note: This is the first chapter of a novel I've been writing. Each chapter follows a different character and is told from their perspective, with each sequential chapter being linear to the story. This is "comic of age" horror story with a mystery element. While this selection may not seem overtly horrific or give a good idea of the grand plot, I plan to release other chapters for feedback. So let me know what you think.
Staring up at the speckled popcorn ceiling, all that seemed to go through Chase's mind were images of bullfrogs being squished up against a gray rock. It wasn't something that he particularly wanted to think about but it was also something he just couldn't get out of his head. The guts smashing up against the rock. The sickening mixture of squish and crunch that followed. The mixture of green and red that, oddly enough, reminded him of Christmas ribbon. It was all so visceral and so unlike anything Chase had seen before; he could vividly remember even the blue shirt, tattered jeans, and white Adidas he had on. He couldn't really remember what the others had on though. He was a narcissist in that way.
The act of Tommy Tuscadero's brother smashing the frog occurred nearly three years ago yet it still seemed to haunt him, especially in the last week or so. It would play through his head on the school bus, in the grocery store, at dinner -- usually followed by said dinner not being eaten -- and even sometimes during brief moments when jerking off. It's not like he ever wanted that to happen. Half a second would happen to slip in between Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence and suddenly that expanded into some of the climax. I have the worst fucking luck, always popped into his head the moment one of these types of things happened. Tommy wiped himself off in shame that night, equating it to accidentally thinking about his mom during climax. Sub sequentially that thought eventually haunted him enough to manifest itself during one of those times, a moment that Chase has long since erased in his memory bank. The frog though? Impossible to forget.
It wasn't that Tommy was a sadistic child . . . or at least he didn't think so. In fact, he was quite the opposite. He couldn't imagine hurting another creature on this earth, especially not one that was so innocent. That was the problem. What had a frog ever done to him? Frogs were always put in a good light when he was grown up. They were busy chatting it up with toads or kissing princesses. What could be so wrong about them? Tommy's brother Jason seemed to have a vendetta against them, judging by the amount of hate he put behind every swing. Maybe a frog touched him in his no-no area, Chase would sometimes chuckle to himself. Accidentally repeating that joke to Tommy resulted in a severe kick in the ass the next time they crossed paths. It didn't take long for Chase to figure out that sometimes he just needed to keep his mouth shut, no matter how funny he thought he was being.
Chase's grasp on the effect of the frog smashing was certainly light. He had seen much worse things on the internet -- and to actual human beings, not just frogs. They consisted of a man shoving a dildo down his urethra, a person having glass jar break inside their ass, two girls eating and vomiting shit onto each other. Yeah, Chase was like any teenage boy with an internet connection, testing just how far his limits were. And tested he did, yet still nothing affected him more than that damn frog. Even Tommy had no issues with it, which was all the more odd given that he tended to pass out at the sight of blood, let alone the ritualistic slaughtering of a poor amphibian. And yet Chase was the weird one.
No, Chase was as normal as anyone else. Or at least, he considered himself to be. Maybe the kids at school didn't agree but --
"Chase, hurry up, we're not gonna be late because you're busy playing with yourself. Get a move on!" his mother yelled from downstairs, breaking his train of thought.
Quickly Chase's mind raced, Wait, does she really think I'm jerking off? Chase immediately realized how stupid that sounded. Get your head out of your ass, dumb, dumb. She was making a joke.
"Yeah, I'll be down in a minute," Chase answered after a long and awkward silence.
“Not a minute. Now!" his mom barked through the wall.
Chase jumped off the bed, shaking his head, Jesus mom, be more of a stereotype. He grabbed his bag, something catching his eye from the corner of his room -- a dark blue pouch, small enough to fit a lunch in. Chase shook his head, debating whether or not to bring it or not. It could help him make friends. Or enemies. At least I'll be known as something, Chase thought as he grabbed the small pouch. Taking one last look at his room, the various video game posters and massive gaming computer in the corner, he sighed. Chase was in his room more than he spent time anywhere else (though some of that could easily be attributed to sleep. Either way, he spent a lot of time in there). And he was almost always attached to technology. Now he was going to be without it for two weeks. With a sigh, he shut the door behind them, hauling ass down the hall and down the stairs, just in time to hear his mother shout out, "I swear to god, if you take one more--"
"Mom, relax. I was just talking to Evan. Can I talk to my friends?" he asked with at least a little sincerity, despite the fact that he was lying through his teeth.
