Life (11)

Life

‘Karen! Open the door… please.’ Karen locked herself up in the bathroom for five minutes since her father confessed to his past acts. ‘I need you to understand…’

‘Understand what?’ She said as she opened the door. ‘That you chose to follow a senile old man threatened by a baby?’ They stared at each other in silence: Thomas Sawyer could see in his daughter’s eyes disgust and disdain. It was at this moment that he knew the worst happened: he lost her.

‘Times were different back then. We didn’t know, i didn’t know what was happening.’ He tried to sweeten his voice to gain her sympathy. ‘I just did what i thought was right for me, for my community, for my family… For you.’ Karen felt sick again.

‘You’re telling me you slaughtered an entire family and you didn’t even know why?’

‘They were dangerous. No one knows what that child is capable of. It’s an abomination. An unnatural creature. A monster!’ He became louder.

‘Says who? A mad man? And isn’t it every child’s future uncertain, though? Or even anybody? Did you know what i was capable of accomplishing when i was born? Didn’t you think for a second that your actions would the cause of his future?

‘Karen, be careful.’ Her mother interrupted.

‘What? They didn’t even give his parents a chance to raise him properly. And you would wonder how he could become evil!’ Thomas stepped closer to his daughter but she stepped away. ‘You know what: i can’t even look at you right now. I need to go.’

Karen isolated herself from anything and anyone to process her thoughts and feelings. She avoided her father knowing that if a conversation was engaged, words would travel faster than thoughts. And she stayed away from Chris feeling the guilt of her father’s actions rubbing off on her.

 

After few rainy days, clouds finally cleared up the sky, giving space for the sun to shine and cooling the atmosphere more than it already was. Karen decided to take advantage of this rare day and get a sunbath. Earbuds on, she walked in the streets, her mind still confined in her cave. A familiar voice suddenly pulled her out of her bubble. When she looked up, Chris removed his hood, revealing his hair to the breeze. She stared at him, startled by the coincidence.

‘How are you?’ He asked. As Karen stayed silent, he put his hood back on and started to walk away, when she stopped him.

‘I’m sorry.’ She abruptly yelled, her hand on his arm. ‘Sorry.’ She repeated, her head down as she realized passants gazed at them. Chris fixed her with a look then glanced at her hand tightening on him: he understood.

‘You don’t need to feel sorry. You did nothing wrong.’ He calmly said, as if he repeated those sentences more than once before. Karen let go of his arm and looked him in his eyes. He stared back at her and revealed a shy smile.

After a quick moment of silence, she glanced at a coffee shop behind her and invited him to have the talk that they both knew needed to happen. Sitting in the corner, beside the window, Karen waited for Chris to come back with their drinks. She ran in her minds, the speech that she would say to him to make him understand where her father stood during The Hunt and her feelings about it all. But when he took the seat in front of her, her mind went blank. She grabbed her hot chocolate and took a sip. She stared at him for a moment: he was sitting straight, his back against the back of the chair and his eyes staring blankly at the milkshake place between his hands on the table. She noticed that his hood was off. The silence that prevailed became heavier at each passing seconds, but Chris didn’t seem to disturb by it and Karen couldn’t find think of any ways to engage smoothly the obvious subject.

‘My father told me… What happened.’ she finally found the courage to say. He looked up at her, his expression still unchanged. She waited for him to reply anything to that statement but nothing came out. ‘I… I am sorry for what my father and the rest of my family did to yours.’ A gentle smile quickly appeared on his face. ‘You don’t seem upset.’ His brows frowned of interrogation. ‘If i was in your shoes, i would be angry at the world. I just know my father’s version and i’m ready to cut ties with him.’

‘I am… Angry.’ Chris confessed. Karen looked at him, startled. ‘But not at the world.’ He paused. ‘Just at the last member of the family that started all of it.’

Karen analized him: she couldn’t begin to imagine how Chris could feel seeing each member of his family die one after another, his entire life. She remained speechless, once again. A ringtone interrupted their silence. Karen glanced at her screen before turning it to silent mode. She looked at Chris who also was checking his phone. The latter felt her eyes on him.

