Below is the first chapter of ‘Purgatech: Jess’ Horror’ which is fully available for free on FicFun through a website and online app!
Purgatech: Jess’ Horror By Mary Rajotte
The Boston College campus was awash in the colors of fall. Stately pines were interspersed with the gold and yellow maples that lined the campus. Leaves skittered across the courtyards, making a crunching sound under Jess Wilson’s boots as she trudged from her last class of the day past the administration building.
The moment she turned the corner, though, she wished she’d taken the long route.
Coach Simpson’s whistle echoed across the football field in short, intermittent bursts as he barked out orders to the football team in their muddied uniforms. The Eagles were geared up and practicing for the big face-off with their big rivals, the Panthers. Jess knew that rivalry all too well. Her boyfriend, Kyle, was the quarterback for the Panthers and always got a lot of playful ribbing from his teammates about dating a girl from their most hated arch enemies.
Spying the Ladyhawks along the sidelines, Jess dipped her head and picked up her pace as she passed them. They were usually too busy primping or slathering on lip gloss to shoot anything more than a catty look in her directions.
“Look out, girls,” Kara Pine called out, ruffling her pom-poms in Jess’ direction as she passed. “Here comes Morticia.”
Jess glared at the squad. Their candy-colored uniforms only made her despise them that much more. But she bit her tongue. Another confrontation with the head bitch was the last thing she was in the mood for today.
“Where you going in such a hurry, Mrs. Munster? Late for a meeting with your coven at cemetery?”
Don’t stop, Jess told herself. Don’t do it. You always regret it.
But she could hear them snickering behind her back. One quick glance over her shoulder at their snide looks was all it took. She stopped mid-step and turned to face them.
“You know, you guys really need to come up with a better burn than that.”
Kara flipped her blonde ponytail as she strutted toward Jess. “Oh, I’m sure I can come up with something a lot better than that, freak.”
“Wow. So original,” Jess said. She clenched her fists at her side to keep her temper under control but it didn’t matter.
Just as Kara started toward her, Jess felt a familiar sensation.
The air around her suddenly cooled. Stray leaves flitted up in a whirlwind around her as the breeze lifted. The hairs on her arms stood at attention, as though some electrical pulse of energy was coursing through her body.
Kara stopped. Her eyebrows knitted together and a look of confusion riddled her usual resting-bitch-face.
Something flickered just out of the corner of Jess’ peripheral vision. A shimmering shape materialized and then moved around from behind her. Like a shadow in reverse, it was pale blue-white and just slightly taller than her.
As if sensing the figure, Kara took a step back from Jess. Her teeth chattered and she clung to the hot pink hoodie she was wearing, zipping it all the way up.
“What? You’ve got nothing else to say?” Jess said, stepping toward Kara.
“You know what, Wilson?” Kara said, taking a step toward her. But just as she did, her head yanked back so forcefully that she let out a yelp.
“Hey! Watch it!” Kara yelled.
All at once, the rest of the cheerleading squad were on their feet and rushing toward their captain.
“What? Kara? What happened?” one of them asked.
“Didn’t you guys see that?” Kara shouted. “She pulled my hair!”
Kara’s partner-in-crime Nikki stepped around her and lunged at Jess. “What the hell, Jess? This isn’t elementary school!”
“I didn’t touch her!” Jess shouted.
“You did!” Kara said, her gaze darting around. “You…you yanked on my hair! You guys saw her, right?”
The girls let out a chorus of agreement.
“You know what? This is a waste of my time,” Jess said.
She brushed past them and moved in double-time to get away from them but the followed after her like a flock of vultures.
“Hey, where do you think you’re going, Wilson?” Nikki called out. “You know some people would consider that assault!”
Jess clenched her teeth together. Why the hell had she gone that way anyway? She should have known better.
“Hey, Jess, I’m talking to you!”
For a brief moment, Jess felt Nikki’s bony little fingers wrap around her bicep but just as Jess turned to confront her, Nikki gasped then did a face-plant in the mud.
Jess froze, covering her mouth with her hand and watching as Nikki flailed around in the mud for a second or two. By the time the rest of the girls had caught up to her, she was screeching and spitting out a mouthful of mud.
