Life (7)

Life

The night was quiet. Streets emptied and lights turned on. Rare cars passed by like a slow heartbeat. Miles Turner sat alone at the counter of the kitchen, staring blankly at the mug in front of him. The steam of his coffee disappeared long ago. Cal Garner, he thought. The name who was the source of his son’s pain. The silence of the house made the name heavier than it already was.

‘What are we going to do?’ Chris asked. The question startled his father. The two men exchanged an intense look as to decipher each other’s thoughts. Chris’s muscles tensed, his jaw tightened and his attention beyond his father. Miles noticed it: the rage growing stronger in his son’s soul.

‘I’ll take care of it.’ He paused. ‘You do nothing.’ He stepped closer to bring the young man back to a safe place and prevent him from falling further into his darkness. The latter looked away, closed his eyes and took a deep breathe. When he opened his eyes again, he paused a second before locking himself in his room.

What is going on in your mind, right now, Chris? Miles thought. He exhaled loudly. ‘What’s going on in mine? That’s the real question.’ he whispered to himself. As he went to his room, he checked on his son. Chris finally surrendered to exhaustion. Peace had invested his face. Miles watched him, taking a mental picture of this moment he knew won’t last long. Sure enough, as soon as he closed his eyes, a holler woke him up. He jumped out of his bed and ran toward it. Once he opened the door, Chris moved about on his bed, his sheet ripped off by his fists, sweat dripping down his shirt and his eyes still closed. His screams surrounded him like a shield, isolating him from the world. Miles walked through the invisible wall and wrapped his arms around his son. ‘Calm down. Calm down.’ he whispered as he tightened his grip to contain him. ‘You’re alright.’ he kept on saying. When Chris opened his eyes and realized where he was, he grabbed on his father strongly. The screams died away and replaced by a heavy breathing. ‘I’m right here.’ In his arms, Miles could feel his son trembling, his grasp intensified as seconds went by.

‘I killed…’ Chris mumbled. ‘I killed…’

Miles put his hand on Chris’s chest. ‘You didn’t. It’s not on you.’ he said. Chris closed his eyes again and strengthened his grip. ‘I’m right here.’ he repeated. ‘I’m right here.’

his heartbeat slowed down, tears stopped their ascension and tremors gradually faded. As the words echoed through his body to his mind, Chris slowly closed the funnel of his emotions. Without another sound, he fell back to sleep.

 

 

To be continued

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Life (6)

Life

For the past three weeks, Karen tried to have an one-on-one conversation with Chris but the latter appeared and disappeared unpredictably. Whenever she met him, he always seemed to be accompanied as if he knew she had questions. To quench her curiosity, she asked John, the only one that seemed to know the most. But the latter danced around each one of her queries. Thanksgiving was approaching and John invited everyone over to his place to celebrate a trending holidays amongst young adults: Friendsgiving. Karen seized the opportunity and focused her attention on Chris. She observed his attitude: under his blank expression, she could notice smiley eyes or confusion when he didn’t understand something. Boredom was the most predominant face he put on, half of the evening.

She suddenly lost sight of him as she came out of the bathroom. ‘He was too bored.’ John told her. She ran outside to catch him, hoping he would be on the sidewalk star gazing again. She looked around and found him at the end of the street about to take a left. She followed him, her heart pounding like crazy in her rib cage. Her breath materialized in front of her, blocking her view sporadically. She tailed him for a good hour: Chris just walked around town, without any goals or specific places to be. Some time to time, he stopped and stared at a window display for few seconds then went back on the road. The ephemeral fog became an inconvenient the moment he disappeared. She ran to where she last saw him and scanned the street. It was a huge crossroad where traffics tended to create themselves due to the amount of drivers that didn’t understand the concept of the orange light. To each green light, a massive part of the population gathered together on each side of the road and waited, partially patient, to cross and switch places. Toai City’s version of Shibuya, Karen thought. She lost herself in the crowd and decided to take her left based on an intuition. Once out of the herd, she found herself sighing loudly as if she just escaped death. When she caught her breath back, a piercing discomfort appeared: she felt eyes on her.

She turned around abruptly, her eyes wide open, scanning everybody. As seconds went by, the discomfort became stronger and closer. She tuned out cars noises, bits of conversations and ambiance music coming from shops around her, to focus on her sight. Her eyes traveled over the crowd again and again without noticing any distrubance. Her body and mind appeared to be in parallele universes, when a hand sharply pulled her aside of the stream of humans.

