk, bread...
     Stop sign. He pressed his foot on the brake gently. Then harder. Still the
car didn’t slow. His breath caught a moment, his eyes peering down to the pedal.
It looked fine, untouched, but it wasn’t working. He pressed harder. No good. It wasn’t working. He was frantic, then, completely unsure. His thoughts were going a mile a second, unable to grasp anything completely. Thought vanished. He jerked the wheel, turning, turning...
     Suddenly, stop, hard. He slammed forward, his seat belt and an air bag just barely acting in time to save him. His breath came in small gasps, gripping him.
He closed his eyes, leaning his head back.
      “Thank you, God... Oh, Thank you...”

      The car inspection suggested foul play. His insurance would cover it, but
still... Poor Corey was in bad form, and it broke his heart to see his car so
torn up. He went home after a checkup, showing no serious damage except a few bruises. Instantly, he went to his computer.

      “The weirdest thing just happened.” He wrote in an IM to Diana.
      “My brakes went out. Or someone put them out...”
      “Oh my God! Are you okay?!”
      “I’m fine. Weird coincidence, though. First Violet, now me, both involving
foul play... Strange.”
      “Very. How’s Vi doing?”
      “She says she’s fine. Seemed all right, still really shaken up.”
      “Can’t blame her.”
      “Right... Di?”
      “Yes, Stephen?”
       “Be careful, okay, sis? Just watch out.”
       “okay, Steph. I’ll be careful.”
       “No prob, Steph. My pleasure. Hey, if you were a killer trying to kill
me, what would you do?”       “Dunno. Why?”
       “Just want to know what to look out for. Gonna go. Love you, bro.”
       “Love you too, sis. Be careful.”
       “I will. Later.”
       She signed off, and Stephen’s heart felt stone cold in his chest. Perhaps he was still just shaken up...

       “Come on, Mom!” Tia bemoaned, pulling Sheryl’s arm insescently.
       “No, Tia. I don’t do horses.” Sheryl replied, though she didn’t have half
the persistance that her little daughter seemed to.
       “Please, mama?” She looked into Stephanie’s eyes, her will caving.
       “Oh no. You two are NOT ganging up on me.” Sheryl chuckled, backing up slightly.
        “Pleeeease????” Both girls pleaded in unison. That did her in. She
couldn’t stand the cuteness any longer.
       “Fine, fine...” Sheryl relented, groaning a bit. What was she getting
herself into?

        Her horse’s name was Oreo. She couldn’t resist. “Suggestive name, don’t you think?”
        The stable keeper looked to her, a dim, confused look in his dark blue
eyes. “huh?”
      Sheryl grumbled inwardly. All cuteness and not one bit of intelligence
behind those midnight blue eyes of his. Ah well. She wasn’t there to flirt. She
was horse back riding with her daughters, and against her will, at that. Horses had never intrigued her. They were beautiful to look at, but she honestly didn’t believe she was meant to ride any other species but her own.
      As the horses were being saddled up, Sheryl and her two daughters,
Stephanie and Tia, went into the farm house. She had brought her kids to her room mate’s father’s farm, and was beginning to regret it. What had she gotten herself talked into? She resented Paula deeply for the fact that she had escaped the fate. Sighing, she finished her coffee and looked to her children.
     “I’m sure the horses are ready by now... Come on, let’s see about this
horse back riding business...”

      It was actually pleasant, at first. It took some getting used to, but once
they got into the steady rhythm of the ride, she felt comfortable. After all,
they were only at a slow walk.
      “Let’s gallop, mommy!” Stephie shouted at her mother, who’s eyes suddenly went wide.
     “No, Stephanie. Don’t even think...” But it was too late. Her horse
followed the others’ lead. Suddenly she felt as if she were flying, they were
moving so quickly. “Oh shit...” She mumbled under her breath, gripping for dear life. And suddenly something started giving beneath her. All of her focus was
put into slowing the horse down, keeping herself straight. She only faltered
when she heard what seemed a scream from one of her daughters, her head shooting up. One of the horses had stopped, and her own slowed. But there was no one on that horse... Or the other, for that matter, which was now in free spirit and running as far from the group as possible. Then she felt herself slipping, her saddle coming undone, her grip loosening. And she was falling, and there was pressure all around her. Then, darkness, as she drifted into an abysmal dream.

     She awoke what seemed like hours later, but it had only been a few moments.
She hurt like mad, which was actually a good sign. No serious damage had been done, and she was already moving to her two daughters. Tia was up, leaning over Stephie, crying.
     Oh God, please let her be okay...  Sheryl moved to her youngest daughter, who lay unconcious in the grass. “Tia, go get help.” Tia simply sat there, in a state of shock. “TIA, GET HELP NOW!” Sheryl shouted, her eyes shooting to her eldest. Tia turned on her heels and sprinted towards the barn. Immediately, Sheryl went into health mode, checking vital signs and any sort of blood loss. There were no cuts, and it only seemed to be a bad concussion.    
“Come on, Steph. Wake up, now.” Sheryl said gently, supporting the child cautiously. “Come on...” She she mumbled, frustrated. “Wake up!” She was worried. She should be awake by now...
    “Mom?” Stephie’s eyes barely cracked open, her little hand reaching for
    “Shhh, Steph. Don’t move. Tia’s getting help. You feeling okay?” Stephie
     “But I can’t move my arm...” Sheryl’s eyes narrowed slightly.
     “Why not, honey?” She was surprised when a small smile touched Stephie’s cherubic face.
     “You’re squashing it, sillyhead...” She said with a small laugh. Sheryl
laughed, too, releasing a small sigh of relief.
     “Guess I should let you loose then, huh?” She asked softly, though she
didn’t loosen her grip even an inch.
      “No, mom. Don’t.” With that, her eyes slipped shut.

     “God damn, Sheryl! Is she okay?!” Violet was on the phone, completely
stunned by what her friend had just told her.
     “She’s fine... They’re keeping her over night. God, that was horrible. Tia
refuses to ever touch a horse again.”
      “I don’t blame her. How did it happen?” Violet asked, sitting on the edge
of her bed. The call had woken her up from a much needed slumber, brought along partially by the several pain medications she had been downing in the past week or so. She refused ademently to take showers, now, not that she could with the still tender and raw burns. Instead she had changed to baths. Very cool baths.
      “She fell off a horse, Violet.” Sheryl responded smartly, though she WAS
sympathetic to the 16 year old on the other end. Violet hadn’t been herself
since the incident, and it was understandable. She was scared, still.
     “I meant if anyone had tampered with your gear.” Violet responded, slightly
aggrevated. She wasn’t in the mood to be patronized. Sheryl sighed.
     “So they say. But I don’t know who’d do something like that...”
     “Same person who would try to burn me to death, same person that put Steph
in a car accident...” Violet was bitter. Extremely so. Sheryl pitied the person
who had done this. She had a sneaking suspicion that if Vi found him or her,
they wouldn’t last long.
     “Violet, please relax... You’re safe, now, right?”
     “Yeah. Maybe. I always thought I was safe, Sheryl. Three years of self
defense under my belt, remember? Didn’t help one god damned bit.” There was bite in Vi’s voice. Sheryl was bothered by that. This wasn’t the Violet she knew, not at all. She heard a sigh on the other end.
     “I’ll be fine. Just the medication, I guess.” Vi mumbled grumpily. Sheryl
let out a long held breath.
     “Vi, you know if I could do something...” Sheryl started, but she was cut
off by a laugh.
      “Don’t worry, Sheryl. Something’ll get done. I just don’t know if it’ll be
to any more of us, or to them...”

      It was such a beautiful night. That was all she could really ponder as she
sat on the front porch of her house, staring into the night sky. There was a
tranquil breeze which threaded through the trees, whispering softly through her. She coveted it, and hoped in her heart that no one would come and ruin it.
      The front door opened, and her dream world shattered. Her mother walked out, arms crossed over her chest. She did not look happy. Diana sighed, expecting the onslaught. An idea came to her, just then.
      ‘Next time your mom starts yelling for no particular reason, just walk
away. She’ll get over it.’ She remembered someone saying that... if she could only remember who... It didn’t matter. The words were true. She needed to get away before tempers rose. Standing, she smiled to her mother with every grain of
fakeness in her body.
     “I’m going for a walk.” She said lightly, skipping down the steps and
taking off before her mother could get a word out. That was better. She felt
free, as if nothing could touch her. Her fingers habitually played with the
celtic knot that wrapped around her finger, and she sighed. Her eyes drifted to the moon, causing her to stop fully in the middle of the street. A smile came to her face, then, as she let the moonlight fill her. She felt peace and unity with the Goddess. It was beautiful.
     She was caught off guard by the sudden flash of light that washed over her. Her eyes quickly shot to the source, a pair of car headlights. Fear covered her from head to toe, paralyzing her. She had never quite understood the “dear caught in headlights” thing, but now it seemed all she knew. The car was coming closer, so close she could smell the rubber of the tires. So fast. So fast...
    At the last moment, her body reacted. She bolted to the side, barely
noticing that the car was following her, swerving to hit her. ‘Oh goddess, I’m
gonna die... Oh please no...’ the thought passed through her like lava,
frightening her to near paralysis again. Still, she kept moving. Away, get away from the car, get away from the road.
    She ducked behind a tree away from the road. Large, solid, protective oak. Her back pressed against it as she caught her breath, doubling over. Her stomach
was churning, everything inside of her burning up. “Oh God...”
    It came quickly, pressing the back of her throat painfully, stinging. She
couldn’t stop it. It burned her throat, making it raw. But she was alive. That’s
all that mattered. She was still able to throw her guts up, instead of her guts
being plastered on the pavement. The thought of it made her shudder. Again, it came up. Still, she was alive.