“Oh my god!” Kara shouted. “What the hell’s your problem, you freak?!”
Jess spun on her heel and raced away from the scene, letting the group hurl insults at her the whole way. It wasn’t until she’d made it across the road and around the block when she stopped.
She waited a beat…then another…and then burst out laughing.
A car pulled up beside her on the street and the driver leaned over the passenger side seat and called out to her.
“I see someone’s having a good day.”
Jess walked over to the passenger side window, leaned down and smiled at her boyfriend, Kyle Low. “I wasn’t…until now.”
She pulled the door open, slid into the seat and leaned over the console to kiss Kyle on the lips.
“Well, I’d like to think I had a little part in that,” he said.
“You’re half of the equation.”
“Oh?” he said. “And the other half?”
As he started up the street, Jess sunk down in her seat and cast a furtive look over her shoulder out the window. Kara and her minions had vacated the field.
“Oh, just a little run-in with the Ladyhawks.”
“Oh no. Not that again. I thought I told you to stay the hell away from those chicks.”
“I tried, babe. I really did but…”
“But what?” Kyle shot Jess a suspicious look out of the corner of his eye. “Babe…what did you do?”
Jess smirked. “Nothing.”
“Yeah, right. You’ve got that look again.”
“Oh? What look is that?”
“That look that tells me you did something you’re going to regret.”
Jess pushed herself upright and slipped on her seatbelt. “Look, all I did was stand up for myself.”
“Jesus, Jess…what does that mean?”
Jess rolled her eyes. “Look, you don’t get it. These catty girls make my life a living hell. I don’t go out of my way to get into it with them. But that doesn’t mean I’m going just let it slide when they antagonize me.”
Kyle was silent behind the wheel but Jess knew from the way his jaw was clenched and the pulsing vein on his forehead that he wasn’t exactly happy with her.
“Look, babe,” she cooed, turning toward him and leaning her head on his shoulder.
“Don’t babe me, Jess. You just bring this crap on yourself. If you would just…”
“Just what?” Jess said, sitting upright again and string at him. “Go on. Say it.”
He shook his head.
“Just say it.” When he still didn’t respond, Jess pulled away from him. “If I just stopped with all this spiritual vibe nonsense, it that what you were going to say?”
He shrugged and let out a sigh. “Well, yeah. I mean…you’re just making yourself a target when you go around telling people you believe in crap like that.”
“You know what?” Jess said, turning and looking at the window before she went off on him. “I don’t actually advertise it. I told one person that one time and now it follows me around like I’ve got some kind of Scarlet Letter pinned on my chest.”
Jess clenched her hands together in her lap and shook her head. This was why she was choosy about her friends. When they were kids growing up, she and Kara were friends. Best friends. They had sleepovers every Saturday night and the only time they fought was about which cheesy movie they would watch first. It took Jess a long time to build the trust she did in Kara but when she did, she thought it would be safe to tell her about all the strange happenings that had surrounded her while she was growing up.
It wasn’t long after Jess’ parents died in a car accident that she started to have experiences. She tried to ignore them at first but it was only after so many whispers in the dark and that feeling that something was watching over her that Jess started to believe.
Her Gram wanted her to keep things normal so just a few weeks after the accident, Jess was back at Kara’s for a slumber party. Jess remembered every last painful moment like it had just happened to her.
“Here,” Kara said, shoving a box at her.
Jess looked down at it. “What’s this for?”
Kara pulled off the lid, lifted the board and unfolded it. It was pale brown with dark letters scattered across it. A Ouija board. Her first foray into the unknown.
They’d both sat there, giggling with their fingers placed on the planchette, neither of them expecting it to move. But it did. And things were never the same again.
“Who do we contact?” Kara asked.
Without thought, Jess said, “Mom? Dad? Are you there? It’s me. Jess.”
When nothing happened, Jess felt her stomach drop.
But she waited, hoping with everything in her that something would happen, that the indicator would move. When it finally did, Kara looked up at Jess accusingly.
“You moved it!”
“I didn’t!” Jess remembered crying out.
