** The following tale is fiction. It contains graphic descriptions, intense situations, and consenting sexual material involving
teenaged boys. If this kind of material is illegal where you are, if you are underaged, or if material of this
sort offends you, you are urged to turn back RIGHT NOW.  Otherwise please enjoy.

** And if you're in the mood, drop by my website, The Chamber

***As always questions and feedback is very welcome.  Please send it to: twisted_dreemz@yahoo.com or the_hellein@yahoo.com

The Meeting: Part Three

      Whoever came up with the design for the club was either a genius, or somebody who knew how to throw a bunch of stuff together, that normally wouldn't belong together, and make it look leet as hell.  First was the way the place looked on the outside.  We'd come in through the back way, so I didn't get to see the front until Michael and me left.  It was designed to look like it was hidden between two old two-story shops, like the ones that might be in Chinatown in San Francisco, or in China itself. The entrance looked like a window with this really wicked dragon design on it, with a red light on behind it.  If it wasn't for the bouncers standing near it and the line of people in front of it, I seriously would've thought it was just a regular window.  A few statues of different kinds were on the left and right side of the door and the pathway that led up to the club was done in cobblestones.

     Once a person was through the entrance, there was a window where they paid.  It was like an old school bank teller window, with the bars and everything, and the woman (at least I think it was a woman) who was working was all decked out.  She had some kind of makeup on her face that made it look like her skin was made out of porcelain instead of flesh.  In the center of her forehead going in a downward pattern were two Chinese characters.  I wasn't sure what they said, and didn't get the chance to ask.  From the ends of her eyebrows single black lines and been drawn down to where her cheekbones were and became part of another set of Chinese characters that ended at that point and went backward toward her nose.  The red lipstick on her lips really stood out against her face. And I couldn't see her whole outfit, but it was red like her lipstick and looked like it fitted her body tight like leather.

    When the lady was paid, and change and stamps were given, she pressed a button and at the end of the hallway was a door.  A man in black pants and shoes, and no shirt, stood by the door.  A red light was above the door, but when the woman pushed the button, the light would turn green and the man would open the door for the people to enter the club.

    The interior of the club continued with the Chinese style.  A large stage was directly across from where the customers walked in, and was designed to look like the entrance to a temple.  It was actually the dance floor.  The tables had been set up around the dance floor and out towards the walls.  The bar was located on the right side of the dance floor.  The employees of the club were from different races, but the women had their hair did up like Chinese women, with the chopsticks and everything, and they wore those silky robe looking things that I always forget the name of.

    The place had a bunch of other cool touches and special effects going, like that thing with the waterfall that looked like it was coming out of the wall, but I really didn't get to check it all out.  Tim had business of his own he needed to take care of, but wanted to give us a quick tour as he escorted us out of the club.  The club was called X-tacy, and since we were minors, we weren't allowed to come in as customers and drink and do all of that.  We could only come in as guests who were either there on business or there to visit.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed, but in the end it made sense.  What would it look like to the people if they saw teenagers in the club with them sitting, drinking, and dancing like it wasn't completely illegal for them to be doing it?  Very strange to say the least.

 *  *  *  *  *  *

     I've heard it said before that one second can change the way a person lives their life forever.  I don't think people realize how true that really is. I know I sure as hell didn't.  I mean, one itty-bitty second.  It's just hard to grasp the fact that something that small can have the kind of power it does.

    Maybe if my parents would've been one second ahead (or behind) on their trip home, it would've caused them to miss the drunk driver when he overcorrected and went into their lane.  One little second that changed their life and my life forever.

    One little second might've been all it took to change the fact that I was still alive. If Michael would've been a second off, he might've missed his chance to stop me from jumping.  Because I'd worked myself up so good that shit didn't hit the fan until I'd already fallen and was on my way down.  Just another second that changed my life forever.

    Now, four weeks to the day of what was supposed to be my last, I was alive.  My eyes had been opened to a world I was told only existed in movies, fiction books, and my dreams.  I'd changed.  I wasn't the same boy I was a month ago.  I'd been awakened to something that had been a part of my family for who knows how many generations.  It remade me in many ways, but kept others the same.  I'd been given a new life.  I guess that deep down that's what I was hoping to get when I jumped off that barrier and let myself get swallowed up by the waiting river below The Bluffs.  Well, wish granted.  And even though I was still getting used to the idea of certain things being true and real, I was pretty excited about the whole concept and couldn't wait to see what life as a vampire was going to be like.

