EMO used to stand for ‘emotional’ – the teen subgroup that’s only happy to be sad. Now it’s become a disease eerily similar to vampirism.
My name’s Bell. I considered being EMO once, but then I saw a pretty butterfly and got over myself. Got bored and decided to save the world.
This is the documentary tale of the brave few fighting to find a cure for EMO (or, failing that, a quick and easy way to kill all those vampires dead).
In Civic, Ed kissed me and sighed. “Oh, Bell. Cloudy days are so deep.”
“Oh no!” I cried. “Ed, tell me you haven’t been bitten by an EMO!”
He didn’t laugh once at our preview of “Saw VI”. I yanked him into a rare patch of sun – and he sparkled. My boyfriend had turned EMO!
Finally he confessed: “My mum bit me.”
He sighed, “Sad, I know.”
“Do you want to drink my blood now?”
“Er. . . no,” he lied.
On the news: “The EMO subculture has now become a pandemic. EMO teens can be recognised by their depression, dark clothes, and bad poetry.”
I walked in the yard just as Mum set some weeds on fire. “Mum,” I said through the smoke, “Ed’s EMO.”
“That’s nice dear.”
My name’s pretty bad, but my brother is Pi. He’s ten and wears a labcoat. I told him, “Ed’s EMO.”
“Hm. Can I do experiments on him?”
“Ed, it’s the holidays. Don’t you feel a LITTLE happy?”
“No,” he said. “Bell, would it be okay if I drank you – just a little?”
“Exodermal Melanin Occlusion is spreading fast,” the news said. “Symptoms now include sparkling in sunshine, darkening hair, and whining.”
Ed tried to bite me, and I tripped over another EMO as I dodged him. Bruised my knees. Still not EMO, despite my black hair and long fringe.
Still not EMO, despite drenching rain. All the EMOs are thrilled they’re not sparkling today (Ed almost smiled). Bring back the sun!
“Cheer up,” said Mum, “I’ve decided to have a wedding.”
“But. . . you’re married.”
“Don’t spoil it. It’s exactly what all those EMOs need.”
I was dying my hair when Ed called. “Want to play EMO baseball with my family?”
He cried until I hung up.
My hair turned green. Oops.
Pi asked me for Ed’s old hairbrush, so I humoured him and brought it. He said, “Bell, I think there might be a cure for EMOs!”
Still not EMO, although Ed keeps trying to bite me. Awkward!
Mum said, “Don’t you just love weddings?”
“Does Dad even know?”
“Hush,” said Mum.
Our shopgirl wept quietly as she pinned Mum’s dress.
“Do you think a wedding could cure EMOs?” I asked.
Pi snorted and said, “Has Ed bitten you at all?”
“No, we just make out.”
Pi looked ill.
I saw Dad writing a journal and looking mournful. Uh-oh. Still not EMO myself, despite blood-starved boyfriend and lime green hair.
“Don’t let ANYONE drink your blood,” said the news. “Authorities recommend hitting EMOs with cricket bats. Stay alert, not alarmed.”
Ed wore an overcoat and hat to school. Our teachers freaked and put him in detention. I think he bit Mr Joh, the science teacher. Awkward!
Ed and I wandered the mall and saw heaps of decorations. Ed sighed, “Christmas is so deep. It makes me feel all –”
“How’d you know?”
Mr Joh burst into tears while telling us about the reproductive cycle of fruit flies. Ed gave him tissues. This EMO pandemic is so wrong.
Maths class was full of sighs and weeping. (Life hasn’t changed much.) I was put on detention for being insensitive about life’s deep pain.
The principal ran detention. He looked thirsty. I shrank in my seat. “Tomorrow,” he told me, “come to my office. Bring your school spirit.”
I brought my school spirit and a cricket bat. The principal grabbed my arm but I whacked him and dived under his desk until the bell rang.
Still not EMO, despite listening to principal discuss philosophy for the entire lunch hour. Thank you, cricket bat, thank you.
Ed took me to a graveyard for a date. It was crowded. He licked me on the neck, and I kneed him in the groin. “Don’t you love me?” he wept.