‘I’m supposed to meet with John.’ He said. They exchanged a look. ‘Do you have some other place to be?’

 

After finishing their drinks, they stepped outside into the sea of body constantly moving on the sidewalk. The two of them followed the stream and headed to Chris’ favorite fast food where John waited for them. Once reunited, they walked in the Wok to Walk shop and ordered some food before sitting at a table far away from the entrance. While their noodles are being cooked, Chris disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Karen and John on their own. The latter glanced at her and noticed something has changed.

‘You know.’ She said. Karen stared at him as he nodded. ‘For how long?’

‘Our parents are close friends. I’ve known Chris since birth almost.’ John replied. Karen showed an interrogative face. ‘My father helped his family hide from the Garners. He knew what he was getting involved in.’

 

‘So you know about mine?’ Her voice lowered. John simply smiled. ‘Who else knows… About him?’ John glanced at her once again. She lifted her right eyebrow. ‘Everyone!? I’m the last one to know?’ John nodded. ‘How did they found out?’

‘For the guys, they figured it out by themselves. I just filled in some blanks for them. Sarah knows from what happened to her. And Charlotte from Sarah.’ He paused. ‘And for some reasons, he wanted to tell you.’ He paused again, letting the informations sinking in. ‘Do you know what that implies?’ Karen stared at him uncertain. ‘We are a very few people who know who he really is. And it has stay this way. For his own safety and ours. Unfortunately, amongst us, there are people who want him dead…Unless you’re one of them…’ His sentence stayed suspended in the air as Chris came back.

Their afternoon went by without any of them mentionning the past. A light mood hovered over them. They wandered around at a slow pace like old people. The sun traveled half of the world to meet the horizon, as the moon revealed itself. Streets cleared up when lights turned on. In between subjects, a vibration made Karen jump. She checked her screen and stared at it until vibrations ended. Her locked screen showed twelve missed calls and the same amount of voicemails. Intrigued, she listened to one of them. Through the device, she heard her father’s voice panicking and shouting scary words like ambushed, beat up and hospital. She froze in mid-walk. Suddenly, a car pulled over next to them. A man stormed out and furiously walked toward them.

‘Karen! Where have you been?’ He shouted. ‘Your brother has been found by…’ His eyes shifted from left to right, then locked on her hooded friend. He froze. In a second of full clarity, he made a realization: ‘You!’. Without any further thought, Thomas Sawyer approached him, his fist closed and, in a flowing movement, punched Chris.

 

To be continued

Advertisements

Life (8)

Life

*Biiip*

Hi!! It’s me, Sarah… Jefferson… If you didn’t remember. Hum… I was told you never pick up your phone. Guess, that’s true… It’s been a while since i’ve seen you around and i… I organise a party, at my house, for New Year’s Eve. And i’d like for you to come.

 

Under the illuminations still hung up in streets, John rang the bell for the fourth time. The cold infiltrated his coat despite his efforts to seal any potential entrance. All of his muscles worked in unisson to create warmth, causing confusion to his blatter. ‘Come on.’ he exhaled as he rang again. The door abruptly opened, revealing a young man in a black and white outfit. John, caught by surprised, made a step back as he saw Chris’s annoyed face. An urgent feeling brought him back to his senses and made him rush to the bathroom. Few minutes later, he stepped outside pushing his friend along with him. ‘Sorry, man. I really had to go. I was waiting in the cold, you know. No biggie.’ he said in hope Chris would feel a little bit guilty for making him wait that long. The latter stopped instantly, interrogating John with his eyes. ‘What?’ John asked. They stared at each other. ‘Sarah’s party. For New Year’s Eve? She called you. She left a message… You didn’t listen to it, did you? Of course, you didn’t.’ Chris stepped back in his house. ‘No, no, no. You’re coming.’ John said as he grabbed Chris by the arm and pulled him back in the freezing air. ‘She keeps on asking to see you ever since she’s out of the hospital. You’re coming so she’ll stop bothering me with that. And no need to sigh, let’s go.’

