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Authors: R.L. Stine

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BOOK: The Prom Queen
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7

“G
uess who called me last night and asked me to the prom?” I said. “Lucas Brown!”


No!
” shrieked Dawn and Rachel.

We were in my green Toyota Tercel, heading for the Division Street Mall. It was a quarter to five on Wednesday night. Two long weeks had passed since Simone had disappeared. Two weeks with no call from any kidnapper. Two weeks that must have seemed like ten years to Mr. and Mrs. Perry.

I hadn't been able to stop thinking about her for a minute. No matter what I talked about now, she was there, like a dark shadow, following me everywhere.

“Tell me what he said, word for word,” insisted Dawn.

“He said, ‘Guess who you're going to the prom with? Me!' ”

Dawn and Rachel both laughed at my imitation of his voice and abrupt manner. I wasn't laughing, though. The phone call had given me a chill.

“What did you say to him?” Rachel asked.

“I was very polite. I pretended he wasn't a creep. I said thanks, but I was still hoping Kevin would get permission to come. Which is the truth.”

“And not only that, you think Lucas is a psycho killer,” Rachel added. “Just what any girl wants for a prom date.”

“You don't really think that,” Dawn said to me. “Oh, come on,” she said. “Lucas?”

“Hey,” I said, “I just think he's weird, that's all. Everybody thinks so. And then, there's the jacket.”

That's what I had remembered as I left Simone's house. The guy I saw running away from the Perry house was wearing a maroon satin jacket. Same as the Shadyside High baseball jackets.

Dawn's legs appeared in my rearview mirror. She was lying in the backseat, doing leg lifts. “Can't you two talk about anything else?” she said.

“No,” I answered simply. “As a matter of fact, we can't.”

“Okay,” Dawn said, “so he was wearing a maroon jacket. That doesn't mean he was on the baseball team. Psychos are allowed to wear maroon too, you know.”

“Yeah, but don't you see?” I removed one hand
from the wheel and sawed the air with it to emphasize my point. “Lucas is on the baseball team. It's the one thing he has to be proud of, even though he almost never plays. He almost always wears that jacket.”

“Oh, come on,” Dawn said. “Why would Lucas Brown kill Simone?”

“Revenge. He's hated Simone's guts ever since she dumped him.”

“Get serious,” Dawn said. “People don't go around murdering people who've dumped them!”

“Lucas isn't just anybody,” I reminded her. “He's a first-class lunatic.”

“And his eyes are a little crossed,” Rachel chimed in.

Dawn snickered. “Having an eye problem doesn't make him a murderer.”

“Well, he's definitely on the weird side, that's for sure,” Rachel said. “I heard when his parents decided to put his dog to sleep, Lucas went out and hanged it from a maple tree in his backyard.”

“Oh, puh-lease,” groaned Dawn. “Where'd you hear that garbage?”

“Gideon,” admitted Rachel, blushing. I took my eyes off the road and glanced at her. It occurred to me that Gideon was on the baseball team as well. But why would—

Dawn sat up and broke my train of thought. “Look, Lizzy,” she said. “You
know
who did it. So do I. So does everybody else in Shadyside.”

Rachel's eyes widened. “Who?”

“The same madman who killed that girl from Waynesbridge and dragged her to the Fear Street woods,” answered Dawn.
“And
the girl over in Durham. Now, why would Lucas kill
those
girls? Did they dump him too?”

“I don't know,” I said. “Maybe he just wants to see himself on TV. He keeps a journal of strange deaths and murders, you know.”

Dawn rolled her eyes. “Oh, he just thinks that makes him cool.”

I thought about this for a moment. I guess I
was
overreacting. The thought of Lucas actually killing Simone did seem incredible.

“Maybe you're right,” I said.

We were driving by school now. All the lights were out. The building loomed in the twilight like an ancient and evil castle.

Great—now even our school was scaring me.

I made a left at the light. Rachel turned to me, surprised.

“Hey,” Dawn said from the backseat. “Division Street is thataway.”

“I want to stop at Simone's,” I explained. “See if there's any news.”

