The Moonlight Effect
Sara opened the library doors with a quiet creak, and stepped in from the pouring rain outside. She was dripping from head to toe in her yellow rain coat and galoshes.
"My, what a dreary day," she muttered to herself, wiping her feet on the mat and letting the door close softly behind her. She shrugged off her jacket and placed it on a nearby coat rack. She doubted that anyone would take it. The warmth of the library flooded in on Sara as she gazed around at its tall shelves. There seemed to be endless rows of them reaching high enough to make a slam dunk on the clouds. Sara knew this place by heart. The spiral staircase twisted upward to a big loft with even more books. Over to the far side of the building was a decorative room for the children's books. The computer lab blared it's colorful screens in the room to her left. There was a long row of tables and a bar with stools that could be used for studying beneath the loft. Not to mention the basement- where there was about a hundred tall stacks of magazines and papers for virtually every subject that one could ever make an article of since the turn of the 19th century: really *old* stuff! There were cassette tapes and CDs of books that someone could listen to in the comfort of one of 20 squashy armchairs and sofas.
You could look down at the floors of the place and either see really nice, soft red carpet, or fancy tiles with pictures depicting Greek legends and figures in them. Or look up and see paintings resembling the famous "Unicorn Tapestries." And wherever you looked, you could see really old posters and pictures with things talking about the P.T. Barnum Circus- Sara remembered reading about the old circuses- with *live* animals, peanuts and train cars but no electrical light, laser or holographic image shows! There were posters of some 1980's pop star called Madonna, and then there was Boy George and Michael Jackson- that Sara remembered hearing about in a music class and some groups of boy singers called the "Backstreet Boys" and "N'Sync" that Sara vaguely remembered ever being mentioned at all. Sara concluded that this was the library where you could find information about anything and everything- particularly stuff from the late 1800's and the 1980's and 1990's- and if it wasn't there (although 99.9% of the time it was) it would tell you *where* to find it.
Sara smiled happily, even though she had a HUGE project to work on (reading "The Witch of Black Bird Pond" and doing a 5-page essay, single spaced, size-12 font, answering the 20 questions Ms. Iknow assigned on it and creating and answering 5 questions per chapter from it,) but at least it gave her a good excuse to come here.
The Young Adult fiction books were in the loft- Sara remembered- so she climbed the steps with an almost giddy spring in her step. She had a good feeling come over her. She felt good about the project. About reading the book. About *finding* the book. Strange that she would feel that way. Why would finding the book be exciting? Sara shrugged it out of her head as she searched the shelves for the writer's name.
When, suddenly, two hands reached between the books and shoved them to either side Sara nearly jumped out of her skin. She let out a cry- well, it would've been a cry if any sound came out. She might've run off too, if a familiar face hadn't folded his arms on the shelf, rested his head on them and asked:
"Hey, babe, what's up?"
Sara breathed a sigh of relief.
"Zak, you scared me, don't do that!"
"Ah, sorry about that," Zak apologized, but quickly added. "Am I really that scary?"
"Oh, no! That's not what I meant! You're not . . ." Sara paused for a minute thinking about what she just said. Of course he was scary! ... Although not in a bad way- but in a positively gorgeous, sensual way. "Er. . . That is you're not *that* . . . Well, you know what I mean."
Zak grinned, flashing his pearly-white teeth. "It's okay, I know what you *meant* . . . So, whatcha' doin'?"
Sara ignored the question and replied with one of her own. "What are *you* doing here?" She said indignantly.
"Whoa, I'm glad to see you, too," he said in a mocking tone. He paused and looked at her very serious expression. She looked cute like that. He laughed. A sweet, light, and almost sexy chuckle. "In answer to your question, I work here."
"I've never seen you here before," Sara muttered defensively.
"First day. . . Now, when are you going to answer *my* question?"
"Question? . . . Oh, yes, how silly of me. I'm here to get a copy of "The Witch of-"
"You mean this one," Zak interrupted her, showing her a copy of the exact book she was looking for.
"Yes! That's it!" Sara cried happily, taking the book from his hands. "But, how did you know?"
"About 3 other kids have been asking for that one today, I just made a guess."