    “Kayla, it was me this time. First Violet, then Stephen, then Sheryl, now
me. It has to do with the Taylight Zone. I know it does.” Diana typed out
quickly, hitting the send button, her hands shaking.
     “You sure you’re okay, honey? I mean, do you think you might’ve hurt your head or something? What does the Taylight Zone have to do with any of this?”
     “I don’t know, Kayla. I just get this feeling... We’ve got to do
     “Like what, Di? Who’d do something like this?”
     “I don’t know. I can’t think of anyone.”
      Diana clicked over to her next IM, which contained Violet’s screen name.
     “Who could do this, do you think?”
     “Anyone who’s in any way offended by the fact that we manipulate Hanson’s characters by turning them into psychotics and killers, I guess.”
     “That’s an ego boost, right there.”
     “Hey, it’s feedback.” Violet
     “negative feedback. And awfully painful, in case you’ve forgotten.”
     “Hey, actually, most of my nice little war wounds are fading. I still
refuse to touch a shower, baths are better for you, anyway.”
     “Yeah, yeah. So it could be anyone, huh?”
     “Anyone. No leads, except that it may have something to do with Taylight
Zone. Other than that...”
     “Right. Did you tell the others? Warn them?”
     “Yeah. And so did Steph. And Sheryl. And You. I’m pretty sure they’ve
gotten the point, by now. No word from Rebecca, though.”
     “That’s scary.”
     “That’s my suspicion.”
     “Damn. All right, well, I’ll tell Kayla... Vi?”
     “Yes, hon?”
     “I think we should all meet...”
     “And we’ll manage this how, honey? Geography sucks, remember?”
     “Kayla and I talked about it before. It’s almost been a year since Taylight
Zone started, and on the anniversary there’s going to be a Hanson concery in NYC. Maybe we could all meet there or something?”
     “Sounds awesome, Di. I’ll look into it. And hopefully, this’ll all be over
by then.”
     “Yeah. Hopefully...”

     Morgan sat in the theatre, slightly uncomfortable. She didn’t want to leave
the movie, not just as the plot was developing, but she really had to go.
    “Tell me what happens, okay?” She whispered to her friend, who only nodded solemnly. The girl hardly noticed as Morgan stood, carefully avoiding the other viewers. She slipped out of the dark theatre, startled by the sharp “boom” from the movie. It had caused her to jump a bit, not helping her bladder situation at all. She trotted to the bathroom, opening the door wide open and slipping in. Before her was a large mirror lined with sinks, stalls on the other side of the room. She slipped into the stall closest to the wall, relieving herself quickly. All things done, she slipped out of the stall again, looking into the mirror.
     She almost didn’t notice the shadow in the back of the room. It seemed to
rush right behind her, almost a fleeting movement of her own imagination. But it came again, closer, this time. Before she had time to turn, it was upon her.
    She felt a sharp push from behind, her body into the mirror as the glass
shattered around her. She screamed, lashing out with her nails.
    “Get OFF of me, you asshole!” She screamed, lashing out. Her foot connected with something that made the attacker keel over, and she wasted no time to find out what. Without a second thought, she ran out of the bathroom.
    “HELP!” She screamed, catching the attention of almost every person in the theatre with the scream. She was cut from the mirror, the blood dribbling down in vicious streaks, shards of glass stuck in her tangled hair. “FOR FUCK’S SAKE, SOMEONE HELP!” Someone grabbed her shoulders tightly.
   “What happened?!” A boy barely older than her, and a theatre worker, asked.
    “Someone... Attacked me... bathroom...” She was trying to catch her breath, pointing to the bathroom. He left her, running towards the Girls’ room. Brave, but stupid, she thought. There’s always at least one guy who wants to play hero...

     A few hours later, she sat in her room, her wounds bandaged, a cup of hot tea in her hands. She looked at the computer screen, her gaze blank. Diana, Stephen, Sheryl, Violet... They’d all been right. Someone really WAS after them. And Kayla might just be next...

     The water felt marvelous running across her bare flesh. She had needed
this. With all that had been going on, and all of the warnings that she had been getting, this midnight exurtion was just what the doctor had ordered. She felt the stress wash away from her in the dark waves, converting into formless oblivion. She felt so comfortable in this place of warmth, the water soaking through her tired pores and electrifying every part of  her. She turned on her back, pushing into the darkness. It felt as if she were still in the womb, surrounded by warmth and darkness, and safety. So pleasent, she could feel herself drifting...

     The tug came so sharply that she didn’t have time to react. It pulled her
down, down, her lungs filling with water...
      She kicked, faught, finally breaking free of the restrictive hand which
pulled her farther down. And she began to swim up, up...
      Her head broke the surface, her throat screaming for air. Water poured
from her mouth as she coughed, filling her lungs with life giving oxygen...
     And then the pulling came again, catching her off guard once more. She
tried to scream, only filling her mouth with the warm fluid. Pushing her down... Down... She was drowning...
        “NO!” She shouted under water, fighting. She grabbed the hand which
pushed her down, pulling it down with her, switching places, kicking off of the
body, pushing away...
       Again, her head broke the surface. No time, she wasn’t going to waste her life on breathing again. She kicked with all of her might, swimming to anywhere that could be the edge. She came full contact with it, slapping her forehead against the hard concrete surface. “Oh damn...” She mumbled, pulling herself up and out of the pool, and running. Her legs pumped, she refused to stop for anything, never knowing if her attacker would come. She finally reached her deck, switching the light on.
      Nothing. Absolute emptiness. The only signs of a struggle was the rippling water left behind. Kayla fell to her knees, sobbing, choking on the water still left in her lungs. She didn’t notice the comforting hands, the towel being wrapped around her... That she was being lifted, carried inside... But it felt good. She was safe, again. She simply didn’t know how long the safety would last...

    “This is getting sick.” Violet typed in, running her fingers through her
damp hair.
    “You’re right. It’s very sick.” Stephen responded. Violet frowned.
    “So what’re we going to do about it?”
    “What can we do? Who’s going to believe that a bunch of Hanson fans are being attacked because we write weird stories? Think about how that sounds.”
     Violet shook her head angrily, frustrated. She couldn’t just sit around
doing nothing. It wasn’t her way. She needed to act, she needed to protect the others... She just didn’t know how. “The irony is, the Taylight Zone isn’t going
to suffer. If anything, everyone seems to have a newfound respect for it.
They’re all writing like mad right now. Even me.”
     “Got rid of your writer’s block, huh?”
     “That’s one way of putting it.” She responded, hugging herself tightly
afterwords. It was true. She had found a great deal of inspiration after the
pain had subsided. In fact, she started to believe that the Goddess was working
through her, healing her through her writing.
     “Have you heard from Rebecca at all?” The question popped up suddenly, and
Violet sighed deeply to herself.
     “Nope. You?” She responded, knowing full well what the answer was going to be.
     “Not a peep. But I haven’t heard from her in a while. Nothing new. She’s
probably avoided this entire thing.”

      Another IM screen popped up, and Violet couldn’t help but smile. Her
“adopted little brother” hadn’t forgotten her, after all.
      “::jumps in your lap and gives you a hug:: Hey, Vi!”
       Violet felt a pang of glee. “Hey, Zacky! How’s it going?” She asked,
genuinely curious.
       “Fine... Bored, though. U?” She laughed a bit at that, sitting back.
       “Lotsa stuff. Not so good.”
       “:-( What’s wrong?”
        “You really want to know?” Violet asked, debating whether or not she was willing to tell the entire tale.
        “’Course! Or I wouldn’t have asked, anyway.” She closed her eyes, then went to typing.