In a second, she found herself against a wall facing him. He was half a head taller than her, his perfum slightly noticeable. She stared at his lips as he brought his finger to them. Karen raised her eyes to his: they were soft and harmless. They stood still. It seemed like they were pulled away from the world running next to them. Sounds reduced to only two synchronized heart beat. Karen followed his quick glance to his left. As a strange man walked by them, Chris reached out for her cheek to make her face him. Time stopped.

A second later, Chris stepped back, put his hands back in jeans and looked over his shoulder. ‘Are you ok?’ Karen barely nodded. The silence broke to the hubbub of the city. ‘Stop following me from now on.’ Chris stared at her for a moment before throwing himself into the sea of body.

Karen stood still few minutes after he left, trying to process what just happened, then reconnected to the living world. She stepped on the main street, looked from left to right to situate herself and retraced her steps to home, all sorts of questions pounding her inner skull.

 

A couple meters away, Chris watched Karen coming out of the alley, then followed her to her home. Once she disappeared in her building, he made sure that no one else was stalking her before heading to his own house. Arrived at home, his father was sitting at the kitchen table, reading a newspaper: ‘Welcome back, son.’ He turned around to face him. A pause occured. His father stood up and made a few steps toward him. Usually, as soon as he passes the door, his son goes straight to his room, up the stairs. But something was different. Chris looked at him in the eyes, immobile. He could see that he was struggling to find the courage to say something.

After the Great Battle, Miles Turner hasn’t heard his son’s voice in three years. Aside from the screaming at night, the latter immured himself in a heavy silence and behind a thick wall that prevent any emotions to go through to him. It’s his way of coping, Miles thought. He waited patiently until Chris would be ready to share whatever was going on in his mind and heart. But as years passed and Miles started to believe that the teenager he watched grow up died along with his wife.

‘He found me.’ Chris said, his voice was trembling and uncertain.

His eyes wide open to photograph this moment, Miles froze in awe in the face of the effort his son just made: he removed the first stone from the wall he surrounded himself with. But the bliss of that precious moment was shadowed by the continuous threat they had to run away from.

‘Cal Garner found me.’ he repeated.

 

To be continued

Life (5)

Life

The next day, Karen woke up to the sounds of Sarah’s parents’s arrival. She quickly stood up to introduce herself. They exchanged a look of indignation and sorrow. She gave them a moment alone with their daughter. On her way out, Karen caught a piece of conversation between an officer and Dr. O’Neill. A name was dropped. She walked to the reception and asked for a room number under the name of Jamal Clifford. At his door, two agents were standing and scrutinizing each person that were passing by. Karen asked few questions to them but they remained silence.

‘It’s for an essay. I’m a student in journalism at Sung University. I have an article to write about a fresh event in order for us to learn the ropes of getting informations from the police and other sources right on the spot.’

‘How’s it going so far?’ the officer asked, a point of sarcasm in his voice.

‘Ok, i guess. I mean, i did manage to find this room number. Come on! Help a student out! It’s not like it’s going to actually make the news. It’s just for class.’ The man took a moment to think, staring at the young lady in front of him. As seconds went by, her eyes softened his mind.

‘What do you want to know?’ A huge smile appeared on her face.

‘So, what happened to the guy inside?’

‘He was beaten up by someone. He don’t want to say who.’

‘So, he’s speaking.’ The officer nodded. ‘Did he say something about why he was attacked?’ The man’s expression changed: he looked amused.

‘You apparently know more than you pretend to. What are your real questions? I think it’s best if you are just direct.’

‘Ok. Did he say anything about Sarah Jefferson?’

‘He admitted to assault her.’ Karen froze. ‘He will be charge for a first degree assault and murder in the next few days, as soon as he gets out of hospital, if Sarah Jefferson doesn’t wake up.’ Karen looked down, then something attracted her attention on her right: a familiar silhouette drowned in the flow of medical personel.

‘And if she wakes up? What happens to the murder charges?’

‘The prosecutor will change it in attempt of murder.’

Karen left the officer without another word to return to Sarah’s room. As she approached the room, she saw John and Charlotte waiting in the hall. She interrogated her friend with her eyes. Charlotte brought her finger to her mouth. Minutes later, a policeman and the surgeon in charge walked out. Both of them gave a look to John who stood up straight. Shortly after, Sarah’s father stormed out. John tracked him with his eyes, waited for the father to disappear in a contiguous corridor before following his steps. Sarah’s father stopped his walk on the third floor where two police agents prevented him to go further. John pulled out his phone and dialed: ‘Chris? He’s moving.’ Then hung up. As he turned around to go back to Sarah, he bumped into Karen. ‘What’s up?’ he asked.

‘What’s going on?’ John let a moment of silence pass.

‘You saw her. You know what is going on.’ They stared at each other.

‘How are you and Chris involved?’

