Chapter 5: Ominous Calendar
Erika was just opening the door when she found a small package at her feet, addressed to one of her stepsisters. She picked up the parcel, went inside, and shouted, “I’m home!”
Surprisingly enough, the only living soul in the house when Erika entered was Lucy, who was curled up on a couch and basking in the sunlight. She left the cat alone for now, knowing that the cat would come to her later. As she trudged up the stairs, carrying her backpack, she couldn’t help but be pleased at her luck. She had very little homework to do except to start memorizing her script, which left her plenty of time to talk to her friends over the phone, to write, to read her manga, and to watch her anime DVDs.
She made a quick pit stop in her room to drop off her backpack, and then quickly went down the hall to her sibling’s room. Jade and Fiona both shared the same bedroom, so Erika figured that there would be no harm in just putting the box inside. As she walked in the room, it was pretty dark- the sunlight was coming in through the windows, but the lights weren’t on. ‘I guess I beat my sisters home for once.’
Erika gently placed the mail between their beds, and was about to walk back out of the room when she saw a calendar attached to the door. Deciding to let curiosity to get the better of her, she took a quick peek.
The day of auditions was labeled ‘Blow everyone out of the water’, the day for callbacks said, ‘Show up Erika’... but what caught Erika’s attention were a couple of dates in the future. Just a day before when the first showing of ‘The Odd Couple’, there was a chilling sentence written in pink pen and surrounded with a heart on the calendar- ‘“Surprise” Kingsley’.
But the most disturbing series of addendums came during Homecoming week. ‘Eliminate Homecoming Queen competition’ and ‘Find dates’ were amongst the alarming, but the worst of them all were on Homecoming day and the day following.
Her birthday was labeled ‘Stepsister’s birthday’ and ‘Have fun with
Erika’. But the day after that simply had a question mark with a smiley face where the dot would be.
Erika tried to walk backwards away from the time teller, but tripped over her own shoelaces. She landed right next to the package for her sisters. Fortunately, she didn’t land ON it, and took a nice deep breath.
And then the box started to vibrate. Erika may not have been a whiz at this sort of thing, but even she could connect the dots. Quickly, she began slamming the box against the floor, desperately trying to make it stop. A quick look out the window- ‘Oh God- they’re almost here!’
She threw the box against the door, and finally got a mini-miracle- the box fell silent. Without skipping a beat, she carefully put the box back between the beds and scurried back into the recesses of her room, just in time for her sisters to walk through the door.
Fortunately for Erika and the world at large, the next few weeks were highly uneventful, instead beginning to take some form of normalcy. Rehearsals were fun affairs, and Mrs. Thatcher was especially pleased to see that Kelly and Erika were playing off each other wonderfully. But something just seemed missing. Right before this session ended, Mrs. Thatcher took Erika aside.
“Is something wrong, Mrs. Thatcher?” The English woman tapped her lips with her pointer finger, staring at the star student.
“It’s nothing Erika,” her teacher began, but she shook her head. “No, there is something a little off.” She eyed the young Andress carefully before saying, “How long have you been in the program, Erika?”
‘That’s an odd question,’ Erika thought. Nonetheless, she answered honestly. “Ever since I came to high school.”
“Right, right,” the teacher replied. “And you’ve been stellar ever since. It’s just- just-”
“You’ve been holding back.”
The teacher cringed slightly as Mary walked towards the two and cut the bullshit. “We both have noticed that you just haven’t been giving it all. What’s up with that?”
Mrs. Thatcher bit her tongue; Mary was usually very blunt with her stage managing methods, but she always got the job done faster and better than everyone else.
Erika was stumbling for something to say, before finally coming up with an old school denial. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
But Mary wouldn’t have any of it, quickly pointing at Kelly with her thumb. “I’m pretty sure it has something to do with her.” Mary knew the details behind it, but she wasn’t about to mention them in front of Mrs. Thatcher.