Still not EMO, despite kneeing EMO boyfriend in the groin. Actually, that was pretty fun.
I said to Pi, “You know how you wanted to experiment on Ed? Go for it.”
“Thank you thank you!”
It was great to see his childish joy.
Ed called and said, “My Mum wants to know how you got that lovely green in your hair.”
“Well, I –”
“Oh, what’s the point?!” he cried.
Pi and I snuck over, gagged Ed, and dragged him home. He sparkled all the way. We locked him in the spare room with a saucer of rat’s blood.
Still not EMO, despite Ed’s slurping of his rat blood. He always was a messy eater. Now he stinks too (he owns only one all-black outfit).
Still not EMO, despite Dad cornering me in the laundry to lecture me on the meaninglessness of his existence. Hope we find a cure.
Caught Pi measuring Ed’s fringe. “When do you start experimenting on him?” I asked.
He said, “Soon. I’m gathering data.”
Still not EMO.
Pi said, “Should we ungag Ed? Mum and Dad are fine with him being here.”
“No,” I said, “If we did that, he might start talking again.”
Is being obsessed with Ed’s hair a symptom of EMO? Pi was measured it AGAIN. I wish he’d go into the sunshine so I could see if he sparkles.
“Eureka!” Pi yelled from the EMO room. I ran in. Pi brandished his clipboard. “EMO makes your fringe grow!”
“How is that useful exactly?”
Still not EMO, even though my boyfriend has better hair than me. On the up side, Pi stood in sunlight for me – no sparkles. Unlike Dad.
“Oh,” Dad sighed, “weddings always make me cry.”
“No they don’t! You always laugh at the priest wearing a dress. Won’t that be fun?”
I felt mean and gave Ed his ipod and speaker. He played “Bleeding Love” for twelve hours. Still not EMO, though after that I do want to cry.
Ed’s Mum rang. I said, “Erm. . . Did you want Ed back?”
She sighed and said, “I don’t deserve him. You keep him.”
“Thanks. Thanks SO much.”
Came home from school to find Pi wrestling Ed. They broke apart and looked at me guiltily. “Ed! No biting!” I said.
“Who me?” he said.
Dobbed on Pi, but Mum wasn’t concerned. “Healthy exercise is just what EMOs need. What do you think about a red colour scheme?”
Found Ed pinned helplessly under Pi’s ten-year old foot. “This gets easier by the day!” said Pi.
I said, “We already KNEW EMOs were weak.”
Still not EMO, despite my boyfriend getting regularly beaten up by my nerdy little brother. Dad said red is a very emotional colour. Great.
Mr Joh said life is a meaningless series of unconnected events, so there’s no point studying. Finally this pandemic has an up side!
Pi enjoyed demonstrating his ability to restrain Ed with a single finger.
Mum and Dad’s wedding is set for thirty November.
Still not EMO.
Mum said, “Be my bridesmaid.”
“Sure – but won’t it be hard to keep your guests from biting one another – enclosed spaces, and all that?”
Finally a weekend! No more sightings of Mr Joh and the principal sharing a tissue box. No more in-class essays on HOW I FEEL. Just Ed. D’oh!
“Can you believe it’s my wedding month already?” trilled Mum.
Dad and I exchanged a glance of woe. I caught myself and checked for sparkles.
Still not EMO. How can my hair be so green without falling out? Maybe I’ve become an anti-EMO. If only I could believe that.
Someone with a hand-drawn Red Cross badge came looking for donations today. I’m pretty sure they don’t usually collect blood door-to-door.
The art teacher made us draw self-portraits. Most of the class mixed their paint with real tears. Went home and bashed head against wall.
The newsreader said, “Our alert has been raised to red – a deep, emotional red. You may as well get bitten. What does it matter anyway?”
All TV cancelled in favour of OC re-runs. Pi and I sat watching Ed cry for two hours. His fringe grew visibly. Still not EMO (pretty sure).
Spent our date night feeding Ed different types of animal blood. He likes dog best. I chose not to ask where Pi got it from. Dad likes cat.
Ed played “Bleeding Love” until I smashed his ipod speaker. He said I was unsupportive and tried to bite me. I’ve got to stay alert!