‘I can’t tell you that. Not yet.’ He left her on those words.

‘What? Why? And what does that even mean?’

 

The following friday, Karen visited her friend again, hoping to see her wide awake. Outside of her room, Mr. Jefferson seemed to be in a deep, serious conversation with a hooded man. Tears appeared in his eyes as he nodded to his interlocutor. When Karen was close enough, the hooded man mildly turned his head before evacuating the hallway. Right before a wall blocked her view, a quick eye-contact made Karen go after him but the latter already vanished. She questionned Mr. Jefferson but he claimed that it didn’t concern her. The same night, Karen convinced the Jeffersons to let her spend the night by Sarah’s side. She tried to pull an all-nighter but her mind had no power over her body and she fell asleep.

‘She still doesn’t wake up.’ A voice irrupted. ‘What should we do? At this rate, someone’s gonna notice something.’

In the silence, Karen’s consciousness surfaced. She heard movement around her then the darkness of her eyelid lightnened up.

‘Are you sure? I know you promised her father but… what about yours?’ Another voice said.

The light disappeared. As footsteps echoed in the room, Karen opened her eyes and caught one of them in the door frame. She recognized him: ‘Chris?’ The latter turned around. ‘What are you doing here?’ He watched her standing up then turned away. She followed his look: Sarah woke up. ‘Sarah!?’ That quick second was enough for Chris to disappear.

Karen rushed outside of the room to get a nurse then ran back to her friend. The neurologist checked her pupils and asked her some questions before explaining her briefly her situation. Her parents were called and arrived an hour later. ‘She is responsive. We’re going to keep her few more days under observation to make sure nothing is wrong. But…’ He looked perplexed. He glanced at the parents: tears streamed down Mrs. Jefferson’s face as she squeezed her daughter’s hand tightly, and Mr. Jefferson allowed himself to crack a smile. He walked to the neurosurgeon, opened his arms and pulled the latter against him: ‘Thank you… Thank you so much.’ he whispered as he chocked the doctor. When he released him, the neurologist felt the change of atmosphere: the severe and taciturn man became a jolly father relieved to get his little girl back.

Karen watched the scene few steps back. She couldn’t stop smiling as she texted Charlotte the news. When she looked up again, she noticed the concerned face of the doctor. She scanned the man as something bothered her. He looks like someone i know. What’s his name again?’

The surgeon remained speechless after hearing the man’s words. He immediately understood that they weren’t meant for him. Chris. What have you done?

 

 

To be continued

Life (4)

Life

‘Call me a doctor! I need a doctor!!’ John shouted as he entered the emergency’s hall, Sarah in his arms. Unconscious. Around him, patients and visitors stared at him, frozen in time. A woman in white ran toward him while instructing John to put her on a bed before stepping aside. She checked her vitals, plugged tubes in her before establishing a course of action.

‘I want a CT and a X-ray! Let’s go, people!’ She ordered. ‘You! Tell me what happened to her.’ she stopped to ask as her team headed to the elevator. John stood there in silence, breathless, his eyes locked on Sarah. ‘Hé!! What happ…’. A disruption attracted her attention. John turned around: a young man stumbled in, disfigured and blood coming out of his mouth profusely. John stared at him, memorizing the pitiful state of the young man. A second doctor ran to him for an examination. The female doctor understood that there was a relation between them, then asked an intern to call the police and keep an eye on John: ‘You! Stay here until the police arrives.’ She caught up with her patient and disappeared behind the door of steal.

‘Are you hurt? Are you bleeding from somewhere?’ The intern asked. John looked at his shirt and realized a red stain covered his chest. He shook his head: ‘I’m fine.’ Minutes later, two policemen made their entrance at the hospital. They briefly spoke to chief of surgery before turning their attention to John.

‘Are you the one who brought the young girl?’ One of the officers asked. John nodded. ‘What’s your name?’

‘John Smith.’

‘What’s the victim’s name and what are your relationship with her?’

‘Sarah Jefferson. She’s a friend of mine.’

‘What happened?’ John took a moment to answer.

‘I don’t know. I found her on my way to a friend’s house.’

‘Where?’

‘An alley, next to Luther Street. I heard someone begging for help. So i went to check and i saw her, lying in her blood.’ As he said those words, he tried to contain a wave of anger. The officer noticed his effort.

‘Luther street. It’s far from here. Did you carry her all the way?’ John couldn’t believe what the officer was implying.

‘I didn’t beat her up, if that’s what you mean.’ The officer locked his eyes on his with a smirk.

‘And do you know the other victim?’

‘No. Never saw him.’ The officer scanned his facial expression again then took notes.

‘We’ll stay in touch.’ As he walked away, John grabbed his phone and dialed a number.

