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myrrhcat in bonus_stage_rp

CASSIDY BEGINS A CAREER IN PHOTOGRAPHY: Part 19

Elly stood on the sand next to Joel, and Kenneth stood on Joel's other side. Altogether, this made Joel feel very uncomfortable, so he went and stood over by Violet instead.
"Uh..." said Violet, looking at Joel, but he didn't seem to hear her. Violet shrugged and looked back at the camera.
The shutter clicked. From left to right: Kenneth smirking, Elly grinning, Violet smiling broadly, and Joel looking away.
"Ooh, can I see, Cassie? Can I see?" Violet squealed.
Cassidy chuckled and said, "Not yet, Vi, we gotta wait for the picture to develop."
"Well, lemme see anyway." Violet came over to where Cassidy was and looked over her shoulder at what was, right now, a blank white glossy square.
"It sure is a nice blank white glossy square, isn't it?" Cassidy remarked.
"Shhhh. I'm trying to watch the picture develop."
Elly came over, too, which made Cassidy feel intruded upon.
"Do you mind?" she asked, sending a slightly disdainful look Elly's way.
"What?" Elly asked coyly.
"I don't like it when people look over my shoulder like that."
Elly looked over at Violet, who was practically bent halfway over Cassidy's other shoulder.
"You don't like people looking over your shoulder," Elly repeated disbelievingly.
"Can't you just go!?" Cassidy exclaimed.
"Hey, hey, calm down! I just wanna see how the photo turned out. Is that a crime now?"
"I'll show you when it's done! Look, it's just a white square!"
"Actually, it's a white square with a gray square in it, now," Violet pointed out.
"Look, it's just a white square with a grey square in it!" said Cassidy.
"Fine, fine! Jeez!" Elly said, holding her arms out in front of her and backing off. "Just make sure to show me the picture when it's done developing."
Cassidy sighed, just as Violet stepped slowly away from her shoulder.
"Hey, why did you move?" asked Cassidy.
"Well, uh, you know," Violet said totally smoothly, "if I'm doing something that bothers you, you should just tell me. I mean, I didn't know you didn't like people looming and all."
Well, yeah, but- I mean... I didn't mind..." Cassidy felt her cheeks go warm again and looked intently at the square, which now contained a kinda-discernable blob.
She shook it a little.
It did not get any more discernable.
So she looked up at where Elly, Joel and Kenneth were having an animated discussion about something or other.
"What do you suppose they're talking about?" said Cassidy vaguely.
"I dunno," Violet responded. Then she noticed something. "Hey, Cassie, you all right?"
"What? Yeah. Super!" Cassidy gave a grin and a thumbs up.
"Oh, okay. It's just, you look a little flushed, is all."
"Well, you know. That's what the cold weather does. To me."
“It's been pretty cold ever since we came here."
"Well, you know, we're by the beach and all, cold winds, and shit." She threw up her arms to emphasize the cold winds.
"Oh, okay." Violet nodded. She wasn't sure she believed Cassidy's explanation, but what else could it be?
Unless...
No, that couldn't be it.

Rya tried her best to ignore the sounds of everyone doin' stuff over there. Because Rya was totally there. Remember?

Andrew was trying to drag Phil off of the bed. "Quit watching TV! We have adventures to venture!"
"But I don't wanna go to school today, Mom..." Phil mumbled. "Just five more minutes..."
"School? We're going ELSEWHERE!"
"Mgrnsgngh," said Phil.
Andrew finally somehow managed to drag Phil off of the bed. He landed on the floor with a great THUD.
Phil yelped.
"Awake yet? Get in the car!"
"Dammit, Andrew! What the hell was that for?"
"You're so lazy! It's already ten! We're supposed to be seeing the world! Or at least the state!"
"No, Andrew! I'm sick of all this crap!"
"We can't go back! I don't even know how to go back! We might as well venture on!"
"What the hell does that even mean?"
"It means we're driving around South Jersey searching for treasure!"
"...Treasure?"
"Why not?"
"Oh, gee, I dunno," said Phil, with a look of mock thoughtfulness, "Maybe because it's a really retarded idea?"
"Hey, you never know! Everyone will be shocked when we come back!"
"If we come back."
"Aww, hey, Phil," Andrew attempted to comfort, "I'm sure we'll get back there."
"Yeah that's nice shut up." Phil got up from the floor and dusted himself off. "All right, I'll get dressed and then we'll continue on whatever the hell it is you want me to do."
"All right!" Andrew seemed happy.
"Yeah, yeah." Phil went into the bathroom to change.
He came out a second later, saying, "I forgot that I didn't pack any clothes. Or more accurately, I COULDN'T. Because you just up and DECIDED TO TAKE ME ON THIS STUPID... THING YOU'RE DOING!" He flapped his arms around.
"No problem!" Andrew decided. "Just wear those!"
He pointed at what Phil was wearing at the moment. Which were his clothes from before. He had slept in his clothes. "Put on some shoes, though," Andrew advised.
"I feel disgusting!" whined Phil.
"Yeah, well, you look it too. Now put on those shoes."
Phil grumbled and put on his shoes. They trekked down to the motel lobby, paid the counter lady, and went out to the car.

