After the whole...fiasco with Chloe, Jeremy ran into a bathroom, looking for a place to hide for a while and collect his thoughts. He locks the door, and takes several deep breaths, finally walking over to sit down on the edge of the tub. He made a promise to go back out soon, after all, it would be uncool to just loiter in a bathroom all party. He thought made him cringe.
Without him noticing, a gnarled green monster’s hand reaches up to grab him, startling Jeremy, who screamed. The hand pulls itself up, or did something like that. It took all of Jeremy’s might not to whirl away and flee, however, a voice interrupted his monologue.
“Sup.” they said, and Jeremy turned around. It was...Michael?
“ I didn’t know you were invited to this party.” Jeremy said, getting straight to the point. Why was Michael even here? He didn’t even like parties.
Michael sighed. “I wasn’t. Which is why I’m wearing…this clever disguise!” He grins at his friend, hoping for at least a polite grin at his antics. Instead, he was met with a blank stare. He continues. “You’re speechless. Squip got your tongue?” The way he said it was off, like he expected something, but was taunting him nonetheless.
“It’s…off. “ Jeremy replies. He was not expecting the surprise of it to dance across Michael’s eyes though. He cleared his throat.
“That would explain why you’re talking to me.” An awkward silence follows, but Michael continues. “I’ve been thinking about this moment. What I would say to you? I had this really pissed off monologue, an epic journey through twelve years of friendship…” Michael drifts off, before noticing a weird expression on Jeremy’s face.
“I-It’s really good to see you, man.” Jeremy said with a smile.
“It won’t be. Once you hear what I found out.” He seems sad, but resolute in what he has to say.
Jeremy huffed. Really? Not even Michael will let him be happy? “Found out?”
“About…” He reaches up and taps the side of his head. Jeremy looks confused for a second, but his eyes then widened in realization. The SQUIP, of course.
“How? There’s nothing on the internet—”
Michael cuts him off before he can finish. “Which is weird, right? I mean, what’s not on the internet? So I starting asking around. Finally, this guy I play Warcraft with... Told me how his brother went from a straight D student to a freshman at Harvard. You know where he is now?” His eyes look frantic, begging for him to get this.
Jeremy scoffed. “Really happy and successful?” Michael was probably jealous.
Michael clears his throat. “He’s in a mental hospital. Totally lost it.” He says this quietly, making it seem somewhat taboo. Like he shouldn’t be hearing this.
“I don’t see what that has to do with…” He goes quiet.
Michael’s eye twitches. “Think, man! We’re talking an insanely powerful supercomputer. You really think its primary function is to get you laid? Who made them? How did they end up in a high school? In New Jersey? Of all possible applications for such a mind blowingly advanced technology, you ever wonder what it’s doing inside you?”
The silence that followed was deafening, but for different reasons to each of them. Jeremy laughed quietly. “And I thought Chloe was jealous…”
“I’m honestly asking!” He cried.
“Really?” Jeremy countered “Because I think you’re pissed I have one and you don’t!”
“Come on—” Michael tried to get an edge in, Jeremy is sounding like a four year old!
“ Maybe I got lucky, is that so weird? With my history, I’d say the universe owed me one. And I don’t know about your friend’s brother’s whatever, but if you’re telling me his squip made him crazy—”
That’s it. Michael is cutting him off again. This is of utmost importance, just let him finish. “His squip didn’t make him crazy!”
“Oh. Well…” Jeremy guessed he was convincing enough. “There you go.” He said it so simply, like he just disregarded absolutely everything Michael just said.
Michael wanted to scream in frustration. Just listen to him, dammit! “He went crazy trying to get it out!” Michael snapped. Why wouldn’t Jeremy just understand?
As soon as Michael raised his voice, he regretted it, but Jeremy needed to listen to him. This is greater than some high school popularity- this, this SQUIP would impact him for the rest of his life if he didn’t quit right now. Or, at least soon. Maybe sneaking into a party uninvited was not the best strategy, but what else could he do? Jeremy was letting this tic tac-asshole ruin his life one thing at a time. He looks at Jeremy in the eyes.