*  *  *  *  *  *

     It being my first night out, Michael told me he wanted to take things easy with me, but that he wasn't going to put me on lockdown and keep me from leaving The Theatre until he thought I was ready.  His philosophy was that no one is really ready unless they get a chance to get out there and experience their new life, which I felt made sense.  The only requirement was that I have either himself, Faith, Ava-Marie, or Jake go with me whenever I left.  That was cool with me.
"So, its your first night out, I'll let you pick what we do tonight." he said, after we'd left X-tacy and had our quick conversation about not locking me down.
"Well..." I thought, trying to think of something to do.

     We were still in the town I'd been living in since I'd being placed in the new Shelter, and then later, getting adopted by Sharon and Bill.  The Theatre was on the outskirts of town and pretty well secluded.  I hadn't really gone out, seeing as how I never had any friends to go out with, so all I knew was from the conversations I'd hear at school and from the places I'd hear Carter mention here and there.  There was the arcade, the mall, a couple of other places I can't quite remember, and Hart's Park.
"I don't know.  Never really got out much before." I answered.

     Michael gave me a slightly surprised look.

     I nodded.
"So then you've never been to Hart's Park before?"
"Heard about it, but no, never been."
"You wanna check it out?"

     It didn't sound like a bad idea.  Honestly, I'd always had a curiosity about Hart's Park and wanted to see what it was all about.
"Then Hart's Park it is."

     I don't know if we timed our decision right or what, but right after Michael said that the light up ahead turned and traffic started moving our way.  In the lane nearest to the curb was a bus.  It was Bus #9 and its destination happened to be Hart's Park, Lake Ming, and the Lake Ming Shopping Center.  A couple of feet in front of us was a bus stop for buses 1, 3, 7, 9, and 11.
"Is that good timing or what?" Michael said, making me smile and shake my head.
"That's exactly what I was thinking." I said.

     We made it to the bus stop and Michael reached into his front pocket and pulled out a small pack of folded bills.  Without unfolding them, he pulled three of them out of the fold by their ends and they slid off without any problem.  He put the others back in his pocket as the bus came hissing and groaning to a stop in front of us and the doors opened.  We got on, Michael paid the fare, and we sat down in separate seats.  His was right in front of mine, so we were still close enough to talk.
"Thanks for covering me with the bus fare." I said.
"No problem." he accepted my thanks before he lowered his voice and said.  "Since you don't know how to catch fly yet, this was the best way to get there.  I like walking and all, but it probably would've taken us over three hours just to get to there."

     My eyes widened a little in surprise.  Over three hours?  My legs would've been ready to call the police on me by the time that was over and have me arrested for cruel and unusual punishment.
"I'm thinking bus is a real good thing then."

    Michael agreed.
"Oh yeah."
A couple of seconds of silence passed before,
"I always like catching the bus every now and then, or walking somewhere as long as it's not too far.  Even if it is for just a little while, it gives me the feeling like things were the way they were before, you know, before I realized I could sprout fangs and fly." he spoke...only he didn't.

     I heard his voice.  It came out just a little above a whisper.  But his lips never moved.  They didn't even flinch.  But I know I'd just heard him talk to me.  ...Or at least I thought I did.

     I opened my mouth to ask him if he'd just spoken (or if I was loosing my mind) when a hint of a smile crossed his lips.  Now my mouth was hanging open for other reasons.  Confusion, surprise and amazement.
"How'd you do that?" I asked.
"It's called Whispering.  Something we do when we want to make sure that our ears and only our ears can hear what's said." Michael answered, whispering and actually moving his lips this time.
"Is it something I can do?  Can you teach me?" I whispered excitedly, hoping the answer was,
"Yes on both those questions.  Since we've got some time before we get to where we're going, want me to teach you now?"

     I nodded.
"Yeah.  What do I need to do."
"First, close your mouth."

     I did what he said.
"Now, you're going to part your lips just slightly."

     I let my lips part at the center.  Michael shook his head right as I did it.
"No.  Part them on the left and right sides.  Keep the middle closed." he corrected me.  I did as he told me.
"All right.  Now you're going to talk, but you're not going to move your lips at all.  They're only open so that it still feels natural to the mouth when you go to speak.  When you talk, talk in the lowest whisper you can."

