"I'll have the strawberry dream smoothie in a size medium," she says.
"Would that be all?" the blurry face worker asks.
"Okay. That'll be $7.30 and may I please have your name?"
"Marianne," she hands over ten dollars and thirty cents from her wallet.
The cashier moves slowly blinking her unfocused eyes at Marianne as she hands over the money. Grabbing the correct size cup the cashier writes down Marianne's name on the cup. Marianne moves to where the other patrons are waiting for their order. The people around her take in her features.
She is light skinned black woman but not so light that she could pass for White. The woman seems to be of young college age. Her face is heart shaped with nicely shaped eyebrows above wide light brown eyes. Although her ears are covered by her hair, large gold hoop earrings peek out among the two color wavy hair. Her nose is straight and her septum has a gold piercing. Her full lips are covered in orange lipstick. She wears an over sized off the shoulder long sleeve stripped shirt over black yoga pants and high heeled wedge sandals.
"I have a strawberry dream smoothie for a Marianne," is said by a male blurry faced worker.
"Thank you," she says and walks to an empty two seat table.
Sitting down, Marianne places her pillow like purse on the table and sits down. Taking a sip of her drink, she pulls out her phone and starts playing solitaire. The sound of a chair moving against the wood floor causes Marianne to look up. Her eyes widen, because before her is another young woman who isn't blurry like the rest.
The woman that stands before her is mixed with what seems to be Chinese and Caucasian. Her hair is straight black and it ends at the shoulders. She has dark mono-lid eyes that are lined with brown eyeliner. Her eyelashes covered in mascara and she has a cute nose. Her lips are painted a pink lip gloss. She wears a colorful spaghetti strap dress.
"I see you're taking a minute before the game starts," she says as she sits down.
"I don't believe we've met..." Marianne says.
"Charles didn't tell you about me? What type of boyfriend is he?" the woman continues, "I' m Carrie Brooke, by the way, I'll be your best friend for as long as you live."
"Nice too- wait what do mean as long as I live? " says Marianne.
"Well, once the game starts, you're going to be attacked to see if you're fit to be this love story's female lead. Do try to live longer than the last Marianne. She died before she started living with Lewis." Carrie goes on.
"A Marianne before me,... Lewis,... love story lead. Just what are you talking about?" Marianne asks.
"You weren't brought here by your brother were you?"
"I have a brother?"
"Well I just spoiled a lot of things! Better call Charles and tell him- never mind he's here. Hi Charles." Carrie waves the light skin black man over to them.
"I've found your sister!" she states and smiles up at him.
Marianne looks at the man before her. He was lean and wore fitted jeans with a button up green shirt. His face was clean shaven and his locks are well kept. His face was on the longer side but it was easy to see that it was a nice shape. His eyes are not as wide as Marianne's, but they are a dark brown. Charles' lips are full with clean white teeth showing from his smile. Reaching out his hand, Charles introduces himself to his sister.
"Hi, I'm your older brother Charles Perry. We should probably get you home and fully explain what's going on," he says.
"Oh, okay. I guess I'll go with you then," says Marianne.
Gathering all her things on the table she turns to Carrie and says goodbye.
"Bye Carrie, I'll see you later?" she says.
"You definitely will," says Carrie.
Waving the siblings off Carrie continues drinking her own smoothie. She places a hand on her stomach rubbing it lightly as her eyes stay on Charles leading his sister out of the smoothie shop.
"I wonder if it's a good idea to rely on this Marianne to live long enough for you?" she quietly mutters to herself.
Following the brother she just met, Marianne is led to an apple green truck. Hearing that the truck was unlocked Marianne opens the door to the passenger side of the truck. Taking a bit of a hop into the truck, she realizes that it was clean inside. Turning to Charles, she watches as he easily works the stick shift. He's at ease at the wheel and gets out of the parking lot without any trouble.
"So...do I know how to drive?" she asks Charles.
"Yes. When the place you want to go to is farther than fifteenth minutes away by walking," he answers.
"Are our parents together? And is one of them having an affair?" she continues.
"We are a nuclear American family and no one is having an affair." he says.
"Do I have any other siblings?"
"Are you and Carrie together?"
"Yes, for three years now,"
"Why isn't there any other car or scenery outside of the road we're on?"
"But it's not important to the game. Also, readers of the story will fill in the blanks themselves," he looks up and sees a house growing closer, "We're almost home."
"One more question?"
"Which number Marianne am I?"
"You're the twenty-third." he pulls up in the driveway and shuts off the car. Turning off the truck he opens the door and gets out. Closing the door, he sees that Marianne isn't moving. Walking over to the passenger side he opens her door.
"Come on. Everything will be fully explained once we get inside," he holds out his hand to help her out. Shaking her head yes, she takes his hand grabbing her half finished smoothie in the other hand. Getting help out of the truck, Marianne doesn't let go of Charles hand. Closing the door with the hand not holding his sister's, he locks the truck. Not letting go, he takes Marianne to the front door. Squeezing her hand for a moment he opens the front door.
"Mom, Dad, I brought Marianne home," he calls.
Almost out of no where their parents appear. Looking at the two, she can tell that her and her brother look like them, but their faces are out of focus somehow. The house itself wasn't in great detail either. There are multiple pieces of furniture that kept fazing in and out of the room. It's as if the house keeps changing it's mind on what it wants to design in the house.
"Don't mind that Marianne. The house just has to settle now that you're here. Whatever you need to use will show up and be ready for use," her mother explains.
"We should explain everything in the living room not the foyer. Come along," dad says.
Following the parents that seem to be in their mid to late forty's to the living room, Marianne doesn't let go of Charles' hand. Charles not bothered by this, slightly tightens his hold on her's. Once in the living room, the sitting area looks spacious and crowded at the same time.
"Just pick where you want to sit and the other furniture will leave since it's not being use," dad explains.
"If calling us mom and dad is too intimate, you can just call us Mr. and Mrs. Perry," says mom.
"Either of you have a first name?" Marianne says as she sits down finally letting go of her brothers hand. She places her smoothie and pillow looking bag on the coffee table in front of her. Her parents smile at her.