        “Sounds like a conspiracy to me...” Zac put in at the end of the story,
causing Violet to laugh a bit.
        “Yes, yes it does.” She responded, exasperated.
        “You think they were really trying to kill you?”
        “I would think so.”
        “Well, it’s just weird that out of every attempt, the person’s failed.”
        “Good point. So you think they’re just trying to spook us?”
       “I don’t know. I’m just 12. But I guess that makes sense.”
        “I guess it does, too... Makes me feel a bit better, anyway.”
        “Cool! Hey, do you have any scars?”        “A couple. I have a big one
on my shoulder from where they kept poking at it and messing with it.”
        “Eeeew... NEAT!”
         She burst into laughter, then. He always knew how to cheer her up.
What’s more, he had brought about something she hadn’t considered. Quickly, she copied and pasted the entire conversation to e-mail, sending it to every member of the Taylight Zone.
         “Does this make sense to anyone?” Was her subject, and she sent it
after a quick read.
          “Thanks, Zac.”
          “For what?” He asked, and she could almost sense the smile behind it.
          “For pointing out the obvious.”
          “Well, you know me. Zac Haswell, Master of the Obvious!”
        Again, she laughed. “You’re cute, Zac.”
      “I know, I know. It’s a gift.”
       “Yeah, shut up. It’s genetic.”
        “Uh... Violet? You’re not my blood sister, ‘member?”
       “Oooh yeah. Forgot that part.” She was getting a kick out of this
conversation. Still, another IM appeared.
     “Violet, it’s Kayla. You know Rain, right?”
      “Not very well, why?”
      “She just called in mild hysterics. Said someone tried to poison her. They
put arsenic in her coffee! I’m not really sure what all happened. She was
babbling a bit.”
      “Is she okay?”
       “Yeah, she’s fine... Just a bit scared.”
      “So are the rest of us. Hey, how far are you from New York?”
       “I have an idea...”

      Violet called Diana the instant she signed off. “Di? It’s Violet. Got a
     “Usually. How’s it going?”
     “Inspirational. You know what you suggested, about meeting?”
     “Uh huh...” Diana suddenly took interest.
     “There’s a Hanson concert in NYC. Think you could make it?”
      “If everyone else can, Heaven and Hell and this damned killer won’t be
able to stop me.” Violet couldn’t help but laugh at her friend’s eagerness.
      “Okay. I’ll call about reservations, make sure everyone gets tickets for
this... Think you could get the word out, convince everyone to make it?”
       “Sure.” Diana’s voice was elevated with interest, and a smile touched
Vi’s face. She was glad she’d be meeting her friends, no matter the
circumstance. It would be nice.
       “The Hanson concert isn’t for another 3 weeks, but I say we get there a
week ahead, if at all possible...” Violet was writing everything down, flipping
through some old notes of New York she had taken a year ago, when this idea had first spawned in the minds of the Authors of Taylight Zone.
      For the rest of the night, the two girls plotted. They would make this
work if it killed them.

      The next week, Violet was on the phone, arguing with Goddess knows Who at Trump International Hotel management, trying to reserve rooms.
      “I’m sorry, ma’am, we’re all booked up...”
      “Well you weren’t ten minutes ago.” Violet replied, exasperated. It was
all she could do not to hang up on the insipid twit. A knock at her door
startled her out of her brooding.
      “Mail call...” Her sister walked in, chucking a slightly thick brown
bubble envelope at her. The corner nearly took Violet’s eye out, instead
stabbing her sharply in the temple.
      “Shit, Sherrine. Go easy.” She shouted at the door, already closed, her
sister gone. “Dolt...” She mumbled, picking up the phone again. “Sorry about
that. Where were we?” The other line was dead. “Damned stupid people...” Violet cradled the phone, working at the envelope. She couldn’t stand the United States Postal Service for a number of reasons. One of them was their form of sealing. It took her roughly ten minutes to get the package open. When the contents spilled out, it took her another ten minutes to realize what lay before her.
       When it suddenly struck her, her eyes went wide, and she grabbed the
envelope. No return postal address. That was odd. Very odd. She was suddenly struck with a small amount of trepedition. She looked again to the package’s contents. The trepedition washed away instantly.
      She had been expecting the ticket from ticketmaster to come in sometime soon, but the one that lay before her wasn’t for the seat previously assigned.
This was floor level, front and center. Along with it was a pass, and a hotel
reservation reciept.
     “What the hell...?” She looked every bit of it over questioningly, having
trouble focusing. There was one more thing that she almost looked over, a small sheet of paper. It was hardly anything worth noticing, save the words scrawled in red ink.
      “Enjoy the Show.”

     “You won’t believe what just came in the mail...”She typed in hastily, her
dark brown eyes wide. Violet’s response surprised her.
     “Betcha a $20 and a coke that I can. Front row ticket, backstage pass, and hotel reservations for Trump Int’l.”
      “You too?!”
      “Yup. And Sheryl. And Steph. And all of us, pretty much. Maybe someone’s apologizing.” Diana knew Violet was kidding. Something in her told her that Violet had the same suspicions.
       “Or setting a trap.”
      “What do the others think?”
      “Same thing. Potential trap. Don’t think anyone’s going to give up the
chance, though.”
      “I’d have to agree with you. I’m paranoid, not stupid. Are you packing?”
     “Right this very second, yeah. My flight’s on Sunday afternoon. You’ll
probably be there before me.”
     “I’ll talk Kayla and whoever else is there to come with me to meet you at
the airport. :-)”
     “Why thank you, Di.”
      “Are you scared, Vi?”
      “Yes. But that’s never stopped me before.”

     There were no further incidents, though Violet half expected the plane to
go down mid-flight. They were meeting three days before the concert, and planned on staying a day afterwords, if all went well. As the plane landed safely, Violet let out a sigh of relief. She had never been afraid of planes until that very day, at the realization that something really could go wrong. Within moments she was ushered out of the plane and into the airport terminal, her eyes scanning over the thick mobs of people.
     A hand sharply grabbed her arm. Violet pulled out, turning into a defensive stance.
     “The Fuck?! Violet, it’s US!” Two girls stood before her, eyes wide with
surprise. Violet let her arm bag drop, her jaw dropping.
     “Hey!” She shouted, hugging both girls. There was a long moment of
embracing, before finally they released one another.
     “The others are back the hotel. Sheryl was going to come, but she went to sleep the second she got in.” Di stated soundly, pulling Violet towards baggage claim.
     “Let’s get your bag and go.” Kayla put in, smiling broadly. “We’ll hail a
     “You guys cabbed it here?” Violet looked to them, slightly astounded.
     “Sure. Not too difficult. The hotel’s not that far out from the airport.”
Di responded, helping Violet pull the slightly weighty bag from the caresol.
     “What do you have in here? Bricks?” Diana asked, exasperated by the end of the pulling.
     “No, but I do have a couple of perishable objects in there, so be careful.”
Violet responded, a smile on her lips.
     “What?” Di asked, putting the bag down and moving to open it.
     “I always carry weird stuff with me when I go on trips. Leave that bag
alone, would you?” She said with a smile, pulling her bag away from the curious girl.
     “Don’t ask, don’t tell, right?” Kayla said with a small laugh, her tone
dripping with sarcasm.     
     “Yeah, yeah...” Violet put in, pulling her bag
towards the door. “Let’s just get out of here.”

     They arrived at the hotel in good timing, just before Violet almost
collapsed with sleep deprivation. She had scarcely slept in the past three
weeks, her mind filled with preperation. When they arrived, she barely made it to the registration counter, and she couldn’t even remember how she had gotten into her room. All that she knew was that the bed in there was looking more and more inviting.
     “Sweet Mother of God no one should be this tired...” She attempted to say. It came out as “Shwwp Mdr ‘f Gd n n shld be ts tred...”. Somehow, Morgan knew exactly what she had just said.
      “Well, maybe if you’d slept this week you wouldn’t be so tired now.” She
responded, a smile on her lips.
     “Blah.” Violet said, perking her head up to say it before letting it
collapse back into the pillow.
     “Get some sleep. I’ll wake you up in a little while, when everyone’s ready
to get together.” Morgan said cheerfully. Had Violet had the energy, she
might’ve had the urge to rip out the girl’s throat for her excited tone. Of
course she was happy to be here. She just would’ve been happier if she could get
some sleep...

     “She’s gone.” Morgan said with a laugh, walking into the room she was
sharing with Rain. Rain smiled widely.
     “Asleep does not begin to cover it. She sleeps like the dead.”
     “I can picture that.” Rain replied, laughing a bit.
     “ You doing okay, Rain?” Morgan was suddenly concerned for her friend.
     “Fine. Just sort of nervous, I guess.” Rain said softly, staring out the
window. Morgan came behind her, touching her shoulder lovingly. Rain didn’t even flinch.
      “It’ll be okay, Rain. Don’t worry. I think we’re safe...”

    Taylor literally collapsed on the bed in front of him. “Sleep is good.” He
grumbled, turning his face into the pillow. Zac pushed him a bit, grinning like
a sleepy cat.
      “Very good. Scoots.” Tay moved a bit, and Zac collapsed beside his older brother. Neither of the two half-asleep boys noticed the entrance of the third and eldest of them, who collapsed on the other empty bed.
      “Never again. Never, ever again do I want to wake up.” Isaac moaned,
curling against the bed. Taylor didn’t even bother glancing up.
      “I couldn’t agree more.” He put in, before the sleepiness overcame his
ability to talk.
      Within moments, all three brothers were sleeping peacefully three floors
up from those who had put so much effort into recording fictional deviations of their lives.

     Diana stared out the window, facing The Dakota. It was the coolest place
she had ever seen. She’d have done anything to go inside, if she just had the courage. Still, that took far more than she had.
     Sheryl had gotten up before they had arrived back at the hotel, taking Tia and Stephie to get food. Stephen had gone with them, not seeing much point in hanging around. The only ones who weren’t asleep were herself, Kayla, Rain, and Morgan. She contemplated getting them together and scoping out the hotel, but one look at Kayla, who seemed ready to fall asleep herself, took that idea right away. ‘I should just go on my own...’ Di thought, sighing. Without another word, she slipped out the door just as Kayla’s head hit the pillow with a slight thud.

