Cody Langdon's been through a lot. He kissed a boy in the locker room and got brutally harassed for months. Unable to cope, he tried to take his own life. His parents decided a change in scenery would help, so they moved the family to Florida in the middle of the summer. The abrupt move left Cody lonely, bored, and beyond depressed. Stuck in a new state, Cody learned that a demon named Tanglewood had killed his neighbors and was taunting Cody. To save his family, Cody burned his house down.
Cody was lauded as a local hero and inducted into a support group for people who had survived encounters with dangerous demons. The support group introduced Cody to a new world of the supernatural and shared their own horrific experiences with incubi, curses, and ghosts.
Adam Monroe was a teenager just like Cody, until the demon Tanglewood killed his neighbors and his parents. Blamed for the multiple deaths and thought insane, Adam was locked away in a mental facility until Cody stumbled across evidence that cleared his name. The two bonded immediately over their shared trauma and mutual attraction.
After all of his hardships, Cody is in for the strangest task yet -- starting over at a new high school where he knows no one, doesn't like organized sports, and thinks he's above the petty social games.
Just as he begins to relax in his new environment, Cody's parents find a new house to live in. Upon touring one of the identical homes in the Clearclay Park community, Cody discovers that behind the perfect hedges, trimmed lawns, and pristine appearance, a sinister force may lurk.
Forced to juggle his time between school, his parents, and Adam, Cody is confronted with the realization that not all problems are supernatural, and not all solutions are final.
Friday morning, Cody changed off to the side in the locker room, away from Zack Jenner and his acolytes. Half a dozen boys hung on Zack's every word, laughing along and asking him about the many cheerleaders he screwed. Cody tried not to sneak any furtive glances as the other guys changed, reminding himself that last time he got carried away in a locker room brought him down a road that ended in a closed in garage, slowly suffocating to death.
He changed into his black basketball shorts and a matching cotton T-shirt and hurried out of the locker room. Mr. Gorski ordered the class to run laps and called Cody off to the sidelines to talk.
“Am I in trouble?” Cody asked.
“Did you do anything wrong?” Mr. Gorski asked, looking confused.
“Never.” Cody flashed a weak grin and wondered why the only attractive teacher he had would talk to him so often. Didn't he know the torture he was putting Cody through?
“Okay then. Anyway, I noticed you tend to stick by yourself. Have you thought about joining any extra curriculars? Good way to make friends.”
“I don't know.” Cody pictured sitting in a stuffy room talking about old Oscar winning movies with a bunch of film geeks.
“There's the key club.”
“Isn't that a sex party?” Cody asked, remembering something he'd heard about wild '60s parties.
“It's a group that promotes charity work. Um, there's also the Christian Athletic Club. I'm the faculty adviser.”
“I'm not really into either Christianity or athletics, let alone both of them,” Cody said, grimacing. “No offense.”
“That's fine. How about the swim team?”
“I've been getting a little too much sun and water lately.” Cody pictured how peaceful he felt in the water, but didn't think it would feel the same with people cheering on his opponents in a times match.
“I have a voice fit for the shower.”
“Okay, then.” Mr. Gorski forced a smile, clearly trying to hide his frustration. “Just give it some thought. I think you'd be happier in a club, okay?”
Cody joined the rest of the class, lagging behind them in laps before they played baseball.
Hayden sat next to Cody during lunch that afternoon at a round table near a wall. Cody, chewing a mouthful of tater tots, eyed Hayden's bagged lunch -- a mixture of colors and textures in an oval Tupperware container.
“Sometimes I take all the leftovers in the fridge and mix them together,” Hayden said. “Add a bottle of water, and you've got a great lunch.”
“Okay,” Cody said. “I'll stick to my greasy school lunch.” He wondered how far Hayden would go to save a buck. Had his grandparents forced him into this, or was he naturally a cheapskate?
Hayden shrugged and shoveled a forkful of rice, broccoli, and other substances into his mouth. Before long, a guy Cody didn't know approached their table.
“Hey, Hayden,” the stranger said. He wore tiny glasses and his black hair was buzzed at the sides but longer on top.
“Hi, have you met Cody?” Hayden asked, gesturing lazily in front of him. “I was told not all gay people know each other.”
Cody and the stranger gave Hayden looks of death. He shrugged and returned to his lunch.
“I'm Skyler,” the stranger said, turning to Cody and ignoring Hayden, who seemed just as happy to not be involved. “I'm making a student movie -- obviously I'm a student -- do you act at all? Someone dropped out, this stupid bitch who thinks girls’ soccer is more important. Anyway, it's more her parents saying she can't be in it because she's failing science, which sucks since it's the start of the year. Um, so movie, yay or nay?”
“That's a lot to process,” Cody said. “I'm more of a watch movies kind of guy than a be in them person. What's the movie about?”
“I don't have a title yet,” Skyler said. “I'm hoping something will come to me. As an artist, I feel that serendipity is vital. It's only going to be like twenty minutes. It's about this guy who gets killed by a burglar and then he wakes up and things from his dream start coming true. He tries preventing it, but that only makes more stuff from the dream happen.”
“Cool. Does the guy die in the end?” Cody asked, his tater tots momentarily forgotten.
“You'll have to watch it, or be in it, to find out,” Skyler said. “It's a small role. The main character's best friend. Two scenes.”
“Seven people already said no.” Skyler smiled, but Cody could tell he wasn't happy.
“I'm not sure if I'd be any good.” Cody always shied away from public performances. His previous school had put on Peter Pan and random pageants, but he never volunteered for anything.
“It's a student film,” Skyler said, a look of shame on his face. “It's probably stupid. I mean, it's not like anyone will watch it or like it.”
“Well, I did use to act straight a lot. I'll give it a shot,” Cody said. “As long as you tell Mr. Gorski about it. He wants me to fit in or something.”
“Awesome. I'll get you a script on Monday and we can figure out a schedule and stuff.” Skyler beamed and left the table.
“Can I have your autograph?” Hayden asked, a wide grin on his face.
“Yeah, I'll buzz it on your scalp the next time I cut your hair. Very fashion forward."