“So, did you end up meeting Rune last night?” Samantha asked coyly the following morning at school.
“Kind of…” I responded, not quite sure how much I should trust Samantha with.
“And?” she demanded.
“Did you guys, you know, do stuff?”
“No, no, I didn’t do stuff. He ended up unconscious.” I spouted out before I could stop myself, my face going red.
“Oh… so you DID do something. Did my supplies become useful?”
“No! No… God, no.”
Samantha looked disappointed but continued to grill me with question after question. I was beginning to think she’d never stop when something at the door to the classroom caught her attention.
“What is he doing here? He doesn’t have any classes with us!” she said breathily.
“Who?” I turned to see what she was looking at and couldn’t stop an involuntary gasp.
Stephan stood there, his body fully intact. He was looking around the room as if searching for something. When his eyes met mine, he smiled and began walking towards me. I began to panic. What was going on? He was dead! He was torn in half and he was dead! I had almost forgotten it in all my panic over Rune and Andrew, but I knew I saw what I thought I saw.
He moved up to the pair of us. “Hello Samantha, Hello Jane. If you would be so kind as to forgive my intrusion; Jane, I would like to talk to you in private for a bit.”
I avoided meeting Samantha’s inevitable stare. It had already taken hours to convince her that Rune and Andrew were just a fluke. After a moment, I nodded, and he held out his hand. If I took it, it’d lead to rumors, but if I didn’t it would look rude. I sighed and took his hand. There was the sound of a gasp as he pulled me to my feet and led me out the door. That was probably Samantha. Tonight was going to be a long night with her on the phone.
It took me a second before I realized where he was taking me. It was a janitor’s closet. I pulled my hand away from his.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked the very obvious question. I wasn’t mentally prepared to be in the closet with a dead guy.
Stephan looked confused, but after a moment he seemed to understand. “Oh, I’m sorry. I mean nothing by it. It just seemed like the safest place we could talk without being overheard. The class is in session right now. It’s only luck that you have Study Hall and I have Independent Studies during the same period. No one will see us and, more importantly, no one will hear us.”
“Hear us talk about what?” I stubbornly asked.
“I feel I owe you an explanation after last night.”
My eyes widened; it felt surprising to have someone so honest and open with me after all the secrecy Rune and Andrew had afforded me up until now. Finally, a gentleman. I vaguely wondered if he was single. However, I don’t date dead guys. They had ice cold skin, vacant stares, and they just lie there; who would be attracted to that? Samantha would tell me that they were stiff in all the right places. I involuntarily shivered. It didn’t matter either way. If he was willing to tell me the truth, maybe it would shed light on the other two. My curiosity got the better of me and, before I realized it, I was six feet into a closet with my former crush.
Stephan sat in a chair right next to me. The closet wasn’t exactly roomy with boxes in every spare space. He ended up far closer to me than expected. His breath brushed across my cheek. He smelled of flowers. I shook my head, not allowing myself to become distracted. His shoulder pressed up against mine, and I could feel his skin was still ice cold.
“Now, the reason I brought you here; you said something last night…”
A blush shot across my face.
Stephan picked up on it. “No, I didn’t mean when you called me cute. I mean, I appreciate that you think I am cute. I think you are too, I mean…”
Suddenly, it was Stephan’s turn to blush. It looked cute on his very white, flawless skin. He had just said I was cute. Why was that the information I took away from this?
“I am sorry, I meant you said you know who did… that to me.”
“That?” suddenly I realized what he meant.
“Right…my manners; you probably want me to explain that first. I don’t think there is any point in sugar-coating this. I think you probably have guessed by now that I am dead.”
“Yes, but please be rest assured; I was already dead before that thing attacked me.”
The calmness and sincerity in Stephan’s voice were at odds with what he was saying. I stared at him blankly, my mind seemingly numb to the words.
“I’m sorry. It’s kind of a strange story. When I was very young, I ended up drowning in a river. My parents were very heartbroken over it. As they cried over my cold corpse, an old man happened to walk by. He offered my parents the chance to see me alive again. My parents never told me what the man wanted in return, but it turned out he was a necromancer who brought me back to life… or at least an undead state.”
Stephan reached out and grabbed my hand, pressing it against his chest. “As you can see, I have no heartbeat. I can heal any wound. I’m basically immortal as long as my brain isn’t damaged. As you can see, I also still age; but for all intents and purposes I am dead.”
“Alright, that explains why you’re here, but what about last night?”
“Well, being an undead, I never sleep. I’ve found that, staying out at night, you encounter some dangerous and strange individuals.”
I could understand that statement. I’d certainly started to meet some weird ones.
“Can you make a fiery sword appear, or throw purple fireballs?” I asked abruptly.
Stephan blinked. “No… I can’t do anything like that. I mean, I can talk to spirits and stuff, but that’s about it.”
I sighed. Well, so much for helping figure out who they were.
“Anyway, I ended up deciding that I could use my gifts to help people. So, I kind of patrol the night, making sure people are safe. Lately, I’ve been on the trail of some kind of large beast that has been haunting the park. It got the jump on me last night. Ran off with my legs. Took me almost the entire night to find them. I saw the thing’s shadow again after I ran into you and managed to follow it to my legs. It had buried them. But I don’t even know what it is I’m hunting. That’s why when you said you knew, I thought you could help me solve the case.”
I shook my head. “It couldn’t be what I thought it was. He was out the rest of the night; it couldn’t have been his shadow you saw.”
“His?” Stephan asked with curiosity.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know who it was that took your legs,” I responded; that was a sentence I never saw myself saying.
“That is a shame. Well, let me know if you hear anything, will you? You are the first person I have ever trusted my secrets with; I’d be appreciative if you kept those secrets.”
“I will; I promise.”
“Good. Well, the next period will be starting soon. Let’s get out of here.”
Stephan reached for the door at the same time I did. The crowded storeroom being a little too small for both of us to stand together, I fell forward, and my hand rested on his chest. He let out a small smile and apology and then opened the door. I turned to leave with him and stopped dead. Two people were standing right in the doorway; Rune, and Andrew.