‘Where are you?’

 

The night was early and everything was ready: chips and crackers shared a bed on the table, next to slice of carots and small pieces of sausages. Drinks were separated on another table behind the couch. Lamps were on and a background music filled the room. Spider webs, carved pumpkins and fake ghosts were thrown at every corner of their home.

‘We’re over prepared.’ Charlotte claimed.

‘As always.’ Karen replied.

A phone vibrated on the table. Karen looked at it, her eyes widened in disbelief of the words she was reading: ‘Something happened to Sarah.’ She grabbed her coat, threw Charlotte’s to her and rushed her into a cab to the hospital. When they arrived, they were asked to sit tight in the waiting room until the doctors show up. An hour later, two surgeons came out of a restricted area. Their faces seemed exhausted and closed.

‘Where is the kid?’ A woman asked. ‘The one who brought Sarah Jefferson?’

‘He left a while ago. He said that someone else will come for her.’ A nurse replied.

‘Friend, my ass. Alright. Is anybody here waiting for Sarah Jefferson?’ Karen and Charlotte stood up simultaneously. ‘I am Dr. O’Neill, i am the surgeon in charge of your friend’s case. She had an internal bleeding that we were able to locate  and stop. She also has few broken ribs and a broken arm but she made it through the surgery. She is stable, now.’

‘And i am Dr. Turner, neurosurgery. She had a severe bleeding in her brain and a concussion.’ He paused. ‘She is in a coma, for now, but, like Dr. O’Neill, just said: she is stable.’

‘But she will be fine?’ Karen asked. The two surgeon paused and exchanged a look. ‘What? What is it?’

‘Don’t keep us on tenterhooks. Tell us!’ Charlotte became impatient.

‘She will be fine… if she wakes up.’ The neurosurgeon said. ‘Does she have any family we can call?’

‘We already called her parents. They’re taking the first flight in the morning.’ Karen said.

‘Do you wish to see her?’ Dr. Turner asked.

Both girls nodded and followed the doctor to Sarah’s room. A religious silent reigned when they came in. Only the monitor, she was attached to, echoed in rhythm like a bell. She seemed peaceful and yet her body screamed the opposite: a tube came out of her mouth, her head was covered with bandages, her arm was in a cast and her eyes swollen. Charlotte burst into tears.

They decided to spend the night at the hospital and stay on the look out for the moment their friend will open her eyes. As the moon followed its trip in the darkness of space, the adrenaline fueling the girls’s hearts stopped, knocking them to sleep.

In the middle of the night, a noise woke Karen up. The silence of the recovery service was peaceful and scary at the same time. She mildly opened her eyes: the door was semi-closed, allowing light from the hallway to come in. An unusual glow appeared over the bed: someone was standing near Sarah, his hands upon her head. What? A noise attracted Karen’s attention to her left. Another person was leaning against the wall, his hands in his pockets and his head plunged into a hoody. The latter turned to her: they exchanged a look but her eyes were heavy and closed by themselves. As she fell back into Morpheus’s arms, it struck her: she has seen those eyes before.

 

To be continued

Life (3)

Life

‘A boyfriend?’ Sarah was surprised by the blunt question. ‘No, i don’t have one. Why do you ask?’.

‘How long have you been single?’ he asked. Sarah began to be suspicious about James’s intentions.

‘What is going on?’ Her voice raised, attracting some eyes around them. The ambiance music of the coffee shop wasn’t loud enough to cover their conversation.

‘Nothing! Sorry, he’s just… not used to talk to girls.’ John interrupted before James could get a word out.

‘No, i’m not.’ the latter whispered.

An awkward silent settled at their table. Sarah scanned the three guys one by one and caught John and Chris exchanging a look.

‘What? Why did you invite me for lunch, exactly?’ She felt trapped, ambushed. John leaned closer to her, lowered his voice and said:

‘Listen. We… Just  wanted to let you know that we are here. If you ever need… Anything. Help. Support. Anything.’ He glanced at Chris one more time then directed his attention back on her.

