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Prom Baby! – Word count: 24,134

“I know, I walked out of my house to go to school this morning, and I found Sally Larson lying dead in a ditch!”
“That’s awful,” Elizabeth said, tears springing to her eyes. “I totally forgot about her.”
“I’m pretty sure everyone else is in trouble, too,” Enid said. “When I got to school this morning, the only other student that showed up was Lois Waller. And this was posted on the door to Mr. Collins’ classroom.”
Elizabeth took the piece of paper that Enid handed to her. It read, “If you want to see Jessica Wakefield again, meet us at some shady warehouse downtown at 3 o’clock.”
Elizabeth checked her watch. “It’s almost 2!” she exclaimed. “We don’t have much time!”
“Do you think we should get the police involved?” Enid asked.
“Of course not,” Elizabeth said. “Everyone knows that the Sweet Valley Police Department is worthless. They rely on teenagers to solve all the crimes around here.”
“There are a lot of shady warehouses downtown,” Enid pointed out. “How will we know where Jessica is?”
“I don’t know, but we’ve got to try,” Elizabeth said grimly. “We’ve got to try.”

* * *

“We’ve searched everywhere,” Elizabeth said. “And we still haven’t found them.”
“There’s one last place we need to look,” Enid said, pointing to a foreboding-looking building with busted-out windows and graffiti depicting gang symbols. “Bruce’s date-rape warehouse.”
“Bruce has a whole warehouse devoted to date rape?” Elizabeth asked as they crept up to the building. She stepped over shards of glass from what appeared to be a broken beer bottle. “He took me to his parents beach house.”
“Well, then, he must have thought you were someone really special,” Enid said. “You know, I never understood why his parents have a beach house when we live in the same town as the beach.”
“Be quiet,” Elizabeth hissed as they got closer. Enid nodded furiously and tightly shut her mouth. Elizabeth pulled herself up to peek into the cracked window. Carefully, she wiped away the dust and cobwebs that caked the glass and leaned against the window, shading her eyes. It was pitch black inside, but after a few seconds, Elizabeth could make out some movement.
“I think someone’s in there!” she whispered to Enid.
It was Jessica, and she was tied up to a chair. There wasn’t anyone else around; at least, not that Elizabeth could see.
“I don’t get it,” she said to Enid. “I see Jessica, but where are the people from Big Mesa?”
Enid shrugged. “Do you want me to go in and get her? I’ll rescue her for you.”
“No, thanks,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll go in there myself.
She crept along the outside of the building until she found a metal door that had a broken lock dangling from it. “Jess?” she said softly, opening the door with a loud creak. “It’s OK, Jessica. I’m here now.”
“Go away, Elizabeth,” Jessica hissed. “I don’t need you.”
“I know we had a fight earlier, and I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said, making her way over to her sister. “But I’ve been so worried about you for the past 45 minutes or so.”
“Worried about me? What are you talking about?” Jessica demanded.
“Jessica, you’re tied to a chair in an abandoned warehouse. Come on, let’s get out of here!”
“Elizabeth, has it ever occurred to you that I haven’t been kidnapped?” Jessica said. Elizabeth could see the anger on her face.
“No, it hasn’t, because you’ve clearly been kidnapped,” Elizabeth said, working to untie the knots that bound Jessica. “We really don’t have time to argue. Those creeps from Big Mesa could come back any minute.”
“Elizabeth, I’m just into some really kinky shit, OK?” Jessica said. “Now leave me alone!”
“What? But Enid found a note that said we’d never see you again, and she said that Big Mesa ambushed us last night, and Sally Larson’s dead–”
“Sally Larson’s dead because she was terminally boring,” Jessica said. “And probably because the foster care system sucks.”
“She isn’t in the foster care system anymore. Dana’s family took her in, remember?” Elizabeth asked. Jessica shrugged as best she could with her arms tied to a chair. “And anyway, don’t go off on a tangent. What are you doing here, tied up to a chair?”
“I’m meeting someone,” she snapped. “Not that it’s any of your business. And if you’re still around when he gets here, I’m going to die of embarrassment!”
“But what about the note?” Elizabeth asked. “Who would write such a thing?”
“I did,” Jessica said. “It was code for my man so he would know where to meet me. Again, none of your damn business, so just get out of here!”
Just then, Elizabeth heard a car pull up outside. It must be Jessica’s mysterious date! she thought.
“Quick, hide!” Jessica said in a low voice.
“Jessica, Enid’s outside! What if he sees her?” Elizabeth said, her voice rising in panic.
“Leave it to you and Enid Rollins to fuck up my plans for the afternoon,” Jessica said angrily. “Just hide, all right?”
Elizabeth dove behind a rusted-out metal drum just in time. As the door creaked open, she peered around the drum to get a look at the man Jessica had gone to so much trouble to meet up with. Why the secrecy? she thought. Who could this mystery man be?
Jessica let out a throaty giggle. “Well, hello, Rick,” she said.