Dawn complained, but I insisted. A minute later I swung the car into the Perrys' driveway and parked behind their big silver Lincoln. The porch light was on. I guess the Perrys were still praying that Simone would return.

Rachel went with me as I rang the doorbell. Dawn waited in the car.

Mr. Perry answered, more haggard than before. His white shirt and tie were rumpled, as if he had slept in his clothes, and a day's growth of beard darkened his face.

“No kidnapper has called,” he told us sadly. He stared out over our heads at the car.

“It's Dawn,” I explained.

He nodded. “Listen,” he said, “I don't want to scare you, but at this point the police are considering it very serious. They say they could be dealing with the same man who—”

He stopped. He couldn't bring himself to say the word
killed.
Instead, he said, “The same man they're looking for about those other two girls.”

His eyes met mine. It was as if the life had gone out of them. He didn't even manage a slight smile. “Get home safe,” he told us and closed the door.

Back in the car Dawn read our faces. She didn't need to ask if there was any news.

As we drove on to the mall, Rachel said, “She was the best actress, you know? Really gifted.”

“She was one of the funniest people I've ever met,” I agreed.

“I can't believe the whole thing,” Rachel went on. “That she's gone, you know? There's like this big, gaping hole in my life where a friend used to be.”

I bit my lip. “It's true what they say. You end up wishing you had said all these things to her, before.”

“Like ‘I love you,' ” Rachel agreed.

“Oh, barf!” was Dawn's response.

“What?” I took my eyes off the road to glare at her in the rearview mirror.

“You heard me. I'm throwing up back here.”

I could feel the anger rising in my throat. “How can you be so insensitive?”

“Look,” Dawn said. “What happened to Simone is a tragedy. I'm as sorry as you guys are. But let's not exaggerate. Simone was never my best friend. And if you guys are honest with yourselves, you'll admit she wasn't your best friend, either. She was incredibly self-centered. I mean, can you name one single thing she ever did for either of you?”

“Just shut up, will you?” I stepped on the gas. I could feel the back of my neck getting hot.

I was driving about twenty miles an hour over the speed limit. We rode in silence for several miles.

“Look—” Dawn started up again—“hate me if you like, but all I'm saying is that we should try to get this off our minds for a few hours.”

“How?” I asked miserably.

“By going ahead with our plan. We're going to the mall, right? We're going to check out sexy prom dresses that will have all the guys drooling. And then we're going to catch a movie. And we're going to have a great time. Agreed?”

Rachel and I exchanged glances. I shrugged. “Agreed,” Rachel and I both said in unison. But neither of us believed it.

Then Dawn clapped her hands together. “Hey,” she said. “The prom is only two and a half weeks away!”

“Great,” said Rachel gloomily.

Dawn said, “I've got to decide who I'm going with pretty soon.”

True to her prediction, Dawn had already been asked to the prom by three boys.

“I wouldn't mind being asked by three guys,” Rachel grumbled.

“Everyone knows you're going with Gideon,” I told her, “so no one would ask you.”

“Right,” said Rachel.

“It's true. If you want offers, break up with Gideon. You'll get plenty of guys asking you to the prom.”

“Great idea,” Rachel said, rolling her eyes.

“What about you?” Dawn asked me. “What are you going to do if Kevin can't come?”

“Go by myself, I guess,” I said weakly.

“Wouldn't you feel really sorry for yourself?” Dawn asked.

“No.” I shook my head, feeling totally sorry for myself.

Dawn said, “I talked to Lisa Blume today. She says they've hired a great rock band, the Razors, to play at the dance.”

I nodded without enthusiasm. I was picturing myself dancing all alone.

A few minutes later I was posing in front of a three-sided mirror in a tight pink prom dress. We
were in Ferrara's at the Division Street Mall. The prices in this store were outrageous, but my mom had told me not to worry about money when I was picking out my dress. I turned to the left, the right.

“It's not flattering, if you know what I mean,” Dawn sniped, trying to hide her amused expression.

I felt my face grow hot.

“Just being helpful,” Dawn said. “Which I don't have to be, considering we're competing against each other.”