Unfortunately for Mary and Erika, Mrs. Thatcher spent the next five to seven minutes talking to them about trusting her fellow thespians. Both girls had heard such words before from their teacher. But never before had the words been given so intensely, or so passionately. When she finished and walked away, Mary half expected an actor to pop out of the curtains and hand their director an Oscar.
Once she was sure that Mrs. Thatcher was out of earshot, Mary began asking her dear friend some burning questions. “Erika, what’s really going on between you and Kelly?”
“Um... nothing’s happening.” She gave Mary a fake smile, but she wasn’t fooling the stage manager today.
“Nothing’s happenin’?” Erika nodded. “Nothin’ at all?” Another nod. “So nothing’s going to happen ever?” The nod came slower this time. “So you wanna kiss her?” Erika nodded for a good three seconds before ceasing all body movements and allowing her eyes to double in size.
Erika began mouthing the word ‘no’ while Mary was just content to raise her left eyebrow skeptically and smirk. She was about to pry when Kelly walked up to Erika.
“That was pretty fun, eh ‘Felix’?” Kelly smiled at Erika, and she gave the ‘King’ one of her own. “Man, I had no idea what I was missing! And just seeing Brandi take off her pants on stage-” Kelly was overcome by a fit of laughter. Erika nearly joined her, while Mary smiled.
“Anyway, I wanted to ask you something,” Kelly continued. “It’s a little embarrassing, but I think I can trust you enough to ask it.”
Erika nearly fainted on the spot. Kelly Kingsley... TRUSTED her?!?!? None the less, she managed to fool Kelly into thinking she was perfectly calm. “What?”
Kelly appeared to be stumbling for words. “My, um, birthday is coming up this Friday- I mean, right before the show starts- and I... I’d like it if you could come over to my place. For a sleepover. You-you know, that is, if you want to...” The blonde scratched the back of her head nervously and blushed, and everything in Erika’s world stood still.
Kelly Kingsley... no, just Kelly (did she dare think of her as just ‘Kelly’?)... wanted her to come over? For a birthday party? When Erika really thought about it, she hadn’t attended such an occasion in years- she was locked away in her room whenever her sisters were celebrating their birthdays; only allowed out to go to the bathroom, to get food, or be subjected to the mercy of her stepsisters.
“Who- Who else would be there?” Kelly wracked her brains for a moment before realizing something. “At the moment... just you, me, and Meredith. I’m afraid I never really got to have any big birthday parties with people from school or have anyone other than Meredith over.” Kelly shrugged uncharacteristically sheepishly before adding, “One of the curses of being semi-famous, I suppose.”
Erika nodded, before coming up with a brilliant idea. “Well, since you never really bring anyone to your place... why don’t I bring a few friends?” Kelly hadn’t expected such a kind gesture at all, let alone a positive response! They both turned to Mary, who deadpanned, “I’ll make sure Kat is available. Julia should be available as well.”
Kelly was ecstatic at this point, going so far as to hug Erika. Erika felt very warm all of the sudden, letting the sensation of Kelly’s breasts rubbing against her own be enough. Kat walked into the spectacle and merely watched, amazed at the scene before her.
As Erika began to let go, she felt that Kelly was keeping her close for a moment before slowly releasing her. “See you at the car,” Kelly said as she walked away. A mere few moments later, one thought ran through both their minds- ‘Did she just smell my hair?’
Erika was snapped out of her reverie by Kat and Mary, the former of whom seemed to have a lecherous grin on her face. “What?”
Kat kept grinning, saying, “I think somebody wants to get laid- OW!” Mary smacked her on the back of her head, with her ‘wife’ continuing, “I’m just saying!”
Mary sighed, but she couldn’t deny that. “Let’s face it, Erika. You think that Kelly is the hottest woman on earth.” She paused, before adding with a sly grin on her face, “Nice catch.”
Erika blushed profusely, before finally admitting, “Okay, I admit it. I think she’s pretty good looking-”
“‘Pretty good looking’?” Kat shook her head. “Erika, those words do her beauty a disservice. I swear, I would tap that if I didn’t already have my snuggle bunny.” Mary didn’t know whether to blush or to smack Kat on the head again.
