Life is hella weird [Episode 1 – Chapter 2]

Episode 1: Chrysalis

Start from the beginning

 

Chapter 2: Its being that kind of day

1st Alternative Universe: Monday 10/07. Afternoon.

[…]

“Nobody would ever even miss your “punk ass” would they?”

“That’s it” She thought in panic. “This is the end of the line. Oh, god, what the hell was I thinking getting myself into this fucking mess!”

She heard a lot of people say that when you’re about to die, your entire life flashes in front of your eyes. But it wasn’t true, at least not for her. She didn’t see her life going backwards, she didn’t see her father or her childhood playing again in her mind.

The only thing she could think of was a person. And that made something in Chloe’s mind snap, because it didn’t make any sense. She could have thought about her father, her mother, Rachel… but her mind only brought the little thirteen year old Max Caulfield to the scene.

“She’s never leaving me!”

A deafening sound cut through her line of thought. A siren rang all over the place, tripping them out. Nathan looked around in confusion, trying to understand what was going on.

“No way…”

He lowered his gun unconsciously.

That was the chance Chloe was looking for. The escape route, the way out. As an instinctive reflex, she raised her knee and hit the Nathan on his crotch and pushed him away from her with shaky hands. The kid stumbled and fell on his back over the white floor.

The moment she felt the gun no longer pressed against her body, anger rolled over her like a train and pushed to the back of her mind all the fear and stress she endured the last couple of minutes.

“DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN, FREAK!” she shouted and left the bathroom as fast as she could, slamming the door behind her.

 

Chloe ran. She stepped out stumbling from the main building and kept running, looking over her shoulder for like what felt like the hundredth time, making sure Nathan wasn’t following her. The coast was clear to her relief and she headed to the gym, crossing the little green park full of curious students attracted by the awful noise of the fire alarm.

“Holy shit, holy shit!” She mumbled, still trying to understand what exactly happened in that bathroom. “Damn stupid rich kid! He could’ve… I could’ve…”

She reached her destination just in time. Her knees hit the dry grass behind the gym, a spot she knew well, it was hidden from the crowd. She spent most of her last semester in Blackwell in this very same spot, usually blazing out with Rachel or Justin or just somebody.

Now, she was back there again, all by herself, sweating and trying to fight the need to throw up.

“You’re fine. You’re fine.” She said, hugging herself in search for comfort. Of course it didn’t work.

“Get your shit together ! Damn it. Damn it…”

For the next couple of minutes, she felt more aware of her own body than ever before, for as far back as she could rememberThe weight of her knees, pressing against the dry and unattended grass. The sweat rolling down her face in little crystal like drops. The air coming in and out of her lungs, hurting it’s way in, but less and less every time she breathed and the adrenaline, still flying through her system, dissipating with every frenetic heartbeat against her ribs; every one of them screaming silently “I’m alive. I’m alive. I’m alive.”

She has been in danger before. She has dealt with a lot of crazy situations with other people, like dealers and creeps. But not even when she was beaten or arguing with a guy in a back alley, was she ever so close to being killed, and she knew it.

Not because the danger wasn’t there during those situations. It was that wild spark in Nathan’s eyes… the guy was totally out of himself. He could have fired the gun even if he didn’t want to, just out of the stress he seemed to be under in the moment.

She didn’t know who was the person who decided that moment was perfect for the classic prank of pulling the fire alarm, but she hella owed them big time.

“Nathan Prescott, please come to the Principal’s office.”

The voice on the loudspeakers made her jump a little and those words made a thousand thoughts go through her mind in just seconds. If the principal was calling Nathan to his office, he may know something happened, besides a stupid and opportune prank with the fire alarm. But how did the principal know ? Someone told him ? Someone actually saw them ?

Chloe growled in frustration. Of course, Nathan would deny everything and with his family to back him up with a shitload of money, their “exchange” in the bathroom would keep being unnoticed.

Unnoticed like Rachel’s disappearance and every single dark secret in Arcadia Bay.

She crawled to the wall and laid her back against it for a moment, a sigh escaping though her lips.

