HaHA! You got a TRICK!!! I've RICK ROLLED YOU!! MWUAHAHAH!
But don’t worry! I may have tricked you but I’ve got a treat for you.
Read on for a SUPER SECRET look into One Bad Knight
Rick Roll Explained: Rickrolling or a Rickroll, is an internet meme involving the unexpected appearance of the music video for the 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up”, performed by the English singer Rick Astley. The video has over 1 billion views on YouTube. The meme is a type of bait and switch, usually using a disguised hyperlink that leads to the music video. When victims click on a seemingly unrelated link, the site with the music video loads.
i.e. a sophisticated game of ‘made ya look!’
Never had I experienced so many sleepless nights. Excitement bubbled in my tummy like pop rocks. I slipped out of bed in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep again. I would turn eleven in only seven days.
Moonlight filtered in through the French doors, drawing me toward it. I stepped out onto my balcony into the crisp night. Everything was bright from the full moon, so when I looked to the left, the expanse of lawn and gardens stretched out behind the house.
The moon’s twin shimmered in the pond out back. Soon, my dad would be throwing parties outside again. His serious, old friends weren’t very fun, but I loved how they decorated everything in twinkle lights and brought out the chocolate fountain.
My arms crossed on the railing as I listened to the whisper of palm-sized leaves. A massive sycamore tree shot up past my third-floor balcony and was always active with birds and squirrels, but not a single animal chittered right now.
I’d barely seen my dad the last couple months. Nanny Maureen reminded me this morning, as she braided my hair, that my dad was a very important man and working very hard right now.
He was up for re-election, which meant he was almost never in the house, and when he was, he was in his office and not to be disturbed. I needed to be on my best behavior. If I was a good girl, it would help him focus on what was important.
The wind picked up my hair and whipped it around my face, causing goosebumps from the cold and anticipation to rise along my skin.
But my birthday? The whole day was going to be just my dad and me. None of his campaign people, absolutely no work, and I got to decide what we did the entire day. I chose ice cream and a painting class. I almost picked the museum, but people always bothered him, and I’d end up wandering around the exhibit on my own while people took pictures and asked my dad questions.
But on Saturday we would get messy with paints, and make big, beautiful sunflowers I planned on hanging in my room.
As I inhaled a deep breath of spring night air, I found myself locking eyes with a strange boy sitting in my tree.
I reared back, but the two sharp gray eyes remained fixed on me. A scream froze in my throat.
He seemed about my age, but his eyes held the weight and intensity of someone far older. They pierced me like blades and rooted to the spot.
I scrounged up my voice. “What are you doing up here?” I asked.
He didn’t speak, didn’t move, just stared at me.
“I’m Kat. What’s your name? And how did you get up here?” With a quick look down, I confirmed there wasn’t a ladder. I could climb from my balcony into the tree, but the limbs were far too high to get to it from the ground.
Another beat passed before I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes and said, “You aren’t a T-Rex. Just because you aren’t moving, it doesn’t mean I can’t see you.”
His brows furrowed.
I didn’t know how I knew, but I read his expression. “You don’t know what a T-Rex is? You know? Like a dinosaur?”
One of his eyebrows dipped as he frowned. I held my hands out to show size. “You know, massive lizards that roamed the earth before humans? Didn’t you learn this stuff in school?”
At that, he looked away and his muscles tensed. Suddenly I was afraid he would leave. Strange as it seemed, I didn’t want the boy in my tree to leave.
My cheeks grew hot. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I go to a special private school. I don’t know what they teach in other schools. That was rude of me.” My mom told me when I was little that we were privileged, and I had to be sensitive to that.
He didn’t respond, but he didn’t leave like I thought he would. The boy continued to stare at me as if trying to figure out all my secrets.
I didn’t have many. Only the ones in a shoebox under my bed. It held the diary I kept safe with a small key, the half-empty bottle of my mom’s perfume, and one of my dad’s special cigars that I told myself I was borrowing. I didn’t want to smoke it or anything. I just wanted something grown-up and important in the box.