"No, it's unnecessary since we're minor characters," Mr. Perry says.
"I see," says Marianne.
"Let me explain what's fully going on," Mr. Perry starts, "When the story was first created, there was the original Marianne, but out of nowhere she collapsed. We didn't know what to do, the hospital didn't have anything else outside of a maternity ward. She seemed to be in a coma. It wasn't until everyone was repeating our first day of existence again did we realize that something had changed. The second Marianne came into our world. There was only one problem though, the first Marianne still existed."
Mrs. Perry touches Mr. Perry's arm because tears started clinging to his eyelashes. "Want me to takeover with the explaining?"
"Yes dear," Mr. Perry drys his eyes.
"This has never happened before. Whenever a character is redesigned or changed, the original disappears, but she didn't. At the beginning, the second Marianne continued on without paying no mind to the first. But then, she started to hear the voice of the first. We thought that it was all in her head, until we started hearing the first Marianne whispering things too," Mrs. Perry takes a breath, "'My name, give it back" the first would say over and over again. It got to the point were the second Marianne said that she would kill the first. She didn't get to complete her promise because she was found dead at the college. Whoever killed her wasn't found. But after her death, the first Marianne still didn't awaken."
Mrs. Perry looks at the current Marianne, "The third Marianne was walking to the smoothie shop the following day and everything that happened so far was reset once more. She died because of a ghost."
"I'm guessing that a ghost isn't like a spirit haunting a house is it?" Marianne interrupts.
"The meaning isn't totally wrong. A ghost here are former characters who have been taken out of the story or replaced. I guess, when the second Marianne was killed, she was turned into a ghost. Which are usually background characters who want a bigger role in the story. But all that did was introduce the fourth Marianne, and everything being restarted again just with two new ghosts. It was the fourth Marianne that created the game, "kill the original Marianne". She thought that with the first gone the story could continue. At this point we were tired of having to restart the story over and over again so we agreed. However once we got home from eating out, the first Marianne was gone and all her medical equipment was taken with her. The fourth and Lewis looked for a week, but they didn't find out who broke in."
"Sorry for interrupting again but who's Lewis?" an embarrassed blush covers Marianne's face.
"Lewis is your boyfriend. The whole point of the love story is the two of you moving in together as the next step of your relationship," Charles answers her.
"It was Lewis' idea that he should be the one to protect the Marianne's on their quest because it seems that the only one a Marianne can kill is another Marianne. It was the eleventh Marianne that figured that out. Lewis and her where at a party and, I guess, a fight broke out and she stabbed someone in the lung. It didn't kill them." Mrs. Perry reassured Marianne.
Marianne's brows slowly unfurled and she closed her mouth from it's O shape. Her orange painted lips formed a slight frown from the other Marianne's actions. She turns her head to Charles, making her gold hoops jingle back and forth from the action. Charles shrugs at his sister for looking at him for answers.
"I was at the party but I was too busy giving Carrie a lap dance to stop her," he gives her a silly grin.
"At least that confirms the vibes I was getting for the two of you," she rolls her light brown eyes.
"So this Lewis, he's going to protect me from harm?" she looks at her parents.
"He'll also take out anyone that you dislike, since he's the main male lead. I'm not even safe from him," Charles gets a dark look on his face.
"I wouldn't ask him to hurt any of you," from the look on Marianne's face, Charles believed her.
"Just because it's against your nature, doesn't mean it wasn't against other Marianne's. Some were quite the jealous bitch. Nine to eleven were like that. Watch out for them, okay!" Charles smiles.
Ignoring him Marianne moves on, "So, is my room ready?"
"Sorry sweetheart, you'll be staying with Lewis. One too many Marianne's died in that room," Mr. Perry says.
"Not even my home is safe I see," she says.
"It's not like you can't come over and eat here! Just let me know before hand! Food will be waiting for you," says Mrs. Perry.
Smiling at the offer she agrees and shakes her head yes, "I think I'd like to freshen up a bit. Where's the bathroom?"
"Down the hall and the second door to the right," Mr. Perry answers her.
"Lewis should be here to pick you up soon. Now will be a good time to get ready," Mrs. Perry comments.
Walking to were she was directed, Marianne enters the bathroom. It, like the living room, wasn't fully formed. The wallpaper keeps changing and the shape of the lights and lighting in the room switch up as well. Looking at her reflection, she breaths in and out. Pumping soap out of the soap dispenser, she turns on the sink and washes her hands. Not feeling clean enough, she does it again. Adding a bit more soap after the second wash, she cleans her hands a third time. Turning off the cold water, she sees a paper towel roll waiting for her. Taking two sheets, she drys her hands. Flexing her hands, she notices that they've become ashen. Looking at the counter again she finds that lotion has replaced the paper towels. Once her hands are moisturized, Marianne leaves the bathroom and returns to her family.
"How ya feeling?" Charles asks.
"Fine. I think I'll step out front for a bit. I could use the air," Marianne reaches for her purse.
Charles nods his head in understanding as none of the Marianne's swallow this information easily. Him and his parents watch as this version of Marianne exits out the room to chill out on the porch.
"What do you think of my new little sister?" he looks to Mr. and Mrs. Perry.
"I didn't think she would have a septum piercing. Seriously though, she is one of the nicer Marianne's. It'll be hard to accept the fact that she'll die if she does fail to find the original," Mrs. Perry says.
"I think she'll manage to put an end to this game. I feel that she's the one," Mr. Perry says.
"I get that feeling too, but it's up to her to live through this. Hopefully she's not a trouble magnet," Charles finishes. Standing up he heads to his room on the second floor.
Seeing that the conversation is over, the parents go to the theater room to watch a movie. Whether the movie is good or bad is for them to decide.
Marianne sits on the only porch chair outside since she is alone. Like everything else with her home, the sitting and the style of the porch changes. Never settling on any style for too long. She inhales the fresh scent of recently cut grass. Marianne knows that no matter what time of day it was, the outside air will always smell like freshly cut grass in the warm afternoon. She hears giggling floating in the afternoon air. Looking around, Marianne tries to find the owner of the laughter. Not seeing anyone, stands up to go inside.
