Dezi and Reg had watched what felt like a billion hours of crappy television by the time her mother came home from work. Frannie was home to by that point, but she couldn't be bothered with the television or her sister or her sister's weird friend with the dreadlocks. She was in her room, probably doing something boring like actual homework or possibly (rather probably, in fact) watching the same crappy television on different channels.
"Thank you for not leaving the house, Desert Orchid"
"I wasn't going to be able to get away with anything when you were calling every five minutes."
"I did not call every five minutes." She had called something more like every ten.
"You know, if you didn't want me going down town you could have just not mentioned it." Reg laughed as Dezi’s mom raised her eyebrows. "It's not like I just spend my time looking for trouble." This time he outright guffawed, and Dezi kicked him from across the couch.
"Unless you'd like to stay for dinner." He also often ate their food, though that had nothing to do with his mother's work schedule.
"If you don't mind..."
"Not at all, you know that! Dezi, go get your sister and make her come down here and set the table with you." Instead of going upstairs like a normal human being, Dezi chose to shout up to her sister, who vehemently ignored her until she actually went up to her room, at which time Frannie made her sister ask nicely and quietly before she would shut off her stupid television and come help set the table.
Just as Dezi and Fran finished setting the table, their dad came home and everyone sat down to eat.
“How was everyone’s day?” Dez’s dad began the conversation. She and Reg dared not respond, and Fran, as usual, responded with a shrug and a “fine” before pushing the food on her plate around in disgust.
“Well. The police were all over downtown today. Your daughter couldn’t seem to stay away.”
“Mom. Come on, I didn’t leave the house.”
"But you were going to. As soon as I saw that huge pile of body bags on the ground I knew you were going to investigate, insisting you would get to the bottom of it, and then suddenly we would get a call from the police that you had been in the town square yourself, trying to find out what exactly is going."
True, but Dezi couldn't understand why this would be a bad thing, exactly. Instead of arguing with her mother, Dezi tried to reason with her father.
"First of all, I checked the coverage, Dad. The pile of body bags was five, maybe ten people.” Her mom scoffed. “And second it is a big deal, Mom. The police don't just quarantine the town square over nothing."
"But that's just it, Dezi. The police have it covered. you don't need to go reveal some paranormal truth that you think is there, just under the surface or something."
"I DON’T make these things up, Mom." Her mother sighed, worn out.
“Dezi, I can see how some of these...stories you tell...may have had some merit to them.” Her father cut in. “Maybe you're actually on to something this time, but your mother and I don't want you hanging around things that are getting such coverage. You don't need to go looking for trouble.”
“And I don't want you getting into things that are dangerous or...inexplicable."
"Mom, that's the most ridiculous—"
"I just don't want you getting hurt, Dezi. and if you keep poking around in places that have attracted media attention, you're going to either get hurt or get in trouble. And I'm not going to sit around and let that happen just because you were curious, or wanted something more exciting in your life."
"I haven't gotten hurt yet what makes you think I'm going to start now?"
"Because you keep taking bigger and bigger risks."
“Mrs. Booker. I’m sorry to interrupt. But--I..Dez is pretty careful when we’re on her missions and stuff.”
“Thanks, Reg that’s super helpful.”
Dezi's mom sighed. "Maybe you need to sign up for an after-school activity or I need to put you in some after school program so that you've got less free time, or you should take another class or something."
"I'm not going to get myself hurt."
"Either you figure out something to do with your afternoons besides looking for trouble, or you will start coming with me to work."
Dezi looked over at her father who held up his hands in defeat. “Sorry Dez, I agree with her on this one.” She scowled and crossed her arms, but he continued. "You’re going to get yourself in trouble and in a worst-case scenario, trouble with a police officer or seriously seriously hurt. Just leave the crime-fighting to the professionals, please." Dezi agreed, but only in order to get her parents to stop talking to her like she was still in elementary school. The phone rang, and it was Reg’s mom calling to let them know she was home. Mr. Booker left to drive Reg to his mother’s house, and Dez and went upstairs to her room.
Frannie was sitting in her own room with the door open.
"Hey, Dez, about what mom was--"
"Great. Fran, I really don't want more lecturing so could we maybe not talk about it—"
"No..." She looked around suspiciously, then motioned to her sister. "Close the door and come sit down." Dezi hesitated but did as she was instructed.
"I think you might be right about what's going on downtown. Justin was talking about it after school and Justin NEVER cares what’s on the news.” Justin was Fran’s newest crush. “Justin saw it on the news on the television in social studies class and after the newscaster started talking about the flash mob thing yesterday they interviewed the store owner of the toy store and he was talking about how weird the whole thing was and that there was just this pile of people left over. And he asked me what I thought about the whole thing and I was like kinda confused because I hadn’t seen the report from yesterday or whatever but I did like some internet searches and there’s stuff ALL OVER the web so like… I know mom told you not to investigate, but... are you going to go down there anyway?"
Dezi had to weigh her options here very carefully, as all sisters do when they have suffered a falling out among themselves. “I don’t know, Fran.”
“Well if you decide to...can I come, too?” Dezi could either tell her sister everything or tell her just enough. If Fran was serious about wanting in on the action, then she could prove incredibly helpful. Having an extra set of hands--hands that knew what they were doing--could prove a huge advantage. Dezi would be lying to herself if she didn’t have a glimmer of hope that this could restore them back to they way they were when they were much smaller. Back before Dezi had become so stubborn and Fran so skeptical. Back when they would use their favorite Goosebumps books to act out case after case of their own, climb trees together and hide amphibian pets from their parents.
But all that trouble had caused problems one too many times. And, as it’s wont to do in sibling relationships after too long, it caused the younger sibling to shy away from the older, to avoid getting into more trouble. If she was spying for their mom, as she had done in the past, then Dezi was sure to get grounded would never find the man in the hat—or at least not without her mom calling the cops on her.
"Yeah, I ... I don't know yet. I want to, but seriously mom seems crazy about this one. But I'm thinking maybe I am making it all up-- even Reg didn't want to go down and see what was going on, and I showed him a video from what everyone says was a flash mob but I know it wasn't."
"I know, but the news said--"
"Yeah. They don't know what's going on down there, either. and I'm telling you, I saw zombies. And a guy who looked like a mummy, but Reg thinks he was a burn victim." Silence from Fran.
"I don't think I'm going to investigate, though. It might not be worth it with Mom breathing down my neck--and now she wants me in school all the time... so I don't even know when I would go downtown without Mom knowing where I was and how long I was there. I'm surprised she hasn't implanted a GPS in my phone or my backpack or something yet." Fran laughed a little. This was a good sign. Fran didn't laugh unless she was totally comfortable, which meant she was probably not spying for her mom, and she definitely wasn't trying to get Dezi in trouble.
"Hey, you know it kind of sucks that we don't hang out anymore." Fran said without looking up from her hands.
"Yeah. It kind of does."
"If you, uhm, change your mind about going downtown... don’t forget to let me know? I mean, I'm sure you'll get Reg to change his mind and come with you, but I want to, too. And not just because of Justin." Dezi smiled.
"I'm not sure I'm going to change Reg's mind this time, actually. He's kind of acting like an asshole because he wants to impress girls. Girls who are not us. They laughed together. "But yeah, of course you can come with us. Or, you know, more likely just me."
The sisters awkwardly stared at each other until-- “Alright. Now get outta my room, yeah? I have things to do.” Fran smiled back and soon they were laughing together. As if time had simply melted away.