He was a tall, green-skinned boy with green-black hair, amber cat's eyes and six short, slender tendrils growing from his lower jaw. His features were otherwise decidedly Polynesian, and most considered him handsome. He was wearing a traditional Japanese school uniform, the fact that he was not in Japan mattered little to him. He had absorbed his wings and gained almost a foot in height through the redistribution of mass.
And, for once, he seemed to be the 'normal' one.
Torren-Wraeth groaned and rolled his eyes as he saw his new school.
Really. He was over six hundred years old and going to high school.
There was no justice in the universe.
Torren-Wraeth walked into the dark building and nearly bumped into a zombie carrying a physics book. O.K. Things were officially insane. None of the students he saw were 'human', several weren't even humanoid. That didn't bother Torren-Wraeth, he was only half-human himself. His father was The Great Old One Cthulhu, High Priest of Yog-Sothoth, Lord of R'Lyeh.
He could have at least sprung for Miskatonic University.
Torren-Wraeth was surprised to turn a corner and see a handsome, slender, light blue-skinned boy of about fifteen standing completely naked in the hall. The boy looked surprised that he was looking his way, and it occurred to Torren-Wraeth that he was the only one who could see him. His body bent the light around him, making it appear that he wasn't there to those with normal vision.
"Either this school has an interesting dress code, or I'm the only one who can see you." He said dryly.
The boy ran a finger through his blue-black hair, "You can really see me?"
"Clearly." He extended a green, black-nailed hand, "I am Torren-Wraeth."
"They call me Invisi-Billy."
Another bad pun. This whole place was a bad joke. New Salem? Home ick? Physical deaducation?
"Nice to meet you, Billy. You don't mind if I call you Billy?'
"No. Of course not." He blushed slightly, "It's harder to go fully invisible with clothes. I didn't expect anyone to see me . . ."
"It's alright. Nothing I've never seen before."
Billy smiled, but he was still blushing "I haven't seen you around. You're new here?"
"Yes. In fact, I'm looking for the principle's office. Could you show me the way?"
"Yeah, I know the way well. But it's the headmistress, not a principle."
"Don't tell me," He asked, "She's headless?"
"How'd you know?"
"Lucky guess. If she's headless, it must be hard for her to yell at you." Torren-Wraeth followed the invisible boy through the gaping crowd toward the office. He wondered if they could hear Billy, or if they thought he was talking to himself.
"No, she carries her head around, and she yells plenty."
He could hear some of the girls making remarks like 'Who's the hottie?' and 'He's screamy.' and found it difficult not to laugh.
He rolled his eyes, Girls.
"The ghouls are already talking." Billy said, "I'll bet you have a ghoulfriend by the end of the day."
"I hate to disappoint them, but I'm not looking for romance." He shrugged, "Seriously, did you just say 'ghoulfriend'?"
Billy didn't seem to understand. Apparently people here spoke an entirely different language, based on bad puns and twisted jokes. The school itself was bizarre, even for one who had lived in R'Lyeh. It was like a Minoan labyrinth hidden inside a Gothic cathedral. The lockers and cell-phones were shaped like coffins, and he saw a poster for a 'casketball' game.
He wondered if it involved literal caskets . . .
Torren-Wraeth turned slightly at the sight of a tall, handsome youth with a mohawk made of writhing serpents. A gorgon. He recognized him, Deuce, one of Medusa's kids. They'd met in Greece a few years back. A good kid. A mummy with expensive jewelry was dividing her time between hanging off his arm and texting. Well, that meant he was probably not the oldest student in school, at least. He nodded toward Deuce and received a nod in return. The girl barely looked up.
"Well," Billy said, "Here we are. You'll excuse me if I don't want to go in."
Torren-Wraeth smiled, "Of course. Thanks, Billy. I hope we can be friends."
"See ya' around."
"See ya', nature boy."
Billy laughed and walked off into the crowd as Torren-Wraeth opened the door and went in.
It was all he could do not to laugh as he saw the seated woman with her head on her desk. Her eyes moved to the new arrival.
"Mr. Torren-Wraeth, I presume?"
"I'm Headmistress Bloodgood. Please, have a seat."
A few minutes later:
"You have no formal education?" Her headless body held the papers in front of her detached head.