"Thanks," Sara blushed a bit.
There was a quiet pause. Zak was looking her over. She was one *cute* babe, he decided. Her pink hair was something else as it fell in clumps over a pretty face that was looking at the back of the book in her hands. Her hips and breasts suggested of a sweet, fair beauty that had not quite blossomed into womanhood, yet. He wanted to talk to her. To look into her blue eyes like there was no tomorrow and hear her voice.
"So, how 'bout those 'Mets?'" Zak asked, jokingly.
"Huh?" Sara glanced up quickly from her book. Zak smiled as those eyes bore into his. It worked! "Oh," Sara laughed as she understood the joke. "Sorry, I was just . . . Absorbed."
"Uh huh . . ." Zak observed. "Well, why don't you check out that book real quick and then I'll take you some place where we can both get absorbed in a good cheeseburger? My treat."
"B-but, I.... " Sara stammered, caught a bit off-guard. "... This project! I need to--"
Zak cut her off. "--Hey, you can't work on a project on an empty stomach!"
"You *do* need to take a break," Zak looked at her with his gleaming blue eyes. He gave a very exaggerated bow like a knight before a courtier. "I'd be honored, my lady, that you would grace me with your divine presence and attention for at least one half hour for a humble luncheon at the Burger Cafe. But, if you refuse to accept my invitation- I will be in full understanding."
Sara blushed even redder and hid her face as she burst into giggles. 'He may be a goof ball (especially right now) but there's something charming about him. Might as well give him a chance, it's only out to the Burger Cafe after all . . .'
"Sure," Sara said, grinning. "But, I can't stay out too long. Uncle Bernie will begin to wonder where I am."
"Sounds fair, we'll just make a short afternoon of it," Zak replied, even though he was really thinking: 'I'd prefer that you'd stay the entire day, maybe even some of the night- for just a little smooching, perhaps more.' But, he didn't say it- instead he offered her his arm and they walked down the steps to the front of the library.
* * *
Terra could've been your average, Japanese, high-school-girl- she looked the part: dressed in her navy blue uniform with the green pleated skirt, her knee-high crisp-white socks and a pair of pink tennis shoes. She even carried her lunch in a little tin pail with "Hello Kitty" characters on it. Her deep-red eyes were hidden behind thick sport's goggles, designed so that they were her prescription and also so she could play tennis, she wore her dark-green hair in "meatballs" like Sailor Moon and carried all her homework (and she had a *lot* of homework) in her pretty pink backpack. Yep, Terra *could* have been your average teenage schoolgirl ... But the truth was: Terra was far from normal. Very far.
Passing her by on the street, a first impression of her would be "the-girl-next-door" meets the "techno-age-cyber-punk-girl." Normal, but with a twist. But, few people knew what she really was. Most that did were long gone, and the rest were taught to keep their mouths shut. Terra was mysterious, wild, and untamed behind those childish pigtails.
The truth was, anyone who was somewhat fluent in the media would know that Terra-Fina Dagmar was actually a rizing, Tokyo pop star. She loved to sing and perform, but she also loved her privacy and wouldn't allow bodyguards to follow her everywhere. She was loved by many people, adored by young girls and was an object of lust amongst many men (and some women as well.) Her voice could tame the savage beast and make the roughest cry. And yet, there was another part of her that few (even her biggest fans) knew about, aside from being a high school girl and a teenage pop star, there was a dark part of her. Just like there was a dark side of the moon, or the black part of the Ying-yang, or the dark side of any other person for that matter.
'There's a dark side even to your own hand,' Terra decided. 'It all just depends on where there's a shadow on it, and whether or not there's a shadow depends on the position of the sun in the sky, or even where you're standing: in light or in shade.' The girl stopped to inspect her own hand, there were shadows in between each of her fingers and on the sides of her knuckles.
'Sometimes,' she thought. 'The darkness hides itself in tiny cracks and crevices, just waiting for an opportunity to crawl out and unleash it's wrath.'
But, Terra's thoughts were quickly interrupted by the sounds of several kids running toward her.
"Hey, look! It's Terra-Fina Dagmar!"