"I told you, 12:30. The bus leaves at 1:00 and it takes twenty-five minutes to get to Spaulding. So we now have…" his mother angrily checked her watch, ". . . nineteen minutes to get there. And I am not taking you all the way to Camp Watanka. My car can't take that long of a drive. We're doing the bus for a reason."
"Yeah. . . I know." he said, angrily. Why did his mom always have to state the obvious every time to prove her point? It's not like Chase wasn't fully aware of her reasoning's for not going. She wanted to meet up with that boyfriend of hers. Chase never understood why his mother couldn't just be honest with him. He was in High School; she should have been able to treat him like an adult.
"You better stop acting like such a mopey little brat. How're you ever going to make friends with an attitude like that?" she said harshly. She didn't mean to be so cruel, she was just raised in a very tough and straightforward house. She was raised to take and give no bullshit, a trait she carried onto her parenting. Chase knew this, but he didn't really care.
"Yes, because a smile is gonna do the trick," Chase replied with defeated sarcasm. It's not like Chase hadn't tried to fit in. He had gone through more haircuts and wardrobe changes than he could remember. Yet none of them really fit his personality and everyone seemed to know. The kids at school were like rabid dogs, smelling any sign of weakness. Chase's lack of personal identity made him more than a target: it made him a prisoner. No matter what he did, he was always seen as fake. The reputation seemed to follow him around as well.
Being the new kid was just another aspect of life that Chase had become used to. His mother moved around so much, jumping job to job or boyfriend to boyfriend, it made it hard to even finish out a single school year, let alone make anything resembling a "best friend." Hell, the more years passed by, the more it became harder to make something even close to a "friend."
"You need to just get over your whole fear of new places. This is healthy for you. Helps you meet new people," she said with a southern drawl, not present before.
"Yeah, it's really fucking helped," Chase said, rolling his eyes. Yet another time where his mother would pick up a trait from her boyfriend, just like the time she switched to cigars from cigarettes and ended up sick all night.
"Chase Daniel! Language! I am not your father. Do not think for one second that you can do that around me," she snorted. Chase shook his head, knowing just how far from the truth that ever could be. His father was far more strict than his mother. Much more strict. It was so bad that he considered his mom to be the lesser of two evils, deciding to live with her instead, a decision that may haunt his older self. Maybe a little guidance would have done him good. Maybe he could have really turned things around. Maybe he'd be going out to parties on the lake with his beautiful girlfriend and loyal best friends. But he couldn’t just live his life in a world of maybes. No matter how much he thought of these things, nothing ever changed. Why would it? For effect there must be cause, and Chase just never seemed to be able to light the candle.
"Look, I just want you to have a good time. I'm sick of spending all this money to send you places --"
"No," Chase corrected, "You're spending Dad’s money."
"Regardless," She responded, treating the situation as if he wasn't dead on, "There has been a lot of money spent on you in order for you to have fun. So please, I don't want to hear anything from you or from one of your counselors. I won't be picking you up within a day just because you decided to get yourself in trouble. In fact, the number I left with the camp is your Aunt Jeannie's so if you want to leave, you're going to be spending the rest of the time with her, got it?"
Oh god. Not Aunt Jeannie, Chase thought, shaking his head at the suggestion.
"That's what I thought," His mother said with a pompous attitude, "Just remember this is something that you're going to look back on years from now and wish you could go back to. Once in a life time. You'll never forget it."
Like he could ever forget. He was going to summer camp. He had been dreading it for weeks.
And hoping like hell for no frogs.
END CHAPTER ONE