    It was uncomfortably large. She didn’t know if she liked it, really. It was
extremely nice, but she was afraid to touch anything. When she was little, she used to go from floor to floor and “explore” any time her parents took her anywhere. She considered doing this now, for boredom’s sake. With a sigh, she smiled. “Eh, why not.” She said to herself, creeping to the elevator and pressing the up button. Start at the top and work down. That was always the way to do it.

     When Violet awoke, the sunlight outside of her window had shifted to night. She frowned a bit, looking at the clock on the bedstand. 10:35 PM. Not too bad. Sheryl and the kids must’ve been here, she could see their clothes sprawled on the other bed. Sighing, she sat up, looking around. Nice room. She hadn’t paid much attention, before. She stumbled into the bathroom, turning on the bright flourescent light. It stung her eyes momentarily, causing blindness before she was able to focus at all. There was a large marble tub. Good. Perfect. And the shower was seperate. Even better. She turned on the faucet, testing the water continually to make sure it remained at a neutral, comfortable tempature. “paranoid...” She mumbled under her breath, sighing a bit as she began to strip off her slacks and lace blouse that she had travelled in. It felt good to get her clothing off, comfortable. She was a strong believer in the beauty in the human body, and didn’t find much reason to conceal every square inch of it. She slipped into the luke warm water, her skin still tingling, just slightly raw. The water embraced her tenderly, soothing her aching muscles and still sensetive
skin. It was nice, comforting, peaceful...
     She let herself drift into oblivion, her mind slowing down and her senses
vanishing. Perhaps she fell asleep, she really wasn’t sure. She didn’t hear the door open, nor did she see the form approaching her resting place. But suddenly there were hands on her, forcing her under, under...
     She kicked out, her foot connecting with the attacker’s nose. The attacker pulled back sharply, releasing her from her watery grave. She stood up, pulling herself quickly out of the shower. The attacker lunged for her, and she would’ve been trapped had the tiles not been so slippery...
     Her legs gave over beneath her, and she slipped under just as the concealed figure leaped for her. She bolted out of the bathroom, shutting it behind her. She was still completely naked, and though she was panicked, that was all she could think about for a moment. “Dammit...” She whispered, grabbing a long blouse from her bag and pulling it on. Without another word, she bolted out her door, slamming it just as the attacker lunged again. She continued running until she reached the elevator, pressing the down button rapidly. “Hurry, dammit!” She screamed, as finally the door opened. She ran in, again pressing the close button rapidly. The dark figure ran towards her, reaching out, out...
     The elevator door closed just before he reached her. She backed into the small, confined place, her breath coming out in hyperventilating gasps. She slid to the ground, uncaring, wrapping herself in a small cacoon of security.
      “Um... Excuse me... Are you all right?” The voice startled her out of her
skin. She screamed, or attempted to, but it came out as more of a yelp. She
looked up into concerned hazel brown eyes hastily, bordering psychosis and
hysterics. She shook her head, shaking slightly, tears spilling over.
      “I... need to get ahold of the police... Or someone... Oh God... Rain,
Morgan, Kayla... FUCK! I need to get back upstairs...” She started screaming, pressing the 6th floor button. “DAMMIT!” She shouted, pounding the panel. “Work!” She felt a gentle but firm hand pull her back by the arm.
      “Shh... Calm down, and tell me what happened...” He said softly,
comforting. He was in his mid thirties, his work appearance making him seem
older. She wasn’t sure. His hair was a lovely shade of sandy brown. And he
looked so kind...
      “Someone... Oh God, someone just tried... Oh fuck...” She was going to be
sick. She gripped her stomach, turning away, swallowing it back.
      “You’re soaked, honey... Come on... Now just tell me what happened...
Let’s see if we can’t get things straightened out...” His voice was so soothing.
She turned to him, then, hugging him. She released him quickly, realizing that
she was hugging a stranger, maybe even hugging the killer... No, that wasn’t
right. The attacker had been chasing her into the elevator, and this man was
already IN the elevator... And this man looked so familiar...
      “I don’t know. I was in the bathtub, I had fallen asleep, and someone came in and pushed me under, tried to drown me, just like before, and... Oh fuck...”
Her words came out between gasps.
     “We need to call the police.” He said hurridly. When the elevator door
opened, he gently pulled her towards the desk. She followed, confused and
disoriented. She didn’t even know this person. They reached the front desk, and without so much as another word following “Phone, now”, he was on the phone, dialing the police.
      The call was short, ending in the police on their way.
       Someone touched her shoulder. She startled, every nerve on edge, turning to find the compassionate eyes of Sheryl.
      “Oh God... Sheryl...” Violet broke down, then, tears streaming. Sheryl
hugged her quickly, holding her comfortingly.
       “Are you her mother?” The stranger asked as he hung up the phone. Sheryl shook her head.
       “No. She’s a good friend of mine... We all met up here as a group... So
she’s with us...” She looked back at Steph, standing in utter confusion. “What happened?”
       “Seems someone came in and tried to drown her while she was taking a
bath...” The man started. Sheryl tuned him out after the first statement.
       “Violet, hygeine just isn’t your thing. You okay?” Violet could only nod,
still trying to catch her breath.
       “Kayla, Rain, Di, Morgan, all of em... They’re still up there... We have
to get back there...” Her words were rushed, she was so out of it...
      “They’ll be fine... I’ll go check in on them now.” Steph put in, going to
the elevator without another argument.
      “And who are you?” Sheryl asked suspiciously, her eyes looking to the man who had supposedly aided the creeped 16 year old in her arms.
      “Someone who’s concerned for this girl’s well being.” The man shot back, his eyes falling on Violet. She looked up at him.
      “I think she wanted a name. But thanks for the concern.” She said softly,
tossing a wry smile to Sheryl. Sheryl winked back, but said nothing.
      “Chris. And you are?” He said, more to Violet that Sheryl.
      “Violet. And this is Sheryl, and Tia, and Stephie.” Violet responded,
motioning to the two little girls that stood with their mother.
       “Cute kids.” He muttered, turning back to the desk. Sheryl and Violet
looked to one another, saying the same thing with their eyes. Violet only barely had the audacity to state it. “weirdo...” she mumbled, too low for him to hear.

Part Two

Diana had finally reached the Lobby just as Steph was reaching the e
levator, in a rush.
      “You’re okay. Good. Where are the others?” He asked hurridly, sighing with a bit with relief.
     “Of course I’m okay. They’re upstairs. Why are you in such a hurry?” She
asked cautiously, before he could get away from her.
     “Someone tried to drown Violet in the bath tub.” He responded before
stepping into the elevator.
     “Is she all right?” She called after him before the door closed.
     “See for yourself. She’s at the front desk.” Click. The elevator door shut,
almost cutting off the last word. Diana turned on her heels, hurrying to the
front desk. She found Violet with Sheryl and brood, hugging the still half naked girl quickly.
      “Omigoddess, are you okay?!” She asked quickly, holding the girl at arms length.
      “Di... Chill... I’m fine...” Violet said with a small smile. “And you’re
killing the circulation in my arms.” Diana frowned.
      “Well I’m glad you’re in such high spirits. You could’ve DIED!” She said
with a great amount of emphasis.
      “I hadn’t noticed.” Violet replied softly, looking outside. Something had
caught her eye. She didn’t know what, but something almost familiar...
      He had never seen anything more spectacular in all of  his life. It was
beautiful, marvelous, gorgeous. He loved it. His fingers worked quickly over the white paper, copying every crest to the best of his ability. Every shadow, ever line, had to be just as perfect as the building itself.
      He had creeped out of the hotel to visit the glory that was the Dakota.
The first moment he had ever laid his eyes on it, he had fallen for it. It was
then that he had vowed to himself that no matter what, he would live there. He knew every bit of history about it. It was his Meca. He just loved it. It was so cool. He glanced back at the hotel warily. Chris said he’d be back in just a
little while. But he hadn’t come back yet, and now it was night. Night. Maybe he should be getting back to the Hotel before anything bad happened...
     Suddenly he felt a tight grip on his shoulder. He spun out quickly, ready
to punch out whoever might be trying to mug him.
     “Ashley!” He said with a great amount of relief.
     “Hey. Shouldn’t you be back in the hotel?” The man said, a small smile on
his attractive face.
      “Yeah... I was on my way, actually.”
      “Good. It’s not safe for you out here. You know. New York City at night’s
no place for a kid.” He said with a glint in his eye. Taylor couldn’t restrain
the shudder that overcame him at those words.
     “You’re right. I’m going, I’m going...” he said with a small, nervous
laugh. With that, he ran off, the eyes of his old Math Tutor and friend trailing
him the entire way.
     He walked into the lobby lazily, his eyes wondering. He glanced at the desk to find Chris standing with a woman, two children, and two teenage girls. “The hell...?” he said to himself, curious. He walked over to his manager, avoiding the eyes that watched him.
     “Chris?” He whispered softly. Chris turned to face the 15 year old super
star with a nearly perturbed look.
     “What is it, Taylor?” His gaze softened as he looked to the boy.
     “Um... What in the world is going on?” Taylor asked, his eyes finally
moving to the others. One of the girls looked like she had been put through
hell, and was only wearing a blouse. The other girl was holding her
protectively, while a woman with burgundy hair and two kids was trying to get
them to return to their room. There was something about the woman that
completely intrigued Tay, and he couldn’t put his finger on it. He shook his
head out of the thought. No way, Tay man. She’s a little bit old for you... He
thought to himself, his eyes still on her. She met his gaze and gave him a half hearted smile, before looking to the other two girls. For a split second,
Taylor’s heart stopped beating.
     “Think you could handle going back to the room, Vi?” She asked the purple haired half-naked girl. She had a nice voice. Very nice. Taylor liked it. Dude, you’re sick, he thought to himself once more. But he couldn’t shake this undying fascination he had with this stranger...

