In the fluorescent lights in front of the school, Thomas Faherty’s face floated, pale yellow, above his charcoal suit. Gripping his briefcase, he greeted Daryl with all of his tolerance and the impressive, pressed-on smile he used during the campaign.
Daryl handed him a sagging grocery bag that crinkled when Thomas looked inside.
“That’s all I could get.”
“D’you shoot it yourself?”
“He’s a good shot.” Thomas flashed newly-whitened teeth. “Good to know.”
Thomas reached in the bag. He pulled out his bloodied hand, and smudged his forehead with it. “All set.”
Daryl’s eyebrows furrowed, and a crease appeared on the right side of his mouth.
“Oh,” Thomas waved his hand in the air, swatting away doubt. “It’s just a ritual thing. Doesn’t mean anything.”
“Kinda weird, Tom.”
“Thomas,” he corrected. “Let’s go.”
Their feet tapped crisply in the hallways as they approached the gymnasium. Entering, they were quick to locate the battery of voting booths, pushed to the wall.
“This one!” Thomas declared, as he threw open a booth curtain to reveal the computer inside. He reached behind the monitor and turned it on.
“While this is starting up, rub a little of the blood on the back of the computer, will ya?” Thomas asked.
“Gross, man.” Daryl crinkled his nose.
“Are you going to help me or not? I have to light some candles.”
“Do I use a paper towel, or what?”
“I don’t care if you rub the whole chipmunk on the back panel. Just do it.”
Just about to importantly storm off, Thomas heard Daryl ask, “What do I get to run when you win this thing, again?”
“Parks. Parks and recreation.”
“Outside stuff. Cool. Kids’ll like that.”
Thomas set his briefcase on the floor and reviewed the spell’s requirements. Darn. He needed a star. Looking around, he spotted one high on the wall. “Be a STAR!” it proclaimed, pictures and names surrounding it.
He dragged a table to the wall, and stretching as far as he could, we was able to rip it down. Awkwardly climbing down, he placed the star on the floor and wiped his brow with a handkerchief. He took five candles from the briefcase and placed a candle at each point of the star. He lit all five, and standing in the center, recited a short Latin verse. He then blew the candles out and returned to Daryl.
“Chipmunk’s back in the bag.”
“Oh.” Thomas didn’t care. “OK, let’s try this thing.”
“What do we have to do?”
“Hm. Not sure. How about you try to vote for Wagner.”
“Not for you?”
“No. If you vote for Wagner, I want to see if it changes the vote for ME.”
“Oh. OK.” Daryl ambled to the computer and inserted the cartridge that accessed the ballots.
“Vote for Mayor,” the computer screen read. “Please select a name from the list below.”
“OK. I’m going to hit ‘Wagner’, right?”
“Ok. Now it wants to know if I’m sure.”
“OK. ‘Yes.’” Daryl turned around and smiled his accomplishment at Thomas. “It’s done.”
It only took another three seconds for Daryl to disappear in a puff of smoke.
“Oh, shit!” Thomas ran to the computer.
It read: “You have voted for ‘Faherty’. Thank you for voting! Have a nice day.”
Thomas sat down on the ground. “Dammit!” His hands pressed his forehead, sliding his eyelids up, his eyes cartoonish and unblinking.
“Who saw me with him tonight?” He got up and began to pace. “How did he get the school key? Did he tell anyone where he was going? Did he say who he’d be with?”
Thomas sat back down and put his head in his hands. He knew he’d have to get rid of that computer. He also knew he’d have to visit Daryl’s family.
“Ugh. Time to go get the gun. I hate doing this.” Looking at his hands, he realized they were now covered with the blood from his head. He began to wipe them off on his pants, and pushing out a breath, he stood up again.
“Damn chipmunk. Shoulda gotten a lamb.”