     I took a couple of seconds to get myself relaxed and then I went for it.  I knew how to talk under my breath, but I was going for talking at least two levels underneath that.
"How's this?" I spoke, realizing that it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.  He didn't say anything about me not moving my tongue, and technically that's the only thing that needed to do any real moving.

     He nodded a couple of times.
"Pretty good, but your lips moved.  So let's do it like this.  Inhale slowly."

     Again I followed his instructions.
"When you get as much air as you need, fix your lips, exhale slowly, and speak while you're exhaling."

     I nodded as I finished getting all the air I thought I'd need.  I did my lips like he told me to, exhaled as slowly as I could, and spoke.
"How about now?"

     His slight smile appeared and he nodded.
"Very good.  Your lips didn't even move that time."

     Cool!  Couldn't help but feel a little happy at learning a new trick.
"It's a lot easier doing it while exhaling." I said.
"Yep.  Pretty soon, it'll be like second nature to you.  Right now, though, it's going to be a little awkward, especially when you go to say certain words.  You'll have to improvise to get them to sound right."
"Might as well get some practice in while we're riding." I suggested.
"Sounds good."

    We did that for a good ten minutes.  Me Whispering to him and him Whispering to me.  We didn't talk about anything really.  Just saying things that had difficult words in them and him teaching me which sound or letter to use to make it sound like it should.

    By the time we decided to quiet down, my attention went directly to the window.  I always liked looking out the window whenever I used to go on trips with my parents.  For some reason it always made me feel peaceful inside just looking out at the scenery as we passed.  There wasn't much to look at.  On the left we were passing something that looked like a school, and on the right side of us (my side) there was a park.  I didn't recognize this part of town at all, and a couple of seconds later we went onto a freeway entrance I never knew existed.

    For a while the right side was blocked by the face of a high cliff as the freeway took us down.  When it went level again, the cliff tapered off and we were surrounded by small mountains and hills.  It literally looked like we'd crossed over into a completely different city from the one we were just in.  The bright moon illuminating the area, making the blades of grass on the small mountains and hills look like they'd been sprinkled with silver.  A beautiful sight.  I took it all in, enjoying the complete change of scenery.
"Feels like we just drove into a different city, huh?" Michael broke me out of my trance, and startling me a little for knowing exactly what was on my mind.
"That's exactly what I was just thinking." I said, looking from the window to him.
"I could tell by the look on your face.  It's the same one I got the first time my parents drove me this way, or so they said." he said, looking back at the window. "Always been a sucker for a good view."
I nodded.
"Definitely.  I used to love to look out the window whenever I went on trips with my parents, unless it was too dark out to see.  I could do it for hours and be content the whole time."

     Michael looked back at me, that slight smile on his lips.
"Spoken like a true scenery freak."

     I smiled myself and nodded again.
"It's even more of a sight when you look at it from above, especially when the moon is full.  The way the light falls it makes it look like the grass has fireflies or something." he said, only again his lips didn't move.

     Speaking of which, I still had a two to three day sentence before I'd be able to learn how to fly. There probably wasn't a way to speed that time frame up, because something probably would've been said, but damn! That was like dangling a carrot in front of a mule who hasn't eaten in a week!  That was one of my biggest wishes when I was a little kid.  To fly.  And when that movie Hook came out, it was all over.  I always figured the closest I'd ever get to flying was when I picked up air on a skateboard ramp to pull off the few tricks I'd gotten the balls to learn.
"So is it kicking your ass yet?" Michael called my attention again.
"Hmm?" I responded, before what he said sunk in. "What?"
"Wanting to learn to fly."

     There he was reading me like a book again.
"Uh...honestly, yeah. I didn't want to say anything because you already said two or three days, so I figured just leave it at that."
"It's cool.  To be honest, you've lasted a lot longer than everyone else.  It only took Ava-Marie and Jake two days before they were up to par, and until that day came they talked about what it was going to be like nonstop. They were so excited about it that it broke their sleep cycle and they woke up a couple of hours ahead of the usual time, so the sun was still up. As soon as it went down both of them were waking me and Faith up so we could teach them. Josh, completely ignoring the fact that until his body was ready nobody could teach him anything, begged to be taught at least three times a day until the third day rolled around and his body was finally ready. Mac never got the chance to ask because Josh taught him on the day his body was up to par."
"Trust me, the only reason why I didn't bug was because we had to go to see Mel...Miss E and wondering why she wanted to see me was on my mind.  If it wouldn't have been for that, I probably would've been exactly like Josh."