Sarah looked confused and moved. She came in Toya City alone, to pursue her studies and become an architect, leaving her entire family back in Chime town. On her first day of school, she was teamed up with a random guy for a project that would occupy them for a year. As they had to interact often, they learnt to know each other and eventually fell in love. Their relationship evolved faster than she expected: without notice, he moved in with her. It didn’t bother her at first, she thought she would adapt. But as time went by, his small flaws became bigger and her tolerance reduced to a point where she reached her limits. His jalousie appeared when she met Charlotte whom is more outgoing. He wouldn’t let her be without him: she felt locked in her own relationship. After another unresolved fight, things got out of hands. The next morning, she found herself using make up more than she usually did. She then remembered her father’s greatest lesson: ‘Don’t ever let a man mistreat you in any kind of way. You are my daughter. My princess. A queen to the world.’ She left her appartment and found shelter with Charlotte and Karen. She managed to avoid him for few days, until she had to go back to her appartment to take some clothes. He apologised, begged her to come back and promised it wouldn’t happen again. She wanted to believe him, but when he stepped closer to hug her, her body remembered his violence and tensed. She pushed him away and clearly stated her decision: ‘It’s over.’ The same night, Karen and Charlotte stopped by her appartment after Sarah told them what happened and how he reacted. They let him know that he had one day to gather his stuff and leave. The next day, the three of them spend the night at Sarah’s place. It took her a week to feel at home again. Once she did, she noticed a silhouette creeping behind a tree, down on her street, some time to times. The same silhouette appeared now and then every where she went: she didn’t feel safe anywhere anymore. And no one could help her with that. So when she heard John’s words, a sense of relief burst in her chest.

Days passed and Sarah found herself surrounded most of the time: she let her guard down, her paranoia faded.

The eve of all Saints arrived. The moon was high amongst stars. Little monsters were running from house to house, screaming and laughing out loud. Sarah was on her way to Karen and Charlotte’s party, her walking dead make-up scaring small ghosts, princesses, vampires and wizards. She walked proudly.

Suddenly, a hand grabbed her and pulled her in the darkness of an a alley. Another hand blocked her mouth before she could make a sound. As she was very close to the stranger, she could smell his perfum. She pushed him away and turned to face him: ‘Jamal! What the hell!’

The man walked slowly to her. His eyes fixated on her. The more he came closer, the more she stepped away, until her back hit the wall. He put his hands on it, trapping her between his arms.

‘Who are those guy?’

‘What?’

‘You don’t belong to them. You belong to me. We belong to each other.’

‘What.. Listen, go away and i won’t call the cops.’

‘You’re supposed to be with me…’ He closed his eyes and aproached his face to hers.

‘Go away!!’ Sarah pushed as hard as she could. They froze for a second, starring at each other. Confusion filled his eyes. ‘I don’t belong to you. I belong to no one. I’m not an object you can own.’ Her heart beat faster each second. Her hands were trembling.

‘You love me… I love you.’

‘No. Not anymore.’

One those words, something broke in him. She turned her back on him and walked away. In a flash, his expression changed. He grabbed her by the arm, turned her around and punched her to the ground. She didn’t have the time to process everything that he put himself on top of her. With one hand, he held hers, while his other one moved down. He was strong and heavy. Sarah could barely do anything. She moved about but he didn’t flinch. Instinctevely, her knee met his sensitive parts making him scream of agony. His grip loosened. She took her chance and punshed him in the face: he fell on the ground. She stood up and started to run but was quickly caught up by Jamal. He pulled her further in the alley and attacked her relentlessly. Hollers of anger came out of his lungs as his fists percussively hit their target. Suddenly, he stopped.

He looked her: her eyes were closed a long time ago, blood covered her make-up and bruises started to appear. He stood up, starred at her inanimated body one last time before walking away.

Sarah regained consciousness for a moment. She looked at the stars sparkling on a black curtain. A muffled noise attracted her attention. She turned her head to her left with the remaining strength she had: she couldn’t believe the scene displayed before her eyes. Jamal was immobilized against the wall: he grasped for air. Someone else was running toward her. John…

 

 

To be continued

Life (2)

Life

To: Chris T

It’s been a while since i’ve seen you at school. I think you need to go at least tomorrow, just to remind professors that you exist. I’ll pick you up at seven thirty, tomorrow. Be ready. 

A constant stream of engines lulled his ears as he, himself, walked his way through the crowd of  late workers and students. John took a right, coming out of the herd, then abruptly slowed down his pace. He pulled out his phone and typed quickly. As he was about to press ‘send‘, he heard a door unlock: Chris appeared in the frame.

‘Nice timing!’ John greeted him. ‘So, what happened last week? I saw Karen following you outside but… neither of you came back… So…?’ Chris gave him a death stare. ‘Oh! Come on!’

‘Nothing happened.’ he said. John’s mind froze for a second, realizing the miracle he just witnessed.

‘Euhm, yeah, sure!’, he glanced to his right, felt the threat in Chris’s eyes and didn’t insist. ‘Anyway. I wanted to talk to you about Sarah. You remember her? She was one of the girls from the bar. Anyway, she might be a danger. And in danger.’ Chris frowned quickly. ‘I haven’t seen much. Just a dark alley, right next to a party. I heard kids laughing and music.’ John paused, acknowledging the lack of information he was giving. ‘We will have to follow her for a while… I have this strange feeling that it will be on Halloween, though, otherwise, kids wouldn’t be out that late.’ He fell into his reflections and confined himself in a silence.

