“Oh, that is it!” Elizabeth said angrily, tossing her newborn little boy over her shoulder and hoping Winston would catch him. She scrambled to her feet, walking with purpose toward Satan. “Mr. Satan, I’ll have you know I had absolutely nothing to do with this. I’m Saint Elizabeth fucking Wakefield!”
“You had nothing to do with this?” the devil asked, sweeping his hand to indicate the carnage in the Sweet Valley High parking lot. “Whose idea was it to slaughter hundreds of Big Mesa students by locking them in the gym and blowing it up?”
“Hey, I flashed Randy Mason twenty-two times just so the gym wouldn’t blow up,” Elizabeth countered. “That has to count for something, right?”
The devil grinned, revealing a row of sharpened teeth. “It certainly does count for something,” he said. “But it still didn’t stop the war. Your friends here saw to that. The cracked-out girl, Enid, is it? She’s especially vicious. And I hear she’s one of your closest friends.”
“Well, we are friends,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I tried to discourage her from fighting Big Mesa.”
“Did you really?” the devil asked, his smile spreading wider. “I seem to recall things a bit differently.”
“Look,” Elizabeth said, now desperate. “I’m sure we can take care of this in a reasonable manner. Let’s sit down and talk. I’m really good at listening and giving judgmental stares.”
“Sit down and talk?” the devil repeated, a loud peal of laughter sounding from his gut. “Sure, Elizabeth. This ought to be good.”
A huge explosion sounded behind them, and Elizabeth turned in horror to see half of Sweet Valley High go up in an enormous mushroom cloud. The heat from the flames that issued forth caused her to jump back and cry out in surprise as she covered her face with her forearm.
“Jessica!” she screamed, dropping to her knees.
* * *
Jessica and Lila had just reached the door when a huge fireball swept through the gym, propelling them out of the door with such force Jessica flew through the air, out of Lila’s grasp.
In midair, she felt something release from her cooch and she landed on the ground, rolling to a stop with a baby in her arms. “What the hell?” Jessica asked, slowly standing up.
I must look like a mess, she thought, realizing that half the Sweet Valley student body was splitting their attention between her and a goat-like figure with horns that was towering over Elizabeth. Jessica threw on her best smile, acting as if she didn’t care that her once silky blond hair was now singed and sticking out in all directions. She brushed a streak of soot off her cheek, making sure her dimple was showing.
Lila and Rich had landed a short distance away, looking like hell but seemingly unhurt. Lila had lost a shoe in the blast, and she was searching for it frantically. “All the way from Paris!” she exclaimed sadly. “I loved those shoes!”
Jessica’s twin was on the ground, pounding her fists into the concrete and crying. She didn’t seem to realize Jessica had made it out alive.
“Hey, Win, hold this for me, would you?” Jessica asked, tossing her little girl over to Winston, who added it to his stockpile of infants. “Elizabeth!” she called, running toward her sister. “Elizabeth!”
Elizabeth looked up in surprise. She wiped away her tears and a big smile slowly spread across her face as she realized Jessica was all right. Standing up, she stumbled toward Jessica.
The two of them met in an embrace, laughing and crying and hugging each other. “Jessica! You’re alive!” Elizabeth cried.
“So are you!” Jessica exclaimed. “I thought Satan might have gotten you.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “Actually, he and I were just about to have a little … talk,” she said, giving the devil a meaningful glance.
“Oh, I get it,” Jessica said, nodding knowingly. “You’re going to flash him multiple times to get him to do whatever you want, right?”
“No,” Elizabeth said firmly. “I’ve had enough of flashing gross guys for one night. Speaking of which, has anyone seen Randy Mason?”
A murmured chorus of “no” swept through the crowd. Elizabeth bowed her head.
“Like anyone cares if we ever see him again,” Jessica said, snorting. “He was only really useful for building, like, bombs and lie detectors and stuff.”
“Now, Jessica, be nice,” Elizabeth admonished her sister. “If it weren’t for Randy, this would have been a lot worse.”
The devil tapped one cloven hoof and looked pointedly at his wrist as if he were consulting a wristwatch. “Um, Elizabeth? I hate to interrupt, but if you want to have a little sit-down chit chat, we’ve got to speed things along.”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said, giving her sister one last embrace and slipping an arm through the devil’s. “Why don’t we go to The Dairi Burger? I hear they have excellent chocolate milkshakes.”