"Oh my God! She's even hotter in person!"
"Can we have your autograph?"
Terra gladly signed her autograph for all the fans, and laughed heartily when one of them asked her to sign his forehead as well. She then continued on her way, happy that she just got a little extra attention . . . And then she found some attention that she could've done without. Terra stopped at a corner, waiting for the light to change, and was confronted by a tall, rugged-looking man dressed in a black leather jacket, worn blue jeans, and boots who asked her if she was looking for some "action" and then offered to take her to his place where she could get her fill of all the "action" she wanted. Terra could smell alcohol on his breath.
"Sure, I'll give you some action," Terra muttered. Then, gave him one quick Judo move that left him lying flat on his back, gasping for breath. It was the same move that she'd used on a guy at school when he grabbed her butt.
"Idiot . . . " she muttered under her breath. She hated when men tried to take advantage of her. But, that was the curse of being a cute, pure, pop star. Terra passed a lot of people as she walked by (trying, yet not succeeding in looking inconspicuous), turning the heads of both guys and girls alike. Some were by themselves, some with another person. She passed people holding hands and clinging to each other beneath their umbrellas. She passed teenagers giving each other a kiss goodbye before one walked through the door of their apartment. An electronics store, with a TV display in their front window, featured a kissing scene in some old, techni-color romance movie. Terra enjoyed watching all of these people live their lives- unaware of her existence as though she was the one-girl audience for a reality TV-show.
She glanced out of the corner of her eye at a woman yelling at a pleading young man. He took a step closer to her- his hands held out as if he were trying to explain a really big misunderstanding. The woman pushed him away and turned on her heel. And when he grabbed her wrist to stop her- the woman slapped him and took off. Leaving him just standing there flabbergasted, hurt and confused in the pouring rain. Water dripped down his cheeks. But, Terra couldn't be sure of whether it was only rain or rain combined with tears.
'Who needs 'Temptation Island', when you've got a show like this?' She thought to herself, feeling a bit of pity for the poor guy hanging his head low and walking off the other way.
Terra eventually stopped by her favorite cafe for a peppermint milkshake, and chose the spot she always took- at the little table by the window. It gave her time to reflect on things a bit. She found it relaxing just to sit and watch the rain splatter against the glass, and to see people and cars go by. Proving thus, that the world never, ever, stands still- even in time travel- especially if it was in Tokyo.
Terra's communication device went off- signaling to her that it was time for work. She grudgingly rose from the table and left the restaurant- heading at top speed towards her apartment. (Well, so much for a relaxing afternoon at the cafe.)
"Maybe, some other time," the girl told herself. Even though she wasn't sure of when that other time would be. If ever.
Tony flung open the door of his messy room and climbed over the mounds of clothes, papers, half-eaten food and who knows what else to get to his bed. He tossed his backpack in the corner where it landed in a mangled heap and let himself fall back with a plop across his racecar-shaped bed. He groaned, stretched and kicked off his shoes (which he'd neglected to take off at the door) not caring where they landed.
He sighed and placed his hands behind his head. It had been a hard week. Three tests, two term papers and a science project all in a row. The teachers were really cracking down this time of the year. Particularly Miss Iknow who seemed to not *know* when to quit. How was it that she had managed to be both his Science and his literature teacher ever since Junior High? Tony often wondered if that weird lady was stalking him or something...
He laughed to himself, remembering how Flint had done his science project on pre-historic plants and brought in a giant, man-eating Venus flytrap that tried to eat Miss Iknow. There were some funny things that happened when you had class with Miss Iknow. Sure, you had a lot of work (which reminded him that he still had a few more reports to write for her over the weekend) but it was worth it to get to see her kicking and screaming as the custodians had to pull her out from the fly-traps' jaws. Ah, well, it was the weekend now, time to goof-off and let his hair down a bit, watch some TV, sleep a little, and dream.
Tony smiled to himself as he looked at the beautiful poster on his ceiling. Yes, he liked to dream. He was 16 now, so there were more things to dream about than time travel and videogames.
