Chapter  12

    The ride to the high school was silent, but then it always
was when Aaron was in control.  He half smiled to himself as he
glanced sideways at Howard, noting how white the man's knuckles
were as he gripped the steering wheel.  *Serves you right, old
man.  If you weren't such a damned narrow-minded, bigoted
sonofabitch, you wouldn't be dealing with me. started
this, and since that pantywaist you call a son can't deal with
you, I will!* he thought. *It's really gonna rip you wide open
when...* he paused, then put the thought aside. *Naw, you're
gonna get it when everyone else does*.

    The truck turned into the broad driveway in front of the
high school, and Aaron got out.  Slamming the door, he leaned
down to look in at Howard and said, "Don't wait supper for me  I won't be home till late."  He chuckled, watching 
Howard's already ramrod stiff posture tighten even more, 
waiting for him to meet his eyes.  After a moment, he chuckled
again when Perry's father turned his head to look at him.  
"Hell, it may be tomorrow morning before I get in.  Leave the
back door unlocked, okay?"

    "You're an animal," Howard said, his voice low and strained
as he fought to control the urge to grab "Aaron" by the throat
and choke the life out of him.  "If you hurt Perry..."

    "C'mon, Howard," Aaron said lightly even as his tone and
gaze sharpened. "You know me and threats...we don't mix. 
Besides....kill me, kill Perry."

    "I'm warning you..." 

    The cutting humor vanished as Aaron's attitude took a
darker turn. "Don't threaten me, old man!  It ain't you callin'
the shots any more.  I am.  And there ain't a goddamed thing
you can do about it.  Unless of course you want the whole town
to know your little secret."  He smiled when he saw the color
drain from the other man's face.  "That's better.  Just so's
we understand each other." He stepped back from the truck,
shifting Perry's textbooks to his other hand, still bent over
slightly to maintain eye contact with his adversary. "Remember't wait up.  Bye."

    Watching the gray pickup drive away, Aaron shrugged his
shoulders, then turned toward the school.  Blending with the
crowd of students hurrying into the building, he entered the
air-conditioned coolness of Willandale High School.  Spotting
three boys lounging against the wall by the office, he headed
for them.  "Hey, guys, what's up?"

    Richie Zimmer, a six foot two inch senior, who looked
every inch of the fullback, the position he played on the 
football team, looked up when he heard the familiar voice. 
Piercing black eyes looked back at the world from under a
fringe of dark blond bangs daring anyone to say anything he
didn't like.  "Hey. Where ya been, Aaron?  Haven't seen ya
for almost a week."

    "Yeah," Don Hambrine, another senior who also played
fullback, echoed.  "It get's damn right dull around here 
when you're gone."  His quiet voice,  china blue eyes, crewcut
dark hair and perfect smile had earned him the attention of a
lot of the girls, a fact of which he took full advantage.  
But the looks that made a lot of female hearts flutter, 
hid a personality that liked things rough and gritty, and 
was just biding his time till he collected his diploma so
he could shake the dust of the little backwater town from
his life.  "Where've you been hiding?"

    "In a very dark room," Aaron joked, "and, I'm the only
one who knows where it is and how to get into it.  What's been
going on?"

    "Like Don said," the third member of the group, Jerry
Jacobs said, "nothing." A slightly built young man, Jerry was
senior editor of the school newspaper and several other clubs.
But it was his penchant for everything that his parents had
striven to impress on him as "unseemly and participated in by
only those of the lowest social standing", that had been his
ticket into the group that was shunned by most of the other

    Irritated by the lack of inspiration in the other boys,
Aaron scanned the halls filled with students hurrying to the
first class of the day.  Spotting the bulletin board on the
wall just outside the school's office door, he he made his
way to it, perusing it idly. His eyes lit up.

    "The "Junior/Senior Get Acquainted With Your Class" dance
is coming up," he murmured softly, a sly gleam lighting his eyes.

    "It's day after tomorrow," Margie Hennessey, a junior,
said shyly, glancing up at the young man who bore a strong
resemblance to Perry Kirkwood who was in two of her classes. 

    Glancing at the girl who'd spoken, Aaron didn't even have
to sort through Perry's thoughts to recognize her. *I can see
why he can't keep his eyes off you* he thought as he turned
on the charm and said, a touch of silk in his
tone, "Will you be there?"

    "I..yes, I will," Margie stammered, blushing under the
appreciative warm look.  "I don't think we've met. I'm Margie

    "Nice to meet you, Margie Hennssey," Aaron smiled at her.
"I just got into town this summer," he lied smoothly. "My 
name's Aaron. I'm a distant..cousin of Perry Kirkwood. Do
you know him?"

    "Yes," she said, feeling her shyness fading under the
warmth of his focused attention. "He's in my chemistry and
history classes."

    "Lucky him," Aaron said just as the final warning bell
for first period classes sounded.

    "I've gotta get going," Margie said, turning away.

    "Where you going?" Aaron asked.

    "Uh..Shorthand Two."

	His agile mind already considering and sorting 
through myrid thoughts, Aaron shifted his books to his other
hand and said, "I'm going to Mr. Pernier's French class. 
Mind if I walk with you?"

	Tongue-tied at the rapid onset of such strong masculine
attention, Margie shook her head and smiled. "No," was all she
could manage as she headed quickly down the hall, highly aware
of Aaron's attractive presence at her side.

    Tossing a wink and quick thumbs-up behind Margie's back
at the three boys..*you losers*..still standing at the bulletin
board, Aaron made light small talk for the few seconds it took
them to reach their respective classrooms.

    "Want to have lunch with me?" Aaron asked Margie at the door
to her class, his winning smile hiding the dark thoughts he
wasn't ready for her to see yet.

    "I..I usually sit with some friends in the central quadrangle
when it's nice," Margie stammered. "About twelve fifteen," she
finished then hurried into the classroom, closing the door 

    "Twelve fifteen, it is," Aaron said to himself.  He watched
through the narrow window set in the door, licking his lips as
he watched the pretty brunette take her seat.  Chuckling softly
he murmured under his breath, "I do like 'em soft and sweet." 
He watched her another moment. "Can't wait to see her expression
when I...."


    The hot needles of pain slamming through his temples caught
Aaron completely offguard and he grabbed his head, the textbooks
dropping noisily to the floor. "What the hell?" he gasped.  He
stumbled against the wall, pressing the heels of his hands against
his eyes, the thundering pressure building inside his head making
it feel like it was going to explode.

    "Stop it!  Stop it, damn you!" Aaron hissed, unaware of the
thread of desperation in his voice.  Dropping to his knees on
the hard tile floor, he writhed and cursed his latest "prey" as
the "owner" of his new body exerted unexpected mental strength,
forcing him to retreat into the darkness.

    In a matter of seconds the transition was done, and Perry
Kirkwood's body lay motionless in the empty hall.