The devil sipped demurely on his chocolate shake and gave Elizabeth a broad smile. “You’re right,” he said. “This is really good.”
“I told you so,” Elizabeth said firmly. “Now, tell me what on earth has been going on to make you so angry?”
“I don’t know,” the devil said evasively. He picked up a paper napkin and started shredding it with his claws. “There isn’t really anything going on with me.”
Elizabeth gently took one of his hands in hers. “Satan,” she said, looking him dead in the eye. “You and I both know that isn’t true.”
He looked down, breaking Elizabeth’s gaze. “You’re right,” he said finally, sitting back in his seat and crossing his arms over his chest. “I have been angry lately. I’ve been angry my whole life, really.”
“Whatever you’re going through, there’s a way to fix things,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve helped countless Sweet Valley High students feel better about themselves or their situation – whether they’re a closeted gay tennis player, a butt-ugly songwriter or a morbidly obese cheerleader wannabe. Oh, or a complete and total slut. They’re kind of my specialty.”
“I doubt you can fix this, Elizabeth,” the devil said morosely.
“Let me help you,” she said gently. “I may be able to give you a super stare of condescension, but without knowing what’s really going on, I can’t give you meddlesome and probably unwanted advice.”
“All right,” he said, taking a long sip of his chocolate shake. “I’m not sure where to start, really.” He clasped his hands in his lap and looked down at them.
“Start at the beginning,” Elizabeth advised. “That’s what I do whenever I have to write a particularly difficult story for The Oracle. Like this one on teen pregnancy – it took me forever to come up with a good angle! But then I realized that things had really started a while ago, when we heard about the pregnancy pact at Big Mesa–”
“I thought this was about me, not you,” the devil growled, looking up at Elizabeth with angry, serpent-like eyes.
“Sorry,” Elizabeth said, blushing. “I promise to be a better listener from now on.”
“OK,” the devil said, swallowing hard. “This is just so difficult for me to talk about.”
“It’s all right,” Elizabeth said softly. “You can tell me.”
“I guess – I guess I’d blame everything on my parents,” the devil began. “They got divorced when I was really little, because my mom was a whore, and my dad never really cared about me. He would, like, smack me around and stuff. You can imagine how warped that made me.”
“Oh, absolutely,” Elizabeth agreed. “Pretty much the same thing happened to Aaron Dallas when his parents got divorced. You should have seen him! He was totally out of control – hitting people on the soccer field and pushing everyone around. Have you thought about going to therapy? That seemed to work really well for Aaron.”
The devil sighed. “I’ve been to countless therapists, Liz,” he said. “None of them has been able to help me.”
“Oh,” she said thoughtfully, giving him a small smile. “Well, let’s hope I’m more effective!”
“So I already had anger issues because of the divorce,” Satan continued. “But when I got to high school, I realized that my race was suddenly an issue. It was like no one wanted to be around me.”
“Your race?” Elizabeth said. “I hadn’t noticed. I just love minorities!”
“That’s very kind of you to say,” Satan acknowledged. “But, really, you didn’t notice that I’m half-human, half-goat?”
Elizabeth blushed. “Well, yes, but it doesn’t matter to me,” she said. “Like I said, I find minorities just fascinating.”
“It’s really hard being biracial,” the devil continued. “Not to mention being biracial and from a broken, abusive home. I had to fight against so many stereotypes, and, well, I ended up fighting many of my classmates, too. Maybe not with my fists, like your friend Aaron or that guy Todd. But I used mind control, making people do all sorts of things they really didn’t want to do.”
“Sure,” Elizabeth commiserated. “That’s understandable. Not a great thing to do, but I get why you did it.”
“So, as you can imagine, I took the heat for a lot of stuff – including some things I didn’t even force people to do! I became a convenient excuse whenever someone wanted to do something bad but absolve themselves of all guilt,” he said. “And of course, that just made me even more angry.”
“It’s a vicious cycle,” Elizabeth said, gently placing a hand on his arm.
“I guess I’ve done some things I shouldn’t have done,” he said.
“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” Elizabeth said. “It’s not too late.”
“I want to change,” he said passionately, looking up into Elizabeth’s blue-green eyes. “I really, really want to change.”