"Enjoying your little breather?" a female voice asks.
Slowly turning from the door, Marianne sees a young woman who looks to be her age standing in front of the porch. Unlike her parents and the other residents of the suburban area this woman didn't have a blurry face. Her long straight red hair frames a drawn on face. Black, slightly curved lines shape her eyebrows that are above unevenly sized black dots for eyes. Her nose was a drawn on right angle above a wide U shape for a mouth. How this woman was able to talk is beyond Marianne. The stranger had on a loose white dress and was bare foot. Marianne watches as the stranger takes in her own appearance and sees that parts of her becomes transparent like a window.
"I don't mean to bother you, but could you please give me back my name? I'd like for you to disappear," the stranger says.
"You're a ghost. I didn't think I would see one of you so soon," Marianne says, "I'm guessing you're the twenty-second one huh?"
"Yup! I was hoping since you haven't been alive for very long you wouldn't mind giving up living?" the Twenty-second Marianne tilts her head in the other direction.
"Sorry, but I quite like living. I feel like I have a purpose to fulfill. So if you don't mind disappearing..." says the current Marianne.
"At least I asked first instead of just killing you the moment I saw you," with that said the twenty-second Marianne attacks. The current Marianne stumbles away from the sudden attack, but she couldn't make it to the door to get inside. The ghost climbs on top of her and tries to wrap it's hands around her neck.
"Give it back, give it back, give it back, give it back," over and over the ghost hysterically speaks to Marianne. Marianne looks at the ghost in anger and claws at it hands. The skin of the ghost cracks because of her actions. Noticing this Marianne uses some more and takes off three of the ghost fingers. Not allowing herself to be shaken by her actions, she breaks more of the ghost skin from it's arms. The cracks Marianne leaves looks like the broken skin of a doll.
"Stop it now ghost!" a male voice announces itself.
Shock from what it hears the ghost stops it's actions. The two that were fighting turn to the man that now stand upon the porch. Looking at him Marianne notices that he is a handsome male around her age. His face is framed by his long wavy dark hair that tied in a low ponytail. Thick eyebrows sit in an angry expression above hazel green eyes. His are thinner than Charles', but fits his face. The mans lips are also thin, but shows his anger well enough. From what Marianne can tell from her spot on the ground, he is taller than Charles too. His face has a light layer of scruff that has a nice charm to it. Wearing a black coat over a red button up shirt and black jeans with black boots. The man before her was definitely her type looks wise. Marianne can't help but feel her face heat up.
"Lewis you came back for me!" the ghost gets off of Marianne and excitingly bounces in front of Lewis.
"I have no idea what you're talking about I've come here for Marianne; not a ghost," he spares the ghost a last look goes to Marianne.
"But, but, I am-"
"No you're not! Now leave!"
Hearing the harsh tone in his voice cause the ghost to leave in a quick gust of wind. A light sob follows it's exit.
"Are you okay?" Lewis helps Marianne stand.
"I'm fine thank you. Does every one of them act like that when you're around?"
"Unfortunately yes, it's at its worst when the ghosts knock on my bedroom window asking me to take them back. Even though I'm for Marianne alone,"
"We just met though,"
"I know, but I can only love Marianne. The past Marianne's can't let go. They regret the fact that we're no longer together. Because I can only love the current Marianne," he looks her straight in the eye to prove he's not lying.
"Well that explains my attraction to you," she comments with a small smile.
"Yeah that sounds about right. Let's get inside. You first," he gestured to the front door. Marianne realizes that Lewis has a black backpack on.
Opening the door and stepping inside with Lewis following her in, Marianne asks,"Why do you wear so much black? Outside of you looking good in all black that is."
"You're quite open with me, but thank you for the compliment. And yes I enjoy wearing mostly black clothes. In a way it feels like I'm mourning the past Marianne's as well," the two make their way to the living room and sit on the dark brown love seat that is now there in the ever changing living room. Both put their bags on the now modern living room table.
"It feels so easy, being open with you. I feel like you'll accept how I am," Marianne's smile widens.
"It's the same for me. Although whether we get along because we're compatible or because the story demands it is up for debate," Lewis moves to become more comfortable on the love seat.
"I think you two are compatible, but that's just me," Charles comes down with a box in his hands.
"Are you coming to make sure I'm not making out with a boy on the couch?" Marianne teases with a crooked smile.
"As long as you have sex in a place I can't see I don't care what you do with a boy. What is important is giving you this," setting the box in his hands down on the living room table he opens it.
Peering inside Marianne see a six shooter piece within it. She looks to Charles and start shaking her head no. The look on his face makes her realize that she has to take the gun. Turning her head to Lewis, she sees him nudge her to take the gun. Taking it in hand, she gets a feel for it. Marianne is careful not to touch the hammer or the trigger while it's in her grasp. Breathing in she puts the gun in her purse and sits back to look at the two males beside her.
"So is that the only thing I need? Because I'm pretty sure I need bullets for this gun to work," her tone confirms to them about her feelings towards possessing a gun.
"I know you don't like it but in order to kill the past Marianne's you'll need a weapon. You don't even need to worry about reloading it! Once all six shots are used, the gun will reload in five seconds. The reason for that is plot convenience," Charles smiles while running his hand through his locks.
"Neat. What about my clothes?" Marianne looks to Lewis feeling that he'll answer that one.
"Simply open the closet door and pull something out. The clothes will change to whatever you want them to look like on you," Lewis stands and puts his backpack back on.
Marianne stands up to follow him out the front door. Charles makes sure the door is locked when the two leave.
"Marianne, be sure to visit mom and dad alright," says Charles.
"I promised I would, didn't I?" she answers back. Charles smiles at her answer and closes the door behind them.
Lewis and Marianne walk side by side down the block. She can't help but feel that Lewis' place is a good distance away from her home.
"We're not going to your apartment? Wait, how did I know that?" she looks to Lewis.
"To answer your first question we're taking a shortcut. My place is driving distance but because this is filler in the story how we're traveling isn't going to take long. The reason you know that is because the world we're created in has informed you about that information," he explains.