When they arrived at Sarah’s building, the sweet sound of Paul McCartney’s guitar came out of a window from the fifth floor. As they took the stairs, they noticed a note was put up on each floor, apologizing for any noises that might occur until dawn. A staircase below, voices and laughters could be heard through walls and door. John knocked then glanced at Chris, who clearly wasn’t thrilled to be surrounded by anyone at the moment. When the door opened, music and voices gasped for the air of the corridor as if they were breaking out. ‘You made it!’ Sarah exclaimed, a huge smile on her face, then stepped aside to let her guests in.

When he entered, Chris scanned the place. A small entrance was created with one of the bathroom’s wall, on the left, and gave to a large living-room where Charlotte and Malcolm were swinging remotes to a flat screen installed in front of them, entertaining the others. Facing the bathroom, a room was kept private behind a closed door. The common area was separated to the kitchen by a couch. Chris greeted generally everyone without interrupting the mood. As he was pulled to the kitchen, he caught Karen staring at him, then bobbed his head. She smiled back at him. Once alone, Sarah offered him a drink. Chris looked at it then at Sarah.

‘Don’t be so suspicious: none of us, here, drinks alcohol.’ She said, a smile on her face. She handed him the glass then waited for him to take a sip. ‘My father told me what you did.’ She paused. ‘And John filled some blanks.’ Chris glanced on his left: John looked back at him quickly. ‘I just want to thank you. I would be… I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. So…’ She skipped a beat, then put her arms around Chris, startled. As she held him longer than a simple hug, he slowly came out of his static posture and embraced her back. They stood still for a few seconds then she stepped back  and looked at him straight in the eyes, an admiration in her look. ‘My father also told me who you are. Don’t worry, i won’t tell anyone. I’m a good secret keeper.’

Chris slightly nodded and watched her going back to the rest of her guests. His eyes traveled around the kitchen, thoughts spinning in his head.

‘You can trust her.’ A voice burst next to him. ‘Her family was neutral.’ Chris stared at John who handed him a controller. ‘It’s your turn.’ Behind John, Chris noticed the entire room laid eyes on him. Under the peer pressure, he grabbed the Wii remote, walked in the gaming zone and pressed the button ‘A’.

‘Ready to lose?’ His opponent said. As he glanced to his right, Karen smirked.

‘You wish.’ he replied in his breathe, a shy smile on his lips.

 

 

To be continued

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

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 (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.

Time (end)

Time

Wake up, Simo. WAKE UP!

It all started about six months ago. When scientists predicted a dead star will land on Earth’s surface. I wasn’t particularly worried about it. I know the value of Life and what Death represents. I encountered those two already. So when my childhood friend came to me, all excited, telling me stories and reports on the white dwarf, i had a slight vision of hope that everything on this planet will disappear to begin a new era. Never in my mind, i would think this would happen. Not to him. It didn’t cross my mind that i would feel this feeling again. This wait, this unknowing part where i can’t face reality yet. Almost a peaceful time where everything is possible: Life as Death. At the beginning, hope was allowed . I thought it was just a simple concussion and that he will wake up at any moment. I went to visit him every day, sleep by his side on this small couch under a thin blanket. After a month, hope faded slowly to completely disappear when i overheard the doctor clearly say: ‘I have no idea what’s happening to this kid.’. He was looking at his parents, totally powerless. I understood them. All three of them. There’s nothing we could do and nothing was done. When he started to have random seizures and heart attacks, hope became dangerous. I forbid myself to think of the day he would wake up. Yet, every night i found myself talking to him and telling him to wake up. I dislike this in between situation strongly. It makes every tasteless. I already lost my father, i can’t lose my brother too. Lately, the only thing that helped me stay alive and kept me smiling was Thea. But i could see that she started to suffer from this as well. My mind wasn’t with her when it’s supposed to. The night she told me she couldn’t stand this version of me was the night i gave up on life. I needed a light to keep me going on but she took it away with her. Nothing made sense anymore.