      Violet eyed Taylor precariously. She didn’t know if the way he was looking at Sheryl was completely healthy. And she could have sworn that she saw lust in those deep blue eyes. The thought of it started an onslaught of giggles.
     “Um, Violet? You okay?” Di asked, looking at her friend. Violet pulled Di
close, whispering in her ear.
    “Look at the way Taylor’s looking at Sheryl. It’s hilarious.” She whispered,
still laughing. Diana glanced to Taylor, seeing exactly what Violet saw.
    “Well I’ll be damned...” She mumbled softly, so softly that Taylor scarcely
noticed. Like he would, anyway. He was too fascinated by Sheryl. But Violet had definately heard it, and it brought about another fit of giggles. Sheryl glanced at the girl reproachfully.
     “Violet?” Just hearing Sheryl’s voice caused Violet to completely erupt
into an uncontrollable bout of laughter. Di laughed, as well, but it was no
comparison to Violet’s hysteria.

       Finally Taylor pulled his eyes off of this mysterious, amazing woman to
look at the now hysterical half-naked girl. He couldn’t tell, for a moment,
whether or not she was laughing or crying.
       “Um... Excuse me... Are you okay?” He asked carefully, very nearly just
leaving, not really wanting to get involved. She peered up at him with teary
brown eyes, face red, catching her breath. That one look just sent her into
another laughing spree.
       “I think she snapped...” He said to Chris, who just shook his head.
       “She was fine a few minutes ago. I don’t know what happened.” He
responded, sighing. Diana looked at him, snickering.
       “She just has a vivid imagination.” Diana replied, touching Vi’s arm.
Violet looked up, smiling widely. She walked over to Sheryl, taking her hand
       “Sheryl... Darling... I want you to look me in the eyes and promise me
you won’t do anything with young Oedipus over there...” She started, her tone heavily ladden with humor.
      “What in the hell are you talking about, Violet?” She started, looking the
girl directly in the eyes. Violet had to bite her lip to avoid laughter.
      “You know... When one thing just leads to another...”
      “Violet, for shit’s sake, just tell me what you’re talking about!” She cut
the girl off, frustrated.
      “I’m SAYING that bratboy over there seems to have an undying infatuation with you.” She looked to Taylor just in time to see his face turn 15 different shades of red. She had never seen anyone turn that color before...
     “Huh?” Sheryl interrupted Violet’s thoughts. Sheryl, too, was blushing
     “Why Sheryl, I do believe that this darling young man has a crush on you.”
     “You’re not funny, Violet.” Sheryl said simply, rolling her eyes. She
couldn’t conceal her smirk of mild delight.
     “Who said I was trying?” Sheryl stared hatefully at the 16 year old girl.
      “Shut up, Violet. Just shut up.” Sheryl shook her head, tired of this,
abstaining from the urge to giggle. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,
and from what I can tell, I don’t think I want to know.” But Sheryl’s eyes fell
on the silent Taylor, who couldn’t quite meet her gaze. Oh God. Maybe Violet was right. She tried very desperately not to laugh, and concealed it by turning to Tia and Stephie.
     “Come on, you two. Let’s get upstairs. You guys need to get some sleep.”
She laughed with every word spoken. And Taylor stared daggers into the 16 year

      He hated her. His face was bright with anger more than emberrassment. How could she be so mean? And how could she patronize him like that? She was still smiling a bit when she turned her eyes on him, but something she saw in him caused the smile to fade.
     “Hey, I...” She started, but he didn’t hear it. He had to get away before
he hit the girl. And right then, he very desperately wanted to hit Viola or
whatever her name was. He glanced to the other girl momentarily. Shaking his head, he broke away from the group, running out of the lobby, his vision

     Violet watched him go, touched by a small degree of guilt. “Oh bloody
hell.” She said to herself, sighing. She looked to Chris. “Can I ask you a
favor?” She asked sweetly, smiling warmly. Chris nodded.
     “All right...”
     “What room is he staying in?” She asked, sighing with slight exasperation
as her eyes again went to the door.
     “Why do you ask?” Chris’s voice was suspicious.
     “Well, he hates me, at the moment, and I intend to cure that.” She stated
quited simply, hands on her hips. Chris couldn’t help but laugh at her
     “Someone tries to kill you, and now you WANT to die? Why bother?” He asked jokingly. Violet pouted.
     “Just tell me what room he’s staying in, okay? He won’t kill me. I could
pin the boy in half a second, flat. He’s scrawny.” She said, the pout turning to a grin.
     “1025. But don’t get yourself into trouble.”
     “Me? Trouble? Noooo....” Her words were innocent, but the gleam in her eye was so sly...

     Violet eyed the door dubiously, sighing. “Here goes nothing...” She
mumbled, raising her hand to knock.
     Just as she did, the door swung open sharply. She stumbled back, confused.
“The hell?” Caramel brown eyes stared back at her, smiling.
   “We don’t want any.” The boy nodded assertively, the shut the door. Confused beyond the point of reason, she regained her bearings and tried again. This time, she was able to get a wrap off on the door before it swung open. Those
same caramel eyes just looked at her, humored.
     “You’re getting a kick out of this, aren’t you?” She asked, hands on hips.
     “Who are you?” He asked, ignoring her question.
     “I was the one that sent bratboy up here in a fuss an hour ago.” She said
with a wry wink.
     “Oh. So YOU’RE the one that Tay hates.” He said with a snicker. Violet
closed her eyes. Sigh.
     “Word travels fast in this place, eh?” She forced a smile.
     “Yup. Come in.” Zac had a suspiciously wicked twinkle in his eye.
     “You’re being awfully leaneant about my entry...” She asked cautiously.
     “I just want to see a fight. Come on... He’s been blabbing since he got
in.” He said. “Anyway, I want to know what this is all about. Some come ON!” he pulled her in by the arm, shutting the door behind her.
     “You’re a freak, you know that, Zac?” He nodded enthusiastically.
     “Hey, I’m not the one with purple hair.” He shot back, motioning to the
streaks of purple running through Violet’s typically brown hair. “You’re the
weirdo.” She smiled. She liked this kid already, and she’d only spent a few
minutes with him. Of course, there was no telling how long that would last.
     “Hey, I know where you sleep. Watch it, kiddo.”
     “Yeah, if you can get past security.” He said snidely, turning and crossing
his arms, not taking another step.
     “Good point. Hey, I have my ways. And anyway, I’m here, aren’t I?”
     “I’m still questioning that.” She could tell that he was trying not to
     “You want to pinch me and see?” A wicked smile spread across his face then.
     “Where are you going to let me pinch?” He responded, eying her with every bit of sarcasm that had gone into this discussion. She put out her arm. “You’re
no fun...” He grumbled, pinching her arm.
     “Hey! That hurt, you little snot!” He grinned mischieviously at her
     “Sorry. You’re real, all right. Though a real WHAT has yet to be defined.”
She glared at him a bit, biting back a grin, rubbing the place where he pinched.
     “S’okay. So take me to your leader, psycho boy.”
     “Psycho boy. I like that.” He continued into the room, where they found two long haired teenage boys staring at the mindless entertainment of the TV screen.
     “You know, you guys could be reading or doing something constructive.” She retorted with a smirk. Both boys just waved her away.
     “Huh uh...” Isaac mumbled, not moving his eyes away from the television.
“It’s just getting good.”
     Violet could barely contain her disappointment. It was strange to be in the
presence of three boys that she had spent so much of her time writing about, defining their personalities. It seemed that only the little one was anything near what she had expected. There was no excitement, no psychosis, no blood and
guts... No flare, really. They were just your typical, average teenage boys. She let out a long sigh. “Why do I bother...” She grumbled, turning. She had risked her life for these guys?
     “Hey, where ya going?” Zac asked, following her.
     “Back to my room to wallow in disappointment and Ben and Jerry’s, if I can find it.” She responded hand on the doorknob.
     “Can I come?” He asked, still trailing. She turned on him.
     “You really want to witness the utter neurosis of a 16 year old sociopath?” She asked, eye brows raised.
      “Sure. Got nothing better to do.” He said with a shrug. “Those two are
pretty useless, anyway.” There was a grain of bitterness in his voice as he
thumbed to the older teenagers farther within the room.
     Violet thought a moment. “You’re sick, you know that?”
     “You’re just catching this?” He replied smartly, moving ahead of her.
     “Fine. You can come.” She finally relented, unable to restrain the smile
any longer.
     “Yippy.” He stated sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “You know, most girls
your age would die to have ice cream with one of the Hansons.” A large grin was plastered on his cherubic face.
     “Hm. Most girls my age would love to have sex with anything phallic. I
don’t know if the Hansons are included in that or not. Guess they don’t know you too well, huh?” Violet responded with equal bite.
     “Har har. You’re a real crack up, you know that?”
     “I try, I try.” They had left the room, and were heading towards the
elevator, bantor continuing. The elevator door slid open, and a man with long brown hair in a funky sort of cut stepped out. It took a moment for Violet to place him. When the thought finally struck her, she was forced to bite the
inside of her mouth to keep from cracking up. She grabbed Zac’s hand, pulling him inside of the elevator before the man could say another word. Just as the door shut, Zac turned to her.
     “What was that for?!” He asked. She couldn’t stand it any more. Laughter
belted out of her.
     “Come on, psycho boy. You’re going to meet a few... um... Interesting
fans...” Zac eyed her sharply at her suggestion. Of course, it hadn’t really
been a suggestion. It’d been more of a command.
     “How interesting?” He asked cautiously.
     “Interesting enough to keep us entertained for a couple of hours while I
get phish food ice cream and you get pounded with questions.”
     “You’re just dead bent on making my life miserable, aren’t you?” He asked in a near whine.
      “Huh? No. Don’t worry, psycho boy. They’re not reporters. They’re
      “Um... What kind of writers?”
      “You’ll see. Trust me. You won’t want to miss this.”

