Coming Cold
rating: +13+x

It was 75 degrees in November, but the teens were in thick hoodies and gloves as they stood on the hillside.

"We're hosting tonight, right?" Sarah stared dead ahead as she spoke, eyes locked on a patch of grass around a bend in the road a hundred feet away from and thirty feet below them.

"Yep. Tonight." David almost spoke the words like he was in a smaller font, barely tuned in to the world around him. "I've got everything ready."

"Good. I sent out the invites earlier, and everybody's responded with a yes so far. We should be packed to the brim."

"Does your house have enough space for all those people?"

"We're not holding it at my house. Are we?"

Sarah and David turned to Aiden, who was poking a shockingly large beetle with a stick. The silence immediately registered in his ears, and he turned around, dropping the stick like he'd forgotten it existed.

"Mine's bigger, and I changed the invites to go to my place last-second. We'll have enough space for everybody, and cleaning up afterwards won't be too messy."

David nodded. "I got everything we'll need. We shouldn't have any issues with any parts of it, and it should be fun."

A bucket of bleach over a tile floor, something else mixed with the harsh scent of chlorine.

"Should be."

"That is the plan, Sarah." David looked back out off the hill, gazing over the maze of suburban roads that pierced an otherwise fairly deep forest. Aiden picked the stick back up and pondered it for a moment before dropping it and dropping down on one knee, staring at the school surrounded by restaurants and shops and sprawling concrete. Sarah just shuffled and shoved her hands in the pockets of her hoodie.

"It should be warmer out now."

A long knife glints in the dark, as if examined by somebody with a small light. The blade begins to dip, grazing over an open palm, then swing around and falls in a chop, as if aiming for something or someone on the ground—

"Sarah, you there?"

Sarah snapped back to the reality of the cafeteria as Emily poked her in the shoulder. “Yeah, I’m fine. Is something wrong? You look concerned.”

Emily did, in fact, look concerned. “You’ve been really out of it all day, did something happen last night? I know that there’s been a lot of bad stuff going down recently, and I really don’t want to see you falling apart about it.”

A bathroom by a stairwell, every toilet and sink plugged and flooding.

“No, I’m fine, Emily. I’m flattered you care though. I’ve just been—“ Sarah waved her hand around her temple like she was circling the air. “Really wrapped up in the plans for tonight, you know how it goes. David’s been bugging me like mad to get the good stuff.”

"Oh, yeah, it's alright." A small look of relief washed over Emily's face. "I just wasn't sure, since I know you live pretty close to where everything's been going on recently." " No, don't worry about me, seriously. We're going to have everything we need to have a good time tonight, so don't sweat it. You're gonna be there, right?"

Sarah put on a smile, and Emily bounced it back at her at double the intensity. "Of course! Look, if it's half as good as you've talked about it being, it's gonna be a night to remember."

Sarah nodded, the smile not having moved off her face at all. "Trust me, it's going to be—hi David!" Emily spun around, waving at David as he strolled towards them with backpack in hand. He had an empty soda bottle in his other hand, and met Emily's gaze with a light smile.

"How are you two doing?" He asked.

"I'm doing great! I'm just excited for tonight, since Sarah's been talking it up so much." David's head tilted a bit as he glanced from Emily to Sarah.

"Has she now?"

"Yep!" A hand slapped down on Sarah's shoulder. "From what she's said, it's gonna be fun, especially as a distraction from everything that's been going on recently."

The other two both hung their heads for a moment. "I'm sorry about what's been going on near you, Emily."

"Indeed. It's a shame about your neighborhood."

A glass bottle shatters on concrete, igniting an inferno as streetlamps burst.

"It could be worse." Emily shrugged, and David's head snapped back up. "You know, you really don't need to be wearing that coat. The AC's pretty solid, but it's not freezing."

It was David's turn to shrug. "I'm not feeling too warm."

"Whatever you say, David." Emily stood up and turned to Sarah. "You absolutely sure you're gonna have all those drinks? Most of the kids that have that stuff around here…don't exactly like those two, no offense."

"None taken." The smile on David's face turned to the slightest of smirks. "But you would be surprised. Being the, what is it called, 'wrong kind of person' opens many an opportunity." Both the girls burst out laughing, and David's smirk got a bit bigger.

A figure standing alone among a wrecked classroom, sweat dripping off panting lips.

"Well, I gotta get to class. See you guys tonight!" Emily walked off, waving to David and Sarah. They both returned it in kind, but their faces turned blank once she was out of sight.

"You need to work on that."

"I won't need to."

Three figures stand in front of a burning car, overturned and flipped next to a bend in the road. The flames leapt up into the night, sparks coming off the metal as if it was a poorly drawn cartoon. Despite the heat, they shivered, but otherwise none of the figures so much as twitch, just staring there at the twisted metal inferno with one bullet in a tire—

Aiden was sitting inside the stripped-down husk of a car when the call came through his phone.