"I see. So, can we use these shortcuts whenever?" Marianne slightly tilts her head. Lewis can't help but find her habit cute.
"Shortcuts can only be used when it is not necessary for the reader to know how we got somewhere. I once got everywhere while riding a motorcycle. I even used it to get to the bathroom in my apartment," a silly smile came over his face. Marianne feels herself smiling back.
"We're here," a black door leads the way into the loft-like apartment.
"We haven't even walked for five minutes!" Marianne watches Lewis open the door and step into "their" place.
"Shortcuts are wonderful things," Lewis leads the way around the place. Each room flows naturally to the next. Only the hall closet and the downstairs bathroom are closed off from everything else. He leads Marianne up a black spiral staircase to the bedroom. It includes a long closet and full bathroom with his and her sinks.
"This is nice for a college student," Marianne couldn't help but be impressed.
"My parents paid for this place to get me out of the house. They didn't like the fact I couldn't keep my girlfriend alive," she notes the tension going through his body. Marianne moves closer to Lewis and holds his hand. He squeezes hers in thanks.
"So am I sleeping in the same bed as you or are you putting me on the couch?" Marianne unknowingly flirts at him.
Feeling his face heat, Lewis laces their fingers together, "I don't mind sharing the bed with you; however, it's to early to be active on that bed."
Completely blushing Marianne nods in agreement. The rest of the day is filled with the two talking and watching a steaming site. Dinner was two grilled cheese sandwiches with a salad and soda to wash it all down. Turning in for the evening, the two showered and did their evening routine separately. Saying goodnight too each other they went to bed.
Hearing an alarm going off, Lewis gets up and lightly rubs Marianne's shoulder to get her to wake. Eyes fluttering open Marianne slowly moves to go to the bathroom. Lewis makes his way downstairs to make two bowls of cereal. Teeth brushed, face clean, and septum piecing back in Marianne goes downstairs.
"I didn't put in any milk yet. I have no idea how much you like in cereal," Lewis pushes her breakfast forward and hands her the milk.
"Thank you for the thought. I like only the bare minimum in my bowl," she proceeds to pore a small amount of milk in her bowl and then put the milk back in the fridge. Lewis is already eating away at his breakfast.
The two eat in a calm silence and once they're done, the bowls are rinsed out and placed in the dishwasher. Lewis goes to the upstairs bathroom to do his morning routine and Marianne puts out what clothes she'll like to wear for the day. She chooses a dark green body con dress and a black bomber jacket with a floral design embroidered on it. She also pulls out black wedges with similar design as the bomber jacket. Lewis exits the bathroom and Marianne goes to change and put on her makeup. While she's in there, she straightens her hair as well.
Once she was finished in the bathroom, she looks at what Lewis is wearing. His hair still contains its natural wave but is no longer in a ponytail. He wears a white dress shirt with a plaid black vest over it and black dress pants. His dress shoes are a crisp white and is finishing putting silver rings on his fingers.
"I think I'll wear a wide brim hat, what do you think?" he looks towards her.
"Its a fun flare," she smiles back. Satisfied with her answer Lewis get his hat.
"You look nice. The jade color lipstick looks cool," Lewis keeps up the small talk.
"I'm guessing that make up and toiletries never run out?" they make their way downstairs and pick up their bags.
"Not unless the plot calls for it," he unlocks the front door.
"Good, cause we're broke college students. We're taking a shortcut?"
"Yup, let's go!" Lewis locks the door behind them and starts walking.
With only a few steps the two are walking on their college campus. The day is spent attending classes, taking notes, and sending text messages between classes. Once the afternoon hits, both had enough time to have lunch together. Sitting in a shaded area, the couple ate their junk food with water.
"You have your gun on you right?" Lewis takes a swing at his drink.
"Yes. It makes me uncomfortable having it on me though," With the trash from the lunch cleared away Marianne works on her homework. Lewis follows her example.
"I know. I didn't like it at first either but you'll realize that you need it. As much as I don't like it, we're in different classes so I can't protect you. You need to do it yourself when alone," his voice sounded heavy.
Reaching out to him, Marianne holds his hand for a bit. She then goes back to working on her school work.
"I have one class after this, do you?" she looks up real quick.
"Yes, I believe you get out before me," Lewis sits up some to help with his back.
"Oh okay lets-"
"Hey lovebirds!" Carrie's voice interrupts. She wears a white floral dress and beige sandals.
"Hi," the couple says as Carrie sits down with the two.
"Carrie can I have your phone number?" Marianne looks at her. A quick look of shock crosses Carrie's face but a big smile soon replaces it.
"What are you talking about silly it's already in there!" Marianne pouts at Carrie.
"Awe, you're so cute! Why'd you asked for mine though?" Carrie gets serious for a moment.
"I want us to go on a double date! You and Charles with Lewis and I! I though it'll be cool, we can also see my parent too!" Marianne gets excited about the chance to do the double date.
"I like it! I know Mr. and Mrs. Perry would enjoy having a visit as well," Carries continues on with the plan.
"I just texted Charles the idea and he's down for it," Lewis inputs in his two cents.
"That's good to know. Well, I got to go. Marianne, we'll full plan this event out later okay?" Carrie gathers her things and starts moving away.
"I'll text later," says Marianne. The couple wave at their departing friend. Taking a look at his phone he sees that they both need to leave for their next class.
"We should get going as well," Lewis shows Marianne his phone so she can see the time.
"You're right. Bye Lewis," Marianne packs up to leave and Lewis follows.
"See you after class. Marianne one more thing,"
"The other characters in the story will not help if your attacked. Previous Marianne's, not all of them, did not leave a very good impression. So try not to hold it against them,"
"I'll keep that in mind, Lewis,"
"Thank you," the college students went their separate ways. In class, Marianne makes an effort to be nice to everyone. The minor characters aren't rude but are still unsure of her. She tries not to let it get to her, but she's still saddened by her reality. After her class was done, Marianne went to look for Lewis and wait to get out of his class. There was only twenty more minutes before his class was done. It'll also take almost five minutes to get there. Marianne makes her way over. What isn't in her plan is getting grabbed from behind and violently pulled into the shadows.