As they arrived at the gate of the university, John caught sight of Sarah entering the Architecture’s building. She was alone and her pace fast. He extended his sight to Chris who clearly didn’t want to be here.

‘Alright, i’ll see you at lunch.’ John claimed before leaving him on his own. Few meters later, he looked back to make sure Chris was staying within the university’s walls. The latter hasn’t move a inch, his face emotionless and his look blank. John turned his back around and rushed to class, hoping his friend won’t disappear again. Like you always do.

Hours passed and the time to eat arrived. As he stepped outside, John was joined by James Atwood, a young man who was once crushed by the weight of life. He was wandering around town, pretending to have a plan, after dropping off of school. One day, he found himself at Taan Aka Park, early in the morning. Only one person was there: a young man, around his age with a backpack in his hand, his head faced the orange sky. A student? Or is he faking it too?’ The young adult noticed him, he looked down. At first glance, one particular  thing struck James: he seemed to be just as lost as he was. When he turned to him, James saw something in his eyes: a deep sadness that he tried to hide. They didn’t exchange a word that day, but ran into each other every now and then. Until, James dared to approach him: it was a one-way short conversation. As they met more often at random places, a strange friendship was born. After a month, the young man handed him a piece of paper with a name and an address. James didn’t have the time to ask anything that his new friend disappeared. The next day, he went to the address and introduced himself:

‘Hi! I’m James Atwood. I was send by… I was told to come here.’

‘Oh! Yeah! Our mute friend gave me your name. I’m detective Ed Ogawa. If i’m good at my job, i think he wants me to train you.’

‘To be a detective?’

‘You’re not interested?’ James took a minute to process and evaluate his situation. What is more appealing: remaining a lost soul until death comes or contribute to society the was his father does.

‘I’m in.’

It was a year ago. Ever since, his days were filled and tiring. James met some of his silent friend’s friends and learnt his name at the same time: Chris Turner.

John poked him with his elbow and pointed to his right. James scanned the surrounding: through students passing by, he noticed Chris sitting against a tree. They walked up to him: he was asleep. James paused and stared at him: his hand was twitching and his lips were in movement. John gently shook him to wake him up. Chris grabbed him by the arm, unexpectedly, scaring John and James out. ‘Hé…’ His grip tightened strongly. ‘Chris…It’s me, John. Wake up.’ The latter regained consciousness and loosened his grip. ‘Sorry.’ he whispered. He took his bag, stood up and walked away, followed closely by James and John. They walked in silence until James finally adressed the subject.

‘So, i’ve made some researched in Sarah Jefferson. You told me to look into her family and friends: her father is a police officer and her mother a teacher. She has a younger brother that’s still in high school. Her closest friends here are Karen and Charlotte, and it looks like she doesn’t have a boyfriend. When i asked her neighbors about her, they said that they saw a man come and go frequently, but suddenly stopped. Although, some of the neighbors have seen him hanging around. I didn’t have the time to dig up more on him.’ He turned his head toward John but the latter was lost in his thoughts. ‘John?’

For a split second, he could see, in Chris’s eyes, fear and distress. He could still feel his grasp on his arm. ‘John!’ He looked up. ‘Yeah. Sarah. We’ll ask her directly. He’s probably her ex.’

‘The origin of her threat.’

 

To be continued.

Life (1)

Life

*Biip*

Yo! Chris! We’re waiting on you! It’s time for you to show up, now.’

*Biip*

Me again. You’re still not here. Come on, man, you said you’ll come. Don’t become someone you don’t like. Aka a liar, in case you didn’t get that one.’

*Biip*

Alright, it has been about… two hours, i give you five more minutes before i bring everyone to your place. And by everyone, I mean the entire bar.’

*Biip*

Three minutes left.’

*Biip*

A minute and a half.’

The place was crowded, dimmed lamp enlightened each table spread in the six hundred square feet of space. Some people focused on the glass in front of them hoping their worries and troubles would drown in it. Some people remained in their circles of friends. Most people searched for some excitement and entertainment for the night, eyeing and judging each other. A low music filled the background and blanks left by conversations.

Once he stepped in the bar, Chris was hit by a wall of heat. He made his way through standing customers, waiting for available tables, to join his stalker at the other side of the room. As he walked closer, he noticed that three girls had been enrolled in the group. One of them stared at him.