The one who suffered the most, beside his parents, i think was Meagan. Ever since they met, they had that certain complicity: every of their actions were in sync to each other, every thought were simultanous and their attraction for each other was an obvious. Where ever one goes, the other follows, like magnets. They had chemistry. And suddenly, it stopped. She became like me: a hollow body wandering without goal. Although, she fought longer than me. It was only recently that she gave up on him too. She started to process his death on the longest day of the year. She realized he was there with us without being there. It was the first time i saw her cry. Thea and i couldn’t do anything about it. We just stared blankly at the fireworks displayed in the night sky. I asked if anyone would spent the night with me by his side. They declined. I guessed it was too much for them to handle. I understood. Every time i see him lay there, without making any noise, motionless, barely breathing, my heart hurts. That night, i sat down first, as usual, then my eyes had locked on him and the machine he was attached to. Doctors said that they think patients in the coma could hear us. I never knew what to say and closed myself into a deep silence to always end up whispering the same sentence as i fall alseep, on that rigid couch: ‘Wake up, man. Wake up.’

 

– ‘HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!’

– ‘Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

The entire floor stood still. Ezekhiel jumped out of his sleep, his body rudely reminded the laws of gravity. He looked up and saw. It took him a few seconds to process the image played before his eyes. He stood up, ran to the hallway, called for nurses, whom were already reacting, then came back to the bed side. The monitor went out of control: numbers skyrocketed, signals sped their pace as the heart pounded loudly and the brain retrieved some activities. ‘He’s tachycardic!’ a nurse yelled. ‘Give him a dose of sedatif.’ An intern proceeded to the injection while nurses tried to hold him down. It only took the product few seconds to be effective. The calm returned when Simo’s parents stepped into the room. ‘What happened.’ his father asked.

‘…Wow… What a…dream.’ Simo whispered. Every one laid eyes on him. Ezekhiel suddenly let go of a laugh. His mother smiled for the first time since he arrived at the hospital. She came closer, held his hand and caressed his head, then froze abruptly. A tear came down on her chick when she felt her son’s hand closing on hers. ‘What… happened?’ The medical staff was in disbelief in face of the sudden recovery they just witnessed. ‘Simo? Can you hold my fingers? As hard as you can… Good. Now, can you move your feet for me?… Excellent. Follow the pen with you eyes only. Good, you’re doing good.’ The doctor took a moment to check his pupils dilated normally to the light then asked some simple questions. After the short interrogation, he shared a look with a fellow surgeon. ‘He’s responding well but we are going to keep him under observation for few days to make sure every thing is alright.’ He nodded to the parents, then gave the family some privacy. In the hallway, doctors allowed themselves to exchange some theories on the situation. One theory seemed to be on everyone’s mind. ‘What’s a surge?’ The two doctors and the intern turned around, ambushed by a concerned young man. They shared a look wondering if it was wise to share their thoughts. Ezekhiel waited, insisted. ‘A surge is a state of ephemeral recovery… We saw patients getting suddenly better before…’ – ‘They die.’ He finished. He looked back to his friend and his parents. ‘Why wouldn’t you say something to them?’ The other doctor took the initiative to admit their ignorance on Simo’s case: ‘We’re not sure this is one of them. Simo’s condition is…unique. We can’t anticipate the evolution of his health at this point. All we can do is keep him under surveillance for the next 48 hours.’