      “You had me doing WHAT?!” Zac nearly shouted half an hour later, sitting in Morgan and Rain’s room amist some eight other writers. Morgan was laughing heartily at Zac’s reaction of her telling of “Messing with Another Kind”, her first entry into the Taylight Zone. They were going in order. Stephen had told his story of “Wishcraft”, which Zac had loved. He enjoyed the torture of his brother’s for some twisted reason. Not that he’d ever wish that on them in real life, but still, it was fun to read about.
     Most importantly, he liked these people. They were layed back, easy going, and they treated him like a normal person. Sure, they were all completely weird in their own ways, but it made them all the more fun. He’d heard of most of them before. Diana Liberty had written some really interesting peices that had Taylor absolutely hooked. He always liked the darker stories, and for that reason, he had also heard of Rain and Morgan. Isaac had read Kayla’s Moonbop, as well as some of Violet’s Magick saga. He was the fantasy freak. He’d also been the one to stumble upon Mmmiracle. All three of them had read Walls, and were eager to read Roads. In short, they knew how intense these writers were, and they had found a great amount of respect for them. Just as Zac and his brothers had followed their dreams for music, these authors were following their dreams in l
     It’d been uncomfortable at first. There was quite a bit of prodding and
suspicion. Everyone was on edge. Particularly since Kayla had almost been
smothered to death in her own bed, only a short while after Violet’s tub
experiance. They still hadn’t a clue as to who the attacker was, and the police department hadn’t done one bit of good. Zac hadn’t really caught onto what had been happening, though he was dying to know. Before another story could start, he broached the subject.
     “What exactly HAS gone on? I mean, is this why you guys all met up like
this?” He watched as each member of group looked to the other.
      “Something like that...” Rain started, sighing.
      “More like it goaded us along...” Kayla put in.
      “And there’s the packet that we all recieved...” Morgan pointed out.
      “Along with the fact that we’re all friends...” Stephen intruded. This was
getting confusing.
      “Could someone just shut up and tell the story?” Sheryl finally silenced
the entire group. All eyes fell on her. “Well I didn’t mean me.” She grumbled,
hands crossing over her chest defensively.
      “Come on, Sheryl. We’re all story tellers.” Violet responded, winking.
      “Why don’t you tell it, Ms. Smarty pants.” Sheryl responded, grinning.
      “Because I’m going to take a nap. If Rebecca were here, I’d have her tell
it. Her story’s up next.” She said with a yawn. It was getting late. Actually,
it was late. At least one in the morning. She was sleepy.
      “Rebecca?” Zac asked, drawing attention to himself.
      “The one writer that seemed to vanish off the face of the planet.” Stephen said with a sigh. Zac had gathered that he was the leader of this inner circle. Diana seemed second in command. But if that was the case, why was Violet the first one to be attacked? He looked to the 16 year old with purple streaks in her hair, fiddling idly with a five pointed star with a circle around it. It was a bit bigger than the one Sheryl wore. He recognized it as the symbol of the devil, but when he had pointed it out, he’d quickly been corrected by both of them. Something about Wicca and magick and witchcraft that he didn’t really understand. He’d been taught to accept all people, no matter their orientation.
It didn’t really bother him. Still, he was curious.
     All that put aside, why was she the first one to be attacked? It didn’t
really fit. Finally, he was forced to ask. “Why was Violet the first one to
get.. Well, you know...?”
     “I don’t know. The murderer seems to like seeing her nekkid.” Morgan stated with a laugh. She was pretty brazen, a bit head strong, but pleasant. Violet and her got along on a strange level of sexual innuendo, and seemed pretty close.
This entire group seemed pretty close, actually.
     “You know, I’m really confused. Maybe I should just go...” He started
getting up, but was practically pounced by seven seperate bodies the instant he tried.
      “No way, psycho boy. You’re kidnapped.” Violet said jokingly.
      “We’ve kidnapped you.” Kayla said with a wink to Di. Di nodded,
positioning herself to jump the 12 year old lest he try to escape.
       “No way out.” Diana joked, arms crossed. Zac shook his head.
       “You guys are crazy. You can’t kidnap me!” He tried to keep his tone
light, but he was a bit scared.
        “Too late. We already did.” Stephen grinned, glancing to Sheryl. Stephie suddenly hugged Zac.
       “Don’t go, Zacky!” She said, arms wrapped around his neck. He looked to her, eyes wide.
       “How am I supposed to say no to that?” He grimaced, tickling the girl.
She squealed a bit, tickling him back.
       “Hey! You’re not supposed to do that!” He giggled.
       “This is sickeningly cute...” Violet mumbled to the others, a wry smile
on her face.
       “Extremely.” Sheryl responded, laughing.
       Kayla grinned “Kodak moment. Who has a camera?”
     Diana pulled one out of her bag of tricks. “Right here!” She took a snap of the two kids tickling one another.
     “Black mail.” Rain said with a chuckle, getting a poke from Morgan.
     “So what are we going to do with a kidnapped Hanson?” Of course, no one had any idea as to how to respond to that question.
     “Gratuitous sex?” Morgan asked with a wry grin.
     “With the 12 year old? No way. We’d need Taylor for that.” Sheryl
     “Looks like he’d be all for it with Sheryl, according to Violet over
there.” Diana joked, winking to Sheryl. She just shook her head.
     “That really isn’t funny.” Of course, she was also giggling.
     “Uh... Guys... I really don’t want to hear this.” Zac said with a small,
nervous laugh. All eyes turned on him for a solid, quiet moment. He felt his
skin crawl a bit, until the room erupted with laughter.
      “Zac, we’re joking. You can leave whenever you want! We’re not going to
hold you here against your will.”
     “Not yet, anyway.” Kayla followed up on Violet’s comment. Zac eyed the
group wearily, finally breaking into a smile.
     “I’m more upset that you’d rather have sex with my brother, actually.” The
group stared at him in mild shock. Rain started chuckling.
     “I can’t believe the kid just said that...” She shook her head, still
laughing. Morgan hugged Zac suddenly.
     “A boy after my own heart.” She said with a giggle.
     “Okay, guys... It’s getting late... I think I’m heading to bed.” Violet
said, stifling a yawn.
    Zac pouted a bit. “You never got to your story!”
   “You really don’t want to hear that, hon. Any of em. They’re boring.”
   “You’re being kind of modest, hon.” Diana said, giving her friend a squeeze.
    “Nah... I’m going to sleep.” She said with a laugh, hugging everyone.
     “You sure you’re okay with staying in there tonight until I get there?”
Sheryl asked, worried. “I need to talk to Stephen about a few things...” Violet
nodded before Sheryl could even finish.
      “Why wouldn’t she be?” Zac asked suspiciously.
      “Someone tried to kill her in there, remember?” Kayla asked, sighing.
      “Oh... You really think they might try it again?”
      “Third time’s a charm...” Morgan responded.
      “Oh. Well...” He thought a little bit, shrugging. “She’s the one who
brought me over here. Do you think it’d be okay if I stayed with her until
Sheryl got there?” He asked, fidgeting a bit. The others shrugged, smiling.
     “Don’t see how it’d be a problem. You should probably call and tell whoever you need to and tell them where you’ll be, though.” Stephen responded, smiling.
    “I will.” Zac said with a nod. Violet eyed him sleepily, shaking her head.
“You’re crazy, kid.” He shrugged.
     “You’re one to talk. Come on. You’re about to collapse.” She laughed.
     “Yes, mom.” The others were yawning and stretching, as well, all quite
exhausted. It’d been a long day, to say the least.