"I was taught by my mother and great-uncle. I can understand all languages, except whatever it is you speak here. What is 'casketball' anyway?, I can speak most languages as well. If it's written, I can write it. I've studied history, human and otherwise, science, geometry, hyper-geometry, astronomy, theology, sociology, quantum mechanics, transcendental metaphysics, theoretical physics, non-Euclidean architecture . . ."
"So you can read, write and do basic arithmetic."
"Yes." He smiled thinly, "I can even understand both metric and standard measurements."
"You'll doubtless make the gifted club for that one . . ."
A few more minutes later:
"Your ah . . . Divine abilities might make it difficult for other athletes if you choose to pursue such a course."
"I'm a good swimmer. The Rapa Nui are, generally speaking, excellent swimmers and my father's people are amphibious. But I have no interest in joining a sports team."
"This also says you are skilled with musical instruments. Wind instruments, in particular."
"I play the flute, pan pipes, bone pipes of madness, Byakhee whistle and bagpipes."
She looked at him in blank confusion, "Bone pipes of madness? Byakhee whistle?"
"The former will drive your listeners insane, the latter will summon a Byakhee."
"Then let's avoid the former, shall we?"
"Do you know any of the other students?"
"I've met Deuce Gorgon before. He's a great guy. And I just met Billy . . . Uh . . ." He realized he didn't know the boy's full name.
Torren-Wraeth shrugged, "He called himself Invisi-Billy."
"Oh. Him. Billy Wells. I see him often, no pun intended"
It amazed him how Miss. Bloodgood could shake her head disdainfully without a neck.
"He's nice enough. I like to think I'm a good judge of character."
"He's the school's biggest prankster."
"That's fine with me . . . Like I said, just as long as no one calls me 'Torren' or 'Wraeth', I should be fine. Oh, one more thing. Old English. I can't stand modern people using Old English, especially in religious rituals."
"I can't stand trouble-makers, but I have to live with them, every day. We don't hold religious rituals here, unless you take Witchcraft 101."
"Count me out."
"We'll, I guess it's time for your first class here at Monster High."
"Let me guess. Physical deaducation."
"How did you know?"
"Because the universe hates me."
Torren-Wraeth was naturally athletic, but he didn't much care for exercises he considered a waste of time. Which was basically your standard fair for gym class. He did, however, learn that 'casketball' was merely basketball with oddly shaped stands. He also learned that Deuce Gorgon was an ace player, and that cheerleaders were called 'fearleaders', which sounded ridiculous to him. Of course, almost everything about Monster High sounded ridiculous to him.
So here he was in a casketball uniform, sitting in the stands, watching the other boys play.
He was sitting next to a handsome boy with yellow-tinged skin, pointed ears and flaming red-orange hair. Literally flaming, he had fire coming from his skull. He played a mean game himself, from what Torren-Wraeth had seen.
A fire elemental.
"Hi, I'm Torren-Wraeth." He held out a green, black-nailed hand.
The boy smiled and shook his hand. "Heath Burns. You're the new manster, right." It wasn't really a question. "Don't worry, it's great here. Just stay away from the zombies, when they get into packs, let's just say you don't want to be in their way..."
"Thanks. You're pretty good at this, are you on the team?"
"Yeah. We won State last season. But Deuce and Clawd are the stars, the MVM's*. It's funny, they're not like the stereotypical dumb, mean jocks, they're nice guys." Heath clearly loved to talk. Normally Torren-Wraeth would find that annoying, but Heath made it seem a good trait.
"I know, I've met Deuce before, back in Greece."
"No, I'm Rapa Nui, I simply travel a lot."
"Rapa Nui? You mean, like Easter Island? We read about that in Hisstory class."
"Yeah, things got really bad, even before the Europeans showed up. I'm one of the few people left who even knows the language..."
"Yeah, that was bad. We saw the movie, ya' know, Rapa Nui, I mean. It was pretty tragic."
"I saw it happen. I don't think I could bear to see it again..."
"It's okay." He sighed, "Be nice if people could actually get along, though."
They watched the game as a group of students under Deuce faced off against a group under a tall, handsome, dark-skinned young werewolf.
"Clawd, I presume?" Torren-Wraeth indicated the wolf-boy.
"In the fur." Clawd looked their way and motioned for Heath to join him on the court, "Looks like they need The Heathster. 'Gotta' go."
