Happy Tuesday! Here’s chapter 6 of Sparked!
Chapter 6: Lucky Charms
The morning after the meet, Vincent was shoveling Lucky Charms down his throat when his mother came downstairs and turned on the news.
“That can’t be good for you, Vincent,” Peter commented, but Vincent knew that if he stopped eating Lucky Charms, he would think. And he didn’t want to think.
He managed about five more seconds of not thinking before a BREAKING NEWS story started with a clanging sound effect.
COLIN VEGARE MISSING.
Vincent dropped his spoon. It clattered against the table, splashing milk everywhere.
“Oh dear,” his mother said, “I’ve heard of him.”
Vincent stared at the screen. They were playing a video from what the reporter said was “the last place he was spotted, the night before last.” It was a lacrosse field—clearly one of the first games of the season, since it was only April. The footage was fuzzy and far away—obviously only meant for capturing average-looking footage of the players for college scouts and film for future players.
Vincent knew which one was Colin Vegare immediately, even with all of the boys on the team wearing matching jerseys and helmets. He moved across the field like a tank, shoulders pumping back and forth as he cradled the lacrosse ball in his stick. Then a player from the opposing team came out of nowhere, Colin’s size if not larger. He slammed into him, a yellow flag going up from the sidelines with a whistle, but it was too late—Colin was already being slammed onto the turf field.
The sound on the camera was muted so the anchor could report over it, but Vincent saw through the grill of the helmet where Colin’s mouth drop open in a scream. The other player launched off his leg as though it was on fire. Colin slowly sat up as players mulled around, touching his leg. It was clearly broken, or at least injured.
“The community is wondering if this strange occurrence had anything to do with his disappearance.”
The shot cut to a full view of the footage, Vincent and his mother still looking on in shock. His mother’s shock only grew as, in the blurry shot, there were suddenly shadows moving. They seemed to writhe and twist off the ground, slithering from where the field lights were casting them and curling around Colin’s leg. Vincent couldn’t see much of Colin’s expression, but his hands went up by his face, as if trying to block out what he was seeing.
Everything in Vincent went hot, then cold. For a moment, he felt like the Lucky Charms might come back up. Those shadows looked just like…
Could Colin have sent them after me? Is that why he’s missing? Because he’s looking for me?
Or had something else summoned the shadows and gone after both Vincent and Colin? Vincent had heard the reporter say this game was the night before last…
It cut back to her as someone helped Colin up and he walked off the field. Had his injury not been that bad, then?
I don’t understand…
“Most report the video must have some sort of glitch. Vegare was walked off the field and taken to receive first aid from the trainer. He hasn’t been seen since.”
It cut to who must’ve been the trainer—a short woman with short black hair and a tired, fearful expression. “He was sitting on my bench, I went to the back to fill up a bag with ice, and when—I came back and he was gone.” She shrugged. “I thought he might have just gone back outside or home, but…” She shrugged again, helpless.
Next, it cut to Colin’s dad. Vincent’s stomach twisted as he realized the man was crying. “He’s all-all I have,” he said, voice soft even with the microphone. “I can’t imagine he’d ever run away. If…” The man’s lips trembled. “If he doesn’t turn up…I don’t know what I’ll do.”
His mother turned off the TV. “Oh, I can’t take anymore,” she said, putting the remote down. “We’ll have to bring some food to his poor father, and pray for his safe return.”
Vincent still sat there, frozen, as his mother left the room.
Colin Vegare. Missing. Vincent sat there, panicked, replaying the footage they’d shown over and over in his head.
He thought of the shadows, and the wolves, and poor Eileen, who probably thought he was crazy and an asshole.
“That boy—he’s like you. And me,” Peter said, startling Vincent out of his thoughts.
He looked to where his mom had gone for a moment before saying in a low voice, “Was it the same as the wolves? Do you think he sent them after me?”
Peter shook his head. “I’m…not sure.”
Vincent thought for a moment. He wanted all of this to go away. It wasn’t going to go away.
Vincent stood and put the Lucky Charms back in the pantry. “I’m going to find Colin Vegare,” he told Peter, and went to his room to change.
The problem was this:
There was no way he could do this alone. He supposed he had Peter, but he didn’t really want to do it with Peter either. He tried to think of some justification as he went up to Eileen before practice the next day, but in reality, he just didn’t want to keep facing all of this by himself. Maybe getting her involved was selfish. But he was desperate to not be alone.