"Give him back," is whispered into her ear. Shoving her elbow into the stomach of the other female Marianne gets a look at her attacker. Just like the first ghost she encountered, its face looks drawn on with a marker. However, this ghost looks more translucent than the other one.
"What do want?" Marianne is on edge.
"Give him back," the ghost steps closer but Marianne keeps her distance.
"I can't," she puts her hand on the gun.
"Give me back my name," it's voice becomes more aggressive.
"It's not yours," she can't help but feel sorry for it.
"It was," Marianne can't help but think that if it could the ghost would cry.
"Exactly. You're not Marianne anymore. I am," she readies her gun.
"Leave. You know I don't love you," Lewis approaches Marianne and puts his arm around her. Seeing Lewis disregard her the ghost leaves with a sobbing sound.
"Which one was she?" the two leave the shadow covered area.
"I don't know. By the look of her she must have been one of the older ones. The longer you're a ghost, the harder it is for you to say more than a few simple sentences." The couple continues their walk off campus until they are stopped by a teacher.
"Is everything alright Lewis?" the teacher stops in front of the couple.
"Yes Mr. White. It was only a little confrontation," Lewis replies, "Right, introduction. Marianne meet Mr. White. Mr. White my girlfriend Marianne." the two shake hands but Mr. White's handshake is stronger than Marianne is ready for.
"Nice to meet you sir,"
"You too. If everything is alright, I have classes to teach," Marianne watches as the grey hair gentleman leaves.
"He's clearer than other minor characters,"
"That because we meet him more often than other minor or one off characters,"
The couple take a shortcut home and focus on finishing their homework. Once done, they order pizza and watch detective shows before turning in for the night. The next few weeks go on more or less the same with different things to eat for lunch and dinner. The mundane lifestyle helps the other characters feel more comfortable around Marianne. Lewis is content with life continuing this way, but with Carrie and Marianne as best friends the double date plans had to be edited to be more realistic.
"A park date is so common Charles, why can't it be extreme rock climbing?" Carrie whines to her boyfriend.
Taking a deep breath he answers, "Because we're college students and you're pregnant."
"What if I stop being pregnant?" she crosses her arms, "You know I don't want to stop wearing my denim 70's style overalls!" she points to her outfit.
"What you do is your choice. I thought you wanted to bet it's life on this Marianne though?" he looks at Carrie.
"You know that the story restarts once a Marianne dies,"
"I know, but if you want to have an abortion then just get it. Playing Russian roulette is kind of messed up," Charles makes his point.
"I just want to believe in this Marianne. She may stop this dreaded cycle," Carries walks over to Charles and gives him a hug.
Receiving the affection, Charles answers, "I think she can too." With that the two grab the picnic basket from the kitchen and make their way outside to Charles' car. Leaving the Perry house, Carrie plugs in her phone so that their ride has music.
Making it to the park, Carrie spots a man wearing all black out of the corner of her eye. Turning her head fully she sees that its Lewis. Nudging Charles in the arm she tells him to pull over which he does. As Lewis approaches, Carrie rolls down her window.
"Is it okay to leave Marianne by herself just to point out where we're eating?" Lewis isn't bothered by Carries words.
He crosses his arms an answers, "Marianne is just up this hill. I didn't want you two to walk all over the park trying to find us when we where right over there." Lewis then points out to the direction he came from.
"Fine. I'll make sure we get over there, now go back to your girlfriend! Someone might try to give her unwanted company," with that said, Carrie rolls up her window and Lewis returns to Marianne.
The two couples eat lunch on a big plaid blanket and play cards until the late afternoon. The double date was a nice affair that the females agreed should happen again. Packing up the non-disposal items and throwing away the trash, the group says their good-byes. Charles and Carrie go to leave in the truck. Lewis and Marianne decided to take a walk around the park. Stopping by the swing set, Lewis watches as Marianne's embroidered dress flutters in the air. She stops for a second.
"Do you want me to push you?" she starts to get up.
Making his way behind her he says, "No, I'd rather push you." Getting cozy on the seat of the swing Marianne lets Lewis push her. Back and forth he pushes. Lewis can't remember the last time he enjoyed just spending time with a Marianne. Stopping the swing, Lewis watches Marianne turn to him. Leaning down Lewis waits for Marianne to lean into the kiss. A light blush comes onto Marianne's face as she goes to kiss him. Today really is a good day.
On the walk back home, Marianne bumps into someone she sees on campus. His name is James, she thinks, since he's one of the few blurry face residents that has a confirmed name.
"Sorry James," says Marianne.
The blurry face male glares at Marianne, "Do you really think sorry is gonna cut it?"
"Why don't you just drop dead and let the real Marianne live again!"
"What's your-" Marianne can't even finish when the sentence before James has his hands wrap around her throat. As Marianne struggles to breath Lewis takes out his concealed handgun. Placing it at James temples.
"Let go," the sound of the safety coming off is heard by all three.
"Bang" the gun goes of and James is reduce to the letters of his name and brief sentence of who he was. Putting the safety back on, Lewis puts his gun away. Marianne just stares at what James left behind.
Taking a deep breath Marianne asks,"I thought all characters turn into ghost first?"
Lewis sighs, "Only main and secondary characters do. Minor characters don't have enough to them to leave a ghost."
Seeing that Marianne is still shaken by what happened, Lewis puts his arm around her and leads her to a shortcut to get home quickly. It takes a few days but Marianne is finally able to look Lewis in the eye again. Which is good because Carrie is throwing a costume party and they're invited.
Sitting on the bed, Marianne browses the internet for costume ideas. Going from sexy animal costumes to sexy pirates. Not feeling up to being sexy, Marianne looks at different pop culture characters. Seeing the costume gives her an idea.
"Lewis how do you feel about being the Mad Hatter for the costume party?"
"Sure, I have a top hat. What about you?"
"I'm thinking Alice,"
"I'm not feeling making a twelve year old girl sexy,"
"Then you're going to go out of your way to find pieces then?" Lewis comes from downstairs to talk normally.