     Michael smiled a bit at that, and I did too.
"What about you and Faith?  Who taught you guys how to fly?" I didn't hear him say anything about the two of them.
"A couple of people I hope you get to meet.  Their names are Jack and Theresa.  I guess you could call them the original starters of our Family." he answered.
"Are they not part of the Family anymore?"
"Oh yeah, they are. But since neither of them can sit still for more than a minute, they're never in one place long. So they became Roamers.  But they drop in every now and then to check in and see us."
"That's cool that they still come see you all."
"Yeah.  I hope you get to meet them.  They'd like you, and I'm pretty sure you'd be cool with them."
"You think so?"
"It's either that, or they'll hate you immensely, call you all sorts of bad names.  And have an uncontrollable urge to stab you through the heart with a spork every time they see you."

     That was great! Had to laugh at that.
"Yeah, well, sporks are my bane anyway, so let's hope they like me." I said, still giggling. Michael actually smiled too. A full one.

     Why does he always not smile like that more often? A person might start to think he didn't like smiling at all.

    The bus started to slow down and my attention went naturally up ahead to see why we were stopping. What I saw made me want to get off the bus immediately and run to it. I could see what was more than likely Hart's Park staring right at me through the front window about a hundred or so yards away.
"Looks like we're here." Michael said, as the bus turned to left and entered a small substation where three other buses were already parked.
"That is Hart's Park?" I asked, pointing out the left window now.
"That's it."

    I've been to Six Flags Magic Mountain, Great America, and of course Disneyland. Each of them had their own looks and feels that made them a unique experience and all of them shared one thing. They were all gated. I might be wrong seeing as how we were still a distance away from it, but Hart's Park didn't look like it was gated. It was just out there in one long straight stretch like it was completely normal for it to be there. I'd never seen a place like it before.
"More than you were expecting?" Michael asked, as the bus found its spot and came to a stop.
"Is it just out there in the open?" I wanted to be sure that's what I was seeing.
"Yep. You'll see why once we get over there."

     The bus driver set the bus into the parking gear and opened the doors. I didn't need more of a que than that and got up to get off. Michael walked behind me since we had to get off at the back of the bus instead of the front and my seat was the closest to the back.

    The substation had a large sized crowd in it. About half were adults and the rest were teenagers and children. Since I had no idea where I was going, I let Michael lead the way through the crowd and out of the substation.
There was a lot of bumping along the way and maybe only three people actually opened their mouths and said "excuse me". Everyone else either went on like it never happened, or glared at me like I had gone out of my way to make sure I bumped into them. I said excuse me to the first couple of people who glared. After that, I quit caring. They wanted to be rude. I could be rude right back.

    From the substation we walked up the street to the stoplight, pressed the button, and waited for the light to turn. As soon as it turned and we started to walk, all these smells hit my nose from out of nowhere. Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Cinnamon rolls. Popcorn. Carnival food! Some of the best junk on earth! And I could smell them all like I was standing right there next to where they were being made.

    My mouth started to water as all the various smells reached out at me. My stomach got heavy and felt like it was about to twist up and growl and tell me it wanted as much stuff as I could possibly feed it. Then suddenly it stopped. My stomach went back to normal and my mouth quit watering.
"Okay...that was strange." I said to myself.
"What?" Michael asked, looking over his shoulder at me.

     There were people behind us and in front of us in the crosswalk. All of them were carrying their own conversations on and were about five feet away both ways from where Michael and me were, so I figured it would be okay to say what I had to say.
"While we were crossing the street, I started to smell all the food and stuff, and it was like I got hungry for it. Then the feeling vanished completely. I can still smell the food, but its not affecting me like it was before."

     Michael nodded.
"It's just an old habit dying hard. Your brain is used to going through a certain motion whenever you smell food. But now since food is completely useless to you, your brain reprogrammed itself not to respond to it." he told me.
"Ah, okay. Should've figured that." I realized.

    It hadn't dawned on me that I wasn't going to be able to eat, and I assume drink, normal food and drink anymore. So no more cheeseburgers and fries, no more soda, no more junk food, and no more of all the other foods I love, and the ones I have (or rather had) yet to try. Can we say this blows?
"That doesn't mean we can't taste food though. We can still eat it, but it's not a good idea to swallow it. Your body'll send it right back up." Michael said.