'I had a dream about you,' Tony mentally said to the picture, as though the girl he so adored in it could hear the message. 'Last night... It was a beautiful dream. As beautiful as your face...' The picture was of a girl that was undoubtedly one his favorite people in the world next to Sara, Flint and his Uncle Bernie. He'd seen her many times, not just in his dreams, but almost everyday of his high-school career. She was sexy, cute, smart and walked to a rhythm all her own. She was in most of his classes. But, his favorite class that he had with her was literature and composition because she sat right next to him. It was her best class and one that she participated in quite a bit. Thus, he was able to hear her sweet voice chime often.
Tony gazed longingly at the picture above his head. It showed the object of his affection- her long, emerald-green hair untied from its usual pigtails and falling in long, curly masses on her shoulders. Her reddish-eyes smiled at him in a way that could break his heart. And her features were highlighted by the elegant pink dress that was nothing but ruffles and lace. She was seated in a way where she was on the steps of a New York or Los Angeles apartment building, straightening the strap of one of her high heels -which exposed perfectly shaped, stockinged legs. And the expression on her face suggested that she was laughing at herself for being caught lifting up her dress in such a manner.
"Terra-Fina Dagmar, do you even know that I exist?" He asked the picture, which of course gave no reply but a simple smile. The little pop-star was indeed a popular girl at his school. But, not a preppy sort of popular- more like a greatly respected kind of popular that was to be admired. The girl that every girl wanted to be. And every guy wanted to possess for their own.
"Can you blame me?" He shrugged. The memory of the dream flooded back into his mind.
What a wonderful dream.
The kind of dream he wanted to have every night for the rest of his life. The kind of dream that he'd never get tired of even if he *did* have it every night.
'In that dream, you were mine, you know?' He remembered it as if it were real. Every detail, down to the touch of her soft skin against his own. The waves her hair made when she ran with him through fields which seemed to change colors as they dashed across them. Then, suddenly being plunged into water where they chased each other as though light as air. The water around them molded into a glass castle which they danced in even as it rose from the waters into the heavens. Tony lead Terra out the doors of the castle into the night- whispering for her not to be afraid- holding her while they flew into the dark sky farther and farther until they reached the ends of the earth that Tony showed to her. And that was when he awakened. Finding that the dream had ended and was pushed back into a reality where pop-stars didn't spend all night in the arms of your average-type guy. He'd felt embarrassed by the dream upon waking, but gradually eased into it. It was normal for a boy his age wasn't it?
Tony knew with dread in his heart that Terra would never be his. He had enough trouble trying to become a Time Detective, let alone the idea of being a good boyfriend. Although it was a nice fantasy- it was a bittersweet one. Wishing to feel the heat of her lips on his own, to stroke her hair, to merely be next to her were dreams that would never happen.
'But, reality can't stop me from dreaming,' he thought as he reached into his junk drawer for a green folder- this folder contained all the pictures that Tony couldn't fit on his walls due to all the other posters (mainly of Terra) lining the wall, or ones that Uncle Bernie wouldn't let him hang up. Once he pulled it out, he used his remote to turn on the stereo to his favorite album, Terra-Fina Dagmar: "Insatiable." He closed his eyes to let the music take him back to the reverie of his wonderful dream for just a moment before carefully opening up the folder to reveal pictures that only a teenage boy would have.
There was a "digitally-enhanced" photo of Terra completely nude (she refused to ever have any pictures taken of her naked.) This was, obviously, Tony's favorite picture. It was so flawless. The example of complete human perfection. He held it to his heart- wishing that it would become real- right now. He felt like such a pervert looking at this picture- especially after that dream- Tony knew he wasn't a pervert. But, after all, he was 16, and there was only one thing more horny than a 16-year-old boy and that was a 17-year-old boy. Man, if Uncle Bernie knew he had this picture... He didn't even want to think of what might happen.
"Hey, Tony, have you seen your sister anywhere?" The sound of his uncle's voice made Tony nearly jump out of his skin.
"Huh?" He replied- quickly stuffing the picture under his pillow and out of sight- searching his memory. Sara had told him something just after seventh period- what was it? Oh, yes, now he remembered. "Oh, um... she told me to tell you that she was going to the library today. Said she had some research to do."
