The boys strolled the boardwalk of Venice Beach, exploring freely. It was roughly midnight, but being still on London time, they had woken up because someone- Liam- hadn’t set his phone’s time to America’s standards. Annoyed, but curious, they had set out, figuring that no teenage girls would be up or sober enough to see them. They passed countless closed stores and homeless people sleeping, but as long as they had each other, they didn’t mind. A few people tried offering them medical marijuana, but they managed to evade them and not burst out laughing at the offer.
“Check it out,” Harry murmured, subtly tipping his head towards a stand in the corner. A young girl- maybe six or seven- sat in a meditating position on a blanket, her eyes shut.
“Welcome boys,” she spoke, and the boys jumped back in shock; they were standing fifteen feet away. “Come forth Harry; you seem interested.” She opened her eyes, and the boys stared in shock at her bright purple eyes. “You’ve got a lovely aura.”
“Er- thanks, I think,” Harry murmured, and she smiled as he slowly approached her with the other lads in tow. “So, what exactly d’you, eh, do?”
“Mind reading, tarot cards, voodoo, aura reading, the works,” she replied, looking up at them. “No need to be scared; don’t try protesting, I can see the colors.” They stared back at her with blank looks. “Auras, boys.” They murmured “Oh”.
“You said something about voodoo,” Louis said, curiosity ringing in his voice. She nodded.
“Want a doll?” He shrugged.
“Sure, why not?”
“Because it has powers that you will never understand.” He paused. “But no problem, let me see.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Who do you want it of?”
“One for each of us,” Niall piped in. She nodded and stood up. One at a time, she took the boy’s hands in one of hers and a doll in the other. After a few moments, she had found a match for each.
“They don’t have to look like you; the energies just need to match,” she explained, as the boys looked down at their dolls, each with skin a color from the rainbow and black Xs for eyes. “No charge, no need to squabble over it.” They stared at her in shock, having been about to ask for the price. “I’m a psychic for a reason. Have fun on tour.”
“How’d you know,” Liam asked.
“Aside from the accents, voices, and appearance, you don’t ever underestimate a mind reader. Have a nice night, but you might want to head in; there’s a few girls around here on roller skates who love your music.” On cue, they heard wheels hit the wood of the boardwalk.
“Thank you.” She nodded and listened to them run off towards their Marriot.
“Creepy as hell,” Zayn stated as they made their way into the hotel room. “But also cool as hell.”
“Hell’s a lot of things,” Liam replied, holding his doll by the arm. “So do they do anything exactly?” He poked his doll’s stomach. “They just seem a little-“ He felt a poke over his bellybutton, and his eyes widened. “Holy sh-“
“Well they work!” At the boy’s looks of shock, he added, “At least mine does.” Niall swiped the doll from his hands and squeezed it before Liam could protest. “Ow! Let go Niall!” The crushing pain encasing his body subsided, and Liam rubbed his arms, sending a glare towards the blonde, who handed him the doll back. With a scared look on his face, he looked down at the doll in his hands, like the rest of the lads.
“Terrifying, actually,” Harry finished, glancing nervously at his mate.
“Are you kidding me? That’s so cool!” Louis grabbed Harry’s doll and began poking it all over. Harry started twitching a second later, giggling slightly as he squirmed. “Now I can annoy you from across the room,” Louis said, poking the doll’s cheeks where Harry’s dimples would be.
“You already do that,” Harry whined, making a grab for his doll. Louis swung away, but in the process he squeezed the doll’s legs tighter. Harry yelped and he toppled over. “Stop!” Louis let go and the doll dropped to the floor. Harry yelped again and snatched it away, rubbing his bum.
“Be careful with these things,” Zayn warned them, eyeing his own doll warily. Niall glanced down at his doll and tentatively poked it’s underarms. He didn’t feel anything at first, and, almost like he wanted to be tortured, he started scratching at the doll.
“I don’t think mine wo-“ The worst tickling he had ever felt slammed against him, and he collapsed in hysteria. His mates jumped back and stared, absolutely terrified at their seemingly possessed friend. After a minute or so, the feelings stopped, and Niall panted for air, his cherry cheeks slowly fading to their usual shade of pale.
“What the hell just happened,” Zayn asked, more curious than frightened.
“Don’t. Tickle. The. Dolls.”
You know when people say not to touch things because they’re hot, and you need proof, so you touch it? Well the same thing happened once Niall had warned them. He was quickly surrounded by his mates, their laughter ringing in his ears. Harry clutched his neck, trying to make the feeling stop; Louis was holding the doll’s feet; Liam had just given in and laughed his head off; and Zayn was squeezing his doll tightly, praying that the pain would counteract the tickling. None of this worked, however, and they had to suffer until the feelings subsided.
“Shihihit,” Harry giggled out, catching his breath. The boys slowly began catching their breath, except for Liam, who was still laughing. “What’s wrong, Li?” Liam choked out something, but he was laughing too hard to be coherent.
“How long did you tickle that thing,” Niall asked, trying to joke about it, but he was scared. Liam shook his head, recognizing the style of tickling on his ribs; only one of his mates varies speed and pressure like this. He glanced over to see Louis holding a doll behind his back, and he made a swipe for it. Louis smirked and dodged him, speeding up his fingers, but Liam managed to snatch his in the process. He began swiping his nails over the doll’s feet, and the feelings on his ribs subsided as Louis jerked back, laughter flowing from his lips. Liam smirked until he saw Zayn lift something to his lips and blow. He paused in fear for the feeling, but instead Harry began giggling.