‘You’re here!! Finally. It only took seven calls, five voicemail and a dozen of texts. But hey! You made it!’ John said. The young man looked like he just had a fresh haircut with shades on the side and a little bit more length on the top. He was wearing a dark T-shirt with a ‘BB’ design on his left pocket, a black pair of jeans and grey snickers that matches with his snapback put on the table. Despite his dark outfit, John was actually a very joyful person. He stood up to greet his friend. They were around the same height, then he turned his back around and introduced him to the three incomers: ‘This is Chris, the one we were talking about. The one who never goes out.’ He glanced to his right. Piercing eyes were staring through him. He smiled then turned to the girls again: ‘And this is Karen, Charlotte and Sarah. They’re students, just like us.’. Simultaneously, they nodded and smiled. An awkward silent invested the atmosphere around them for few seconds, where Chris scanned the strangers in front of him. Once he was done making his judgment, he turned to his left and acknowledged the rest of his friends. He interrogated one of them with his eyes.

‘Yeah, I’m here too. Night off for my brain, I was about to go crazy.’ Malcolm said. He was in his third year of medical school and for the past few months, he had his nose deep into books and papers. He lived under the light of his lamp, sunlight becoming an utopia. ‘Why you decided to show up?’ he asked but Chris already diverted his look to the room around him, ending the conversation short. John sensed a discomfort on the girls’s face and immediately engaged a new topic of discussion, distracting them from Chris.

The latter never liked the attention, ever since they were kids, despite the fact that he’s always been under the spotlight: basketball team captain, major of each of his class, good looking, son of a surgeon and a lawyer. A born leader. But it aggravated since they reconnected in college. He immured himself in a heavy silence. In two years, his face didn’t crack for a laugh or a smile. Their way of communication was limited to texts and gazes. John thought that the drastic change was due to an event that occurred during their senior year of high school, where he went MIA. He was tempting to ask questions but knowing the man, John figured he will isolate himself even more.

‘Where is he?’ Malcolm wondered.

‘He left five minutes ago’ John replied.

‘He just got here.’. John raised his eyebrows and glanced successively at the empty seat in front of him and the exit behind him. One of their new friends was also missing.

Her pace was in between running and walking fast. On her way out, she knocked few people’s arms, spitting their drinks on them. When she emerged in the fresh air of October, she found him standing on the sidewalk, his gaze up in the sky. She walked closer to him. Her heels betrayed her ninja’s skills making Chris turn around. They exchanged a long look.

‘Hi!’ She paused, hoping he’d reply, but nothing. She glanced behind her, slightly shook her head with a smile: ‘You’re not staying?’. A breeze blew between them.

‘I don’t like crowds’ he replied. Karen was surprised: first because when his friends described him, they said he doesn’t speak at all. And second because his voice was calm, warm and oddly soft. Another silence settled.

‘Why did you come, then?’ she asked. No answer. She felt her heart pounding against her chest and her palms being a little bit moist: she was anxious. Why? A vibration on her thigh made her jump. She looked down then realized it was her phone. She searched in her handbag, pulled her phone out, stared at the unlocked screen then put it back almost immediately. She looked up at Chris, his hands in his pockets, a hoody covering half of his head and his eyes locked on her. When she showed signs of discomfort, he looked away. Her mind panicked, thinking of ways to decipher the character.

‘Do you need to go back in?’ he asked.

‘No. I don’t feel like it.’ She answered. ‘Do you have some other place to be?’ Chris blanckly stared at her. ‘Can you walk me home?’

 

To be continued.

Name

short story

‘Hé! You!!’ A male voice shouted on my left. I turned to him, my eyes locked on his. ‘Get the fuck off of my grass!’ I looked down at my shoes. The grass he was referring to barely showed up under the dusty ground. I looked up again.

‘What grass?’ He got down of the bleachers and walked furiously toward me. I didn’t flinch. He stopped his course few centimeters away from my face. He was slightly taller than me. His eyes were green-ish, his nose small and pointed, dressed with a teenager’s mustache. A strong and spicy smell of sweat and greasy hair emanated from his entire body. I could smell his breath without him opening it. It stank like a piece of chicken has been left too long in the trash amongst a bottle of old milk and some cheese. He clearly didn’t know the existence of a toothbrush. ‘You mocking me, boy?’ Boy.

‘I have a name, idiot.’ A stare contest began. To intimidate me, he approached his face closer to mine. His muscles tightened. I sensed a circle forming around us. He did too. He lost the contest the moment he gazed around to see his homies ready to hype him up.