Eileen sat by herself outside the locker rooms, lacing up her shoes. Vincent shuffled up, dragging his feet across the concrete. “Hey,” he said meekly.
She looked up at him, then rolled her eyes and looked back down at her shoes, despite them already being tied. She pulled at them hopelessly for a few more seconds before sitting back and looking up at him.
“Could I…talk to you?” Vincent asked.
She nodded, and he leaned down, whispering, “Did you hear about Colin Vegare?”
“What?” she whisper-hissed back.
Vincent crouched down next to her. He resisted the urge to cup his hand around her ear and whisper to her like this was a game of telephone. “Colin Vegare. The big athlete at Miden. He’s disappeared. I just saw it on the news this morning.”
Eileen looked less grumpy now. Her eyebrows turned inwards in concern. “Oh, no. Really?”
Vincent nodded, moving one of his hands to squeeze the back of his neck nervously. Behind him, Coach called for them to start practice. “Okay, listen.” He pulled his phone out. “Look up the clip they played on the news. And-and if you want, I can give you my number, and you can…I’m asking for your help, Eileen. I don’t think I can do this by myself.”
“Hey,” Peter said, “I’m here.” Because of course he was standing right there. Vincent had allowed him to wait by the bleachers during practice today, but he’d meandered over when Vincent had started to talk to Eileen.
Vincent rolled his eyes, and Eileen shied back. “Did you just roll your eyes at me?”
“No!” Vincent said quickly, jumping backwards, fear buzzing to life in his stomach. Then he remembered that he’d told her about Peter. Well, at least a bit. “It’s…ya know.” He put his hands up, palms out like you know, the usual. He spoke through gritted teeth.“The ghost.”
Eileen shook her head, looking rather dismayed as she took his phone and put her number in it. Their teammates were starting to gather around Coach, so they straightened and followed.
“You…you don’t have to,” Vincent managed to say.
Eileen shrugged. He’d kind-of been hoping for a It’s okay, Vincent! I want to figure this out as much as you do. In fact, I was about to come up to you and ask for your help with finding Colin Vegare! But Eileen didn’t say anything else as Coach started chatting with them about their next meet and what they were going to do during practice that afternoon.
He shouldn’t be thinking that; Eileen hadn’t even known about Colin. He felt guilty about asking her already. But that didn’t stop him from texting her Did you watch the video? This is Vincent, btw after practice. He sat in his car at home. His leg bobbed up and down nervously as he waited for her response, knee hitting the bottom of the steering wheel.
After about a minute, his phone chimed, and he nearly launched it through the car windshield in his hurry to check it.
Eileen: Yeah, I did. Do you think he made those wolves?
Vincent: I don’t know.
Eileen: So what do you need me for?
Vincent: Well, I want to look for Colin and I don’t want to do it by myself. And you haven’t called me crazy yet I guess
She didn’t answer after that, but she’d watched the video, and she hadn’t said no to helping him.
“I don’t understand. I am a perfectly good companion to have along in such a search. Especially because I am a ghost. I can go most places,” Peter complained from the car passenger seat, reading Vincent’s texts over his shoulder.
“I don’t know,” Vincent managed, feeling overwhelmed and whiney. “My friends probably think I’m acting super weird and on edge right now, and I’m not getting my family involved in this. I thought she could help.”
“So it’s not okay to get your family and friends involved, but okay to get her involved? That’s not fair.”
“None of this is fair!” Vincent yelled, throwing his phone down. It bounced off the brake pedal and landed pitifully by his feet. “I didn’t ask for whatever ludicrous parallel world shit is going on.”
“Well,” Peter said, huffing dramatically. “I didn’t ask to die.” He kicked the car door open, getting out like they were in a relationship and having some big fight.
Vincent made a growling noise in the back of his throat as he got out of the car, grabbing his backpack. “Eileen doesn’t have to help if she doesn’t want to. It’s her choice.” He pointed to Peter. “Stay here.”
Peter leaned against Vincent’s car, looking particularly disheveled this evening. “Vincent, there has to be a better way to do this. I’m miserable, and you’re barely listening to me.”
“Leave,” Vincent snapped. “That’s the only way to handle this.” He practically ran inside his house, not wanting to face the repercussions of those words.
He threw his backpack down, heading immediately to the back of the house—where his room was.
That first day, he’d thought Peter was a sign of God or something. Now he felt like Satan must’ve send a demon to test him. He sat down on his bed, putting his head in his hands.
Now came trying to figure out how to find Colin Vegare.