I went back to flipping through dresses on the rack. Farther down the row I could see Rachel, holding up an ugly red sheath dress. She pointed at it and looked at me questioningly. I shook my head but smiled kindly. I wasn't going to be like Dawn!

“What do you want me to say?” Dawn continued. “That it looks great when it doesn't?”

I shrugged.

“Admit it,” Dawn said, poking me in the ribs, “you know I'm going to win, so why don't you just stop worrying? It doesn't matter what you wear.”

“Right.”

“But it's true. I always win everything, and you know it!”

I stared at her in disbelief. She just didn't know when to stop. What was worse, she wasn't kidding around anymore. I could tell that she was completely serious.

Then I saw it. Black, with spaghetti straps and a plunging neckline. It was so sexy, I could almost
imagine guys fainting over the dress even without anyone in it. “Oooooh,” I gushed, pulling it off the rack.

“Let me see!” Dawn snapped, grabbing at the hanger.

“Hold on,” I said. “I found it first.”

But Dawn kept yanking on the dress. Other customers were starting to stare. “Lizzy, don't be
stupid,”
Dawn hissed. “It would look so much better on me, and you know it. You're not tall enough for a dress like this.”

She gave a final yank and pulled the dress out of my hands.

“Thank you,” she said, smiling icily. “Hold these, will you?” She handed me the three dresses she'd already picked out and flounced off toward the dressing rooms.

I stared after her. I had only one question for myself—why did I bother staying friends with Dawn?

I was so angry, I wanted to scream. But I didn't. I didn't even say a word. I just let her walk off with
my
dress. Which made me even angrier, of course.

That's one of my problems. I never get angry quick enough. I never speak up when I
am
really mad. And then I feel silly bringing it up later.

I thought about Simone. What would she do if she were here? She'd scream at Dawn. For starters. Simone wasn't big on holding back. Then she'd probably start doing some funny imitation of how
competitive Dawn was. Something that would make Dawn furious but the rest of us laugh.

My anger was starting to fade. In its place came a feeling of terrible loss. Simone would never, ever make me laugh again. Except in my memory. I couldn't take it all in, but it was true.

Simone was dead. The words sounded so strange, even when I said them silently.

I looked at my watch—twenty to six. “Rachel,” I called, “we've got to go. We're going to miss the movie.” Rachel looked at her watch and put the dress she was holding back on the rack.

“Ta-da!” Dawn burst out of the dressing room in the black dress and struck a series of sexy poses. I had to admit, she looked fantastic.

“Okay, Madonna,” I said. “It's showtime.”

Dawn bought the black dress—our only purchase. Then we hurried to the movie theater.

After we got our tickets, Dawn and Rachel went inside to get seats while I got popcorn. I stood in the line, trying to decide if I should also get some Goobers. Not if I wanted to look good in my prom dress, I answered myself.

I was so lost in thought over this life-or-death issue that I almost didn't notice who was standing in front of me in line.

Spiky platinum hair. A tight black tank top decorated with sequins. Incredibly tight jeans that showed off a pair of thin, sexy legs. Even from the back I knew who it was: Suki Thomas. Suki was
very popular with the boys at Shadyside High. And they weren't exactly interested in her because she could help them with their homework!

She had her arms wrapped around the neck of her date and was giggling in his ear. “Get the ice cream bonbons,” she murmured huskily.

Her date was laughing. As he pulled away so he could talk to the candy counter clerk, I saw who he was.

Justin.

When he turned and saw me, he blushed. I'll give him that much.

“Hey,” he said as if he were really glad to see me.

“Hi, Justin. Hi, Suki,” I said, trying to keep the surprise off my face.

“Hey, Lizzy,” Suki said. “Are you as excited as I am?”

“What about?” I asked.

“I mean, just think,” Suki gushed, “a new Christian Slater movie. Wow.”

Justin had paid for their popcorn. “C'mon,” he said, pulling her away. “I want to get good seats.”

I couldn't believe it. I knew Justin had been going from girl to girl, even before Simone disappeared. He had been with Elana the day Simone disappeared. And Dawn and Rachel had each gone out with him too.

BOOK: The Prom Queen
13.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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