She tried not to think about her thoughts in the bathroom. Deep inside, she knew she was still lying to herself about a couple of things, but the near death experience just reminded her about that.

It took at least another couple of minutes to finally get rid of the adrenaline and sickness in her system. Then, she decided she had enough of “Blackhell” for a while. She had a lot of things to worry about without adding crazy rich kids and bullets.

But it seemed that her day wasn’t going to end as soon as she hoped.

Chloe got around the gym and jumped off the high flowerbed that separated the back of the building from the parking lot, where she had left her truck not long ago.

She noticed that she had parked the vehicle taking not only one but two handicapped parking spaces and shook her head with disdain. It’s not like there were people who used those in Blackwell, as far as she knew, but the fact that she actually parked so carelessly showed that the anxiety had gotten the better of her, very clearly.

She jumped in and tried to relax in the wearied and soft leather of the driver’s seat when something in the rearview mirror caught her attention. At the other side of the parking lot, a boy and a girl were resting against the bump of an old blue car, talking.

The girl seemed familiar somehow, but Chloe couldn’t exactly place her face, much less at that distance. She seemed worried though.

No doubt it had something to do with Nathan Prescott, since he appeared nearby and walked straight toward them, his wild eyes fixed on the petite brunette.

Chloe shook her head, turned on the truck and turned the vehicle, ready to get the hell away from Nathan Prickscott’s little kingdom, when shit went down.

She saw the perfect moment when Prescott headbutted the guy, making him fall to the floor and grab his face with both hands. Nathan was ready to hit the boy again when the brunette girl tried to stop him, grabbing his arm.

Chloe’s blood set on fire when she saw Prescott turn around and grab the girl by her neck violently.

“No fucking way you’re hurting someone else today, asshole!” She thought, her feet already on the throttle, pushing hard.

The truck made a loud, painful noise when it jumped ahead and almost ran over the girl, who had managed to scratch Nathan’s face and release herself from his grip.

A flash of panic ran through Chloe as she kicked the breaks with all her strength. The brunette girl helped herself up, resting over the cap of the truck and her eyes met Chloe’s…

Time froze. Or something like that. It was less than a second, but the situation caught Chloe so off guard that she couldn’t quite believe her eyes. She could feel her own lips moving, articulating a name she hadn’t pronounced out loud in months, even if it never left her thoughts.

“Max?!” She asked, taking note of every single detail of the girl’s face.

She was Max Caulfield, no doubt about that. She could recognize that girl anywhere, even if they were five years apart. Even if there was only a hint of the shy little girl she remembered. Because she was Max Caulfield, yes, but all grown up.

“Chloe”?! The brunette said, her eyes fixed on Chloe’s face, like she was having the same thought.

But Nathan’s voice broke the spell and snapped both girls back to the present.

“No way… you again?!”

When Nathan approached Max again, the other boy got up and tackled him to the floor.

“Warren!”

“Go ! Go ! I’ve got this ! UGH!”

Nathan started to beat the boy furiously on the ground, while Chloe shook her head and opened the passenger’s door as fast as she could. Max was staring at the boys, not quite sure what to do, with the horror spread all over her face.

“Get in, Max”! Chloe demanded, waving her hand desperately, trying to caught the girl’s attention.

After a moment of hesitation, Max got into the truck, just in time to avoid the kick Nathan threw at her. He hit the truck’s door shut instead, waving his arms and shouting like crazy, with his wild eyes fixed on the girls inside the truck.

“Get your punk asses out of there now!” He shouted furiously. “Don’t even try to run!”

But Chloe had already kicked hard the throttle and the truck left the parking lot and Nathan behind with a screech sound and a dark cloud of dust and gas.

 

Chloe drove for an entire minute in silence, with both hands fixed on the steering wheel. She could see through the corner of her eye how Max was trying to look behind them, anxiously moving side to side, incapable of seeing the parking lot anymore. Finally, she desisted and rested her head against the soft fabric of the seat, sighing deeply.

“Man, Nathan Prescott is messed up!” She said. “And dangerous… This day never ends…”

“You can say that again… Max Caulfield attending Blackhell, back in Arcadia Bay. I don’t know if it’s a dream or a nightmare”

“Oh, and thanks Chloe!” The blue haired girl said ironically, shaking her head in disbelief. “After five years you’re still Max Caulfield.”