“Rick Andover?” Elizabeth whispered to herself. She must have been a little too loud, because Jessica started setting off a series of very fake-sounding coughs.
Rick was nothing but trouble, Elizabeth knew. He was a high school dropout, an alcoholic, and apparently a sadomasochist. For the next five minutes, Elizabeth huddled behind the 55-gallon drum, trying to shut her ears and eyes against the unholy sounds Jessica and Rick were making. Finally, Rick was finished and it was all over.
“Thanks a lot, Jessica,” he said. “Here’s five bucks.”
Elizabeth waited until his footsteps retreated and the door creaked open again to emerge from her hiding place. Jessica was standing in front of the chair, her clothes disheveled. She was rubbing her wrists where the rope had bound her.
“So now you know my secret,” Jessica said. “I’ve stopped giving hand jobs behind Kelly’s and have turned to S&M. The pay’s about the same, but my wrists don’t hurt nearly as bad.”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “You’re pregnant now. You can’t be letting guys tie you up to chairs and whip you and do who knows what else to you.”
“Whatever,” Jessica said. “I’ll do what I want.”
From outside, they heard a high-pitched scream. “Enid!” Elizabeth cried, sprinting toward the door.
But when she emerged into the sunlight, Elizabeth was greeted by an unexpected scene. Rick’s lifeless body lay on the ground, and above him, clutching a lone yellow barrette covered in blood, was Enid.
“I – I had to do it,” Enid said. “It sounded like he was killing someone in there!”
“What the fuck?” Jessica said, running out behind Elizabeth. “Enid, did you stab him?”
“I was coming in to save Elizabeth – and you, I guess – and he was coming out toward me. I was startled, and so I took out Elizabeth’s barrette that I keep in my bra and I just .. slashed his throat,” Enid finished, looking at the ground.
“God damn it, Enid! Rick is my best customer,” Jessica seethed. “On the other hand, maybe you’re good for something. Do you think you could take down the Big Mesa cheerleading squad?”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “This is no time to be thinking about you stupid little competition with Big Mesa. Rick could be bleeding to death!”
“OK, OK,” Jessica said, pacing. “I’ve got it. We’ll just say someone from Big Mesa did it. It will be just the catalyst we need for starting the war.”
Elizabeth’s jaw dropped. “Catalyst? And you used it correctly?”
“Oh, yeah, I guess I did,” Jessica giggled. “This ghostwriter must suck balls.”
“To be fair, the books are riddled with continuity errors,” Elizabeth said. “But let’s get back on track. We’re not starting a war with Big Mesa.”
“No, we’re finishing a war with Big Mesa,” Jessica said. “They started it!”
“As much as I worship you, Elizabeth, I’m with Jessica on this one,” Enid said quickly. “I already took the fall for running down some kid. I’m not going to take the rap for this, too.”
As Rick bled out and the three of them argued over what to do, a familiar car pulled up. It was Bruce’s Porsche. He didn’t seem to notice them as he got out of the car, then went around to the passenger side and pulled out a pregnant Big Mesa cheerleader who was clearly unconscious. He casually slung her over one shoulder as if she were an expensive Italian leather jacket and started toward Jessica, Elizabeth and Enid.
Looking up and catching sight of them, a startled Bruce dropped the unconscious cheerleader to the ground with a loud thud. “Hey – hey, ladies,” he stammered, trying to play it cool. “What’s going on?”
“We just found Rick, stabbed to death!” Jessica said dramatically, going into full-on actress mode. “Those jerks from Big Mesa did it, I just know they did!”
“Yeah, they must have,” Bruce said. “They’re hiding all over the place. I found this one up at Miller’s Point. I’m pretty sure she was about to jump me.”
“Up at Miller’s Point in the middle of the day!” Jessica gasped. “Very sneaky.”
“One of them killed Sally Larson,” Enid said, and Elizabeth turned a suspicious eye to her.
“How did Sally die?” Elizabeth asked. “Not a barrette to the throat, by any chance?”
“No!” Enid said, a little too loudly. “Although she would have deserved it. I saw her give you a dirty look in Mr. Collins’ class the other day.”
“We’ve got to do something about this,” Bruce growled, pounding his palm with a balled-up fist. “No more fucking around. It’s time we had a good, old-fashioned street fight.”
“I’m in,” Enid said quickly.
“No!” Elizabeth protested. “We can’t continue this! Two Sweet Valley High students – well, OK, Rick was a dropout, so just one – are dead! Where will it end?”
“When every last skanky bitch from Big Mesa is six feet under,” Jessica said. Bruce nodded in agreement.
“But think of the unborn!” Elizabeth cried desperately. “Don’t you care about all these babies, Jessica? Just think of what you had to go through to get pregnant.”
“Babies are just accessories, Elizabeth,” Jessica said, as if her sister were completely stupid. “Duh.”
“Jessica’s right,” Bruce said. “Who cares about babies? I just care about baby-making.”
Jessica gave him a high-five over Rick’s corpse. “So true,” she said, laughing. “So true.”

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11 2009

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