Something in his intense gaze made me feel… special. Like I was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen in his life. I weirdly felt the same way about the boy with sharp eyes in the tree outside my bedroom window who didn’t know about dinosaurs.
A breeze swept through my thin nightgown, and the chill of the bright spring night bit into my me.
Good girls don’t let strange boys sit in their trees in the dead of night. And they certainly don’t invite them into their house.
What was I doing? I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers. But… kids didn’t count. It wasn’t dangerous even if the kid was strange.
“Are you cold?” I asked, unable to help myself.
The boy’s sandy hair was windblown, and he wore dark clothes under a beat-up jacket. I’d spent my fair share of time hiding in this tree, drawing in my sketchbook so my cousins couldn’t bother me. I’d stay up there reading until my fingers turned numb from the cold and it was hard to turn the pages. My dad didn’t mind as long as I was at dinner when he told me to be.
The boy didn’t answer, but a forward tilt of his head told me everything I needed to know. My mom used to say I was extra good at seeing into people’s hearts. Mine told me his was cold.
That bothered me, a lot.
“If you come in, we can make hot chocolate. Since you’re taller, I won’t have to climb up on the kitchen counter to reach the box.” I knew people liked to feel useful.
A thick tree limb stretched over my balcony. I held out a hand. The boy looked down at my hand and then back at my face, as if calculating something.
I could be patient. I’d once been so patient and still, I’d gotten a squirrel to come over and grab a peanut out of my hand. It took hours, but was so worth it.
Just when I was about to curl my arms around myself to keep what little warmth was left near my body, he moved. The boy easily crept from limb to limb without even having to look. In the last bit of distance between us, he regarded my hand as if still considering leaving.
Then his frozen hand slipped into mine and I closed my fingers around his bigger hand and smiled. For some reason, my heart wanted to burst. This was far better than the squirrel.
I was right. Standing next to him, he was taller than me by almost a head. He smelled like pine, and his face was thin and serious. Most of the boys in my class still had round, ruddy cheeks and obnoxious laughs when they did something stupid or teased each other.
Suddenly, I would have given anything to hear this boy laugh. But I didn’t know any jokes, so I just gave him another reassuring smile, and led him inside.
We paused inside my room, as he looked around with a perplexed expression. It felt like bugs were crawling inside my stomach as he examined my special place.
The last time I let someone see my room, it was a girl, Devin, who didn’t go to my school, but we met at one of my parents’ work parties. She lived in a different town, but I wanted to be friends, so my parents let me have her over for a play date. But after she saw my room, her mouth turned into an “o” and she looked sad. Like I’d done something to hurt her.
I loved my bedroom. Toys, paint sets, and books covered nearly every inch. The big doll house filled one corner of the room and the other side had a comfy purple chair next to my bookcase. I spent hours there. But the ceiling was my favorite. My mom painted it for me. On the side where my bed was, it looked like a starry night before it morphed into pinks and oranges to a sunny day with fluffy clouds on the other side.
Devin told me I had too many toys and that I was a spoiled brat. I hurriedly offered her my favorite doll to play with to prove I wasn’t. She took it, and said she got to play with two more while I could only use one since I had them all the time.
I didn’t mind. She came over a few more times, but after a while she only wanted to play with my toys and didn’t want to talk to me. The last time I saw her, she grabbed the scissors and started to cut and tear off the heads of some of my stuffed animals. I begged her to stop, but she screamed that I didn’t deserve it. Why did I deserve good things, and she didn’t? I tried to tell her she deserved good things too, but she didn’t listen. My mom found us screaming and sobbing, fluff covering my entire room.
After calling Devin’s mom for pickup, my mom tried to console me by saying the girl was very poor and didn’t have a lot of toys. That it made her hurt inside and do things to try and fix the hurt, but that Devin’s hurt also wasn’t my fault. But I knew my room was something to be ashamed of. I loved it, but I never invited anyone over from school. The girls in my class were all interested in makeup and clothes now, but I still liked making up stories and playing by myself.
