Wormwood Tales are stories written by the Wormwood creative team, designed to tell stories before, after and around our central tale. These stories may contain clues to the mysteries of Wormwood. Or they may not. We’ll never tell.
We hope you enjoy.
Wormwood Tales: Rachel’s Decision (The Day Before)
by Rob Allspaw
“Hello?” Her voice called out. “Hello? Is anyone home? Mom? Mom, are you at home?”“Damn it!” A loud thud accompanied the angry utterance as Rachel tramped her way through a well-appointed kitchen. She slammed the back door and dropped her backpack on the kitchen floor, adding, “That’s what I get for believing the bitch! Especially after this morning.”
Rachel was a pretty girl. Pretty enough to get noticed by the boys in her school but awkward enough to be dismissed by them too. The girls in her class didn’t like her much either as they saw the potential for beauty and weirdness in the slight girl.
She walked through the kitchen searching for the note her mother probably would have left behind. Where she would have put the note was the mystery. Rachel’s mother wasn’t a bad person or a terrible mother: she was just having a hard time trying to raise a strong and willful teenage girl who wanted to be anywhere but Wormwood. Anytime someone told her that raising girls are easier than boys, she would look that person dead and the eye and say, “Go fuck yourself, ” a phrase that caused a bit of a commotion at the last church social, although it was funny to see the Sister George’s face turn bright red in embarrassment.
“Where the heck did she put the note?” said Rachel, scanning the cluttered corners of the kitchen. “Oh, well look at that. She must have been distracted. It’s on the refrigerator,” she added as she tore the note from the metal door.
The note read: “Dear Rachel. Sorry, baby girl, but I forgot we had scheduled a book club meeting tonight or I would have not said yes to dinner tonight. I’m sorry, but it was very important that I go to this one tonight. You can have leftovers in the fridge and we’ll do something tomorrow night. Don’t forget, Dexter is spending the night at Matty Mullins. So he won’t be home to bug you. Mom.”
“Seriously? Another book club meeting? She blows them off for months and now, that’s the most important thing in her life, and not even a ‘love Mom.’ Like I’m eating leftovers. Lyonsville Pizza Kitchen, fire up those ovens.” Rachel said as she picked up the phone off the counter.
Rachel made an invisible production of her small revenge. “Preset 2. And the Pizza Kitchen is ringing. Hey. Hi. Yeah, I want a large pie with everything. Delivered please. 1455 Mullvasey Drive. 30 minutes. Cool. Thanks.” She clicked off the phone and dropped it to the counter.
Sighing, Rachel pulled her hair back into a pony tail and took off her school sweater. A couple of years ago Wormwood High-school had instituted a mandatory school uniform for all students after one kid was badly injured and another killed in a fight over a pair of jeans. A boy named Kenneth Keller had injured a boy named Joshua Greenbaum, claiming he had stolen his jeans out of his gym locker the previous day. Unfortunately, the fight and the knifing had happened while the Governor of California had been touring the school as part of a statewide survey in which Wormwood students had been praised for being the “Most Well Mannered Students” in all of California. The Governor, the principal and a few cameramen were splattered with blood as Joshua plunged a pen knife into Kenneth’s throat and through the Carotid Artery. Shortly thereafter, the 3-person school board voted unanimously for the uniforms.
After checking to see if there were any messages in the answering machine (there weren’t), Rachel turned on the computer. She was waiting for a phone call from the one person in the world who she thought totally got and understood her. Her childhood friend, Jacob. The computer was located in the family room next to the kitchen. The house only had one computer so the family room was Rachel’s de facto homework space. Her mother was still promising to buy her a brand new computer when they had the money. God knows they both needed the time away from each other.
“Maybe I got an e-mail from Jacob? Nope. Damn.” As Rachel sat in the small desk chair, and stared at the screen without really seeing anything in it, she decided that this was quite possibly the worst day of her life. Nothing was going right, and she was just unbearably lonely all day. Jacob was out of town and she didn’t really have any other friends at school. On top of that, her Mom wasn’t even home after she had promised she would be. On most days that wouldn’t have mattered, but today was special for Rachel. Today was…
“BING! You have mail, Bitch!” The computer screamed at her. Rachel had been surfing the net for cool WAV files, files that would piss off her mom, or at the very least annoy her. She had found the ‘Mail, Bitch!’ on a site called “Sparrow’s Swarm. There was a lot of weird occult stuff on the site; she couldn’t pass up a file like this one.
“Maybe Jacob didn’t forget after all,” She said, an eager smile spreading across her face as she moved her mouse to open the program. “Nope. Just junk.”
She decided to write to Julia instead.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back at you, but life here has been a real drag and I haven’t felt like writing too much. School’s been a complete hassle and the parents are pretty freaking clueless. I know it’s been a while, and I feel really bad for not getting back to you sooner. I will try harder next time.
I can’t believe my Mom forgot today. Today of all days, she has to forget. I’m stunned and blown away by the sheer audacity of it. I got up this morning expecting… well, I didn’t know what to expect. Something. Anything. After all, she is my mother and I am her child. I don’t know, things have been so bad between us lately that I don’t know if we will ever be right again. I love her but she doesn’t understand what I am going through, and it looks like she doesn’t even want to try. I really want her to understand.
I wanted to go out to dinner with her tonight to try and explain it all and maybe try to find some middle ground to make our house less of a war zone, but now… I told her it was important, but I guess she would rather spend time with her club then with her own daughter. It sucks, but I guess it will make it easier to leave when the time comes.
