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Toxic #27: Party Lines: All the Rage in 1937

Jul 30, 2014

My grandmother was waiting for me, hovering over my bed like the Ghost of Christmas Future. With the lightning shooting from her eyes, she was about as scary, anyway.

“Whasup?” I slurred, my tongue too stupid to form English. Which probably wasn’t going to help my case.

She sniffed, a dry, harsh sound that matched her expression. “Did you have a good night?”

Ouch. That wasn’t passive aggressive at all. “S’ not curfew.”

“You’re also not twenty-one.”

I pulled away from Scott, who’d been half-carrying me since he parked the car. Being dragged around by a werewolf wasn’t going to help my case, either. “Las’ I checked, imaginary creature liquor wasn’t against the law.”

“Do not sass talk me, young lady. You’re in no position.”

Since the position I was in was ‘slumping,’ I didn’t argue. My shoes were way closer to my face than they should be. “’K.”

“Who are you talking to?” Scott asked.

I dropped onto the bed on top of my grandmother, my face going through her flower-patterned lap to the comforter below. “Casper the not so friendly ghost. Boo-oooo.”

“You see ghosts, too? No wonder you’re a mess.” He wandered away from the bed, drawn like a magnet to my DVD collection. “Holy Red Box, Batman. How many movies do you have?”

“Lots.” Talking into the covers did me no favors. A breath mint or my toothbrush was a must at the moment. I rolled onto my back, panting to keep the griffin tears—and my bile—where they belonged. “Oh God. Make it stop.”

Scott stopped rifling my collection and checked me out. “Told you Damian was the Prince of Darkness. No one in their right mind drinks griffin tears.”

“I kill ‘im later.” I panted some more, my breath possibly more offensive than the garbage dump in Staten Island. “Why?”

Scott snorted. It sounded suspiciously like a laugh. “Why what? Why do you feel like shit? You hung out with Damian. And can I say good luck with the hangover?”

I blinked at the ceiling and willed it to stop twirling. “No. Breath.”

“Ah. That’s one of the charming parts of the drunk phase. Next is the acid trip phase, where the world pretty much reforms itself.”

My grandmother harrumphed and moved so only my feet were sticking through her. “Hallucinogens. I raised you better than this.”

Scott’s cell buzzed, distracting him from my movie shrine. “I need to get back to the Dragon. Are you going to be okay?”

I waved a hand that looked a lot like a floppy fish. “M’good.”

“Liar.” He headed for my door. “Look, it’s not like alcohol where too much can kill you. You’ll see stuff, but it’ll be real. Just…more real. A peek inside the fairy glamour, kind of. So don’t freak out and you’ll be okay. Got it?”

“More real? S’that’s supposed to mean?”

“You’ll see. Call me if you can’t handle it.” He left me staring at the ceiling as the world warped.

Closing my eyes helped a little. Grandma kept quiet, probably too pissed at me to want to talk. She was going to let me have it when I sobered up. And eventually, slowly, the sensation that everything was twisting and sliding passed and was replaced by a feeling of lightness. The heat that had been running through me focused itself. Every vein in my body boiled, but it wasn’t unpleasant. It was just weird.

I risked opening my eyes, only to see that my vision had changed. Instead of the world being full color, almost everything was in shades of green and blue. Except for the silver streaks crisscrossing my room like a spider web. I followed their pattern around my ceiling and out through the windows, the web stretching into the distance, over the lake and all the way into town.

I sat up—slowly—and the lines moved. They were coming from me, and my whole body glowed with them. Each breath, each shift of my arms, made the entire web shiver. I was a marionette without a puppet master, and I felt light enough to run along those lines without touching the ground.

I left my grandmother brooding on my bed, racing through the house and out to the back yard.

It should have been dead silent outside, but sounds I’d never noticed before, like a distant humming and buzzing of electric lines, filled my ears. There were whispers, too, vibrating and dancing along the lines like someone telling secrets. And as I traced the whispers, my mind moving along the silver threads like a wind, I felt Scott, and Damian somewhere dark, and a whole bunch of things I didn’t recognize.

Each line was a person, a creature. A supernatural. And after tracing all hundred-plus lines, I realized Vincent was nowhere to be found.

I collapsed onto the grass, stupid and giddy. It was surreal. It was too much. And yet Scott had said that what I saw would be real. Just more. Which meant I wasn’t dreaming or hallucinating—this stuff, these lines, existed. And it made me laugh like an idiot, light shooting out of me and into the web in time with my hiccupped howls.

The lines grew brighter until the whole town was lit up like daytime. The volume of voices rose, too, until I could swear the speakers were standing around me on the grass.

A shadow darkened a distant part of my web, cutting through the strands like a black blade. I stayed sprawled on the ground as it grew, coming closer and taking the shape of a giant gold dragon.


The dragon landed, as silent and graceful as a cat. If the trees hadn’t bent and whipped from the wind of his wings, I would have wondered if I was imagining him. “Get up. I need to get you out of here.”

I frowned, finding it hard to come down from my laughter. “I’m perfectly safe on the lawn.”

“You’re not.” He nudged me in my side, his nostrils blowing damp, tickly steam. “You’re broadcasting to every creature in town.”

Broadcasting? Like talking to them? “Is broadcasting bad?”

“For you? Yes.” He bumped me again, rolling me onto my stomach. “You’re making a big, noisy conference call, Tizer Banks. That is not something most can do, and not something the fairies will tolerate. Now move, unless you want them to find you and start questioning what you are.”


© A.M. Schilling  2014. All Rights Reserved.



Toxic: Installments