“Stahahahahap! ZAYN ahahahahahahahaha NOhohohohahahaha!”
Niall however was guarding his doll fiercely- well, sort of, because squeezing it too tightly hurt him- but he didn’t think it was fair for Harry to be tortured and not have a chance to fight back. And he knew he would be pulled into the tickle fight sooner or later, so he figured now was a good a time as any. He subtly reached over and took Zayn’s doll, which the Bradford boy, for some reason, had left sitting by his side, unprotected. Niall was still a bit scared of the dolls, so he started slow. Zayn felt a slight touch on the underside of his thighs, but he managed to ignore it until Niall decided Harry needed a breather. Suddenly Harry stopped laughing as Zayn started. Harry, wanting to help the other lad who was hysterical, took Liam’s doll from Louis and began attacking its ribs. Liam burst into laughter, but managed to snatch Niall’s doll away, because if not for Niall, Harry wouldn’t have recovered enough to torture him now. Niall burst out laughing as Louis recovered, and the eldest of the lads took his doll back from Liam, who was laughing too hard to do anything about it.
Slowly, but surely, the dolls got to their proper places, and the boys decided to lock them in the safe to avoid any accidental sorcery. Dancing around each other’s jabs at their sides, they managed to settle in for the night without too much trouble.
Sleeping soundly through the night, however, was impossible.
“D’you hear that,” Louis asked at around three in the morning. The rest of the lads were sleeping, prompting him to hit them each on the head with a pillow until they were all up.
“Lou, what d’you want,” Zayn growled, his head falling back down to sleep.
“Oh, I thought you might want to know that there’s someone in our hotel room, but if you’d rather be abducted, that’s fine.
“Someone’s in here,” Niall asked.
“Well, if someone would turn on the light, I could see.”
“Here,” Harry murmured, blinking against the onslaught of light. Liam rolled out of bed and went to investigate, the rest of the boys following suit- except for Zayn, who had dozed off again.
“Did one of you open the safe,” Liam asked, glancing around at his mates, who were shaking their heads. “Well, it’s empty.”
“Weird.” All eyes fell on Louis, who didn’t notice, and went over to look. “Are you sure?”
“Give ‘em back,” Harry said, and Louis smirked.
“I don’t have them. You probably do- you’re just trying to get our attention off of you.”
“I don’t have them,” Harry protested.
“Yeah, sure,” Louis replied, sparking a bickering to ensue until Niall snapped his fingers. “What?”
“You hear that?” They paused to hear hysterical laughter coming from the bedroom. “That’s… Zayn, right?” With wide eyes, they darted back into the room to find the Bradford boy laughing his head off as devious fingers darted around his knees.
“Who has the doll,” Liam murmured, absolutely terrified. Suddenly Louis collapsed to the floor, kicking wildly and laughing hysterically. Harry dropped to his knees to try and help his mate, when, with a squeak, his head shot down and his round of hysteria started. Niall and Liam jumped back, Liam having to move a second time when the blonde’s hands shot underneath his arms and he sank down and rolled around the floor. The scratching began between Liam’s ribs shortly after, and soon he followed his mates’ examples.
An eerie whisper in the lad’s ears hissed, “You have abused the sacred power of the voodoo arts, and must pay the price.”A flash of the girl’s piercing purple eyes lit up the room, but the lads were too preoccupied with laughing their heads off to notice.
“WE’RE SAHAHAHAHAAHARRY,” Louis managed to scream, but if anything, the tickling on his feet worsened, sending him into silence like it had with the rest of the boys.
Only after they couldn’t laugh any harder, turn any redder, or be any closer to fainting did the touch lighten. By now, it was nearly daylight, and their throats burned with overuse. They lay where they had when the ordeal began, too physically exhausted to move an inch, chests rising and falling sharply. Zayn, who had ended up hanging off the bed upside down, fell to the ground, unable to right himself. Harry brushed the curls sticking to his forehead away, and tucked his knees to his chest, rocking slightly. Niall leaned against the wall and yanked off his shirt to use as a towel. Louis sprawled out on the floor and stared at the ceiling. Liam managed to regain enough strength to crawl to the hotel refrigerator and threw water bottles towards his band mates.
Total silence reigned over them, but they didn’t need words to know where they were headed. Dolls clutched carefully in their hands, they made their way back to the boardwalk, not caring if anyone saw them or not: none of them had their hair done- including Zayn- and to the average onlooker, they were just five exhausted teenagers.
“I told you they were powerful,” the girl said when she saw them. Harry opened his mouth to say something, when she held up her hand. “You’re too hoarse to talk. Luckily, tonight’s concert is outside, and it’s going to rain- same as tomorrow night- so you’ll have enough time to rest. In the meantime, I believe you have five things that belong to me.” They nodded and dropped their dolls into her cupped hands. She murmured a chant over the dolls before dropping them back into the basket. “I’ve got something for you to put in your tea that speeds up the process of getting your voice back, if you’re interested.”
“No,” Niall croaked, and she smiled.
“Had enough of the magic?” They nodded. “I figured you would be, but if you change your mind, I’ll be right here.” They nodded and began to walk away, when Liam felt a poke to his side. He whirled around like the rest of the boys did upon receiving the same feeling, but the stand was gone.