"So now where the hell are we going."
"Wherever the wind blows!" Andrew exclaimed.
"Right, right, right," said Phil, ignoring another stupid remark from Andrew. "Then let's go already."
They got in the car. They went down a long stretch of highway, fighting over the radio the whole time.
"Goddammit, Andrew, I don't want to listen to the fucking Backstreet Boys!"
"These are the classics of the '90s, man! You've got to appreciate the classics!"
"It's not the classics. Boy bands are something I've been trying to forget for a while."
"It's the classics whether you like it or not. You must NEVER FORGET." To Phil's horror, Andrew began to sing. "Backstreet's back, all right..."
"Shut up shut up SHUT UP!!! Jeez!!" Phil hit the radio in frustration and it stopped working.
"Come on, what was that for, Mr. Angry Face?"
"Because the Backstreet Boys sucked and you suck." Phil stared out the window.

It was the perfect time to pass a cheap bar.

"Hey," Rya remembered aloud. "What happened to Phil and that other guy?"
"Huh?" Cassidy was distracted from her conversation with Violet and turned to look at the freaky ghost of her worst enemy. Or was it her worst enemy? That was a pretty strong phrase. But she still really disliked Rya.
Rya blinked. "You know, PHIL."
"Oh, Phil? I thought he was..." Cassidy paused, and blinked, and said, "Huh, come to think of it, where has he been? How didn't I notice? I mean, I should have noticed, it was Phil, after all..."
"Yeah... You should have noticed." Rya tilted her head for a moment, then snapped back into reality. "So where did he go? And why did he take Andrew?"
"I dunno," said Violet, who apparently had been listening, although why she wouldn't have been is hard to say, "But I kind of think it's more likely that Andrew took him somewhere... Or, actually, I don't know."

All of a sudden, Elly's phone began to ring. She, Joel, and Kenneth all looked at her vibrating pocket simultaneously.
"Oh, huh, I had forgotten about my phone," Elly mused. She picked her phone up. "Yello?"

At first, she heard nothing more than the sounds of a large group of men yelling such articulate phrases as "Get the ball, you faggot!"
"Hello?" she repeated apprehensively.
"...Elly?" a somewhat familiar-sounding guy whispered.
"Uh, yeah, it's me, who is this?"
"Oh dear Lord thank you. It's Phil, and Andrew kidnapped me! He's trying to take me on some kind of crazy road trip! You have to-"
"I have to what?"
Meanwhile, back at Ye Olde Cheap Bar, Andrew had slammed Phil's phone down with a disapproving look.
"Goddammit, Andrew!" Phil cursed. He tried to be more articulate, but he couldn't. "Just... you... goddammit!!!"
"No, Phil. Goddammit you." Andrew gave him a sad look.
"Shut the fuck up," said Phil simply and quietly, and he went to go sit alone in a dark table in the corner.

Elly stared at her cell phone. The screen said "CALL DISCONNECTED"

"Who was it?" asked Kenneth.
"Uh," she said. Then, after a pause that could have been hours, she said: "Phil."
"Is he okay?" asked Rya immediately.
"Well geez, I dunno! He said something about Andrew and kidnapping and a road trip and then he just hung up! Or I got disconnected! Or something! Blah!"

Violet had to suppress the urge to chuckle at the last part.

Rya frowned. "Well, that's bad."
"Yeah, that does sound a little... iffy," Cassidy ventured. "Andrew's kinda... you know..."
Elly sighed. "Yeah, he is kinda you know. But it's not like anything BAD is gonna happen."
"Are you sure?" Rya said. She actually sounded a little worried, which was slightly surprising considered how enveloped she seemingly was in melancholy.

"Well, fuck," Elly said, "what's gonna happen? Anal rape orgy? It'll be fine."
"Yeah, but... he did sound like he wanted to be rescued, you know."

Nothing happened.

"Well, jesus," Rya snapped, "Don't everybody go find him at once!"
Kenneth, who was still there somehow, looked curious. "Who are we talking about?"
"Oh, just some lame shitty guy who lives with me or something and whines about how much I suck and all of his stupid girl problems," said Joel dismissively.
Rya was very angry. She decided to see how scary she could look. As it turns out, it was pants-shitting scary.