Max lowered her head and fixed her gaze on her shoes, an awfully sad expression darkened her factions, partially hidden by her soft brown hair.

Even if she was angry, furious and knew she could snap at any moment now, after all the stress she endured the last couple of hours (or months for that matter), Max’s guilty expression softened her more than she expected. A blurry memory of a shy little girl with a ponytail trying to hide a wine stain on a carpet assaulted her and even if she wanted to yell and be furious, she just couldn’t.

She was incapable of hating Max Caulfield, no matter what. Nothing new here.

“Don’t give me the guilty face.” She said, punching Max’s shoulder softly. Her voice was kind of… cheerful, something she didn’t anticipate. It sounded off and nothing like her. “At least pretend you’re glad to see me.”

A little smile curled up her lips. It felt odd, like the muscles of her face had forgotten how exactly they were supposed to work to produce a smile.

“I am seriously glad to see you.” Max replied, smiling a little too. Her voice sounded like a weird mix of joy and… relief ? Her eyes lingered on Chloe’s face just for a second, then they went back to examine her sneakers. “Oh, and thanks, Chloe. It makes perfect sense I’d see you today.”

“Yes, it’s been that kind of day.” Chloe said, looking at her.

She stared for a moment, maybe trying to make sure Max was really there, just sitting inches away from her. If someone would told her that morning her day would be that strange, she would have told them to fuck off. Now ? She wasn’t so certain.

“So what did that freak want with you?” The punk fixed her eyes on the road again. For a moment she thought it was really odd how hard it was to keep them looking forward.

“Hopefully nothing after today.” Max said. “So, how do you know Nathan?”

“Well, that’s quite the question, isn’t it?”

“He’s just another Arcadia asshole.” She replied bitterly, dodging the subject. “Your friend really took a beatdown for you.”

“Warren? Yeah, I owe him big time.”

“You’re not the only one in debt, and you’re already causing trouble.” Chloe said coldly, her humor getting darker and darker once the brief shock of the reunion passed.

If Max was attending Blackwell, then that meant she was around almost a month. And not even then she send a text or called… what the hell ?

“I thought it would be quiet here. Feels so weird to be back…”

But she was back, wasn’t she ? A little spark of hope grew into Chloe’s chest. She tried to kill it as fast as it appeared.

“So I guess Seattle sucked hard?”

“I guess. It was cool but… I felt kinda lonely, out of my league.”

“Lonely. Yeah fucking right.”

“I would think you’d fit right in with the art school hipsters…”

A moment of tense silence settled while Chloe narrowed her eyes in anger, looking up front at the road.

“Right. You look like the cover of Hipster Girl dot com.” Max said, a little smile on her tone.

Chloe had to make a big effort to avoid the temptation to snort.

“At least you’re still a smartass.” She said with a sharp edge to her voice.

Like she thought before, even if five years had passed, Max seemed to be the same girl, only all grown up. But Chloe ? She knew there was little left of her young and carefree self. Maybe she was still there, buried somewhere deep inside, but it’s been years since she came up to the surface.

Max sighed… and then smiled again.

“I am. And yeah, Seattle sucked in a way… That’s why I’m here”. Max replied happily.

That affirmation made Chloe’s anger boil a little more.

“Please, girl. You came back for Blackwell Academy.”

“Not for your best friend, the one you abandoned five years ago when her father died. Of course you didn’t come back for her, why would you ? Even if she wanted you to… even if she lo… ugh, don’t fucking go there.”

“Of course. It’s one of the best photography programs in the country…”

“Like I said. Who the fuck cares”?

“And my favorite teacher, Mark Jefferson.”

She couldn’t resist the urge to spit some of the venom burning her insides. She was grabbing the steering wheel like a lifeline, her knuckles white.

“So you came back to Arcadia for a teacher… not your best friend.” She said coldly, frowning with so much strength that a soft wrinkle would be tattooed on her skin if she didn’t stop.

“Don’t you think I’m happy to see you?”