     “That is the fastest shower I’ve ever known a girl to take.” Zac said with
a laugh. Violet walked out, fully clothed in t-shirt and boxers, hair wrapped in
a towel. She had gone back to taking showers, deciding that if she was going to stay reasonably hygenic, she’d have to face her fears. Zac had taken to hanging out with the group of writers, and was eager to hear the rest of the stories. Sheryl tousled Zac’s hair.
     “What was that for?” He asked, ducking a bit.
     “Impulsive urge. Be grateful I’m not giving you a noogie right now.” She
responded with a snicker. He jumped back a bit.
     “No way, man. Tay used to give those to me constantly.” He giggled a bit,
winking to Tia. She winked back, poking him with her foot.
     “How is Tay, anyway?” Violet asked, ringing the water out of her hair.
     “Same. Still not to thrilled with you. And he likes Sheryl. He told Ike
that last night. Can’t see why... She’s crazy...” He joked, getting a swift tap
on the back of his head. “Hey!” Sheryl laughed.
     “You’re a brat.” She had no idea how to react to the fact that a 15 year
old had a crush on her. Of course, he was a cute 15 year old, but he was still a
15 year old. She was still surprised by the fact that a 12 year old found her to be interesting. She was more surprised that he simply wouldn’t leave them alone. After the meeting the night before, she was sure that he would keep his distance. Quite the contrary, he had been their wake up alarm, pounding at their door at 10 in the morning. Sighing, she shook her head. Definately not what she had been expecting...
     “Earth to Sheryl... We going to go shopping with everyone or not?” Violet
snapped her fingers in front of Sheryl’s eyes.
     “Hey! Stop that!” Sheryl laughed, grabbing Violet’s wrist. “And yeah, if
you want. You’re gonna have to put reasonable clothes on, though.” She
responded, glancing to the ratty t-shirt and cotton boxers.
     “Hm. Well, that can be arranged. Want to come, Zac?” She gave the 12 year
old a warm smile as she shuffled through her bag.
     “Don’t think I can. Ike and Tay wanted to get some practice in before the
     Tia frowned. “The show isn’t for two days.”
     “Well?” Everyone looked to the 12 year old.
     “My parents weren’t too happy with me hanging out with a bunch of
strangers... They’re weird.” He said with a sigh. Sheryl and Violet nodded.
     “No problem. Go on, psycho boy. Don’t get yourself in trouble.” Violet gave
him a quick hug, taking him by surprise. She hadn’t done that before. He hugged
her back, sighing with relief.
     “I won’t. Are you guys going to be around tonight? I might be able to drag
Ike and Tay down here. I think they’d like to meet you guys.”
     “You could always bribe Taylor with Sheryl.” Violet cracked.
     “Violet, if you don’t button that lip of yours...” Sheryl started,
repressing a wide smile. Zac nodded, hugging them both, and kissing Tia and
Stephie on the cheek. He really did like these people. He could be himself
around them. He hadn’t had that chance in a long time, sometimes not even when
he was around his family. Sighing, he opened the door.
     “See you guys later!” He called back. He recieved warm smiles and friendly
waves in response. The door shut silently.

     Rain looked into the mirror. “God I hate my hair...” she said in a soft,
annoyed voice. Morgan came up behind her, shaking her a bit.
     “Would you stop? You look fine!”
     Diana smiled to the both of them from her cross-legged position at the foot
of her bed. “You’re both crazy.” She put in, playing with a zippo lighter.
    “This coming from Miss pyro over there.” Kayla shot back with a wide smile.
Violet stood at the doorway, waiting.
     “Rain, hair or no, you’re coming with us. We need to get out of here before
the shops close.” Rain sighed, looking to Violet, then the others. They were all
waiting for her. She picked up her purse, nodding finally.
     “I’m ready.”

     “Oh, shit. I could have sworn...” Rain fumbled in her purse, aggrevated.
They weren’t fully down the hall when she realized she’d have to turn around.
     “What’d you leave behind, Rain?” Morgan asked, slightly exasperated.
     “m’money...” She said, turning. Morgan took her arm.
     “Come on, then. I’ll go back with you.” The two walked back down the hall,
to their door. Violet, Di, and Kayla waited at the elevator.
     Rain’s eyes slit as she looked to the door. It was only slightly ajar, but
she could’ve sworn she’d shut it completely. “What the hell...?” She opened the
door slowly, stepping into the dim room. Pain struck her from the side, knocking
her to the floor. She screamed sharply, lashing out. The attacker hadn’t
expected two of them, and was stunned when he felt a sharp jab from Morgan. He
pushed her away, running out. Morgan kneeled by her friend, eyes wide.
    “Jesus fucking Christ! You okay?” She asked, taking Rain’s hand gently. Rain
    “Fine. We need to get out of here...” Rain said, sitting up. She felt her
stomach, which ached painfully. There was something wet, there. She held her
hand up, looking at the blood. “Oh shit...” she mumbled. Morgan’s eyes went
    “DIANA! VIOLET! KAYLA! HELP!!!” She screamed out the door until her voice
became hoarse. She heard footsteps coming quickly, suddenly halting as long
shadows melted into the room.
    “Oh god...” Violet shook her head, concerned. “Quick. Help me get her to the
bed. Diana, go get Sheryl and Stephen. Kayla, go to the front desk and have them
call an ambulance.”
     Soundlessly, she and Morgan lifted Rain and carried her to the bed. She
gripped her side, whimpering. It hurt so much...
    Violet pulled Rain’s hand away. “Let’s see, now...” She lifted up the girl’s
shirt, carefully probing the gash.
     “How deep is it?” Morgan asked, already moving to get something to wash it
off with.
     “Not too deep. Go ahead and get the stuff...” Morgan did so, bringing back
a bowl of water and a towel. Violet gently cleaned the wound, smiling to Rain.
     “Not too bad, now. You’ll live. How do you feel?”
     “Like I’m going to kick someone’s ass if they try it again.” She said with
a small laugh. Violet shook her head.
      “Most people try to think happy thoughts after things like this happen.”
      “Hey, I’ll be happy.” Morgan snickered at Rain’s response.
      “I think we’ll all be pretty happy once this guy’s six feet under.”
      “Or in prison.” Violet put in. She wasn’t thrilled by the idea of killing
someone, whether they had tried to kill her or not. Both girls looked to her,
and she shrugged.
      “I don’t like violence.” She gave a small smile, sighing. Rain and Morgan
nodded, returning to the task at hand. Sheryl and Stephen came in with Diana,
taking the situation into their hands. In a short while, order finally regained,
but the tension had heightened a notch...

     Isaac, Taylor, and Zac sat in dull silence. Taylor had jumped at the
suggestion of hanging out with Sheryl, and Isaac’s interest had peaked at the
idea of meeting those who’d put so much time into writing about them. They just
had to get past Ashley, their parents, and Chris...
     “They’re going to be waiting for us.” Zac complained, sighing. Taylor shook
his head.
     “What do you expect us to do? We’re not the ones who have control over
where we go.”
     Isaac looked out the window, dazed. “Don’t see why it matters where we go.
I mean, it’s just three floors down... What could they say?” All three boys
looked to one another, finally nodding. Without another word, they got up and
walked out the door.

     “Well that’s mean.” Taylor pouted slightly, glaring at Violet. She rolled
her eyes at him.
     “Taylor, take a joke. If I meant to offend you, trust me, I would’ve used
something a bit more original that your voice change.” She had just finished the
telling of “The Difference”, at Sheryl’s request.
     “Like what?” He responded bitterly, glaring daggers.
     “Like your drooling problem. Or those Happy feet.” It was hard not to
laugh. Violet herself was giggling. In fact, the only one without at least a
smirk was Taylor.
     “Uh oh... them be fightin’ words...” Zac mumbled, laughing maniacally.
     Violet shook her head. “This is stupid... Someone else tell their story...”
She looked to Kayla, who nodded.
      “My turn...”
     Kayla plunged into “The Rapist”, changing voices for each character. It
seemed that her entire personality shifted with each character, making it sound
so real...
     By the end of it, Zac was clutching Morgan’s and Violet’s hands tightly. He
felt a tight shiver climb up his spine.
     “Creepy.” He mumbled, looking to Taylor. His face was stark white.
     “Oh wow...” Isaac whispered, eyes downcast. He looked disturbed. Taylor
still remained silent. Sheryl glanced to him, concerned. She reached out,
touching his shoulder. He jumped a bit, meeting her gaze.
     “You okay, kiddo?” She asked, her voice soft. He nodded, smiling weakly.
She patted his hand, and he squeezed hers lightly.
     “Who’s next?” Violet asked, looking between Sheryl and Tay. She didn’t want
anyone going to prison for statiotory rape in this room.
     “Me...” Rain whispered gleefully, still a bit creeped by Kayla’s tale. The
others nodded, falling into Rain’s story...