"Great meeting you."
Deuce motioned for Torren-Wraeth to join him.
"I don't know how to play, Deuce."
"You're smart, you've been watching us play. I know you've picked up some of the basics, at least."
Torren-Wraeth sighed, oh well, he was expected to exercise...
"And no flying allowed!" Clawd said.
The boys' scours,
Including Billy, Torren-Wraeth figured he'd seen almost half of the boys at Monster High completely naked within the space of two hours.
Everyone tried to keep their eyes up, as a common courtesy, but one couldn't help but see. Torren-Wraeth himself only wore clothing among people who did, like humans. Few other races bothered to cover themselves. It didn't particularly bother him, but he knew that the other boys would be embarrassed or self-conscious about someone studying their unclad bodies. Besides, it was bad manners to stare at other people, naked or clothed.
He couldn't help but look at Deuce, however. He was pretty much perfectly proportioned and well-endowed, like an idealized Greek god, but had absolutely no hair on his body. A few random patches of emerald scales against his light skin, but no hair. It wasn't really an odd thing, aside from his head Torren-Wraeth was also hairless, he didn't even develop facial hair. Cthuloids were mollusks, cephalopods... They didn't have hair... He didn't linger too long on Deuce's bare body, that would be both rude and awkward, and Deuce would likely be offended or embarrassed.
Clawd Wolf was the exact opposite, in terms of hair. His toned, muscular body was almost completely covered in brown fur from head to toe. And he was very well-endowed. He supposed that was typical for werewolves...
Torren-Wraeth watched in surprise as the flame-headed boy next to him stepped up and turned the shower head.
"Heath. Aren't you a fire elemental? Should you be doing that?"
The water steamed as it hit Heath's flaming hair, but the fire was in no way diminished. As much as he tried not to, he looked down to see if all of Heath's hair was fiery. It was not, it was just orange-red hair. He tried to be discreet, not wishing to offend the boy. Heath was wiry, but his body was lean muscled and well-developed for his age.
"I can dive if I want to, this fire ain't going out. It burns even hotter when I get angry or excited. When I'm bored or not doing anything, it's just regular hair, but it's still hot." The godling assumed Heath either didn't see or didn't care about Torren-Wraeth's southward glance. He was wrong. "And if that hair was on fire, how could I wear pants?" Heath grinned.
"Touche..." For the first time in years, Torren-Wraeth blushed, "I wasn't... You know..."
"Yeah, I know." Heath smiled, "But just so you know, I've got a ghoulfriend."
Lunch at the Creepateria
Torren-Wraeth sat with Billy and Heath. Since he'd met the fire-headed youth in gym class, 'physical deaducation', they'd struck up a quick friendship. It was so unlike him, he had always had trouble making friends, much less making friends so quickly. Heath was dressed in a Rock n' Roll ensemble, with flames on his jacket's sleeves and back. Heath's hair was now actual hair, red streaked with orange. Billy was now fully clothed, wearing a blue hoodie, blue shorts, a dark blue beanie on his head and sandals.
He turned to see Deuce and mummy-girl, Cleo De Nile, heading toward them.
"Hello. I'm Cleo De Nile." She extended an elegant, bejeweled hand, and Torren-Wraeth shook it. Her expression was odd and she pulled her hand back, "Why didn't you tell us you were royalty?"
"Royalty?" Heath asked in shock.
"Yes. He's the son of Cthulhu, God-King of R'Lyeh. After Deuce mentioned it, I looked you up on The Royal Registry. You're almost as important as I am."
"One son out of millions." Torren-Wraeth said absently.
"Millions?!" Billy said and Cleo jumped. She had obviously not realized that he had been there.
"How many times have I told you not to do that!"
Billy stuck out his tongue and made a comical face.
"Hi Deuce." Torren-Wraeth stood and shook the boy's hand, "It's been a long time. You've grown quite a bit."
"So have you."
"As I was saying," Cleo interrupted, "Why are you sitting here when you could sit with us cool ghouls?"
"That's not nice, Cleo." Deuce whispered. "Heath's my friend -"
"Hey, I'm cool. I'm so hot, I'm cool!" Heath protested.
Cleo ignored him.
Torren-Wraeth looked the mummy in the eyes, "I choose my friends based on quality, not money or influence. And from what I can tell of you, Miss De Nile, the only good thing about you is your boyfriend."
