Four high school students encounter an evil spirit. Thoroughly cliched and hopelessly derivative.
Chadworth’s stepmother picked him up from the hospital in his own Corvette. He barely said hello; he only opened the driver’s side door for her to get out so he could drive. He dropped her off and sped away. With both hands gripping the wheel and his mouth set in a grim line, he headed to the medical supply store.
What remained now was an oxygen tank. Luckily, he had already ordered it before his unexpected forced commitment in the mental hospital. He picked it up and went straight home.
The first thing he did when he arrived was to seize his memoir, which bore not a trace of smoke or flame, and press it to his heart.
Last week, he had finished calibrating the air-purifying device that he designed to capture the smoke particles for analysis. To test it, he burned various substances and used some “borrowed” equipment from school to analyze the collected particles. He hoped to reverse-engineer whatever it was Vanessa was doing.
His cheerfulness was notably absent, and his patience had run out entirely. Because of the hospital, his plan to convert his personal gym into a laboratory had been put on hold and he was forced to perform these experiments in his bedroom with the inferior equipment.
The remaining task was to assemble the breathing apparatus. He pushed the oxygen tube through the hole he bore into a sheet of rubber. This rubber he had carefully measured and fitted to the rim of a large, clear plastic globe (originally a decoration for the garden) and cut a hole into for his neck. He tested the oxygen tank to ensure the air was flowing.
This was his plan: as soon as smoke appeared, he would turn on the oxygen, wrap the rubber insulation around his neck, thrust his head into the globe, and seal the rubber to its rim. He’d switch on the air-purifier, and it would simply become a matter of waiting. He had purchased enough canisters of oxygen for twenty-four hours, though he did not anticipate—or at least hoped—he would not have to wear the globe for any longer than an hour or two.
He sat down at the desk to wait, with some sketches laid out for bait. Chadworth had every reason to expect that Vanessa would attempt to asphyxiate him again. She was well aware of his precarious academic situation; now that the football scholarship was lost, the only way to avoid night school was to earn a Ph.D.
He sifted through his drawings depicting his imaginative representations of quantum physics at work in the atomic structures of plants. This was what mattered now and he would not allow Vanessa to intervene.
His eyes were heavy. No! He must remain vigilant. He sat up and rubbed his eyes.
Someone knocked at the door. “I’m occupied!” he yelled. “Don’t disturb me until tomorrow!”
A more insistent knock. “Chad, it’s me. It’s Vanessa.”
He stood. That harlot, no doubt, intended to harm him in every way possible, but he had not considered a scenario in which she would arrive at his door and not in a puff of smoke.
He opened the door slowly. Indeed, there she stood, with an ingratiating smile. “I’m not amused, Vanessa. Why would you come here after what you did? I was at that hospital for three days and have fallen behind on my work. No, you should never have come.”
“I’m sorry, Chad, but—”
Vanessa rolled her eyes and slipped under his arm into the room. “Whatever. Chadworth.” She slunk around and the apparatus on his desk immediately caught her eye. “Oh, my, what’s this?”
“Don’t touch it!” He bolted across the room and leaped in between her and the desk. “Do what you came to do, but don’t touch my equipment!”
“I would never do that, Chad…worth.”
She slumped into an armchair across the room and watched him. He wiped his face with his silk handkerchief. His mind ran through all the potential actions she could take against him. The important thing was to be quick about it. Whatever she did, he needed to get the plastic globe over his head and the oxygen turned on. He hadn’t played football so long ago that he was no longer in shape—no, he was faster than she was.
“Chadworth, I’m really sorry about how you went to the mental hospital. I would never want you to go there. Although I heard you had a friend with you?”
Puzzled, he ran through a list of all the people he met there. “Do you mean the toe-sucker?”
“The toe-sucker? Ugh! Don’t tell me she sucks her toes, too.”
“No, the toe-sucker was a man.”
“The toe-sucker didn’t have green hair and talk about a mouse all day long?”
“No. He just sucked his toes and batted my Rubik’s Cube around.” How many people did she send to that hospital?
“Oh. Okay.” She shifted her position to curl up a different way and twirled a section of hair. “Hey, do you think my highlights look orange?”
He frowned. He was experienced in Vanessa’s ways. “No, my dear, they are quite golden blonde.”
“Good.” She released the hair. “So, I’m really sorry. That took time away from your work. From your mem—um—”
“Right. Because if you weren’t at the hospital, you could have written more of it.”
“And made more discoveries about your plants or whatever.”
“And that’s why I’m sorry,” she said as she climbed out of the chair, “sorry that I didn’t do this later.” She pointed her finger at the desk drawer where his memoir was stored. Flames burst out, along with clouds of smoke that darkened the room.
“No!” His scream shook even the pictures on the wall. He flew to the desk and pulled the globe over his head and turned on the oxygen.
Vanessa laughed and pointed to the oxygen tank which blew up. Flames raced up the tube to the rubber around his neck. Chadworth’s screams were muffled inside the globe as he tore through his room, trailing the flaming tube as Vanessa only laughed and laughed.
Chad finally dislodged the melting plastic globe from his skull only in time for the great plumes of smoke to overtake him. He passed out across his desk which collapsed into a heap of splintered wood and flames.