There are things Michael doesn't think about now. Things he remembers at night for a split second before he makes them disappear. The method differs from night to night. Most nights it's as simple as putting on his headphones or banging on Sam's wall until Sam wakes up and comes over to tell him to knock it off. Anything to distract him. He thinks about going out back sometimes, seeing if Star wants company in the gazebo they fixed up for her and Laddie, but that would be too close.
Mostly he remembers flying.
Star never wants to talk about it, which is fine with Michael because he doesn't want to talk about it either. He wants to do it. He wants to leap out the window and not touch the ground but at the same time he doesn't want to even recall that it's possible to do that. That's the problem right there. He doesn't want to want to remember.
They weren't really the sort of guys he'd have hung out with back in Arizona. In the small hours of the morning Michael admitted to himself that he'd been a lot of talk before but pretty much no action. It was easier to keep the peace that way. California made everything different. There was something in the air in Santa Carla, something Michael hadn't known how to identify when they arrived, something that made everyone act a little off somehow. Later on, in the moments when he let himself think about it, he decided that it must be something about the vampires.
The Frog brothers were full of theories and spouted off about them given the slightest provocation so Michael kept his mouth shut around them. Besides, they were Sam's friends and even Sam wasn't too sure of them. Michael thought maybe the vampires made people careless, absent minded, reckless, easier to pick off. It made sense but it didn't explain why, months later, Michael still had dreams about the vampires or why he still found himself wondering whether it would have been so bad.
There'd been a night early on, the second night, when he had felt almost right.
Paul and Dwayne were amusing themselves by breaking old furniture from the hotel. The whole place was still there, just a caved in ruin sunk into the fault. It took a light step and fast reflexes to explore it. Fortunately for Dwayne and Paul, vampires had both. Michael had followed David and Marko, leaving Star and Laddie behind in the main room. Off in the distance, down twisted hallways where the walls were now the floors, Dwayne was shouting to Paul to toss him a chair.
"Idiots," David muttered, kicking open a door and handing his torch to Michael. "I keep telling them and telling them if they break up too much furniture one of them'll end up with a stake in the heart."
Marko snickered as he hoisted himself easily into a hole in the ceiling. "I guess we'll hear if it happens," he said before he disappeared entirely.
David shook his head and gestured for Michael to go up first.
Michael looked around for something to grab hold of. The only thing there was a thin pipe hanging down from the hole. He reached up to grab it and found himself floating a few feet off the floor. David must have seen his startled look because he laughed and clapped Michael on the back then shoved him up further. Michael reached up and felt Marko's hand grab his own, tugging him to the side. David was right behind him, drifting up through the hole and hovering there, waiting.
"Great place, huh?" Marko asked, letting go of Michael's hand and leaping through the darkness. Michael still had the torch and held it up. There was a long passage ahead of them, full of holes and pits. Marko was flying over the pits, pausing every so often to look back at them.
David grinned at Michael in the dark, his eyes reflecting the torchlight. "Let Marko get ahead a bit," he said to Michael. "He's always finding new places to explore in here, but I know it all by heart."
Before Michael had a chance to say anything David took the torch and tossed it through the hole they'd come up from. It landed in a barrel, flickering for a moment before going out. The passage was pitch dark and it took a few breaths before Michael realized he could see. David laughed, obviously enjoying watching Michael adjust. "It only gets better," he whispered before grabbing Michael by the collar and pulling him along the passage.
While they flew David told Michael about the hotel, about how it had looked when it was new and the people who'd come to see it and stay there. Michael was only half listening, taking in one word out of twelve as they swerved out of the passage and through ruined sitting rooms and hallways. The carpets were long since rotted away, leaving stains on the warped floorboards. Paintings were slashed to ribbons and fixtures hung from thick old fashioned wiring. The whole place was falling apart, but it was clear it had once been beautiful. A folly of the time, built in precisely the wrong place.
They stopped in a room with no floor where the windows looked up, out of the fault and towards the sky.
"So, what do you think?" David asked.
Michael was still a clumsy flyer, reaching out to steady himself against a wall. The stars were still visible, though the sky was growing lighter. Michael realized he'd lost track of the time completely. "It's great," he assured David, who was staring at him, waiting for a response.
"Yeah," David agreed.
They floated there for a few minutes, watching the night disappear. When the first touch of pink entered view David drifted lower into the shadows. "Come on," he said to Michael. "Got to go find the boys."
It wasn't hard to find Paul and Dwayne. They just had to follow the sounds of splintering wood. Marko was back with Star and Laddie, telling Star about how he'd found the vault that rich people stored their valuables in when they'd come to stay. It was looted though, had been long before the vampires had moved in.
Michael watched as Dwayne and Paul shook off dust and bits of wood, laughing and shoving each other around the room. Laddie followed them around, asking if he could come next time. One by one they all headed away, leaving Michael and David alone in the main room.
"Come back tomorrow night," David told him before he left.
Michael went home and by the next night it had all gone to hell. But for that one night with David and the others, there was something right about it.
Michael isn't sure now what day it all happened on, or if it happened at all. It might have been a week, maybe three days. It's unclear, like when you've been awake for longer than you should be and later you can't tell whether you dropped off or not. He hasn't gone back to the hotel since and he's not sure he ever will. No one ever came looking for David or the others. No one asked questions and no one seemed to care.
The fence was repaired soon after the incident. They buried the bodies in the field beyond the house. Star and Laddie took up residence in the gazebo and in September Sam went back to school. Michael stayed home with his mother and helped to repair the house. He figured it was the least he could do after he'd been instrumental in messing the place up.
Everything seems normal now, or as normal as things can get when you've seen and done what the Emersons did, but Michael can't help but feel uneasy. He's not sure why. Max is gone, David is gone, all of them are dead and buried and not coming back. It's pointless to wonder, especially when wondering ends in thoughts of blood and gore and the dead bodies of innocent people. But there are still missing posters all over town. More than there should be with Max and his gang gone.
At night Michael sits on his bed by the window and stares into the darkness and doesn't go looking for vampires.