So, nothing new on the romantic front. The Boy is still clueless as ever and I’m still as lovelorn as ever. I don’t get him sometimes. He’s miserable here in this “quaint” little town (my words, not his…I think his are something like “crap fest”), yet I don’t think he is ever going to leave. I want to get out of here and go to Hollywood, but I don’t want to leave The Boy behind. We would have so much fun in Hollywood. Living together and living life. We would be happy and I could get discovered and be the next Sarah Michelle Gellar. She was so great in that show. Kicking demon ass and taking weird unpronounceable names. I just know he and I could be happy together in Hollywood or even New York. I would take a life of obscurity (well, I’d go as far as off-off-Broadway, but that’s basically the same) if it was a life with him next to me. If he would just wake up and open his eyes. Is this what love is like for everyone? If so, I might just have to re-think the whole thing. Or, maybe next week he will realize that he loves me and can’t live without me. I’ll wait until he’s ready to leave. I know he loves me; he just has to realize it. Who knows? Maybe I just like to think so. Sigh. I had to throw that in there.
It’s kind of strange, but since we were talking about Buffy, I have to tell you that some weird things have been happening around town. Like weird “horror story” weird things. There’s a farm on the other end of town and some of the cattle have been killed and drained of blood in really gross ways.
The Boy and I were down at the school library and I overheard the librarian telling someone, who I couldn’t see, that there are no such things as vampires and that they just needed to go about their business. But it was the way she said it, like maybe she believes there are vampires but was trying to dispute the fact by sheer force of words. “You doth protest too much,`” as the bard once said. (Or was that The Mighty Thor? Remind me to tell you how Jacob is lending me his comic books. It’s sooo cute. ) Anyway, the librarian is a bitch and I can’t stand her. She always looks down her nose to me. Sometimes I catch her looking at me, sizing me up, when she doesn’t see me looking at her.
Goodness, I must be going crazy to bore you with the latent soap opera that is my life has been lately. But… looking at this letter forces me to realize I can’t wait for him to make the first move. I have to be bold and tell him who to love. J/K. I could never tell him that! But I can tell him that I love him and I am leaving Wormwood as soon as I can. I wish you could come with us, I know your situation is just as bad as mine. It would be nice if we could get out, both of us. I’ll tell you what, if you’re ever in Hollywood look us up!
But…I guess you’d never get there, huh?
The Boy is out of town right now but will be back next week. I can tell him then. I’ll take him over to the old quarry and talk to him there. And if I’m lucky maybe more than talk! /Blushes/
I promise I’ll write you back after I get his answer.
I’ll talk to you later.
Your imaginary friend,
As Rachel finished typing the last line she heard a loud knock at the front door, followed by a scream, “Rachel, your pizza’s here, dude!”
“When did Jimmy Details get a job at the Pizza Kitchen?” thought Rachel. “When did Jimmy Details get a job!?!” She closed the computer file and stood up.
“Hurry up Rachel! I’ve got other deliveries to make.” Jimmy yelled from the other side of the front door.
“Hold on, you malcontent. I’ll be there in a moment.’ Rachel yelled as she walked to the foyer.
She opened the door and greeted one of Wormwood’s finest specimens – and specimen was definitely the word Rachel would use to describe Jimmy Details. Jimmy was in college and had been for as long as Rachel had known him. He claimed to have founded over 47 metal bands, and he vowed to bring the power of metal music to the downtrodden of the earth. Whatever that meant. Rachel thought he was a little weird — but harmless – and she kind of liked him, he seemed to always be able to produce a smile from Rachel, even on her worst days. At this moment he was not an unwelcome site.
“Mighty Miss Rachel your pizza pie is here and steaming hot. $24.95 please.” Jimmy said as he executed an elaborate bow while extending and holding out the pizza.
Rachel smiled and handed him some cash, “Keep the rest Jimmy. You earned you tip.”
“Why the long face?”
“Oh, you know…just one of those days. Not anything to worry about. When did you start working at the Lyonsville Pizza kitchen?”
“Just a few days ago. My band needed the cashola in order to record. Death Soda 3000 is the next big thing in Metal, this I do so proclaim. So, you know, I’ll do this for a few weeks and earn some dough. No pun intended. Ha. Oh, that’s a good one. I should write that down.”
At that moment the phone started to ring.
“Jimmy, I have to get that. It’s probably my Mom.”
“No sweat, like I said, I have more deliveries to make and more ladies to impress. See ya!”
Rachel hurried through the house and grabbed the phone just before the machine could pick up.
“Hi, it’s me.”
“Oh, Hi Mom,” Rachel said, “I was wondering if you were going to call.”
“I couldn’t forget to tell you Happy Birthday, could I?”
“No. I…knew you wouldn’t. But…are you going to be at your club thing for long?”
Rachel could hear her mother pause and sigh on the other end of the phone. When she replied, she sounded tired. “I’m sorry, really. I know you don’t understand how important this is. I wish I could explain—“
“No, it’s OK,” said Rachel, even though she knew it wasn’t. “You don’t have to explain.”
“No, I do. I just… don’t know how to start. Someday. You’ll have to trust me.”
“I have something I want to tell you about, too,” said Rachel. “Listen, you remember how I told you about—“
“Wait!” Her mother’s hushed tone stopped her. “I’m sorry. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later.”
Rachel tried to say something, but the click of the receiver stopped her.
She let the phone dangle in her fingers for a moment before dropping it and collapsing onto the sofa to celebrate the rest of her birthday alone.