Giving him a big smile, "Yup! You're coming with me you know that right?"
"Naturally" he rolls his eyes.
They go shopping on a day in which they don't have any classes. Marianne manages to find a maroon color vest and a bow tie for Lewis' hatter costume. Finding a rockabilly clothing store Marianne finds a dark blue dress that will work. Continuing their journey, the couple goes to a craft store and buys different colored feathers, a black Alice band, a green ribbon and a white apron. Going to a discount shoe store, Marianne finds black Mary Jane shoes and white tights. Seeing a white stuffed rabbit, Lewis goes in and buys it for Marianne's costume. Tired from going store to store, the two take their haul and go home.
The two start working on the dinning room table. Pulling out the feathers, Lewis arranges them to how he'll like them. Seeing this, Marianne gets his top hat that's in the upstairs closet. Coming down, she sees that Lewis is making the 10/6 price tag for the hat. Setting the hat down, Marianne gets to work on her costume. She washes the new bought clothes to wash out any scents on them. Lewis ties the green ribbon around his top hat and makes it into a bow. Getting up Lewis gets the hot glue. Once he gets it, he plugs it in and waits for it to heat up. He watches as Marianne hangs the clothes up to air dry.
"The hot glue is ready," she points out to Lewis. Hearing this he starts gluing the feathers to his hat. Once done with the feathers he glues on the fake price tag. Looking at the hat in different angles, he nods in satisfaction.
"Looks like we're already for the costume party," he says.
"We'll be so cute at the party. Wait. Is this the party that the eleventh Marianne stabbed someone at?" she looks to Lewis.
"Yes, but that party was a pool party," Lewis confirms.
"Hopefully this time around their won't be any stabbing," With that said, Marianne starts making dinner for them. The rest of the evening is devoted to finishing school work and cleaning up a few misplaced things. Turning in for the evening, the two went to bed. The next few days are full with chatter about Carrie's costume party and how this might be the last time the current Marianne is seen alive. Marianne doesn't let herself get discouraged by the talk going around. Mr. White did in fact ask if she'll feel better if she doesn't go but she wants to. Thanking him for his concern, Marianne doesn't waiver from her choice.
On the day of the party, Marianne and Lewis show up a little later than the start time. Music's blasting and canned drinks around the party is picking up. Lewis has on dress shoes, black dress pants, a green dress shirt, a maroon vest and bow tie. The look is finished off with his home made Mad Hatter top hat. Marianne parts her hair so that the Alice headband is placed stylishly. Her long sleeved dark blue dress is covered by a white apron. She wears thick white tights and black Mary Janes on her feet. Tied to her purse is the white rabbit Lewis got her. Carrie is dressed as a tourist visiting the Bahamas with an oversized straw hat, white cat eye sunglasses and a 1940's Hawaiian dress. Charles is dressed as an evil doctor with blood stains covering a once white coat. Everyone is in different costumes and several of the girls are complaining about being cold. Marianne thinks it would have helped if they wore tights with their costumes. After a few hours of mingling and refusing drinks from people she didn't know, Marianne steps outside for some fresh air. While she's outside, Marianne gets a better look at the pool.
Not getting to close for fear of falling in, Marianne starts to hear a whisper. Moving farther away from the pool, she looks around to see if she can locate the voice. Not seeing anyone, she decides that the voice belongs to a ghost. Turning back to the pool, a ghost with the same drawn on face rises from the water. It's white gown sticking to it's body. This ghost has transparent spots on it's body like the other ghosts.
"Please give it back. He can't love me if you don't give it back," the voice of this ghost is broken.
"I can't," is all Marianne can say to it.
Reaching into her purse she pulls out her revolver. Taking it in both her hands, she points it at the ghost. Pulling back the hammer and finger on the trigger, she shoots. There is nothing more than an ink stain on the outer rim of the pool. Breathing in deeply, she safely puts the gun back in her bag. Hearing footsteps behind her, Marianne turns around to find Lewis approaching her. His loose long hair moves in the night air. He holds out his arms to her. Taking the invitation, Marianne welcomes the hug.
"How do you feel?" he kisses the top of her head.
"A bit like a bad person," she holds onto him harder.
"That's a silly thought,"
"I just shot to kill!" looking him in the eye, Lewis can't help but sigh at her for being upset.
"Sorry. It's just that when you take on ghost after ghost and some of those ghosts being past lovers, makes you numb to it,"
"That's sad. Those women love you! Love you enough to kill another,"
"All that does is drag on everyone's suffering! They're being selfish!"
"But aren't you writing off their feelings?"
"Maybe? I can only love the current Marianne,"
"What about the original?"
"She wasn't that great to begin with. I feel it's more nostalgia than anything really solid,"
"Did she really not mean that much to you?"
"She was kind of hallow. Plus I've met better Marianne's,"
"Am I one of them?"
"I just might have to follow you if you die,"
"I see. Then I guess I'll just have to win the game,"
"And I'll make sure to help,"
Holding hands the couple walk around the backyard. They stop and talk to some others that have been trickling in over time. They catch up with a few class mates whose faces aren't heavily blurred.
"I don't believe we've met, I'm Marianne," she stretches her hand out to shake with the others.
"No we haven't, I'm Marshall," the less blurry face male introduces himself.
"Luke," he waves instead.
"Hi, I'm Danny," he shakes her hand like Marshall did.
Talking for a moment with the men they just meet, the couple says their good-byes and head inside. Once the three males where left alone, they called upon several previous Marianne's. The three look at the group of ghosts they're working with. All of them are of different heights and ethnicity. One common thing is that their faces are drawn on and that different places on their bodies are transparent. Without any of them noticing, Marianne walks back outside to look for an earring that fell out of one of the party goers ear. Seeing the three men she just met talking to ghosts, she holds back from getting closer. She can't hear what they're saying but it looks like directions are being given to the ghosts. Hearing a ring tone, Marianne watches as Danny answers his phone. The call ends and Danny leads Marshall and Luke away from the party. Once they are gone, the ghosts catch sight of Marianne.