Suddenly petrified that the boy would tell me I was a spoiled brat and leave, I froze. As if sensing my fear, he turned toward me, his face softening for the first time. It wasn’t a smile, more thoughtful and almost… protective. Then he stepped in closer to me and I knew he was telling me he wasn’t going to leave.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and led him out to the hallway. I didn’t turn on the lights, so we crept in the dark, down the big winding staircase, past the sitting room, library, and my dad’s office until we got to the kitchen at the back of the house.
With the boy’s help, we got down some hot chocolate packets. I was careful to boil water but not let the kettle scream and wake anyone up. Though I tried to get the boy to sit, he refused. He just stood at the edge of the big island, casting glances at the door as if someone might come in any moment.
I dumped extra marshmallows into his and slid the mug toward him with a smile. He looked at me, then back at the mug. Leaning over, he sniffed at it. I tried to suppress my giggle, not wanting him to feel weird, but it came out anyway. He shot me an uncertain look before his lips gave me a lopsided imitation of a return smile. My heart fluttered in response.
He bent over, his nose dipping in the whipped cream. Then he jerked up. Though he looked silly with white fluff on his face, his eyes turned sharp and focused. Steps approached down the hall.
My dad entered the kitchen, still wearing his work clothes, which were rumpled. Though it was past midnight, he’d just gotten home from work. My head snapped back to the boy, but he was gone. He’d disappeared, like magic.
“Kat. What are you doing up late?” my dad asked with a frown. I was about to explain when he caught sight of the second mug. “Is that for me?”
Deep lines creased under his tired eyes, and his thick hair was messy. His usually pale skin neared orange because one of his advisors told him a spray tan would look better on TV. But it made his skin smell weird.
I heard tense whispers in the hallways of our house for weeks that the election wasn’t going well.
I nodded mutely, looking back at the spot where my new friend disappeared. The boy didn’t want to be seen. He’d been scared. And I worried if I told anyone about him, he’d be mad I didn’t keep his secret. So I said, “Yes, Daddy. You can have the one with extra marshmallows.”
“Thanks sweetie,” he said, then he paused. “You look more like your mother every day.”
My dad and I looked almost nothing alike, but we had the same upturned eye shape and thin nose. My medium brown skin, dark hair, and full lips made me look more my mom.
I smiled at first, but then I let it slide off my face. My dad hadn’t looked up from the marshmallows as he said it. Something about the way he said it made me feel he didn’t like that I resembled my mother. He seemed… unhappy. My fingers picked at my nightgown. Maybe if I were like the other girls and put makeup on, it would make me look different from my mom. Would he want that?
Then my dad picked up the mug, ruffled my hair, and made me promise to go back to bed once I finished my hot chocolate.
When he left, I sighed and my shoulders relaxed. I didn’t realize they’d gotten all scrunched up. Then I raced to the kitchen door leading to the outside. No sign of the boy. He wasn’t in the tree, either.
I couldn’t fit the boy in the shoebox under my bed, but he was my biggest and best secret.
The next night, he was there again. Waiting, watching from the tree. It took less convincing to get him to join me this time. I got him to try hot chocolate finally, and he immediately wanted three more cups. By the third one he looked positively green in the face, and I had to keep my giggles quiet.
It went on that way the entire week. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, too excited for both my birthday and my new secret friend. Every night, I’d find him there in the tree and he’d leave before dawn.
I showed him all my toys, but he seemed particularly drawn to the picture of me and my parents by my bed. I picked it up and kissed it, explaining my mom died four years ago and I missed her so much it hurt. But she was an angel in heaven now. From his serious expression, I guessed his mommy was in heaven too, though I didn’t know for sure.
Another night I took him into the living room to show him our new kittens. While petting one of the little tabbies, I explained we had to give them all away but weren’t they cute?
He regarded the small fluff balls with a serious expression. When I handed him a kitten, panic crossed his face.
“You’ll be okay. Just pet them gently, like this.” I took his hand and showed him how.
“What do you use them for?” he asked. It was the first time I heard him speak. My stomach somersaulted, and I instantly wanted to hear his voice again.
“Use them for?” I asked. Wasn’t it obvious? “You love them.”