Decided to confirm Pi’s previous experiment, and challenged Ed to fisticuffs. Beat him easily every time. Science is fun.
I asked the school counsellor for advice on helping friends with EMO-related depression.
“It’s not depression,” she said, “It’s TRUTH.”
For English, Miss Winter read “Wuthering Heights”. It was impossible to understand, because she was sobbing so hard.
Still not EMO.
Our French teacher lectured us today on the deep sadness of all European nations. Luckily, she did most of it in French.
Still not EMO.
In History, Mr Theo told us the World Wars were largely pointless. And so was the Industrial Revolution. And everything else.
Still not EMO.
The principal interrupted maths to bite most of the front row. When the sun shone in the window, the sparkles were blinding.
Still not EMO.
Ed said if I loved him I’d let him bite me. He was too weak to try, but I kicked him in the groin anyway. Suddenly my week got better.
Mum hung out washing and my heart stopped. She was sparkling.
“Mum! You’re EMO!” I cried.
She said, “Nonsense. Look again.”
She was fine.
“Pi, I swear she was sparkling one moment and not sparkling the next.”
“Impossible,” he said.
I said, “You’re right. It must be the stress.”
“Two weeks to the wedding!” Mum yelled, waking me.
At least I could be certain she wasn’t EMO. Dad drew sad smileys on the invitations.
Mum picked fresh tomatoes for our dinner, and once again I could have sworn she was sparkling. But when I blinked, she wasn’t. Weird.
“Bell! Bell!” said Pi.
I said, “What?”
“You were right! Mum has a natural immunity.”
“I know. We have to clone her!”
“I have to what now?” I asked Pi.
He said, “Just ask Dad how often he bites Mum.”
“We need to know. And I’m WAY too young to ask.”
Still not EMO, despite finding out Dad gives Mum hickies “every day or two”. I certainly FEEL sick. But will their grossness save the world?
I helped Pi get his cloning machine out of the shed. “And you DIDN’T win the science prize for this?”
He shrugged and said, “Nah. Volcanos.”
I got Mum to agree that she wished there were two of her doing all that wedding prep. She sat in Pi’s cloning machine and BOOM! Two Mums.
Still not EMO, despite suddenly copping twice as much wedding talk. I wish we could cure EMOs without actually talking to people.
Mum2 refused to get bitten. “Clones are people too. We have rights.”
“We?” said Pi.
That’s when Mum2 introduced Mum3, Mum4 and Mum5.
“Bell,” said Mum, “don’t be upset, but I’m going to be my own bridal party. Won’t it be fun?”
“Are ANY of you EMO yet?”
“Just your fathers.”
Ed’s coming to the wedding, because “it’ll be SUPER deep.” Tissue prices are rising. Still not EMO, despite getting shafted as bridesmaid.
Mum spent an hour crying due to Mum3 fitting her wedding dress better. I definitely saw sparkles. Then she went for a walk and got better.
Dad’s hair was already darkening because of EMO. He dyed it black for the wedding. His fringe is nearly chin-length. Still not EMO.
Pi crept into my room at night with a handful of syringes. “We need their blood! The Mums. Any one will do.”
I’m not sure he’s coping.
Tried to corner Mum5 but she just laughed at me. “I know a million more tricks than you, sweetheart!”
Still not EMO, despite my ten parents.
Pi yelled, “Bell! Mum3 is sparkling. We can grab her while she’s EMO and weak!
I ran out, but by the time we reached her Mum3 was fine.
Still not EMO, despite a clone of my Mum giving me a smack for being disrespectful. I hate it when that happens.
Tried to reason with the Mums. Big mistake. They were far too busy experimenting with hairstyles to want to hear how to save humanity.
Still not EMO, despite ten parents alternately telling me to (1) cheer up or (2) stop being so shallow now the wedding’s tomorrow. Bite me.
Dad avoided a ray of stained-glass sunlight. All the Mums glowed, and Mum3 sparkled. Mum walked down the aisle with a huge smile. . .
. . . and was tackled by Mum2. “This moment belongs to ME!” screamed Mum4, and jumped on top. Mum5 weighed in. Mum3 bit Mum5 on the leg.