Stumbling back, Marianne tries to get away from the ghosts, so that she can take out her gun and hold them off. She manages to dodge them at few times, but there's not enough room to safely take out her gun. Lewis comes outside and sees what is happening, takes out his handgun to aim it at one of the ghosts. With the sound of the shot being fired distracting the ghost, Marianne can pull out her revolver. Taking out three more ghosts, the last two leave with a gust of wind.
Both making sure that their firearms are correctly put away Lewis asks, "You okay?"
"I'm fine. I think the guys I've just meet might be meeting with someone," Marianne goes to hold Lewis' hand as the two leave the party.
"Should we say good-bye to Charles and Carrie first?"
"I told them that once I found you we're just going to leave,"
"Okay. As I was saying, I think Marshall and his friends know who might have the original Marianne,"
"What makes you say that?"
"I saw them surrounded my past Marianne's and talking to them,"
"That does sound like they have a common goal but don't you think this is a bit of a stretch?"
"I do. But it's the only lead that I have. What do they gain from having me killed?"
"They might be nostalgic for the first Marianne,"
"Everyone except you has had the last few months repeated twenty-three times now. They could think that the first Marianne was the best," Marianne nods her head in understanding.
"Who else really liked the first?"
"My parents, James, as I'm sure you remember, Mr. White, Danny, and several other minor characters," he takes out the key to their apartment.
"Great my boyfriends parents don't like me! I haven't even met them yet," Marianne steps inside after Lewis opens the door. He closes and locks it.
Holding her close he breaks the news to her, "We're also going to meet them tomorrow for lunch,"
"Great! Am I going to have to take out my septum piercing?"
"No, leave it in. They won't like you no matter how you dress," With the conversation over, the two go through their evening routine to be ready for the next day. Neither were excited about going to visit Mr. and Mrs. Zevitas tomorrow. The following morning is a slow one. Lewis is ready to back out seeing his parents and Marianne wants to see just how hopeless it is in getting them to like her. Taking a shortcut to Lewis' home, he reaches out and rings the door bell to the nice upscale home.
It's Mrs. Zevitas that opens the door and she looks at the two college student's with a frown on her face. Her son is in semi formal wear but has on a hat for no reason in her eyes. His current "girlfriend" has a silver nose piercing and a black cocktail dress on with blood red lipstick. The sight of them makes her huff in disbelief.
"Welcome Lewis, Marianne, please come in," her welcome is as friendly as a gun pointed to the back of your head.
"Thank you mother for inviting us," Lewis follows after Marianne goes inside.
"Yes thank you for having us for lunch," Marianne follows up trying to be friendly with the frowning woman. She takes in her appearance. She was dressed like a late sixty year old church woman instead of the forty year old woman she is. The couple is lead to the dinning room were Mr. Zevitas is waiting. Marianne takes note that he is younger than his wife but like her, he dresses older than what he is. Getting up, he holds out his hand to shake Marianne's. She does and after one shake he lets go and motions for his guests to sit down at the table. Once they do, Mr. and Mrs. Zevitas go and get the lunch that was prepare before they arrived. Lewis holds Marianne's hand under the table.
With the light lunch out, Lewis and Marianne say their thanks for the meal as the whole table is consumed in silence. This goes on with Mr. and Mrs. Zevitas repeatedly looking at Marianne as if she was the intruder. Lewis openly glares at his parents for their rudeness towards his girlfriend.
"So Marianne do you have any plans on how to beat the game or are you going to keel over and die like the others?" Mrs. Zevitas says with a smile.
"Don't be silly honey. She'll likely get taken out from behind since she doesn't come off as that bright," Mr. Zevitas smiles towards his wife.
"I rather you two didn't speak that way in front of me and my girlfriend," Lewis puts his silverware down since he's finished eating.
"Don't be like that son. Although why don't you stay home. There's something important here that I'm sure you miss," says Mr. Zevitas.
"If it's that important than give it to me. I'll take it home with me," Lewis looks his father in the eye.
"Something this important belongs in a special place. Not with you and your," Mrs. Zevitas gives Marianne a look of false pity, "girlfriend. Just stay here."
"No," Lewis doesn't bother to think about it.
"I'm sure once you see how important it is you'll want to stay?" Mrs. Zevitas tries to reason
"Can Marianne?" Lewis cuts straight to the point.
"No," Mr. Zevitas doesn't miss a beat. Marianne finishes everything on her plate letting Mr. and Mrs. Zevitas ignore her as Lewis squeezes her fingers at his parents words. She squeezes back to calm him down. Lewis does but he isn't happy about it.
"May I ask why she can't? After all you invited the both of us here," the words are hissed at his parents.
"Yes we did; however, we had hoped that you would have just come yourself," Mrs. Zevitas states.
Taking her hand out of Lewis' to stop him from speaking, Marianne speaks for the first time during the lunch.
"I would prefer if you didn't talk to me as if I can't understand you. I have no idea why you are so against Lewis and I being together," she looks at Mrs. Zevitas.
"That's because there is a better groomed girl for Lewis is all," Mrs. Zevitas makes a movement that looks like she's crossing her legs under the table.
"And she is?" Marianne presses.
"Someone who has been here for a long enough time and who Lewis will surely love," Mrs. Zevitas seems to not be able to look at Marianne.
"There's just a better girl for him out there is all," Mr. Zevitas pretends to be letting Marianne down easy. Standing up Marianne pushes to chair back in and looks at Lewis' parent blurry faces.
"Show him this girl if you like; that is, if he doesn't follow me out the door," not waiting for them to respond, Marianne goes to the foyer and out the front door. Once out, she takes a short cut to her parents home. During the short cut she sends a text telling them she's coming over.
"Well at least she knows- Lewis where are you going?" Mrs. Zevitas is genuinely shocked by her sons actions.
Mr. Zevitas stops his son,"What do you get out of going after her? It's not like she'll live long."
Side stepping his father Lewis answers,"I love her and that's enough for me."