    My ears perked straight up.
"And we can drink to. That we can actually swallow. You'll just piss it out later." He answered.
"Well at least we can still do that." I was very happy to hear. "Because I was about to lose it thinking I couldn't eat food or drink anymore."
"I don't even want to think about what it would be like if it was that way."
"You and me both."

     We'd made it across the street and Hart's Park was a diagonal shot to the right away from us.

    I can understand why they called this place a park because that's what it looked like. A huge park that surrounded an area that had amusement rides put into it. It gave the place a kind of charm and beauty because it was natural for the most part and not manufactured.

    People were all over the place. Chillin' in their groups and talking. Some looked like they were having little parties or picnics. A couple of guys and then a girl along the way were playing their guitars while their friends and other people who happened to be walking by watched. We stopped and listened to all three of them, and all of them were pretty good. The girl was the best, though.

     The closer we got to Hart's Park, the bigger it seemed to get. I could see now that there weren't just rides there. There were shops and game booths and the usual things found at an amusement park. But there was something else just beyond the park. I strained to try and see what it was, feeling my eyes go to work as I tried to see further. Whatever it was, it was dark. And it was moving.
"I see something that's moving just passed the park. What is it?" I decided to Whisper. I was pretty sure human eyes couldn't see that far.
"Ming River." he Whispered back.

     Ming River? The same Ming River that goes by The Bluffs? I'm not sure of our exact location in town, but I assumed it was a good distance away from The Bluffs because I hadn't seen them during our trip here.
"It comes out this far?" I wondered.
"This is where it starts at.  It the main reason why this place got built here." he replied.
"Trying to go with a water theme or something?"
"Not at first. Originally the park used to have an old mining town theme. They built old shacks along the edge of the river with water wheels, built a train that went around the whole park, built a water slide, and set up candy shops and other shops and things like that."

     I could see why he said not at first. I didn't see anything that even remotely resembled the mining theme anymore. As far as I could tell, things were looking pretty modern.
"Looks like they ditched that theme awhile back." I said.
"Beginning of the 90's.  They decided to change it up and make it look like a boardwalk instead of a mining town because the only people that still came to the place were old people, people during the summer for the waterslide, and little kids on field trips.  So they ditched the shacks, kept the train, the waterslide, and shops, and redesigned it to this." Michael explained.
 And from the looks of it, it definitely brought the crowds back in force.
"They did a pretty nice job." I remarked as we stepped out of the park part and into the amusement area itself.

    I've never been to a boardwalk, but I'd seen them in movies so I had a pretty good idea of what they're supposed to look like. I just had no idea how much bigger one would in person. Hart's Park was huge in my opinion. I didn't know where to look first. I didn't know what to do first. Man, I really wish Ricky could be here right now to see this place. As much as we used to talk about Magic Mountain and all the different parks and stuff. He'd probably be just as much in awe of this place as I was.
"So, shall we ride, or are these type of rides not your thing?" Michael pulled me from my thoughts.
"Normally I could tackle these kind of rides in my sleep." I answered, looking at the rides that were nearby.

    Three of them were small rides, like The Scrambler, and a pretty nice looking bumper cars pit, and this other sort of crazy looking roller coaster that had these small enclosed trains that went up in a completely vertical tunnel, came out at the top and did a spiral all the way down the outside of the tunnel, then hit a few humps once it was on level ground again and came back to the station. About fifty yards away to both the left and right were roller coasters. The left one was wooden, the right one looked steel.

    As much as I wouldn't mind riding every last ride, money was not my best friend at the moment. I was here on Michael's dime.
"But I don't want to spend up all your money, so one ride?" I figured that would be cool. I'm pretty sure the rides here aren't free, and it's no telling how much it costs for one ride.
"Well, thanks for not wanting to break my bank.  Unless you're into any of the games, though, we can get on everything here and not have to spend a cent." Michael revealed much to my surprised ears.
"How so?"
"A friend of ours. She works at the ticket booth at the center of the park and she always hooks us up with the wristbands.  They let your ride everything however many times you want."

     Hell!  All right then!
"Okay.  If that's the case, and if you're up for it, lets ride." I said.
"Follow me." Michael prepared to lead the way.

     We walked for a good couple of minutes with me looking at every little thing. There were rides I'd never seen before anywhere else, and some I had seen and really liked. The food and junk food, while not getting any reaction from my body anymore, still smelled awesome, and I was interested to see how it would taste now. If blood tasted different, maybe food and drink did too.