      “I don’t know if I want to sleep alone tonight after that.” Taylor
mumbled, looking to all of them. He had heard their stories, and was deeply
creeped out. These people were weird. Creative, but weird.
      “Hey, if you want company...” Morgan slyed, winking. Taylor shook his
head, laughing.
      “I think I’ll pass. Ashley and my parents would kick my butt.” He said
sheepishly, looking down. Violet’s head shot up. Ashley.
     “S’he here?” Yes, he was. She knew that. She’d seen him when she was
getting into the elevator with Zac...
     “Yeah. Why?” Ike replied, frowning. The expression on her face was too
obscure to define. It seemed to mix fear with trepedition and a hudred other
     “No reason. Just... nevermind.” Still, she couldn’t shake the horrible
feeling that welled in the bottom of her stomach.

     Concert time. Lights flashed, voices screamed. The group slipped out from back stage, taking their places front and center of the stage. The boys had left them with hugs and partings. It would probably be the last time they’d see them, after all.
    Violet couldn’t help but smile as Zac took the stage, sticking his tongue
out at the crowd, eyes meeting hers. She mouthed “brat” at him. He smiled in
return. Morgan winked to him, and he made a face at her. She grinned wryly,
shaking her head.
    Sheryl winked to Taylor, who blushed. They had spent a long time talking
alone, causing much a stir among the others... Still, no one questioned the
occurances behind closed doors. His gaze shifted to Diana, who smiles to him. They had so much fun sneaking into the Dakotas...
    Isaac smiled to Stephen, Rain, and Kayla. The four of them had wreaked havoc writing with one another. It was the first time Isaac had written like that in ages, and the story produced was truly a masterpiece...

    “Stories will be told
     From when our Children are young
     Until they’re old
     About our endless love
     We must have had a blessing from above...”

    Violet toyed absently with the ‘gift’ IB have given her before she left. She
cast a side long glance to Sheryl on one side, then to Morgan. They felt it,
too. The sickening premonition that overwhelmed her was etched in their faces,
as well. She closed her eyes, waiting for something, but she didn’t know what.

    “It changed my views...
     It changed my whole Life...”

     She heard a gasp from Diana, suddenly. “Violet, MOVE!”
     She didn’t even have to think. Her body dropped, her leg shooting outward in an attempt to catch him off balance. He stumbled, but didn’t quite fall. There was something glittering in his hand... A gun. Her eyes went wide as she stared into the barrel.
     “oh fuck.” She mumbled. “Somebody GET THAT!” She screamed, pointing to the firearms. Stephen tackled him to the ground, but Violet didn’t have a chance to
see it.
     She felt a grip around her throat, tight, squeezing. Then a scream.
     “Get the hell off of me, you fucking rugrat!” The voice was so familiar...
She didn’t have time to think. Suddenly she was being pulled away by Morgan, who was stepping forward...
      “EVERYBODY FREEZE!” The voice boomed above everything. The entire auditorium went silent, the music having stopped when the conflict began.
     “What the hell is going on here?” Taylor called over the microphone. The
police officer turned his gun on Taylor.
     “You shut up, Barbie.”
     “Lay off, man.” Violet gasped. The officer looked to her, confused.
     “So what IS going on here?”
     “What the bloody fuck does it look like?! Get him!” One of the attackers
was being held down and beaten by Kayla and Rain. The other was attempting a getaway, but his escape was made impossible by the onslaught of 2,000 teenies standing between him and the exit. The officer took his good sweet time in aprehending him.
    “Let’s get back stage and get this thing sorted out.”

     Walker Hanson stared at the group of teenagers and adults, flabergasted. “Could you explain this again to me, please?”
     “Could we first find out who the hell has been doing this, before we go
into another round of 20 questions?” Diana responded, turning to the two
attackers held in handcuffs, still wearing their ski masks.
      “Good idea. Hey, why ARE they still wearing their masks?” Morgan
questioned, hands on hips.
      “Suspense.” The officer replied.
      “Oh Goody. We have one of the Hardy Boys as our detective. We just can’t get a break, can we?” Kayla said, casting Violet a downtrodden look.
      “Just take the mask off, would you?” Violet finally shouted, resisting the
sudden urge to slap the officer on the back of his fat head. He shot daggers at her momentarily before pulling off the first man’s mask.
     “Sweet mother of...”
     “Holy shit...”
     “Oh my God...”
     “The hell...?”
     “ASHLEY?!” Everyone called in unison, eyes wide. He glared at the group
with unbridled hatred. His lips formed a snarl as he looked down, grumbling.
     “But who’s the other one...?” Sheryl started, barely able to finish her
question before other man’s mask was pulled off.
     Another round of surprised, profanity-stricken retorts circled around
before a name was finally stated.
     “It’s Chris Sabec!”
     “The guy from the elevator?” Violet shook her head. “And you think you know a guy...” She mumbled, sighing.
      “And we would’ve gotten away with it, had it not been for those meddling
kids!” Chris shouted angrily. Morgan snorted.
      “I have one question...” Stephen started. “Why?”
      Ashley shook his head bitterly. “You took the sacred name of Hanson and twisted it into something psychotic and EVIL! We couldn’t let the insanity
continue! We had to get RID of you!”
     Sheryl shook her head, confused. “Ashley, I always knew you were a bit of a fruit loop, but CHRIS? Why you?”
     “I was in it for the money.”
     At this, Taylor and his brothers suddenly became alert. “What money?” The three tow headed boys stated in unison.
     “The money we would’ve gotten from publicity. Think about it. Hanson
authors done off for distorting the Hanson name. It would’ve been BRILLIANT...
But...” He let out a sigh, shaking his head.
     “I have a question.” Violet raised her hand, catching everyone’s attention.
“Why the hell did you always attack me first? What in God’s name did I ever do to you two?”
     “You were constantly defacing Taylor, calling him ‘Barbie’ and teasing him about his drooling problem...” Ashley growled.
     “Well who could resist? And anyway, I think Taylor’s cool. I wouldn’t put
so much effort in scrutinizing him if I didn’t like him. Jeez. Way to not take a
joke... And anyway, EVERYONE calls Taylor Barbie.”
     “Well not everyone harrasses us, as well. You were always sending us random intrusive questions...”
     “So in other words, I just annoyed you.”
     “Why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place?”
     “Would’ve taken the suspense out of it.” Ashley said with a smirk.
     “Suspense. Right.” She shook her head, rolling her eyes. Rain suddenly
raised her hand.
     “I have another question. How in the WORLD could you not kill at least one of us?! It’s not like you didn’t have enough tries. I mean, what sort of
pathetic excuses for assassins are you? Why didn’t you just hire someone or...”
      “Who said we didn’t?” Chris said with a wry, wicked grin.
      “Oh my God... REBECCA!!” Kayla’s eyes went wide, filling with tears.
     “Yeah?” The voice came from behind them. Everyone turned around to find Rebecca standing, hands on hips, safe as could be.
     “WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!” Stephen yelled, though relief was evident on his face.
     “Witness protection program. I was going to testify against these guys,
because I had their identities when they attacked me... Didn’t think anyone
would mind...” She said sheepishly, blushing.
     All eyes turned back to Chris and Ashley. Morgan sighed, walking up to
     “You Prick!” She screamed, slapping him across the face. “If you ever,
EVER...” She started, but Violet touched her shoulder. She spun around, face bright.
     “Morgan, honey, what are the chances?” She couldn’t repress the smile which touched her expression. “Come on, guys. Let’s get out of here.”

     Six hours later, the group again arranged themselves in Rain and Morgan’s room, this time with Rebecca propped up against the backboard of the bed. Isaac, Taylor and Zac lounged around, gobbling down spoon fulls of Ben and Jerry’s with the Taylight Zone authors.
     “So I have one question...” Sheryl asked, taking in a mouth-full of ice
cream by the hand of Taylor. “Who’s gonna write this story?” Her words were
slurred slightly, but understandable. Eyes peered around, questioningly. Violet had a sparkle in her wink as she raised a hand.
     “Could I? I mean... Well...”
     Stephen smiled. “Who votes Violet write this entry into the Taylight
Anthology?” Zac was the first to raise his hand, then Sheryl, and finally the
others. “Then it’s settled. Violet, you’ve got it.”
     Taylor played with a spoonful of chocolate ice cream. “One favor?” He
asked, smiling to her pleadingly.
     “Sure. You’ve got it. What is it?”
     “Don’t call me Barbie in the story? I really do hate that.” He said with a
wolfish grin.
     “Not on your life, Barbie!” Just as she got the last word out, her face was
smeared with the chocolate ice cream Taylor had been playing with. “You BRAT!”
She yelled, spooning her own ice cream at him...

     Blank screen. A few words typed up, then back space.
     Violet’s eyes fell on a picture that stood beside her computer. It was a
group of 8 writers and 3 musicians. Their arms were wrapped around one another’s shoulders, and they were all drenched in ice cream and happiness. Violet smiled.

     Then, she got to work.