Without speaking anymore, Lewis follows Marianne. Taking a shortcut, he gets to the Perry house easily and knocks on the door. Mrs. Perry is the one to open the door. She leads him to the dinning room where Marianne is talking to her dad. Catching sight of him, Marianne smirks. Turning back to her dad they continue their conversation.
"What was the original Marianne like?" Marianne takes a sip from her water bottle.
"Honesty she was like shallow water. It felt like she always tried to fit in whatever mold you put her in. There never seemed to be much to her," answers Mr. Perry.
"Really, I always felt like she had secrets that you never knew about but know are there," says Mrs. Perry.
"What about you Lewis?" Mrs. Perry looks to Lewis as all four are comfortable at the ever changing table.
"I felt like she was hollow too. Not only that but, she didn't seem that invested in our relationship," says Lewis.
"Was she close to your parents?" says Marianne.
"Yeah," Lewis confirms.
"Then I might just be ending this game earlier than I thought,"
"Dad! Mom! I'm home!" Charles notifies everyone.
"I'm the dinning room sweetie! Also Lewis and Marianne are here," Mrs. Perry calls to him. Entering the room Charles smiles brightly at his sister and friend.
"Nice that ya'll stop by! What's up with the visit," Charles sits down at one of the empty seats at the table.
"Had lunch with my parents and chose to leave early," Lewis says with a sour look on his face.
Looking to Marianne, Lewis questions her,"How do you know you're going to finish the game?"
Smiling at him she says,"Your parents." Lewis looks at Marianne for a bit, then thinking back to what they said his eyes widen.
"They're part of the group of people who were devoted to the first Marianne,"
"I just thought they had nostalgia,"
"They do. It's just so strong they're willing to hide a special someone. The only thing now is, who else is a part of this,"
"I know Danny liked the first Marianne a lot. Plus Luke and Marshall are with him no matter what so they can be involve," Charles adds.
"I saw them with several ghost Marianne's at Carrie's party, so for me there's no doubt that they're involved," Marianne recalls what she saw.
"That should be everyone right?" Mr. Perry looks at Lewis and Marianne.
"I don't know," says Marianne.
"As long as you know where the first is, it doesn't matter who else is involved. Once she's gone, the games over," Mrs. Perry tries to encourage her daughter.
"That just means we have to find a way to get to the original without letting the Zevitas know," Marianne points out.
"I have an idea. How about we just break in while my parents are away? You take out Marianne and the problems solved," Lewis puts forward.
"When's that going to happen?" she looks at Lewis.
"Your parents work?" says Charles.
"Yeah?" says Lewis.
"Why don't you and Marianne miss a school day and break into your house while they're away!" Lewis and Marianne think over the suggestion and like the idea.
"I guess we're missing classes,"says Marianne.
Mr. and Mrs. Perry look at each other before Mrs. Perry speaks, "Normally I'm against skipping classes just because, but if it'll end this endless cycle then go for it."
"I'm sure the Zevitas won't mind their son dropping by; even if they're no there to receive you," Mr. Perry smiles at the young couple before him.
With a plan ready, Lewis and Marianne take a visit to the Zevitas house the following day. Entering through the front door Marianne and Lewis make their way upstairs where the bedrooms are. Lewis stands guard as Marianne makes it to his room. Quietly she readies her revolver in case of a ghost attack. During her trip to Lewis' room, Marshall, Luke, and Danny exit out of a guess room. Danny's on the phone when the group of men see her. Not waiting for a second Marianne shouts.
"Lewis!" His footsteps are heard from the loft as he rushes to her side. Marshall and Luke try to get there hands on her but in their stumbling miss and she passes them. Lewis making it on the scene wastes no time in taking Marshall out with his hand gun. Like James before him, Marshall ends up as the letters to his name and a sentence dedicated to his place in the story. Luke tries to run past Lewis but he trips over his own feet and Lewis puts a bullet in him. Luke ends up the same way as Marshall. Danny knowing that he's no match, calls upon some ghosts to attack Lewis.
"Please come back!"
"I love you!"
"Come back to me!"
The different Marianne ghosts attack him in their hysterics. Not wanting to let Danny get away, Lewis makes his way to him as the Marianne's plead and claw at him. Danny gets pushed from behind by the current Marianne and Lewis takes his shot and kills him.
"Duck!" Lewis follows the instruction and hears Marianne's revolver going off. This kills the ghosts that where around Lewis. All around him is black ink stains. Looking at each other to make sure the other is okay, the couple hear clapping behind them. Marianne's eyes go wide and Lewis turns around to see who it is. Mr. White stands in the Zevitas house as if he visits often.
"What are you doing here?" says Lewis.
"So your the one Danny was talking on the phone with?" Marianne tilts her head to the professor. Mr. White smiles at the two.
"I'm here to see the love of my life; and yes Danny was calling me," he looks at the two, "When I saw that neither of you were at school I worried about my sweet Marianne."
"Well there goes the secret she was hiding," Marianne looks at him in distaste.
"Why were you two together is my question?" says Lewis.
"No need for you to know Lewis," Mr. White walks closer.
"Marianne, my room is the last door on the right. Go and do what needs to be done. I'll handle the professor," With a quiet okay Marianne does what she's instructed.
"You going after her or do I get to put a bullet in you?" Lewis raises his handgun as Mr. White walks closer.
"Now don't be tha-" Bang! Mr. White dies without finishing his sentence. He's nothing more that a pile of letters now. Going to his room, Lewis waits outside.
Marianne is finally face to face with the original Marianne. The twenty-third can't see the original's face as her brown hair covers her face. The first Marianne wears a long dress that covers her feet. The current Marianne can hear the woman in a coma breathing. In and out the comatose woman breaths while on the throne she's been placed upon. Marianne holds her gun up, aims, and fires.
Lewis hears the revolver go off. He knows that the first Marianne has died. The twenty-third and last Marianne walks out of his room. Taking her hand the couple leave the Zevitas house with black ink staining the upstairs hallway. Lewis and Marianne take a short cut home and stay in for the rest of the day. The follow day is interesting for everyone because the game is over. As everyone tries to find out what to do with the freedom they are now given, Lewis and Marianne choose to live their life however it suits them in the moment.