Every head in the cafeteria turned to see what would happen, and the room fell silent. Cleo turned a shade of crimson, her jaw dropping so far that it looked like it would fall off. "Don't you care at all," she finally managed, "About your social status? Do you want to be a loser?"
"Cleo, I wouldn't -" Deuce began.
Torren-Wraeth stood and looked down, literally and figuratively, on Cleo De Nile, "Since this whole place is one bad joke, I'll make a little pun myself. About a spoiled little mummy who is all wrapped up in herself. Now she's coming unraveled..."
"I don't need this." She replied.
"Neither do I. So go away." He turned to Deuce, "Sorry. It really is good to see you again. My condolences on your girlfriend."
Cleo stamped angrily away, Deuce following, trying to calm her down.
"Whoa! Nobody ever talked to Cleo like that before!" Billy said in awe.
"Maybe they should have."
Heath just laughed, his flaming hair flaring high in amusement.
Making friends was unusual for Torren-Wraeth, but making enemies came naturally. The Rapa Nui, his mother's people, were fierce warriors, and he had gained a bit of that spirit. He didn't back down, even when it was obviously the wisest course of action.
He hoped he hadn't made an enemy of Deuce, he genuinely liked the boy.
Torren-Wraeth recoiled in disgust,' "Eye of newt. Wing of bat. Toad feet. Corn! God, it's like Andrew Zimmern stocked this place! Where's the wasabi?"
"Behind the scream peas."
"Huh?" Torren-Wraeth turned to look at the flame-haired youth behind him. He did somewhat resemble Heath Burns, but his skin was sky blue, he had an almost tribal tattoo on his face and sported a rock-n-roll ensemble. "Sorry, I just saw the flames . . ."
"I get that a lot. Heath's my cousin." He smiled and extended a hand, "Holt Hyde."
"Torren-Wraeth," he shook the boy's hand.
"I know, Heath told us... Me about you. That was awesome how you handled Cleo." Holt laughed.
"I just hope Deuce doesn't get hurt because of it. He's a great guy."
"I don't think she'll eat him alive or anything like that. You maybe, but not Deuce..." He smiled, "You like spicy foods too, huh?"
"Sometimes. I wanted to make Sashimi, but none of the fish seem 'right'. What are you making?"
"Just A Screechza. Could you hand me the tomato sauce?"
"Sure thing." Torren-Wraeth took the out of place, seemingly normal jar from among the pickled horrors and handed it to Holt. "'Screechza'? You mean 'pizza'?
"Yeah, I think that's what the Normies call it."
"Normies? You mean humans?"
"Monsterella cheese, sardines, dead peppers, pineapple and bacon."
"Where'd you find a pineapple in this mess?"
"I brought it from home."
"I doubt fresh fish would survive physical deaducation... I don't suppose we're allowed to leave campus while school is in session."
"And give us a chance to actually have fun? Please, the Headmistress would rather us all be zombies than let us enjoy ourselves."
"I could call in an order."
"I don't think that's allowed."
"I'll ask the old witch over there about stocking up on more food... Once she's done cooking that bat wing stew... And cackling like a... Well, witch..."
"I think he just threw in some wolfsbane as seasoning. I'd better go warn the werewolves. Sometimes I think she's losing it."
"I think she lost it while dinosaurs roamed the earth."
Holt nearly buckled over laughing.
The old witch gave both boys The Evil Eye.
"You have werewolves for students, I doubt they appreciate the taste of wolfsbane!" Torren-Wraeth shouted loudly. "Did you remember to add a little garlic for the vampires, too?"
The classroom was silent for a moment.
"Be ye' challengin' me, ye' green whelp?"
"Only if you intend on killing those students still among the living." He shot back.
She cackled loudly and poured the cauldron into a nearby grate. "Aye, 'tis truth, werewolves and wolfsbane don' mix. Me eyes must be goin' I thought twas oregano..."
"Well, don't thank me, it was Holt here who spotted it." He pointed a thumb back at the flame-haired boy.
"'E 'as good eyes, that one, 'cept when he be Jackson."
He turned to see a fairly ordinary boy with short, black and yellow hair, thick glasses and rather proper clothes standing where Holt had been seconds before.