“What Kat is trying to say, is that getting invited to Kelly’s house is a fairly good sign. Nothing definite, but this could be the start of something interesting.”
Erika excused herself from the conversation, partly because it made her think about things she knew weren’t possible, and partly because Kelly was still waiting for her.
As had become the routine, Erika and Kelly both stopped by to see Uncle Buck, who was washing his dishes in the sink. “Hello, ladies. Good ta’ see you again.”
Kelly nodded, but Erika responded, “Pretty good. How’s the case, Buck? The papers yesterday said it didn’t look so hot.”
Buck threw his head back and laughed. “Please, since when do I ever give up on a client? I don’t lose cases. Besides, what the papers won’t say ‘til tomorrow is that the police found some new evidence inside the victim’s mattress, thanks to an anonymous tip someone sent me.”
Kelly nodded while Buck continued talking. “So Kelly, a lil’ birdie told me that your birthday’s comin’ up. Nineteen years old! My oh my, how the time flies.”
She agreed with him, before adding giddily, “I’m having a sleepover this year, and it’s more than one person this time! Erika’s gonna be there too!”
Buck just chuckled. “Well, that’s good. Lord knows that Erika could get out of the house more.”
“Buck!” Erika looked a little saddened by Buck’s comment, but it was the truth- besides visiting Kat and Mary or even Julia from time to time, she really didn’t get out of the house much.
“To be perfectly fair, Buck, I don’t usually have people over. But I think that I found the right person- I mean, people, to have a good time with.” After her embarrassing use of the wrong word, Kelly quickly turned her attention to the freshly peeled orange in front of her.
Buck flashed a lightning quick smile to Erika before congratulating her. “It ain’t everyday someone gets ta celebrate the day they were born.”
As Erika took a bite out of her own delicious fruit, Kelly remembered something that her new friend had mentioned the very first time they had been in the same car. “You said that you don’t watch movies.”
Erika swallowed her latest bite of produce, then answered, “No. I WOULD watch them, but my stepmom doesn’t let me. No idea why- she lets my stepsisters.”
Kelly scarfed down the remaining bite of orange before commenting, “Well then, I guess this’ll be the perfect time to show you the greatest movie of all time... in my opinion, anyway.”
The Andress stepchild had no idea what Kelly spoke of, so she elaborated. “‘Black Holes’, silly!”
There was a colossal clattering of forks and plates in the sink as Buck dropped his sponge and the mug he was working on. He then yelped in pain as a few of the pieces of said cup cut his hands. Fortunately, the injuries were only minor cuts, with only one of them actually bleeding. He sucked on the wound, before saying, “I need to get back to work, ladies. Expecting an-”
But he was cut off by an all too familiar buzzing noise. “That would be my special phone.” He dug out a gauze pad from one of the kitchen drawers, applied it to his hand, and wished both women a good day.
As the door closed behind them, Buck strode into his work room and picked up the scarlet phone. “Hello?”
It was the masculine voice this time. “Did it help any?”
“Yea,” Buck affirmed as he stared at the previous day’s newspaper. “Yeah, saved my case. Tell him that it’s all in the bag now.” He paused before adding, “We may have a problem on our end, however.”
There was a pause before ‘Cheryl’ came onto the line. “What’s the issue, Buck?”
“She’s goin’ to a sleepova at Kingsley’s place.”
Cheryl did not seem concerned. “Well, it’s about time she went out and had some fun.” Buck did not respond, instead choosing to let his words sink in. “...Kingsley, right?”
“Wasn’t he our-” Buck cut her off; he knew that she had figured it out.
“Didn’t you represent him in that case?”
“...I see.” She paused again, before commenting. “So this could really mess up that big plan you made for Erika?”
“It could push up certain events to the point where I could get burned pretty badly. Don’t worry though,” he assured, “I’ll talk to Kyle. He’ll do what needs to be done.”