"Where are you right now?"

"I'm at the wreck, just hanging around. Waiting for Dad to come get me."

"Oh, sweetie, Dad's out of town for today, remember? I can come get you if you need it—"

"No, it's fine, Mom. I can just walk home, it's not that far."

"Alright, if you say so."

"I do, Mom, don't worry. I'll try get home soon."

"Good. I'm meeting Dad for a dinner party tonight, so I'll be gone for a while. Are you going to be okay?"

Windows being locked from the outside, the key being throw off into the woods.

"Mom, I can handle myself. Don't worry, you know me."

"I do, yeah. Love you Aiden."

The call ended with a click, and Aiden slumped back into the burned corpse of the former sedan on top of what remained of the seat. The metal still retained some traces of warmth from the sun now on the opposite side of the trees, but Aiden just pulled his jacket tighter and began digging through his backpack in another repeat of the same check he'd done between every class. He wasn't going to be heading unprepared to tonight, after all. It had been talked about and hyped up so much, and everybody was going to be at his house, so it was sort of his responsibility. At least, that's how he justified the paranoia.

He sighed. It was going to be several hours until Mom left for the night, which meant several hours of sitting around trying to hide copious amounts of alcohol, cleaning supplies, and making sure that he didn't get caught rigging the backdoor lock for everybody to sneak in. Clearing the road of security cameras was going to be an equally challenging issue, but a slightly easier one, since by its very nature there wasn't a risk of cameras.

A trail of blood running down a rain-slicked road, one shape holding another back from following it.

The phone rang again. Sarah this time.

"I checked, again. I have everything."

"Good. The house going to be all ready?"

"I'll get on what I can now, but it will be ready. David get the last of the supplies?"

"Affirmative. He'll bring them over soon. You just open the party and keep everybody happy."

Aiden nodded to nobody in particular and ended the call, slipping his phone back into his pocket as he got up, slung his backpack over his shoulder, and set off with a shiver.

To everybody that looked, the only thing strange about the teenager walking past the burned out car was that he was dressed for a day much more brisk than it was out.

Wires lie from an electrical box, dead and cut as the lights across an entire street begin to go down. Emergency lights and generators whirr on, people reacting to that but not to the mechanical locks on all the doors and windows from the outside, nor to the figures coming up the back road, all in black, a glint in moonlight flickering by their sides as they approached a full house—

The party was in full swing, but Aiden, Sarah, and David were nowhere near it. The three were a solid mile away, having all dipped out under false pretenses that the drunk teenagers had bought under the condition of a swift return. It wasn't entirely false. They would be returning shortly, just under slightly different circumstances to how they left. Aiden's backpack was open and on the ground, three long blades spilling out of it handle-first. Aiden himself was yanking off his hoodie to reveal a long black shirt, matching the outfits of the other two.

"Are you certain these are the ones we chose?" Sarah asked, dead tone of voice.

"Entirely. You tested them yourself, remember?"

"Very true. David, how was the alcohol before you left?"

"Exactly as ordered. I also unlocked the electrical box, so we can make use of that on the way back."

"Getting ahead of yourself?"

"I couldn't cut it with a key, could I?"

The small exhale from Sarah was as close to a laugh as David was going to get out of her. Aiden grunted as he finally got the hoodie off, tossing it off to the side and picking up one of the knives.

"Why did we not get machetes?"

David picked up a second one. "They would have been too long. And we've already used these before, and are sure of their effectiveness."

"There are other things we could have used."

"A poor choice, you are aware of why."

"All too well, you two."

A knife held to a throat in the dark, the air heavy with the stench of blood and pain.

Sarah picked up the final knife and examined it, twirling it around her hand. "Are we going to do some sort of salute, or just go to it?"

The two boys shrugged and thrust their knives forwards, forming a sort of tilted pyramid with Sarah's before the three began going back down the way they came in the road. Despite the heavy wool shirts and jeans, and despite the warm temperature, they still shook like the air was bitter.

They failed to notice this discrepancy, of course. Nobody else did, either. In fact, they had all failed to notice that one common difference.

How they acted and dressed, despite the warm weather.

How they shivered and shook, despite the fires and exhaustion-induced body heat.

How they never cried or stood, shaking in their boots in fear, but never truly laughed hard either.

How despite what the energy in their eyes should have been, when they let the mask drop, they had the eyes of somebody dying all their life.

Nobody had ever noticed that one thing, the linking between their dress, eyes, voice, and heart.

It was cold.

A long figure limps away from a house, a long blade in hand as blood drips down from cuts all over. The scent of blood both old and fresh is in the air, and the sounds of breaking glass and screams are barely even finished echoing. Wounded onlookers within a house watch a silhouette against emergency lights, some paralyzed in shock by blood loss, some paralyzed in shock by what they just saw and learned. None noticed the other two blood trails limping away, down the back road and into the forest.

Nobody noticed it over the sudden cold.

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