Maryse got out of her chair and went to rummage through a shelf, while I sat there absolutely dumbfounded.
I looked at Maximus, for once wanting his advice. “What do I do? How should I tell her?”
He shook his head and gave me a gentle smile. “You can’t tell her. You know you can’t. Perry is stubborn as anything and the moment you tell her something can’t happen, she’ll try and make it happen. To tell her this, to tell her that this part of her future is over, it would kill her. Crush her.”
“But what am I supposed to do?” I repeated, feeling crushed myself, my internal organs being put through a vice.
“You’ll figure it out,” he said.
Maryse came back, placing a small vial of oil on the table and a Ziploc bag full of hand-rolled cigarettes. “The oil is Van Van oil—lemon verbena—it will help protect you, whether now from zombies and black magic or from dark forces in the future. The cigarettes are to get through it all. There’s some special herbs in there too, ones that might help clear your mind a bit.” I took the oil and the cigarettes, folding up the bag and sticking it in the pocket of my jeans.
“Thank you,” I said, my voice failing me as I got out of my seat.
“You’re welcome. Now I hope you take some time over the next few days and be kind to yourself, Dex. These are some large but important truths and your mind needs a way to work around them, to fit them into the life you thought you knew. Don’t rush anything or make any rash decisions. Just be and feel and ask for help when you need it.”
I tried to smile but failed. “It’s kind of hard to take some time for myself when we’re trying to film ghosts and zombies.”
“Ignore the ghosts and the zombies. Just go home.” She gestured to the top of the stairs. “Please show yourselves out and tell Rose and Perry that I’m sorry I couldn’t be of much help.”
We nodded and climbed the stairs out of her Voodoo cellar. An hour ago, zombies were the biggest concern in my life. Now my biggest concern put that one to shame.
Perry and Rose were understandably anxious and suspicious when Maximus and I returned from the cellar. They asked us non-stop about what happened downstairs and I kept having to lie, over and over again, with Maximus picking up the slack. We told them that she thought both of us could have information about the zombies and that she put us under hypnosis to see if there was anything we could recall at the house. We told the girls that she made them leave because they would have been too distracting for us and that Perry couldn’t be hypnotized because Maryse sensed too much resistance in her. The hypnosis didn’t turn up anything that we hadn’t already told her. It was amazing how easy I was able to tell that lie, even right to Perry’s face, and it gave me a sick sense of hope that I’d be able to keep the real truths buried.
And as for that, I didn’t know what to do. All I could do was keep a little distance from her, which was actually quite easy. I had trouble even looking at her face without getting lost in the beauty, lost in the feelings, the love I had for her. I was dying slowly inside and tired as hell. The minute we got back to the B&B I went straight to sleep. I could tell Perry wanted to talk or to even get in my pants, but I couldn’t do it. I mumbled something about it being the middle of the night and passed right out, swept away by blissful sleep.
The next morning, Perry was trying to rouse me awake but the minute my mind latched onto the horrible memories of last night, I wanted to stay in bed. I couldn’t deal with this. I couldn’t make sense of this, not with Perry there.
Thankfully, yes thankfully, Maximus knocked on our door, telling us he wanted to go through the footage from last night and see if we had enough for a show. If so, we’d stick around another day and shoot some atmosphere shots and then head home, screw the zombies.
I never thought I’d say this, but I wanted Maximus around me. He was the wedge between us, that awkward buffer, and now I wanted him back. I wanted him between me and Perry while I figured out what to do. I wanted him to keep her mind occupied so she didn’t start worrying about what was wrong with me, why I was so quiet and avoiding contact with her and keeping my distance. He knew it too. When he came in the room with the equipment, he’d come in with breakfast that he pilfered from downstairs, and he didn’t leave while we quickly got ready. Perry was fully-clothed in her pajamas, but looked pissed off that he was there and interrupting her morning time. I hadn’t slept nude, so I just pulled on the pair of jeans by my bed, slipped on a clean t-shirt from my bag and was set.
That said, I barely paid attention to what we were looking at on the footage and kept leaving the room to go smoke Maryse’s cigarettes on the balcony. They really were keeping me sane and clearing my head. I fingered the bottle of Van Van Oil in my pocket and wondered if rubbing the cigarettes with them would do anything. I didn’t exactly believe in all the Voodoo hoodoo hocus pocus crap, but I’d seen more and more crazy shit over the years, fuck, more crazy shit in the last twenty-four hours alone, that told me to never discount anything.
Like the fact that your old college roommate, classmate, bandmate and overall thorn in your side hadn’t even been human. He was something else entirely, an immortal being whose job in life was to act as a guide to those who could see through worlds. Only he didn’t exactly like the job when it came to it and decided he’d rather forget all that and eat all my food and play all my music and be friends with all my friends. He was a fucking supernatural freeloader, and at the moment, the only person in my life whom I could be completely honest with.
“Can I have one?” Perry asked shyly, coming on the balcony to join me.
“Guys, we’re not done yet,” Maximus yelled from inside.
I glanced at her and sighed, deciding I might as well give her one. For all I was dealing with, now she had to deal with a distant boyfriend and the fact that part of her zombie attack was captured (albeit at a weird angle) on film.
“Here,” I said, fishing it out. Our fingertips brushed against each other and I felt that deep-rooted spark, the one that always tied me to her, the one that made me want to rip her clothes off and drive myself so far into her that you couldn’t tell where I ended and she began. That spark that could lead to her death, that spark that could rip apart the fabric of worlds.