"Jackson Jekyll." He blushed slightly, extending a pale hand, "I... We... That is, Holt and I... have a bit of a Personality Disorder."
"You share a body?" Torren-Wraeth was not easily surprised, but such a rapid physical and mental transformation was stunning.
"Yes. Each of us is aware of the other, now, and we can talk, but he's more... Outgoing than I am."
"That must get confusing."
"Try incredibly annoying. Waking up in odd places with no idea how you got there or what you've done..."
"Sounds like college kids on Spring Break."
Jackson laughed at that.
Torren-Wraeth turned to Deuce, "I hope I didn't embarrass you, or get you in trouble with your girlfriend."
Deuce shrugged, "Not really. That's just Cleo. I mean, she's not a bad person or anything, she just, tends to look down on people. I'm amazed that she chose to date me out of all the boys here."
"From what I understand, you're one of the most popular boys here, and one of the most attractive."
Deuce arched an eyebrow, "Are you saying she's just using me as a trophy?"
"NO!" He said a little too loudly, "That's not what I meant. You're popular for a reason. You're a genuinely nice, caring person. How could she NOT be drawn to you?"
Deuce blushed madly, "Thanks."
Torren-Wraeth felt a bit guilty, he didn't think this Cleo was good for Deuce, but if he really loved her... He couldn't bring himself to say anything that might harm their relationship. Besides, he didn't even know her.
"By the way, were you checking me out in the scours?" Deuce whispered nervously, blushing even harder. "I'm flattered, but I'm not into dudes... N-not that I have anything against that... But..."
"That wasn't what it looked like...I didn't mean to embarrass you or anything, and I wasn't ogling you. I was just..." He was going to have a hard time wiggling out of this one... "Curious? About what you looked like." He sighed, "I mean, most of the races I deal with, like Deep Ones, Ghouls, not girls, but a race called Ghouls, Goat Spawn and others rarely, if ever, wear clothing, and then only to fool others into thinking they're human. My father's people never wear clothing. Nudity means nothing to me, but I know that it can embarrass others, so I try to be discreet. I wasn't staring at you or trying not to look at you, it simply didn't matter to me. When I realized that it might bother you, I looked away."
Deuce looked at him curiously for a moment, then shrugged. "Whatever. But could you please not -"
"I won't. Not intentionally, anyway."
Everyone was getting their things, waiting either for the buses (or whatever they were called) or rides from their parents.
Heath was flirting with a girl who looked part Yeti, and Cleo kept eyeing Torren-Wraeth with unconcealed malice, almost to the point of ignoring her boyfriend, who was trying to talk to Clawd anyway.
"Well, well, if it isn't the little normie," A Minotaur boy pushed Jackson backwards, "This school ain't for you, normie." Within seconds Manny Taur was dangling a foot above the ground with Torren-Wraeth's hand at his throat. He wasn't applying any pressure to his grasp, but it was uncomfortable.
He'd lifted the heavy Minotaur as if he was weightless. Everyone, even Cleo, was staring in shock.
"A bull-headed bully?" Torren-Wraeth sighed, "I should have seen that coming. I thought this school was about diversity and tolerance. Aren't 'normies' people too?"
Manny nodded quickly, terrified by the boy's strength and speed.
"If I catch you picking on anybody again, and I mean anybody, I'm going to have steak for dinner, understood?"
"Y-y-yeah!" Manny was trembling now, "I won't do it again! I won't! Just don't kill me!"
The hybrid chuckled and dropped Manny to the floor, where he fell on his butt. Instantly he was up and charging as far away as possible from the new kid.
"T-thanks..." Jackson said timidly, "But he wouldn't have really hurt me, he just likes to pick on me."
"A bully is a bully, Jackson, and a bigot is a bigot. I wouldn't hurt some weak, stupid kid like him, but I'll scare the daylights out of him if he steps out of line."
"So the remark about stakes was a joke?" Heath was beside them, a hand on his cousin's shoulder, "I hope so..."
"Of course it was a joke," He looked at Heath in confusion, "Did you say s.t.e.a.k.s. or s.t.a.k.e.s.?"
"S.t.a.k.e.s., of course."
"Thanks for helpin' my cuz." Heath gave him a friendly punch to the shoulder, "Manny's always pickin' on us, on just about everybody."
"And this from his BFF." Jackson said accusingly. "You hang out with him all the time."