     After reaching what I assumed was the center of Hart's Park (because there was a big fountain and pathways heading left and right as well as straight ahead toward the rest of the park) we took a left and walked out towards Ming River. A ticket booth, three shops, and some of the more kiddie rides were around here. A group of teenagers was just leaving the ticket booth as we walked up and instantly the green eyes of the girl inside lit up.
"Hey you!  Haven't seen you in awhile.  Where the hell ya been hidin'?" she greeted.
"Just been sticking close to home lately.  Thought I'd come out and visit tonight, though." Michael answered, giving her his full smile.
"Glad you did." the girl put a pout on her face.  "I was starting to think you didn't like me anymore."

     She wasn't that bad looking a girl. She had size on her, but more in the way of giving her "body" instead of fat. Her dark black hair was pulled back into a bun and she was either Mexican or white with a moderate tan.

     Her eyes fell on me.
"Who's this?" she inquired.
"This is Evan.  He's a friend of mine.  Evan, this is Alicia." Michael introduced us.
"Hi." I waved, fighting hard to keep myself from falling on old habits.  "Nice to meet you."
"Hi.  You too. This your first time out here?"
"Umm-hmm." I nodded.
"I knew it.  After working here for a while you start remembering a lot of the faces that come through here.  I can spot a new one almost instantly."
"So how have you and Troy been doing?" Michael asked after waiting a couple of seconds and realizing I wasn't going to say much of anything else. Not that I was trying to be rude. Still fighting.
"Me? Same ol' same ol'. Working my ass off, not gettin' paid enough.  Troy? Still a fucking dick."
"I guess you two aren't getting back together?"

     Alicia made a face and shook her head.
"Not unless I get bashed in the head repeatedly with a stupid-stick and loose all the good sense I have. Nothing in this world, or the next, could make me get back with that bastard!"
"I'm sure I don't need to tell you how glad I am to hear that." Michael said.
"Oh I know you are, and so am I...but I am all fucked up behind it. I mean, on one hand it feels like this huge weight is lifted off my shoulders because I don't have to worry about dealing with all the shit I've told you about time and time again concerning him and our relationship. On the other hand, it hurts because I you know how much I love him and it's almost impossible to think about my life without him being a part of it and...I feel like if I would've just hung in there a little bit longer things would've gotten better." she confessed, her eyes looked like they were starting to water.

     Michael put his hand through the hole that was used to put the money, tickets, and whatever else through, and took one of Alicia's hands. She turned that hand around so the palm was facing up and allowed Michael to hold her hand, and she held his. Her other hand went up to catch the tears that were starting to fall from her eyes.
"You hung in there for almost two years, Alicia, and he never once made an attempt to change the way things were, despite the arguments you guys had and everything else. I know how much you love him and how much you care about him, and even though I don't sound like it sometimes I really wish he would wise up and change his ways, because he doesn't know what he's losing out on. But like I've said before. You shouldn't have to spend your life waiting on him to grow up." he said to her.

     The next time we're alone, I need to ask Michael how old he is. He looks like he's about my age, maybe a few years older at the max, but he's also a vampire. As far as I know vampires aren't supposed to age. So he could very well be twice the age he looks, and nobody would know it unless he said something. The way he's able to talk to people and just...I don't know...do it how he does it. That just seems like something a person who's been around for a lot more than fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years can do.

     Alicia nodded, tightening her grip on Michael's hand, and sniffled.
"I know. That's what I finally realized. As much as I love him and care about him...I just can't do it anymore. And I shouldn't have to. If he was willing to change then he would've done it a long time ago." she agreed with him.
"Couldn't agree with you more." he said.

    Then he smiled. It was a very warm smile and it kinda shocked me at first to see it on his face. Michael didn't strike me as a very emotional person. To me so far it seemed like he kept them on lock down unless it was completely necessary to show them. But when he did, you knew he meant it. Just like that night when we first met, and just like right now.
 "I'm very proud of you. I know it took a lot. I but I knew you could do it if you had to." he concluded.

     Alicia let the tears that had gathered in her eyes form into drops. The first slid lazily out of her left eye, followed by one from her right a few seconds later.
"Thank you. I'm proud of myself too."

     They were quiet for a moment, before Alicia let go of Michael's hand, unlocked the door that was behind her, stepped out of the ticket booth, came around to where we were and hugged him tightly. He returned it.
"Okay, enough with the Young and the Restless. I don't need to be taking up your guys' night with my B.S." Alicia said, ending the hug and drying her face after a few moments.