Dr. Goodman seemed to give a sigh of relief, "Ah, good... When she didn't come home with you today- I got a bit worried... Er... when did she say she'd be back?"
"I don't know," Tony shrugged. "The library closes at five today, so surely she's got be home a little while after that." Hoping that he sounded off-hand and trying to subconsciously get the message across to Uncle Bernie that he wanted to be left alone.
"I hope she didn't run into Merlock," Uncle Bernie must've had his subconscious mind closed at that moment. "That boy'll keep her tied up in his romantic babble all afternoon long."
Tony rolled his eyes, knowing that his uncle was almost as bad about "romantic babble" towards Ms. Gray as Merlock was towards Sara. "I don't think so, Uncle Bernie. Even if he did, I think Sara would just give him the cold shoulder like she always does."
"I guess you're right," Dr. Goodman replied. "Sara's a good, level-headed girl. I just can't understand how Merlock can't see that she's not interested."
"Because he'd got a head of steel," Tony muttered, having had this conversation many times before with his uncle and getting rather tired of it. He wasn't particularly fond of Merlock- yeah, he was okay and all- he came in handy now and then. But he personally felt that his sister was too good for him. Tony laid back again and stared up at the ceiling. After a moment or two, he noticed his uncle's puzzled look so he decided to add as a word of reassurance.
"Don't worry, Uncle Bernie, I'm sure she'll be back soon." Then he resigned to the picture above his head.
Dr. Goodman shrugged his shoulders and turned to go out and was instantly greeted by a very excited, metal pterodactyl. They met nose to nose- their eyes gawking at each other questioningly.
"Uh... Hi Pteri."
"Dr. Goodman! Dr. Goodman! Didn't you hear Ms. Gray?"
"Ms. Gray?" Dr. Goodman's face lit up instantly and little hearts began to emanate from him. "Have pigs begun to fly, yet?"
"What do you mean?" Pteri asked.
"Well, Ms. Gray said that she'd go out with me when pigs fly, so I figured that surely she was calling because pigs have started flying and she's decided to go on a date with me!"
"Sorry to burst your romantic fantasy bubble, Dr. Goodman, but the real reason she was calling was because we've got another mission!"
"Another mission? Is that all, I thought it would be something impor--... A mission?! Well, what're we waiting for? Flint, get ready and hurry up! Get-a-Long, make sure he DOES get ready! Tony, get out of that school uniform! And Sara!... Sara?... Oh yeah, she's still gone... Sara's still gone?!!! Oh great, what a time for her to be gone when we've got a mission to do! She better not be off gallivanting with Merlock! Someone get me the phone, I'll call her on her cell--." And with that, Dr. Goodman scrambled down the hall shouting random things in his rushing hysteria. While Pteri shook his head and floated down the hallway after him, followed by Flint pulling his socks on as he hopped down the hall with Get-a-Long prodding and badgering him to go.
"I'm hurryin'! I'm hurryin'! Gees, Get-a-Long, do you have to be so pushy?" He snapped at the little Time Shifter.
Tony groaned miserably. So much for that relaxing weekend thing. Oh well, another mission would be fun- maybe it would get his mind off things... Or people... More specifically one person... He wriggled out of his jumper, ran a hand through his long, brown hair that he'd let grow in wispy strands down to his shoulders. He pulled on a fresh red T-shirt and jeans- unlike when he was a kid and used to wear the same blouse and brown, baggy shorts. He tied a red headband around his head and slipped on fingerless gloves and inspected himself in the mirror. Hoping the accessories made him look a little more rugged and threatening. He posed a couple of times and finally gave himself a wink and pointed his finger like a gun at his reflection.
"Lookin' sharp, Tony... You thug," he said to the teenage boy in the mirror.
At that moment, he remembered the picture beneath his pillow. He swiftly pulled it out and looked at it one last time.
Infinite beauty captured in the confinement of a tiny picture...
He placed it inside the folder and then put both back into their spot in the top drawer. As he left the room, he gazed once again at the poster of the lovely girl he knew he'd never have. Then, the boy flicked the light switch and plunged the poster, his room, and his dreams of romance into darkness.
To Be Continued....
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