‘So?’ Ezekhiel gave an interrogative look. ‘What happened? Where’s the white dwarf? Did it land? Did it create a huge hole that leads to the center of the Earth? Or did it create a huge wave of radioactie particles that transformed people into zombies?’ He was speechless: Ezekhiel just realized that Simo had no idea of what happened the last six months. For him, it looked like a night has passed. A long night. It took him a few seconds to readapt his way of thinking: ‘Euhm, none of that. The Earth is fine.’ Simo looked disappointed. ‘No zombies? Big bats? Vampires? Giants? None of that?’ He shook his head, a smile began to appear on his face. ‘What then?’ Simo insisted. ‘The morning after the white dwarf crashed at Kiho Park, your parents called me  asking if you were at my house. I told them you were still sleeping, then i figured you went to the park to see the star.’ – ‘Clever.’ Simo replied then he examined the surroundings. ‘What? What is it?’ Ezekhiel started to panic. Simo automatically glanced at his right hand then returned his attention on his friend. ‘Nothing, i’m good. Just a feeling of… déjà vu.’ A silence passed: Ezekhiel stared at Simo, hoping the surge wasn’t real, and the latter questionned his sanity. When Ezekhiel went back to his seat, he precipitously grabbed his arm with his right hand. Ezekhiel turned around and saw his friend with a scary face: his eyes were wide open, traveling from right to left, his senses on alert and his heart beating too fast for someone who’s been in bed for so long. His grip was strong as if he wanted a reaction. ‘Dude, it hurts.’ Ezekhiel calmly stated. ‘Are you alright?’ In a blink of an eye, Simo returned to his peaceful self, a smile on his face: ‘All good.’

 

 

THE END.

Time (12)

Time

The pain disappeared but the discomfort remained. The young man was lying on a bed, his thoughts running around in his head. An OR… Operation Room. Surgeons were operating on… me. But when? When did i ever get surgery? I didn’t look different. Not younger. Not older. He remembered the moment he zoned out: he wasn’t in contact with anybody. Only wind brushed his skin. So where did that come from? As he raised more questions, his eyes blinked slower and slower to finally closed themselves. The darkness obtruded, silence suppressed noises and whispers, and calm traveled through his body.

A rhythmic sound from afar woke his conscious. As the sound came closer and louder. Simo slitghly opened his eyes, enough for him to scan his surroundings. It was night time still. Blinds were shut but a weak light from outside helped him guess. He let his head fall on the left, saw an empty couch against a white wall, then turned to the right: a window gave to a hallway that few people used. The door was ajar. He looked closer to himself and spotted the origin of the sound. His head came back to its initial position and he felt himself slipping away. Darkness reigned again. All parasitic noises disappeared, except for the recurring bip that rang louder and louder each time. His body felt relaxed: it felt as if gravity had no effect and yet, the bed underneath was very present. A sudden brust of electricity struck him. His body jumped up and down and was pulled from left to right. He tried to open his eyes but in vain. Simo felt his limbs dashing against a barrier surrounding the bed. His body wasn’t responding anymore. The noise intensified. Its rhythm fastened. An eternity seemed to have passed when footsteps rushed into the room. A voice shouted orders, a liquid ran through his vein and hands held him down. Everyone became quiet for a second while the product took effect. Simo’s wild body settled down. The noise became steady. Immediatly, his chest was exposed to the atmosphere, then warm hands applied a regular pressure on him. Less than a minute later, something cold disbursed a wave of electricity to his heart, animating his body for a quick instant. The perpetual bip broke the silence in the room. ‘Charge at 300!…Clear!’. Another shock. Simo’s mind was fully awake. But his corpse wasn’t reacting. On the third attempt, something happened.

 

Simo’s ventricules felt the electricity: the provoked contraction led to another one. The stagnant blood flowed again, air filled his lungs and his brain showed activity. Simo heard his own breathing: it was fast. He opened his eyes then sat down and gazed around. The room was unfamiliar but he recognized it. He looked down to his right arm: no trace of a needle. Sound of waves slowed the pace of his heart, dispelling his disorientation. Once he gathered himself, Simo stood up and scanned the room. Walls and floor became one – Again – extending to infinity. A tone caught his attention. He looked to his right and saw the hospital room full of surgeons and nurses busy around the bed. He stared at the scene. At the corner of the room, he noticed someone in tears. When a knock on a door made him turn around: Megan. Simo was lost: ‘What’s… going on?’.