Under the pressure, he pushed me. But not hard enough. I made one step back, stretched my right arm behind me, brought it back, closed my fist, pivoted my hips on my left and landed my hand on his chick. As my weight carried me away, i felt his jaw crack and dislocate. Suddenly, louds screams and cheerings raised in the yard. I quickly scanned the crowd: they were clapping, throwing their fist in the air, whistling, yelling unaudible names. They looked like animals claiming their territories. A fist came at me, taking my attention away. I barely dodged, raising more cheers. The fight went on. I didn’t try to hit him again, All i did was to avoid being hit, not even once. My opponent, on the other side, was determined to end me. His face transformed into a unknown creature, showing his teeth out and breathing loudly, as if he lost his humanity. I didn’t understand. How something so vain can lead to this situation?

I’ve been put in jail four months ago after a week in and out of the courthouse. The jury decided without a doubt that i actually beat a man to death. And i did. I don’t deny it. In my opinion, that man deserved it. He had the time of his life when he sneacked into my sister dorm room, made her breathe a tissue filled with chloroform in her sleep, undressed her and took her trust in men away for ever. The police opened a case. A suspect was found but no charges had been held against him.

When i found out who he was, i followed him into a bar. I sat in his voice reach and waited for him to reveal himself. Few liters of alcohol later, i finally knew the reason of his action: he had spotted my sister days earlier and she became an obsession to him. That’s it? He confessed to his friend, who came in shortly after them, every detail of his plan. I didn’t think of recording him. I was disgusted. By his words and his friend’s reaction: a lack of empathy. I waited until he decided to go home. I made my choice. I was committed to waste my freedom in order to give my little sister a sense of relief that justice was done.

The inmate had stamina, the group had grown and the guards looked away. They probably thought that we will kill each other or one of us will fall. One less person to survey, control and feed. They, too, had lost their humanity.

A sudden pain made me stumble. I had enough of this game. I ran to my ennemy and knocked him until he lied still. The guards finally felt concerned and broke up the horde by shooting in the air. One of them checked on the loser and another one tackled me on the ground. He pulled my arms behind my back, cuffed me, pulled me up and dragged me to the isolation section. He knocked me on the head with his gun’s grip. Instantly, i lost consciousness and my body slammed the ground. My brain memorized one sentence before shutting down:

‘Prisoner n°7344, isolation time: two weeks.’

I woke up in the darkness. I lost track of time and space. Every now and then, they opened a small window to pass me food and water. My eyes forgot the colour of light, my hearing and sense of smell were more accurate. I spent most of my time on the bed, holding on my sanity. I will not let them break me. I will not become one of them. ‘I have a name. An identity.’

The Fall

Imagination

The day has come. The time for him to face the reality of his choice was imminent: he couldn’t back off anymore. His feet were at the edge of emptyness, the wind blew strongly, warm and comforting ready to embrace his entire body. Below him, land seemed far away, cars and people were small moving like automations programmed to accomplish only one task: living. For a split second, he stared at the ground, the Earth that he will soon meet face-to-face. His confidence in his decision was at its fullest when, gently, a pressure on his back threw him in thin air. As gravity was loyal to its principle, confusion invaded his mind.

While ascending to the top, bravery grew in him. Each step required a deep breath allowing him to slow down his fear and expectations, to shut them up and find serenity. He gazed up and far beyond to the horizon. The sky was blue untainted by white with a bright stain of yellow, high above all. What a perfect day to end this, he thought. Once he reached the peak, he felt ready and determined. His hands were shaking a little bit but his heart wasn’t pounding frenetically, his eyes and mind were locked and focused: he was in peace.

But all the courage and confidence he gathered vanished, giving space to exaltation and excitement. He held on the harness surrounding his shoulders tightly, his mouth wide open. Any thoughts ran away from his brain as his chest leaned dangerously toward the ground. He couldn’t feel his legs anymore. A poke on his shoulder set off a reaction: he opened out his arms, spread them like wings. The friction between the atmosphere and his body gave him the sensation of flying. A huge smile, mixed with a mouth filled with infinite air, appeared on his face. As he made his way through the air, he understood what Superman felt like when he learned how to fly. Or just how flying birds felt every day: weightless and free. Few loud screams came out of his lungs as he soaked in the experience of free falling.

Suddenly, a force pulled him straight, stopping his fall dead. He let a ‘Oh shit’ slip. He grabbed the harness again to regain a sense of security then began his long way down. His legs were dangling in the air, his hands still on the harness and his head turning from left to right, his retinas enjoying the view from above he looked for his entire life. ‘My mouth is so dry.’ he claimed. Slowly and steadily, he landed following earlier’s instructions on the grass of the airport.

In matter of seconds, the monitor detached him: ‘Ooooh!! Oooh ooooh! Ooooooh! Wow. That was… Wow’ he said as he leaned on his knee fixing the turf below his feet. Amazing.