“You did! It’s not funny, Jess! Just because you’re an orphan, doesn’t mean you can go trying to scare me!”
Jess remembered feeling an overwhelming sense of anger as the hot tears rolled down her cheeks. She looked up at Kara. Her eyes were wide. Her pupils round as saucers. Then just as she got up to leave, she flew a few feet across the room and face-planted on the floor.
The same way she had today on the football field.
“Look, babe. I’m sorry alright?” Kyle said, interrupting Jess’ memory.
They’d arrived at Jess’ place a few blocks from campus. Kyle put the car into park and went to turn off the ignition.
“You know what? I have a headache. Why don’t we just go out tomorrow?”
“Jess…come on. Don’t be like that. I drove all the way here, don’t let something as stupid as this ruin it. I said I was sorry, alright?”
Jess couldn’t even look at him. She knew how he felt about things, but she thought he’d at least be a little more supportive of her.
She couldn’t listen to one more lame apology. She opened the car door and slid out of the seat, leaning down before she said, “I’ll talk to you later.”
She slammed the door before he could finish. She spun around, directly into the arms of her best friend, Erica.
“Whoa! Lover’s spat?” Erica said. “From what I hear, that’s not the only fight you got into today.”
Jess rolled her eyes and tilted her head to one side. “Look, I just heard it from your brother in there. So please…if you’re going to chew me out-”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Jess,” she said, holding both hands up in protest. “I wasn’t even. In fact, after I heard what happened with those Hawk beyotches, I figured you could use a little pick-me-up.”
Erica held up a grocery bag.
“Cookie dough. Your favorite. We can eat it with a spoon right out of the package! Huh? What do you say?”
Erica nudged Jess a few times. “Come on. You know my brother’s an idiot,” she said, making a face at Kyle over Jess’ shoulder.
“You can say that again.”
“And that’s why you live with me and not him. Come on.”
Before Jess could protest, Erica had taken her by the hand and pulled her up the walkway. Jess felt momentarily guilty for not saying anything to Kyle, so she stopped short of going up the steps to the porch. When she turned around to at least give him a perfunctory wave, Kyle sped off, leaving her standing there with her hand in the air.
“I don’t know what you see in him, anyway,” Erica said, bounding up the steps and unlocking the front door. “I mean he’s my brother and I love him. But he’s also an idiot.”
Erica laughed as she pushed open the door and went inside. Jess reluctantly followed after her, and had just closed the door behind her and was walking into the kitchen when there was a knock on the door.
“Well, that didn’t take long! I knew he wouldn’t bail after driving for two hours just to see you. Time to kiss and make up!” Erica called out to her. “Don’t let him talk you into ditching me, though! You and I have a date with this chocolate chunk cookie dough!”
Jess couldn’t help but smile. She knew how Kyle felt about her and her beliefs. But they’d been together for almost six months now. If he didn’t know her by now, that she wasn’t just making things up, then he didn’t know her at all.
She went to the front door and hauled it open.
“So, who gets to apologize first?”
Jess’s smile froze then slid from her face, leaving her expression blank.
Jess’ pulse instantly quickened. Sheriff Wolf stood in front of her, his hat tucked under one arm. He shifted from one foot to the other, his mouth pulled into something between a weak smile and an awkward grimace.
“Is that pathetic brother of mine groveling yet?” Erica said.
Jess didn’t answer, not even when Erica came stomping up the hall behind her.
“What is it? What’s going on?” Erica said, the panic in her voice going from zero to 50 in 2.5 seconds. “Is it Kyle? What happened to him? He just left here!”
Sheriff Wolf nodded his head and gestured inside.
“This isn’t about Kyle. This is about…your grandmother, Miss Wilson. Can I come in?”
Jess was vaguely aware of moving aside and allowing the sheriff to come in. She barely felt Erica’s hand grab hers and lead her into the living room. Her ears were ringing so loudly that she had no idea what the Sheriff was saying but his face told the story. His eyebrows dipped together in the middle like two sad caterpillars. He kept scratching at the back of his neck as his lips moved. Everything he said fell on deaf ears but Jess didn’t need to hear him to know she was about to live another nightmare.
– END OF CHAPTER 1 –
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