The Weird Girls Page 2

I shoved us back as a swarm of black, white, brown, and red vermin spilled from the drain as if rammed forward, squeaking and snapping their tiny fangs. They swept over the tile in a wave of fur. Taran screamed. I kicked the first few that leapt onto my legs, sending their bodies to crunch into the walls as Taran let loose her lightning. Their small creepy bodies slid down the tiled walls, leaving splotches of red. I believed them dead . . . until they joined to form several more versions of Sandy—bleeding from identical gashes on their heads and cackling. Let’s not forget the cackling. It wouldn’t be the same without the cackling.

My head whipped toward the original Sandy versions near the sink. The fuzzy critters hung from them like live coats of fur, their little na**d tails flicking with delight.

That’s when I knew she was messing with us. Real rats or not, to some extent the spell targeted fear and created an illusion.

Emme and Shayna’s screams announced their arrival just as the overhead vent flung open and I was showered with tiny claws and warm fur. I wrenched them off me, feeling my skin crawl, panic pounding my heart like an ax. Behind me, Shayna grabbed the remains of the metal tampon dispenser. As the lights flickered back on, Shayna released the magnitude of her gift, transforming the warped metal into two deadly machetes. She grunted and swung her thin arms, hacking into the tiny fuzzy bodies while the witches’ laughter escalated with glee.

Emme stood on the toilet seat, pushing back the rats with her telekinetic force. She shook violently, managing to keep her concentration until more rats swam up from the toilet bowl and spilled out between her legs. A white rat drenched with water scurried up her leg. She jerked hard, flinging it into the air and toward Shayna’s blade. Shayna severed the mini-beast in two, splashing me with its warm blood.

Someone pounded on the door. “Ladies. Open the door. You’re not allowed to lock that shit up.”

I wasn’t a screamer. But I almost screamed then. Three versions of Sandy circled me, tossing armfuls of their little friends at me like confetti. I swatted one away into Shayna. It fastened onto her ponytail and found a way into her tunic. She shrieked and fell against the wall, mashing the rat against her back.

Shayna’s blue eyes widened and her skin paled as the horde crawled over her thin frame, enveloping her like a blanket. I kicked my way through the now knee-deep floor of flicking tails and ripped them off her. The witches’ manic laugh spilled into my ears, making it hard to keep my focus. But I supposed that was the point.

“You need to get the hell out. There’s a line.” The man pounded harder and his voice boomed. “Open the damn door!”

Shayna screamed, uncertain whether my claws or the rats raked against her skin. My eyes scanned the laughing witches. There were six now, all laughing, all spinning, all covered with rodents. All resembled each other. Except one. The talisman of the one furthest to my right flickered. She was the one I needed to stop.

I whispered into Shayna’s ear as tiny teeth cut through my shirt and legs wrangled their way into my hair. “The witch at three o’clock. Do you see her?”

Shayna didn’t respond. I shook her hard and swatted away a few more rats crawling against her neck. She nodded. “We take her talisman and this goes away.”

I’m not sure if she heard me over Emme’s screams for me or Taran’s swearing, but I left her and lurched forward.

Someone rammed full force into the door. A three-hundred pound bouncer barreled his way in. “The f**k!” he hollered, his voice sounding more like a Girl Scout selling cookies than a big, hulking male. The rats snaked around his limbs like ribbons. His lids peeled back, and his head jerked in horrified disbelief.

The horde spilled out into the hall and into the club. The shrieks informed me Sandy’s silencing spell and camouflage screen hadn’t carried past the bathroom. The bouncer screamed, falling into a live bed of flea-infested fur.

Emme’s cries bordered on hysteria. She stood on pipes anchored into the wall. “Celia! Celia! Celia!” she sobbed.

That’s when my tigress had enough. The terror searing my brain stood no chance against my anger and need to protect. I leapt across the floor of tiny scampering bodies, changing as my arms and legs stretched out. My clothes and shoes shredded and fell from my body as my four-hundred pound tigress emerged.

The witch stopped laughing then. In fact, it was her turn to scream. My roars forced her into a stall. I tackled her into the floor, ignoring the angry balls of fur that leapt on my back and punctured their teeth into my hide.