"He's not always a bully... And he picks on me sometimes, too!" Heath said defensively. "And he's on the team..."
"And he's big enough to protect you from angry boyfriends whose ghouls you try to pick up."
"Hey, I'm in a relationship with Abbey now! I don't hit on other ghouls anymore!"
"I am hoping not." A feminine voice said as Heath jumped about a foot off the ground, a girl's icy hand on his backside. It was the Yeti girl from before, "This is belonging only to me now, yes?" She swatted his bottom playfully. The girl smiled and extended her other hand to Torren-Wraeth, "Abbey Bominable. It is being nice to know you. You keep Heath out of trouble?"
"Abbey..." Heath whined, pulling her hand away from his now cold rear, which he began to rub vigorously to restore warmth. Torren-Wraeth wondered how that relationship worked...
"Torren-Wraeth. It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss. Bominable." He smiled, and and shook her cold hand, "Heath told me he had a girlfriend... I mean ghoulfriend... He seems like he needs someone to keep him in line." He reached out and ruffled Heath's hair, uncaring of the flames.
"How did you do that?" Heath asked in awe.
"I'm immune to fire, to a point, at least."
"What about cold?"
"I don't like the cold, but I can endure it. Unless it's sub-freezing. The bottom of the sea is very, very cold, after all."
"The bottom of the sea?"
"My father and his people sleep in the city of R'Lyeh deep beneath the sea. Sometimes I visit."
After a short conversation, the small group parted ways, and Torren-Wraeth took off his jacket and shirt (much to the delight of several female passerby), reformed his large, bat-like wings, and flew home.
"So, how was school?" Te'ree, Torren-Wraeth's mother, asked gently.
"Incredibly bizarre. I made some friends, and some enemies. I saw Deuce Gorgon again, he's doing well, but he's dating a horrible, terrible, mean, stuck-up mummy girl, poor kid. I made friends with a couple of fire elementals, Heath Burns and Holt Hyde, his alter-ego Jackson Jekyll, an invisible boy named Billy, a Yeti named Abbey, a lot of interesting people. Maybe I can bring them over some day for dinner..."
"That's would be nice. And your teachers?"
"Weird. But who isn't? The Headmistress, Miss. Bloodgood, is headless, she carries her head around with her, the senile witch who teaches cooking almost poisoned half the students by accident..."
"Not all races can eat the same thing. Of course, not all races need to eat at all."
"They use the weirdest terms, they call girls 'ghouls', boys 'mansters', basketball is 'casketball', cheerleaders are 'fearleaders'... "
"I wonder what real Ghouls would think of that." Te'ree said thoughtfully.
"They'd laugh." He smiled thinly, "The school wants me to help Mr. Rotter teach Dead Languages, since I'm fluent in all of them. Even Esperanto. It would be an extra boost to my grade point average."
"That's wonderful! I'm so proud of you!"
* MVM Most Valuable Manster.
Torren-Wraeth is trapped in Barbie-Land! Will he survive?
Torren-Wraeth is not gay. He just has little concept of self-consciousness regarding nudity. He does understand enough not to offend other people and to care about their personal feelings, however.
He hates corn because he once fought He-Who-Walks-Behind-The-Rows, the creature from 'Children of The Corn', and doesn't want to be reminded of it or the battle.
I saw a picture on Deviantart of a naked Invisi-Billy covering himself with his hat or beanie or whatever it's called, and the artist said that in some of the books he often goes around naked to be fully invisible. I thought it was funny, so I used it. I named him Wells after H.G. Wells, who wrote 'The Invisible Man'.
Is there too much nudity in this story? I'm not really certain myself... If it bothers anyone, let me know.
The witch in Home Ick is a substitute if they already have a character who teaches that class.
In the short story Rising With Surtsey, Brian Lumley mentions that the gorgons once served as priestesses for Cthulhu.
For those of you who don't know, Rapa Nui is an island (Easter Island), a tribe of people, and their language. Torren-Wraeth's mother is Rapa Nui, and he was born there. It was also the name of a movie about the tribe.
Esperanto was a language invented during the 19th century as an attempt at a 'universal' language that all people could learn. It failed, obviously, but some people still speak it and it was a nice idea, just impractical.
Monster High and associated characters belong to Mattel.
Torren-Wraeth is my creation.