Thankfully(?), Joel did not shit his pants. However, he was pretty fucking terrified. Everyone was, except Violet, who must have been used to this stuff by now. And even she looked slightly nervous.
Rya was satisfied with herself for a long moment, then remembered that Phil was missing.
"So, what, none of you is going to go look for him?" She sighed, and you could say she almost crumpled back to her old self. Apparently she was out of steam after putting so much energy into being pants-shitting scary.
Everyone looked at Cassidy. Except Kenneth, who didn't know any better, so he just looked at Joel.
"Uh... why is everyone looking at me?" Cassidy asked obliviously.
Elly coughed really loudly.
Joel said: "Because you're supposed to be stalking him?"
Cassidy was quiet for a while, then said quietly, "Did everyone know about that already?"

There was another silence.

Then Cassidy realized what she had just said. "Shit, no, wait, I mean-"
Rya raised her ghostly eyebrows. Kenneth tilted his head as if examining Cassidy more closely. Joel made a half-assed attempt to suppress laughter. Elly bit her lip.
Cassidy turned to look at Violet. She looked a little taken aback, but mostly concerned. Cassidy looked at everyone else again and finally said, "Boy, I feel like a jerk."
Violet shook her head vigorously. She opened her mouth to say something, but everyone else's silence left her mouth hanging open.
Cassidy looked sadly at everyone else for a while, then sighed and shuffled away, her boots kicking up the sand on the beach.

Violet looked at everyone else in the group, suddenly feeling like her tether to them was lost, but still hoping they would do something.
They all just walked away too, leaving Violet and Rya alone on the cold, gray beach.

"Hey," Violet said.

Rya didn't say anything. Or even look at Violet. She just stared out into the horizon.

Violet sighed, her shoulders slumping. She decided to go to the condo.

And so she did, leaving Rya to sit alone at the beach once more.

Rya realized no one was going to look for Phil. And that other guy, too. So she decided, after some more staring, to go look for him by herself. It wasn't like she needed anyone else, anyway. She never really needed anyone else.

Except Phil.

He was the only one she needed. Even if everyone else failed her, even if she failed herself, she could put all her trust, all her self, into Phil.

So she went. Ghosts could move considerably faster than living humans, not needing to touch the ground, so she just sped off in the first direction she thought she detected a tiny trace of Phil's presence. That was probably bullshit, but it was better than spinning a bottle.

Meanwhile, everyone else was off doing other things. Most of the gang had gone to some restaurant or some kinda show or something. Fuck, who knew? Violet and Cassidy hadn't been paying attention. They had just been sitting far apart in their condo, not saying anything or looking at each other. Violet had tried to cheer Cassie up, but she had been completely resistant to any attempts Vi had made, so she gave up.

Phil and Andrew had moved on from the cheap bar and were now on the road again, listening to more bad radio. While the car radio no longer worked, Andrew had actually purchased a new radio off of some guy in the bar, in a shockingly convenient turn of events.
Phil was obviously not pleased about this. This time, though, he tried a new tactic: Just ignoring Andrew. He cast his thoughts elsewhere.
Within the span of five minutes, he nursed a craving for an egg creme, considered a career in teaching public school, and wondered how Rya was doing.

Rya... now there was a buzzer-beater. He had this weird, unsettling sense when he thought about Rya. And not just the "oh shit, a ghost" kind of unsettling sense. But there was something about her that made thinking about her... He didn't know what it did. Or what it was.
He didn't really know what to do about it, so he returned to reality. As he heard what was playing on the radio, he discovered that, in returning to reality, he had made a mistake.
"Oh, fuck yeah," Andrew proclaimed. "This is my THEME SONG!!" He turned the radio up at exactly the worst level he possibly could: Just loud enough to give Phil a headache, but not loud enough that he felt guilty complaining about it. Phil's eyes widened. "...Pour Some Sugar On Me?"
Andrew didn't hear him. He was too busy singing along with the chorus in a horrible, warbling voice.
You see, Phil was the kind of person who always complained when people sang along with music. The way he figured it, he listened to music to hear the song, not to hear someone else's rendition of the song. Even if they had a good voice. And Andrew, of course, had no such thing. Phil, therefore, was trying to figure out how he could punch Andrew in the face and still have enough time to grab the wheel and prevent the crash.

Andrew looked over at Phil and noticed he had an incredibly pissed look on his face. After about five seconds of this, he turned away and went back to singing more.
"...Why... exactly... is this your theme song?" Phil asked cautiously.
"Why do you THINK?" Andrew grinned.
"Please don't make me vomit in this car."
"This car has seen worse stains than that."
“The long-term effects aren't really my concern. Or yours."
"Well tough shit, Phil. I like this song, so why don't you just suck it up?"
"It's over already," Phil pointed out.
"Oh," Andrew said. Indeed, a commercial for some bank or something was coming on.

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Joel's Lolly

March 2011

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