     She looked at me and smiled.
"Great first impression of me, huh? You must think I'm the world's biggest drama queen."
"Not at all. It's cool when you've got a friend who can help you through hard times." I said, smiling a little myself.

     She looked back at Michael.
"Yeah, it is.  So, you guys up for the usual hookup?"
"Sure." Michael answered her.

     Walking back around to the door of the booth, Alicia went in, locked up, and grabbed two of the pink plastic bracelets that were hanging in a group on a hanger on the left wall. Michael stuck his arm through the opening and she placed the bracelet around it and fastened it. He moved away and both of them looked at me. I did the same thing Michael had just done and got my bracelet.
"Okay, you guys get the hell out of here and go have fun. It was nice to meet you, Evan. Hope to see you back." she said.
"It was nice to meet you too." I responded.
"And thanks again, Mike. I really appreciate it."

     Michael nodded.
"You know it was my pleasure." he accepted her thanks.
"Okay, be gone. Fun. Go have it." she shooed us away with a smile.

     We left Alicia's ticket book, heading back towards the fountain.
"If you two needed to talk some more, you can. I mean, she seems like she went through something pretty rough." I said, beginning to wonder if Alicia had had more to say but hadn't because I was there and she didn't want to screw up my first visit to Hart's Park.
"Yeah, she did go through something very rough. But she's okay now. Just needed a little reassurance to know that what she'd done was the right thing." he answered, before stopping and turning to me. "Thanks for being cool about it. I'm sure she'd appreciate it to hear you say that."
"No problem. I can share. I try not to be that selfish."

     He smiled slightly and I smiled all the way.
"So, what looks like a good first ride?" he asked me as we both turned back around to continue walking towards the fountain.
"How about..."  I started to debate on if I wanted to ride the steel roller coaster or the wooden one first. Might as well start out with something fast and furious, then close out with something mellow, but still enough of a ride that you enjoy it.

     I was about to answer Michael when a warm, almost tingling sensation passed through me and the feeling I'd gotten back at The Theatre (when we were all sensing Eze) hit me. At first it seemed to be coming from every direction. Then in a matter of a couple of seconds, the feeling felt like it was narrowing itself down to one specific place. Directly ahead where the fountain was located.

     My eyes went straight there, scanning for whoever was causing me to feel them. Would I be able to tell who it was just by looking at them?  There was a big group of people standing in front of it. From the looks of it they were a family. All of them were checking out what I figured was a map of Hart's Park and trying to decide where to go. I scanned each of them, staring at them for a moment to see if the feeling got stronger. When it didn't, I moved to the next family member. I went through all of them and the feeling never changed.

     My eyes were looking to the left of the family and I was about to ask Michael if he was currently feeling the same thing I was when a kid maneuvered between the family and the couple that was standing nearby them and looked directly at me. Immediately the feeling intensified, and I knew it was accurate. I knew the kid and I knew he was one of us.
"Hey. Isn't that...uh...um..." his name went right out the window for me. And it was right on the tip of my tongue too. I just pointed towards who I was talking about.
"Mac." Michael said it more like he was surprised instead of filling in the blank for me.

     I nodded.

     Mac was already coming toward us, walking as fast as he could without turning it into a run. His hands were shoved deep into the pockets of his pants and his eyes were darting around like they were looking for something. It didn't take a rocket scientist to tell that something didn't seem right.
"Come on." Michael said to me, walking toward Mac. I followed.

     We met him half way and he stopped, glancing over his shoulder, then back at us.
"Hey, bud.  What's up?" Michael's voice was concerned. I hadn't been the only one to sense something was up either.

     Mac went to answer him, but his eyes fell on me and he paused. He looked back at Michael and beckoned for him to come down to his level. Michael did and Mac walked up to him and whispered the response into his ear.
"Okay, okay.  Slow down, and say that again." Michael told him.

     He did. For the time it took me to remember I had super hearing and to use it, Mac was done saying what he had to say and took a few steps away from Michael. Mac looked flat out worried now.
"Well, Evan.  It looks like we might have to bring things to a stop early tonight." Michael said.
"Why?  Is everything okay?" I was definitely concerned.

     Michael shook his head.
"No it isn't. Josh is in trouble. We have to get to him right now."

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