8.6 Silent Steps

by Matt P.

The alerts that had broken the lovely stillness and quiet moment had both been text messages. Walter looked at his, which was from Siobhan and read ‘School weirdness. Red.’ He leaned over to see what was written on Morgan’s, not hiding his interest at all. Her text was from a number labeled ‘Red Oni’, and read ‘Something may be happening. Call?’

“Who is Red Oni, and why is their text alert Heart Miser?” Walter asked curiously as he took his cell-phone and put it in his pocket, striding across the room to reach out and grab a coat.

“Tania.” Morgan answered as she leaned down to grab her shoes, and sat daintily down on one of the high chairs to begin pulling them on. “When we realized cell phones were going to, you know, stick around we made a deal. Rather than picking a ring tone for each other that could be cutting or cause us to fight for a couple of years, we get to pick our ring tone on the other one’s phone. So she is Heat Miser on my phone, and I labeled her Red Oni because it’s a Japanese trope about passion and a lack of reason.” At that, Morgan smirked. “My ringtone on her phone is Let It Go, and she labeled me ‘Ice Queen’.” Having pulled on one boot she started on the other as Walter grabbed his motorcycle boots. “What does it mean that Siobhan said Red in her text?”

Walter smirked at her reading his message as well. “Our own version of Homeland Security color coding we use. Red means urgent, black means stop everything and get here now.” Walter emphasized the last word. “So it mean they probably found something they want me to see, but they don’t feel like they’re about to be killed.”

Morgan nodded and hopped up, moving over to the coat rack where she had left her jacket a well. “Are you sure you’re alright to drive?” She asked as she walked with him to the door.

“I’m fine. If I remember correctly you did most of the wine drinking, and we had a lot of food. It would be a little embarrassing if I got a DUI, I suppose.” He checked his hands before he nodded. “Why, you want to drive the bike?” He asked with a grin.

“No, I’m just happy to be riding it, honestly.” Morgan offered with a wiggle of her eyebrows as she moved to join him.

**** ****

A Harley-Davidson makes a particularly unique sound, guttural and loud and gorgeous. It was a sound that most High Schoolers would have recognized on a near-instinctual level, had they not been inside and dancing. Fortunately the DJ inside was playing particularly loud music, and so only a few of the students heard anything and they paid it no mind.

Antigone, Siobhan, and Ryan paid it mind. They were waiting out near one of the side entrances they had directed Walter to, and all three of them raised eyebrows as Walter and the Faerie doctor both got off of the bike and shucked their helmets, Morgan having borrowed one of the twins’ protection.

“A lot of fathers wouldn’t be thrilled about their free night being interrupted.” Walter teased gently as he came up, unzipping his jacket.

“Which is why we said Red.” Siobhan responded, looking over to Morgan with a raised eyebrow and a little bit of a smirk. “Did we interrupt something?” She asked wryly.

“Well, so there we were having old people sex…” Walter began, drawing an exaggerated chorus of ‘Eww’ from all three of his children, as Morgan rolled her eyes at the family antics. “So what got the Red text?” He asked Siobhan. Now she rolled her eyes.

“Other people in the family can get in to trouble.” Siobhan said, with almost a hint of jealousy. She motioned with a thumb to Ryan, standing in one of Walter’s suits with his skateboard against the wall next to him.

“We were skating, and saw some movie bad guys going in to the back of the school.” Ryan said. When he actually bothered to speak his voice was already quiet low and a little quiet, like he didn’t want to waste energy by shouting. As a consequence of his Coolidge-esque silence, people normally listened, as the gathered assembly did now. “Weird looking guys, too.”

Walter nodded at that, and then looked over his shoulder as he heard another car coming up. And then he raised his eyebrows at the amount of sound coming toward him. The eyebrows continued their way up when he saw the car that she drove in to the lot. It was perhaps the least subtle red convertible that Walter had ever seen, and she even managed to park it in two spaces as she pulled herself out of it.

“The Lamborghini then.” Siobhan quoted dryly. “Much more subtle.”

Without missing a beat Tania tossed Siobhan the keys. “Park it for me and don’t scuff the paint, ‘kay? It’s got a GPS if you need the find the lot.”

“You’re really old, aren’t you supposed to hate technology?” Siobhan asked as she casually started to pocket the tossed keys until Walter snatched them out of her hands, and tossed them back to Tania.

“Why in the world would you think that?” Tania asked glibly as Walter went and started to pull gear out of the saddle bags of his motorcycles, handing some of them over to the others. Tania and Siobhan both stared at them almost disappointedly.

“Tasers?” Siobhan asked. “I’m not sure civil rights are something we should be worrying about, Dad.” She did tuck the taser into her purse. “I wish I had a freaking pocket.”

“I don’t care about civil rights.” Walter offered, pausing for a beat as he considered that statement coming from a cop, before he shrugged. “At least right now. But I do care about some damn answers, which we are rather short on right now. Also you’re not following us but are going back to your dance, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

“What!” Siobhan and Antigone both exclaimed, as they began to follow the electricity carrying Walter, Morgan, and Tania into the building. “Why?”

“Because you’re still my fifteen year old daughters, and my fourteen year old son? And I would weep unmanly tears at your untimely deaths? And then probably kill a lot of people out of grief, and be gunned down in the streets by my friends in a horrible stand off? And then no one will be happy, because we’re all dead.” Walter explained with a shrug as they made their way once again through the wheat arch.

“Yeah but we won’t see it, so who cares.” Antigone answered with an immortal shrug of youth. “We left Lacey and Monica watching over the dance in case it got weird…” She began to say before her words slowly died in her throat as they came in to sight of the gymnasium, and the quiet madness within.

Walter Richards had seen a lot of creepy things in his life, things that occasionally reared up in ugly dreams or sudden tenseness and fear during the day. He had seen, heard, and felt terror itself, and after a while hardly any of it stayed with him day to day and night to night. But he knew the sight of a gymnasium filled with the strains of pounding dubstep and the silent bodies of two hundred and fifty unconscious teenagers would have an intense staying power.