My fangs bit into her talisman and yanked it off with one hard pull. The witch screamed and snatched wildly at the chain hanging from my maw. It had little effect. Her magic was strong, but her physical strength was no match against mine.

The rats vanished one by one in poofs of yellow dandelion dust. I backed away from the witch, her expression both furious and panicked. “Give me back my power,” she hissed. “Give it back to me now!”

The witch lunged at me, only to freeze as the tip of Shayna’s machete angled against her throat. “Don’t move, dude.” Shayna’s voice shook with leftover fear, but her tone made it clear her typically cheerleader persona wouldn’t stop her from slicing the witch’s head off.

I changed as I stood, dropping the heavy gold necklace with the green stone into my human hands. My sisters gathered around me. The bouncer lay on the floor convulsing, the whites of his eyes bleached under the light.

“Taran, would you do the honors?” I asked.

Taran’s smile returned once more. “Hell, yeah.”

I threw the talisman in the air. The restroom charged with Taran’s magic as she released a blue and white spray of fire dead center into the stone. It hovered in the air and flickered. The witch charged. I crouched, thinking she’d attack. She didn’t. Instead she hauled ass through the large hole in the wall and kept going, across the now-empty club and in the direction of the exit. Rats, freaky diseased-coated rats. Now there was an original way to clear a dance floor. I didn’t complain, though. The humans were safe and out of harm’s way.

Taran angled her head to look through the hole. “Damn. Why did she—”

The talisman sparkled above us and spun, breaking apart into large shards. The chunks imbedded into the ceiling and began to blink, slowly at first like soft, twinkling Christmas lights, then faster and faster, similar to a Vegas sign. No, not like a Vegas sign. More like a—

Every hair on my body saluted our impending doom. Oh, shit. “Bomb!”

“Wh-what?” Emme stammered.

I tackled my sisters, slamming us on top of the bouncer. I shifted us into the basement as the club exploded above. The ceiling caved in a landslide of rubble. I shifted us again through the foundation, breaking up our bodies into particles so minute we passed through the cement and dirt as easy as sand through a colander. Cool ability, huh? No. Not so much. I couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, when I shifted. Neither could anyone else. Any wrong movement and I could resurface in Lake Tahoe and drown us.

Luck and I weren’t the best of friends. But this time she cut me a break. By some miracle to end all miracles I resurfaced behind the club in a small grassy section overlooking the lake. My sisters gagged and choked, gasping for much-needed oxygen. I slumped na**d over the bouncer with my head spinning, trying hard not to throw up on his “Tahoe Babes Like It on Top” T-shirt. I’d never shifted that many people before. My spinning vision and pounding head told me I never should again.

I clutched the bouncer, trying to stay warm as the cold February breeze rushed against my back and flung my hair in all directions. For the first time in years, I could say I got na**d and horizontal with someone. Although I wished I knew his name, and that it had meant something, and that it didn’t have to involve an army of rats.

The world spun in a blur of red and black. When the nausea-inducing teacup ride I’d forced my body into grounded to a halt, I realized the club had transformed into a literal inferno. The loud blasting of a fire truck horn forced me to a kneeling position. Police officers shoved club patrons back as the spray from several hoses tackled the flames lifting into the skies. My shoulders slumped with relief. Thank God the rats had scared the clubbers out.

“We have to get the hell out of here,” Taran spat. She shook my shoulder as she stood. “Celia. Ceel, are you okay?”

I nodded and stumbled to my feet. The bouncer remained out cold. Being engulfed by a horde of vermin in the ladies room could have had something to do with it. I remained very na**d. And while I’d never stolen anything, I reasoned that saving this poor sap’s life made it okay to commandeer his obnoxious T-shirt. I grabbed the edges of his shirt and yanked. The collar had just slipped over his head when he snapped to attention. His eyes widened. Since he was a good-looking fellow, despite his lack of neck, his shock caught me off guard. Surely this wasn’t the first time he’d woken next to a na**d female.

He tore away from me with a backwards crab-spotting-a-pelican move. “What are you doing?”

“Um.”

“What the hell are you doing?”

I was known for my muscle, not my flair. I shoved his shirt over my head while he gripped his man-boobs like they might fall off. Then I ran. Fast, like I-just-fought-off-a-witch-and-set-a-building-on-fire fast. The pebbles littering the path cut into my feet. But the bouncer’s birdlike screams pushed me forward. Despite my long lean muscles and tight abdominals, being na**d in front of a total stranger was not my thing. Neither was obliterating private property.