That single sentence made her snap.

“No”. She said plainly. “You were happy to wait five years without a call, or even a text.”

“I’m sorry… “ Max apologized, and she really seemed to feel bad about it. But it wasn’t enough. It’d never be enough. “I know things were tough on you when I left.”

“Tough? TOUGH? You have no fucking clue, don’t you ? Things were a fucking nightmare when you left me, alone and abandoned, even after I told you I… shit. I can’t go there. Not now.”

“How do you know ? You weren’t even here.”

“I didn’t order my parents to move specifically to fuck you over, Chloe.” Max’s words were hard, but her voice was soft, drenched in guilt.

“You’ve been at Blackwell for almost a month without letting me know.” Chloe said, shaking her head. “‘Nuff said.”

“I just wanted to settle in first and not be such a shy cliché geek.” Max tried to explain herself but it was no use. “I totally would have contacted you…”

Chloe was too angry to deal with that bullshit at the moment. Her mind was a total chaos, trying to sort out the mixed feelings. There was no way she could trust Max’s word, not after all those years of radio silence. And her excuse was so lame it even pissed her off more, if possible.

“I bet you don’t use these sad excuses on Mr. Jefferson… Don’t use them on me, Max.”

Her poisonous comment was answered with only silence and tension. Suddenly, the cab of the truck seemed too small for both of them. The tension was so awfully thick that Chloe felt it almost physically, like a presence.

She forced herself to relax the grip on the steering wheel and release some of the tension accumulated.

“I’d kill for a cigarette right now…” She thought. “Or a joint. I think I have a little left. Ugh, I need to pay Frank back or he will hunt me down. Rachel surely could talk him out of it, but… damn, here we go again with this. I can’t deal with all this at the same time. FUCK.”

Max’s soft voice snapped her out of her line of thought.

“Broken. Aw man, are you cereal?”

 

“C’mon, Chloe! Stop it!” Thirteen year old Max said, shouting like crazy, her hands firmly holding to the chains of the swing.

“Dude, I’m sure I can make you swing all the way around ! Don’t be a chicken”! Fourteen year old Chloe replied, pushing the younger girl higher and higher on the swing. Her arms hurt and she could feel the sweat rolling down her forehead because of the effort.

Aw man, are you cereal”?! Young Max almost screamed when she lost her balance and started to shake her thin legs in the air. The panic took over her voice, but it was drown by Chloe’s laugh.

 

“Wow, I haven’t heard that one in awhile…” Chloe said, snapping out of that memory as fast as she could. Remembering that stuff always made her heart ache awfully, but this time… it wasn’t so painful as she thought.

“Not everything changes”. Max said. Chloe raised her eyebrows at that statement. “Except my camera has officially taken a shit”.

“Not everything changes, huh”? Chloe thought, looking at Max for a moment. She considered that for a couple of seconds and finally, she smiled. Or at least tried. “Yeah… maybe you’re right about that. Maybe I… fuck this”.

“My step-douche has a boatload of tools…” She stole a quick glance to the brunette and fixed her eyes back on the road. “Maybe you can fix it in my place…”

“I need very specific tiny tools” Said Max, looking at her with a serious expression.

“Nerd alert”! Chloe snorted. “My stepdad has a fully stocked garage. And he actually is a tiny tool.”

Jokes. Irony. Sarcasm. Anger. All of it hidden behind a patented grin.

“Chloe Price in a nutshell.”

The brunette looked away through the window and Chloe couldn’t avoid the urge to look at her. She was so familiar, so close… and so distant and different at the same time. But she was there, just inches away and even with all the anger still rampaging inside her, another almost not forced smile appeared on her face.

“Fuck I missed you so bad…” She thought

“Welcome home, Max.”

___________________________________________________________

Episode 1: Chrysalis  Start from the beginning

Chapter 1 – Hellas with an occasional gun
Chapter 2 – Its being that kind of day

Here? I’m the punk queen of Arcadia Bay, of course.
In real life, I’m an artist, gamer, crappy musician, game dev and a wannabe writer. Oh, and I’m always running late. MaiQueti in a nutshell.

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