“Not that I mind theme parks at all, but why are we here?” I asked. Alma leaned her head against my arm. Upon arriving, Jarod and the twins split off in a different direction, leaving me to roam the park with Alma. I couldn’t complain about being alone with her, but I still felt nervous around her as often as not. She was just so… different. “You don’t believe that I simply wanted to share a big wheel with you? This isn’t the London Eye, but I do enjoy the view.” she claimed. I replied “If there is anything I’ve learned about you, it’s that you rarely do anything for just one reason.” The corner of her mouth twitched. “I must confess that I’m glad you’re starting to know me. I bought this park due to the large number of incidents that have occurred here lately. Unfortunately, I may have been too late.” In my mind, the words “too late” seemed far more ominous coming out of Alma than they did out of most people. “Why? What’s happened?” I asked. She told me “I fear whoever was creating the zombies found a new lair. What’s more disconcerting is that I cannot even seem to find where he had been hiding, despite having searched several times. Today I simply am noting what changes I need to make.” As the Ferris wheel approached the ground, Alma stopped leaning against me, regaining her perfect posture as she scooted slightly apart.
I felt somewhat guilty with each ride as we bypassed lines completely, but Alma seemed determined to try each one. What was a roller coaster even like for her? I had seen plenty of people look scared, nervous, and extremely excited on roller coasters, shouting as they lifted their hands on the way down, but I had never seen anyone look completely impassive on one before. Of course, Alma could move far more quickly than the fastest cart in the park. I doubted that she’d be injured if we flew off the track and crashed. Did life have any thrills for her? Aaliyah was the only person I knew who seemed to keep up with Alma, and she was easily the most jubilant person I knew as well. Surely there was something that excited Alma as much as Aaliyah got excited about… well, everything. But what? Ride after ride, Alma calmly sat beside me. I could imagine how amazing her hair would look blowing behind her on a drop of a roller coaster, though I’d feel sorry for anyone behind us if Alma allowed her hair to fly free, but I couldn’t picture her screaming out in glee over anything. Of course, I felt she seemed unearthly even as we took a break to eat burgers and fries. Alma had no freckles or moles. Her nails were always immaculate. When she bit into her burger, there was no sign of ketchup, mustard, or grease on her lips.
“Yes?” asked Alma. I realized that I had been staring at her again. “Sorry. You wouldn’t believe how easily I get lost in your eyes. They’re just so beautiful.” I told her, realizing what I said a moment later. For a moment, I wondered if I had said too much. I didn’t want to come across as hitting on her, though there were times I found myself wishing she’d flirt. Then a smile spread across her face and she said, “I wear contacts.” I stared now in disbelief, unable to believe that I had taken the surreal violet of her eyes as natural for so long. Alma laughed, a beautiful sound that drew more than just my attention. Her voice was as otherworldly as the rest of her, and her laugh was even more so. I doubted that I would ever forget a single time I heard that beautiful sound. “I’m joking, of course. My vision is far better than a human’s, and I’ve never felt a need to hide my eyes. I am somewhat surprised that you believed me. Contacts? Really?” she confessed. I joined her in smiling, unable to resist. Then I told her “I suppose I can be quite gullible where you’re concerned. We’ve shared my home for months now, and I still know so little about you. I’ve been wondering what excites you for most of our time here. Roller coasters don’t seem to do the trick. What does?”
Her smile lessened as she said, “When I was younger, I was always excited to spend time with my mother, though I wasn’t supposed to show it. My mother insisted that I maintained my composure at all times. Habits are easily formed, though she still wouldn’t be pleased at how often I lose my temper. I wish she could have met you.” Hearing this only elicited more questions, so I said, “I thought you spent most of your life traveling with your mother. Were you perpetually excited then?” The smile I treasured left her face as she replied “I did, but we didn’t spend nearly as much time together as you might expect. More often than not, I was busy studying while she was handling business. We kept in constant contact even while she worked, but I preferred when she was actually with me. Visiting my cousin, Adelmar, was often exciting, I suppose. He can be such a proper bastard at times, but I do love his company when he’s not teasing me horrendously. You’ll love him, James. He is completely remarkable.” I nodded, thinking anyone to whom Alma referred as “remarkable” must be incredible indeed. “Do you think I’ll be meeting him anytime soon?” I asked. She shrugged as she said, “He won’t tell me, so I can’t really say.”
“What sorts of games did you play together?” I inquired. Alma laughed as she told me “I doubt you would consider them ‘games’ at all, but we had various sorts of contests between us. Well, I say ‘contests’, but you would probably just see them as an endless brawl. There were loads of rules involved, so no one other than us was ever injured. I never experienced quite so much pain anywhere else, not even sparring with my mother. I do feel she restrained herself frequently, so its not that she couldn’t give me as much of a beating. I’m still no where near a match for what my mother was.” I wasn’t entirely certain that I would have wanted to meet Alma’s mother. She didn’t sound very friendly, and I was now having doubts about Adelmar as well. There had to be something which would make the woman seem more endearing, so I asked “What is your favorite memory of her?” Smiling still, Alma said, “For my twelfth birthday, mother took me to Antarctica. We made a palace out of ice together, and she laid siege to it as I defended, not wanting our creation to be ruined. She won, of course, but she left the throne standing for me.” I had trouble imagining a palace of ice staying intact for long with Alma around. With our food finished, we started walking to the next ride.
Just a few minutes later, I found myself staring around in shock as the crowd around us split off in different directions. “What’s going on?” I asked, looking down at Alma. I jumped as I saw something flying toward me out of the corner of my eye. There was a man floating in the air right beside us as Alma looked at him inquisitively. “Whoever made this is getting more clever.” commented Alma before walking behind a building with the floating man in tow. I followed, feeling confused. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “Watch.” stated Alma. Suddenly, the man’s form changed. His clothes became tattered and encrusted with blood. His skin appeared to become rotten. Bile rose in my throat as the smell hit me. I quickly created a spell to freshen the air for me. “How did you know?” I asked. “His gait was a bit odd, which caught my attention. Then I realized that the breeze wasn’t affecting his clothing or hair properly. I sent the crowd scattering to make sure no one would get hurt when I brought him to us, but…” I found myself jumping again as there was a flash of light. When I looked back, the man was in charred pieces on the ground. Before I could ask why Alma did that, she said, “If you are thinking that I just blew up a zombie right next to you for fun, think again. I did, however, stop the explosion from reaching you.” She had her phone out, and seemed to be texting.
“The twins have Jarod and are leaving. We’ll meet them soon.” stated Alma. The body parts on the ground burst into flame for a second before crumbling to ash which drifted away. “Do you think there are more of these things?” I asked. “I hope not. They’re probably targeting me, but I would prefer to keep everyone safe. Shut your eyes.” she demanded. The moment I did, I felt the odd sense of motion from her moving me. “Get in the limo and stay put. I’ll be back soon.” was all she said before disappearing. Ai, Mai, and Jarod suddenly appeared by the limo a moment later. After they got inside, I started explaining what happened until we heard an explosion, which quickly drew our attention. Mai pulled out her phone and started texting rapidly, but minutes passed without a response. Then the limo started driving us away. “Mila? What’s happening?” I asked. “Alma will join you later. She’s assisting the injured.” replied Mila. Police cars, ambulances, and fire engines passed us as Mila drove us home. The twins looked every bit as shocked as I felt, and Jarod had his arms around both. What was happening?