I comforted Mum, saying the wedding was certainly lively. She passed me a full syringe. “I drew blood from Mum2 after Mum4 knocked her out.”
It was a relief to be back at school, even with Mr Joh’s sudden fascination with every Tim Burton movie ever made. Still not EMO.
Pi woke me, yelling, “It’s aliiiiive!”
“What?” “Mum2’s blood. I got Dad to drink a bit, and now the rest’s gone EMO.”
I went back to sleep.
Still not EMO, despite little brother developing his muttering skills suddenly. Poor Pi. He might not be EMO, but he’s also not. . . right.
Awoke with horrible thought and went to Pi. “You said Dad drank some of the blood sample. So his BACKWASH turned it EMO?”
“Yep. Ed’s, too.”
Still not EMO, despite beginning to wonder if blood tastes good. Ed says it’s like milo combined with tabasco sauce. I need to get out more.
The 7pm Project began with ten minutes of solemn reflection (Dave cried, then bit Carrie). Marge Simpson now wears black. I’m still not EMO.
Pi followed Mum around with Mum2’s blood vial clutched in his free hand. By the end of the day, the blood was dried, smelly – and un-EMO.
Still not EMO, though Pi won’t stop coming up with ever-weirder theories about Mum’s self-curing ability. He dissected our guinea pig, too.
Pi stumbled in holding his neck. Blood leaked through his fingers. As he fainted, he whispered, “It’s Mum’s behaviour, Bell, not her blood.”
“Please, Pi, try to focus. What did you mean it’s Mum’s behaviour? What is it she does that’s so different?” He shrugged, “Who cares?”
Still not EMO. My poor brother. . . Dad bit humanity’s best hope of recovery. Wait a sec. . . AM I EMO? That was practically poetry! Oh no!
Wandered the mall searching for anyone who wasn’t sparkling. I was all alone. Six Santas sat in a gutter, weeping and tolling their bells.
Got chased by three sad elves. Weird and frightening. Began disguising myself with dark clothes and morose expression. Green hair unhelpful.
“We’re thirsty,” said the newsreader. “We’re coming to find you, and we’ll drink to your health with your own sweet delicious blood!”
Pi came into my room. “You’re one of us, aren’t you Bell? You don’t want to be left behind, do you?”
Ed and four Dads shadowed him. I ran.
Found Mum at her work. She wasn’t sparkly. “How do you do it?” I begged. She said, “A good heart and plenty of fresh air, that’s how!”
Dreamed I was EMO. I walked into the sun and sparkled like fire – then I blew up! It was VERY sad. When I woke up, I knew what to do.
I crept into Pi’s room at night and dragged him into our old treehouse. He didn’t like his gag – or being tied onto the roof.
Then I waited.
Still not EMO, despite hiding in a treehouse and forcing my EMO brother to sparkle for over twelve hours.
Have I made a horrible mistake?
Pi thrashed in his bonds, attracting Ed and the Dads. They said, “Come down, Bell, we’re thirsty.”
Still not EMO – but for how long?
Spent the night listening to Pi moan and the Dads discuss whether I’d taste more like chilli sauce or peppermint chocolate when they ate me.
As the sun rose, the EMOs left to huddle inside. I saw their eyes, watching me. Watching my blood-flushed face. Getting ever thirstier.
I said, “You’ll have to climb up here. And what’s the point? What does it really mean?”
They discussed it, and I bought myself one more day.
“You saved me!”
I felt my eyes prick with tears. “I’m so glad you’re okay, Pi. Now we have to get out of here.”
We broke pieces off the treehouse and Whap! Bang! bashed those EMOs until they let us go. Running down the street, we laughed for joy.
“The cure is sunshine,” I explained to Pi.
He said, “Of course! The sparkling is caused by the mutated melanin escaping from the system.”
We stole cricket bats and attacked the school. Once we had the principal tied to the roof, the rest of the school toppled like dominoes.
“Job well done,” I said to Pi. We walked away whistling.
Mr Joh called faintly, “You’re both on detention! I’ll get you!”