“Then I’ve got nothing to worry about. Why would I want that?” Jeremy scoffed. The thing made him cool for once in his life, he’s succeeding. Or, that’s what the SQUIP wants him to believe, anyway. Jeremy rolled his eyes. “Move it.”
“Or you’ll what?” Michael said, locking eyes with Jeremy, with an aura of (falsified) confidence. His tone seemed to say “bring me your worst” without having to vocally give the taunt himself. Truly though, he was terrified, terrified of being pushed aside, of being a bigger jerk, of being more...like a SQUIP, even though he has no experience in that field.
“Get out of my way, loser” Jeremy snarls, stunning Michael. Never in all 12 years of crazy and wild friendship has Jeremy ever sounded that...malicious before; especially not towards him of all people. Jeremy walks forward, and Michael moved to the side, but not enough to avoid the almost purposeful push of his shoulder against him that seemingly seeked to hurt him.
The sharp slam of the door snaps Michael out of his stupor. Jeremy abandoned him, and all’s he did was try to help. He walks over to the sink. This can’t be happening. It can’t be. His one and only friend just pushed him aside like some, like some piece of trash. Like if he ever saw Michael again it would be too soon. His knuckles clench around the porcelain, turning white from the force Michael is using. He looks up at the mirror, glasses askew as tears to quietly slip down his face.
A loud knock jars him from his thoughts and a voice rang through the almost empty bathroom. “Hello? Others have to pee!” They called. Michael can hear the agitation their voice was laced with. The last thing he wants to be known as is the nerd (‘cause let’s face it, who other than him knows the difference between ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’) who crashes a party to only end up crying alone in a bathroom. He quickly tries to make up something believable.
“I'm on my period” was the first excuse that came to mind, and without thinking, he says it. Luckily, when his voice cracked in the middle, he must have sold it (or became so pathetic she didn’t even want to see him). He didn’t even get to hear the voice’s complete reply before the tears began to fall harder and his glasses fog up.
Not even bothering to hold himself up, he slides down the wall. He tries the “count to four” trick his moms taught him, but it only results in more loss of breath rather than actually helping him. Michael knows he looks like a mess, tears streaming down his cheeks, snot bubbles, the whole nine. He curls into a ball. The sobs rip through him now, and he lets them. Who care for him anyway? The one person who did just left him. He gasps for breath, and wraps his arms around himself, rocking and wills his head to stop swimming and stop hiccuping. “Not here. Anywhere but here” he thinks to himself. It doesn’t work though, and he sobbed harder, the pain in his chest growing with every heave. He’s too caught up in his own despair to notice the voices- the screaming- just outside the thin walls.
He assumes it’s the snot and sobs that is making it difficult to breathe, which is true, but the thick dark smoke streaming through the cracks in the door is also contributing to it. Wait, what?
Michaels blurry eyes glance up at the smoke covered ceiling, and jumps to his feet, stumbling to the door. He reached a trembling hand out to grasp the handle, but the red hot metal scalded his hand, and he jumped back. Shit. Not only did his only friend leave him, but he also has to die in a fucking house fire covered in tears. He didn’t want to die! He has to make sure J-
Michael falters. After that, did Jeremy even want him around anymore? Michael had one chance, and it ended with Jeremy treating him like he was a piece of gum on his shoe. The tears came back, but Michael’s mind was already spiraled past that. If the only person who cared about him left, why should he want to live anyways? He always gets teased in school, but at least he had a buddy. Now he doesn’t know what to do. His moms are barely home either. The only person who would notice was probably his dealer, and they only cared about his money. Michael sniffles. “I g-guess dying won’t be so bad, huh?” he croaks to himself, heat growing by the second. He looks in the mirror one more time, and closes his eyes, reflecting on all of the good things he had done with Jeremy until he couldn’t take the heat any longer. And with that, Michael passed out with a teary smile on his face.