My sisters chased me. Taran swore behind me. Emme and Shayna begged me to slow down. I didn’t until I reached our Subaru Legacy. Dammit, this was supposed to be a night of celebration, not of getting into a smack-down in the restroom with a psycho witch and her freak-ass minions.

Emme wheezed and sputtered as she key-fobbed the door. She handed me the keys and we quickly scrambled inside. I floored it out of the parking lot of the former Club Ooo-La-La just as an ambulance screeched past us.

“Okay. That sucked,” Taran muttered.

Shayna whipped her head behind to watch the ensuing chaos. “Dude! We like . . . demolished a building.”

I could understand Shayna’s fear. Destroying a building was just plain nutso and irresponsible. We’d never even littered.

I swerved onto Route 80, my foot stomping on the gas. Once more, the lake came into view. I lowered my window and tried to take a few breaths to allow the mysticism of the water to settle my beast. Shayna’s face remained glued to the rear window. “Good Lord. Do you think we’ll have to pay for that?”

Taran crossed her arms. “We’re not paying for shit. They started it.”

“I’m sure they have insurance, Shayna.” I glanced over at Taran. “What happened, anyway?”

Taran shrugged. “The redhead tried to take my paper towel. I wouldn’t let her.”

“What?” I asked, certain I’d misheard.

“I reached for the towel and she yanked it out of my hands. I yanked it back and then she splashed my dress with water.”

Shock and humiliation left me as Taran’s words sunk in. I made a sharp turn off the road and into the beach parking lot. In the night, the lake appeared navy blue instead of crystal clear. I focused on how the waves licked against the large boulders at the edge and how the sound was more song than noise. Still, it did nothing to soothe me. I clenched my jaw and turned to face Taran. “Tell me you’re joking.”

Taran frowned. “What do you mean?”

My body shook with the need to rip the dashboard off and beat Taran with it. “Tell me we didn’t just take out an entire nightclub over a freaking paper towel!”

Taran narrowed her eyes. “I told you, she splashed water on me, too. I zapped her for being a bitch and then her stupid friend got involved.” She huffed. “I didn’t initially realize her friend was a witch. But even if I had, I couldn’t let her do that to me, Celia.”

The steering wheel dented beneath my grip. “I don’t believe you, Taran!”

“Celia—”

I veered toward her. “Don’t you dare try to justify what we did back there by—”

“Th-they were making fun of me,” Emme said almost quietly.

Taran’s head shot toward the back. “Emme, don’t.”

I looked to Shayna, who frowned and shook her head, confused. Anger stomped out my remaining patience. “What?”

“Nothing,” Taran snapped. “I told you—”

I held out my hand to silence her. “What happened, Emme?” I asked a little more calmly.

Emme stared down at her small hands. “They were drunk and practically fell out of the stalls. The one with the red hair paused when she caught sight of me. She scowled, like I’d done something to bother her.” Emme sighed. “She staggered toward me and poked me in the arm like I couldn’t possibly be real. ‘What the hell are you?’ she asked. Even in her state she knew I was . . . different. I didn’t answer her and tried to ignore her. She asked me again. When I wouldn’t respond she called me a freak and backed away. Her friend—the witch—was fixing her hair at the mirror. The redhead whispered something to her, and pointed at me. That’s when they both started taunting me.”

“They more than taunted her, Celia.” Taran’s face hardened. “And they called her worse than a freak.”

Emme’s hand cupped Taran’s shoulder. “It’s okay.”

Taran ripped her hand away. “It’s not okay, Emme.” Her gaze traveled around us. “Everyone recognizes we’re not like them, but those bitches seemed to think they had a free pass to say anything they wanted. When I stepped out of the stall I told them to shut the hell up. They quieted for a moment before they started in on me. I told them to f**k off, and they did. But when I reached for the towel, the redhead snatched it out of my grasp.” Bitter tears leaked out of my tough-as-sin sister. “I won’t put up with the shit we dealt with in school, Ceel. I won’t. And I’ll be damned if I let anyone mistreat Emme.”

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