Something I said must have upset him because his face closed off from me. He bent over the kitten he held and continued to pet it the way I showed him.
I leaned in and dropped a kiss on the kitten’s head. It let out a tiny mewl.
Mimicking me, the boy kissed the kitten’s head and it mewled again. I got another one of those lopsided, “almost” smiles. My heart fluttered again. We took turns leaning over and kissing the kitten’s head, until our faces bumped into each other.
Rubbing my forehead, I laughed too loud. I clapped my hand over my mouth and his eyes followed the movement. When I eventually dropped my hand, he continued to stare. Then he leaned forward and pressed his lips against mine.
My heart nearly jumped out of my chest. It was quick and warm. I’d seen people kiss on TV, but it felt different from what I thought it would. It was squishier. But I liked it. I couldn’t stop grinning at him, and he gave me an even more lopsided smile. In the morning, I wrote three whole pages in my diary about it. It had been the best week ever.
* * *
The night before my birthday I practically sprung out of bed. I made the boy promise to come back at midnight when it was officially my birthday. We could celebrate together. I was going to show him my secret shoebox. Maybe even let him read a couple pages out of my diary if he wanted, but I would choose which ones.
I tied on my pink robe and tried to do everything I could to distract myself, but time moved impossibly slow. Not even my sketchbook could hold my attention, so I went around the room, rearranging my toys.
Five minutes before midnight, I heard something boom. The sound had come from all the way downstairs.
Maybe my dad had come home. He hadn’t been home most nights, making it easier to sneak around with my big secret.
I didn’t bother being quiet as I went down the stairs. Another crash, and I broke into a run, wanting to catch what was happening. Light spilled out from under my dad’s office doors, so I pushed them open.
I froze, eyes widening as I tried to take everything in. Papers and books were strewn everywhere. Broken statues from the shelves were scattered on the throw rug. The double doors leading to the back terrace were wide open, the sheer curtains flapping almost violently as the breeze swept through.
My father lay slumped over his desk and the boy stood next to him, covered in my father’s blood.
No. No, this wasn’t right. Everything was all wrong.
There was so much blood.
My father wasn’t moving. He should be moving. I didn’t like how still he was.
The curtains slapped against the doors even harder and a dark, monstrous shadow swelled from them. It floated into the office.
My skin turned to ice, and I couldn’t take a breath.
The dark mass twisted and turned over my father, as if inspecting him. The boy turned to look at the darkness, his lips thin and eyes hard. He wasn’t afraid.
But I was terrified. I clutched my robe, feet glued to the floor, afraid if I moved, the darkness would notice me.
A strange half groan escaped my throat despite myself. I grabbed my own neck, but it was too late. The shadow jerked up. My heart pounded against my ribs. It saw me. It started toward me, and a scream got caught in my throat. I still couldn’t force myself to move.
Part of me prayed I would wake up from this nightmare.
The boy stepped in between us and lifted a hand up at the monstrous being. Light shot out of his hand as he said some strange words I didn’t recognize.
With a screech the shadow twisted up into the air and blew back out the doors, like a furious tornado.
I was left shaking like a leaf, still clutching at my robe. The boy turned around to face me. He set his hands on my shoulders as if he wanted to help but didn’t know how.
The boy wore a pained expression as he looked back at me. Was it regret or pity I saw in his eyes?
I desperately wanted him to say something. Anything. The pressure in my chest felt like it would explode at any second as warm drops hit my face. I was crying. I tried to look past the boy to where my dad lay, still unmoving.
The boy put a hand on my face to guide me to look back at him instead. He searched my eyes and visibly swallowed. Then he lifted his hand and gently swept his palm down my forehead until it forced me to close my eyes.
I continued to shake, but he removed his hands from my shoulder and eyes. A tear slid onto my lips. Then I felt the soft pressure of his mouth on mine for the second time. The saltiness of my tears mingled with the kiss.
Then the air around me turned cold. I opened my eyes. The boy was gone.
The grandfather clock in the hall struck midnight, announcing my eleventh birthday and the death of my father.