“Well, then, it’s pretty simple, isn’t it?” Elizabeth asked, a slow smile spreading across her face. “Just change.”
“It doesn’t seem that simple,” he said. “It seems really hard.”
“Nobody who is anybody in Sweet Valley has gotten to where they are without changing some vital aspect of themselves to please others,” Elizabeth said. “Except for maybe me and Jessica. My point is, once you make the change and decide to start using your powers for good instead of evil, everything will magically get better and you’ll have a boyfriend and become marginally popular.”
“Really?” the devil asked, perking up.
“Really,” Elizabeth said with a knowing smile. “I promise.”
“I’m going to do it,” the devil said. “I’m going to start today. Thanks, Elizabeth! You’ve been a big help!”
“You’re welcome,” Elizabeth said warmly, as they got out of the booth and exchanged a big hug. “Now get back to hell and remember to be nice!”
“I sure will,” the devil said, smiling at his new friend. “I sure will.”
* * *
“Well, I guess all’s well that ends well, huh, Liz?” Jessica asked at breakfast the next morning.
“Things always end well in Sweet Valley,” Elizabeth said, cutting up Jessica’s sausage.
Mr. Wakefield smiled at his daughters. “And to think, your mother and I are now grandparents!”
“Don’t get too excited,” Jessica warned, glancing over at her and Elizabeth’s babies, who were fast asleep in their high chairs. “I’m sure we’ll forget all about these two when some important dance or television show or high school theatre production comes up.”
“I wonder what will happen to them then,” Elizabeth said thoughtfully.
Jessica shrugged, chewing on a huge mouthful of meat. “Who cares?”
“They’ll probably just drift off into the ether,” Elizabeth said. “Or maybe the ghostwriters will totally forget about them, like what happened to Todd’s sister. Or was it a brother? It’s just as well. I’m not really ready to be a parent.”
“Like I am?” Jessica said, digging violently into a pile of scrambled eggs. “I’d rather be at the beach. I wish I had a servant to take care of my baby. Lila’s so lucky.”
“So what about you, Steven?” Mrs. Wakefield asked, turning to her oldest child. “When can we expect you to be a father?”
“Oh, uh, it might be a while, actually,” he said, looking down at his plate as if he were embarrassed. “Billie had a miscarriage last week – didn’t I tell you?”
“I don’t think so,” Mrs. Wakefield said. “But I really think the two of you should just go ahead and get married, anyway. And Jessica and Elizabeth can be your maids of honor! I saw the cutest little melon-colored dresses that would look just gorgeous on the twins–”
“Hey, now, slow your roll, Alice,” Mr. Wakefield said, holding up a hand. “We have enough on our plates right now with a pair of grandkids. Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ll have to defend Mr. Collins again, so I’m really busy at work these days.”
“I’m so glad Mr. Collins will be back at Sweet Valley High,” Elizabeth said. “He’s the best! And he loved my teen pregnancy article – it’s going to be the front-page story in this week’s edition of The Oracle!”
“That’s wonderful, dear,” Mrs. Wakefield said warmly, passing Jessica another tall glass of orange juice.
“I can’t believe they rebuilt the gym already,” Mr. Wakefield said, tapping at an article in the Sunday edition of the Sweet Valley News.
“And they added a day care center!” Elizabeth said excitedly. She looked over at her son, smiling.
“How can we top this?” Jessica asked. “It’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks.”
“Paternity testing, probably,” Elizabeth said. “I mean, I know who my baby’s father is, but I have my doubts about everyone else.”
“Oh, Mr. Collins, totally,” Jessica said. “I mean, I wouldn’t get knocked up by a common high school teacher, but I know a lot of girls at Sweet Valley High who would.”
“You really think so?” Elizabeth asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Jessica said. “I mean, most of the guys at Sweet Valley High are completely nonthreatening males. And not in a good way. I’ve been sexually aggressive for years, and hardly any of them take the bait.”
Will Jessica and Elizabeth get to the bottom of Sweet Valley High’s baby daddy crisis? Will Maury get involved? Will another broke-ass weave be ripped off in the midst of a raging catfight when it’s revealed that one man (or boy) is the father of multiple children? Find out in Sweet Valley High No. 42,839, WHO’S YOUR DADDY?