Erika knew by this point that she was getting home before Fiona and Jade, and usually took advantage of this time by trying to prepare for whatever horrors they might concoct next. She crept through the door, put her stuff in her room, and stealthily went into the room at the end of the hall.
The calendar hadn’t changed much since the pervious times she’d studied it, but she did notice a plethora of wrapping paper on the floor. And next to the paper, well...
‘That explains why my stepmom asked about where all the booze went.’
Allison had repeatedly searched Erika’s room in the past two weeks for alcohol. While this sort of practice was standard for her- Allison made sure that Erika never had any real life movies- she had become much more persistent as of late, especially trying her damndest to find some alcohol. She kept telling Erika that it kept mysteriously vanishing from her stocks, and being the stepchild, she was always under more suspicion than either of her ne’er-to-do well stepsisters.
Either way, now she could see that it was her stepsisters who had taken the drinks after all. It wasn’t like she could tell Allison, because then she’d be grounded for ‘invading her sisters’ privacy’.
She was about to walk out the door when she nearly slipped on a note card. The mere fact that there was a note card of any kind was a shock to Erika’s mind- could it be that her sisters actually studied?!? But then she looked at the writing on it and saw that, instead of the chemical makeup of a compound, there was the booze content of an extremely potent mix; which, according to the card, would ‘get someone drunk with just a few gulps’.
And right next to that paper and those bottles was an all too familiar box. She stared at it for a moment, touched it, and shuddered as it began to vibrate.
Instantly, Erika slammed the box against the floor, causing it to stop. She then rushed to her room, locking the door behind her and rummaging through her desk before finally finding it.
The football phone.
Truth be told, she didn’t really care about the sport- what was important was that it was a phone that her stepmother couldn’t easily track. It was the phone she used for emergencies only, or if Allison took away her six year old cell phone.
Erika quickly plugged in the phone to its proper places and began dialing a number she knew by heart.
Mary was taking in deep breath after deep breath underneath her bed covers, all while being held in Kat’s arms. “Kat... where on earth did you learn that?”
Her green-haired lover grinned and simply said, “Well, I kinda adapted a few things from the Kama Sutra. But that last thing was totally me.” She added with a wicked grin, “You wanna try that again?”
The blonde stage manager was about to say yes when her cell phone began to ring. Kat swore under her breath while Mary rolled her eyes and checked the caller ID. “It’s Erika. She’s using the football phone.”
Kat straightened up as Mary answered the call using the speaker phone setting. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, Mary.” Erika’s voice seemed a little shaken, but at least she wasn’t hurt. “I think my sisters are up to something.”
“There’s a shock,” Kat mumbled. “Erika, your sisters are always scheming or plotting or planning something bad. What makes this one any worse than normal?”
“I...” Erika took a deep breath of fresh air before saying, “I think they’re going to do something to Kelly.”
The two lovebirds looked at each other before asking Erika to hold on for a moment. The two quickly went out of the phone’s range before Kat commented, “Well, that’s definitely a good use of the football phone.”
Mary agreed. “We need to make sure that nothing goes down. If her sisters go as far as what they tried to pull on you and me-”
“-I know.” Kat still had nightmares about their failed seduction. They had nearly been driven to the breaking point that night under the pressures of their peers (namely, the Terrible Twosome) and a lot of drugged punch. It was only through sheer persistence that Fiona and Jade left them be. “How on earth would they manage to get in?”
“It’s Erika’s stepsisters we’re talking about here, Kat.” The short woman grimaced before agreeing to return to their phone conversation.
Erika was relieved when she heard Mary’s calm voice return to the line. “We’ll try and warn Kelly tomorrow, Erika. But there’s not much else we can do- they’re not being invited, so really, it’s up to chance now.”
That wasn’t quite what she wanted to hear, but Erika understood the logic behind it. “Thanks. See you tomorrow.”
Mary barely got out her response because someone began to nibble on her earlobe. As she hung up the phone, she turned to her partner-in-crime and playfully said, “Oh, you’re in trouble now.”
Kat smiled as she replied, “This should be fun.”