‘Yo!’ A known voice resonated. ‘Zeke…?’ The latter appeared in front of him, a smile on his face. ‘You must be confused by all of this.’ He paused as he pointed to the two scenes displaid around them. ‘What is this? Where am i? What’s happening to me? Why are you here?’ His voice was trembling. ‘Breathe. And listen.’ Ezekhiel paused again. ‘See this place… like a bridge. The bridge where dream and reality collide. A peacefully place to make your decision.’ Simo frowned. ‘Which reality do you want to live in?’ Incomprehension could be read on his face: ‘What do you mean which reality? There’s only one reality…right?’ – ‘Right.’ He smiled. ‘Which one is yours: the one where you’re in a hospital bed or the one where you’re at a beach house?’ Simo stayed in silent. ‘You need to choose.’ They made eye contact. ‘I don’t… I don’t understand…’ He took a moment to think. ‘How… Why are you here?’ Simo asked. That smile again.

– ‘I’m not really your friend, Ezekhiel. I am more, like, your support system. I’m here for you. To help you make the right decision.’

– ‘So, there is a wrong decision… What happens if i make the wrong choice?’

– ‘You don’t have much time. You can’t stay here too long, too often. Your body won’t handle it.’ Ezekhiel started to fade away along with the different pictures.

– ‘Wait. What? Then help me!’ Simo yelled. Right before he completely vanished, Simo heard:

– ‘All you need is to wake up!’

 

Simo opened his eyes. His heart was pounding fast. Drops of sweat wetted his forehead. He was out of breathe, his vision blurry. ‘Wake up! Simo!’ He turned to his left and saw Ezekhiel. In a blink of an eye, Megan approached his bed. She stared at him for a second, put the back of her hand on his forehead and did the same on hers. ‘You have a slight fever.’ she said. As she stepped away, she noticed fear in Simo’s look. ‘Are you ok?… Can you tell me where we are right now?’ The latter analyzed his location. He recognized the place but couldn’t put words to it. ‘Don’t worry. You’re in a safe place. Do you know who i am?’ He nodded: ‘Megan.’ She smiled, relieved. ‘Where’s Zeke?’ he asked. ‘He must be around, somewhere.’ Simo stood out of his bed and walked to the door. He grabbed the handle, jolted it before opening then disappearing behind it.

 

To be continued

Time (11)

Time

The following night, Simo put down in a notebook every memory he encountered, as detailed as he could. When he finished, he stared at his Moleskine for a moment, a blank face on. Slowly, he came back to reality and leaned on his desk. The tip of his pen acted madly, a rhythm floated in the air. After a while, the silence of the night invaded his room. The pen froze. A drop of blood landed on his hand. He put the pen down, wiped his nose and laid on his bed, eyes locked on a stain on his roof. As seconds passed, darkness surrounded his field of vision. Light was sucked up each time he blinked, until he finally fell asleep.

 

Summer was coming. The sun decided to wake up earlier each day and stay up a little later each evening. Temperature increased fast, south breezes relieved the atmosphere from its heaviness. The dress code in and out of the streets changed: more skin and less tissues. Ezekhiel showed up at the doorstep of Simo’s house. ‘Good morning, young man. You’re here. And he’s not ready. First floor, you know the way.’ The paternel said. When Ezekhiel entered in Simo’s room, the latter was still in bed. ‘What are you doing?’ He sat down: ‘What are you doing here?’ he whispered. A long sighed resonated in the room. Ezekhiel spotted his bag, grabbed it and left: ‘You have five minutes to meet me downstairs. I have your notebook. If you don’t show up, a special someone will read.’ A heavy silence settled for a second then noises of rush emanated from the door. ‘My notebook. Where are we going?’ Simo asked as he hopped in the car. ‘Somewhere peaceful. But first, a need to pick up somethings.’ Ezekhiel checked his left side, put his signal on and left. They drove for fifteen minutes through Toai City before making a stop in front of a ten-floor-building, where two girls were waiting bags and luggages at their feet. ‘By ‘something’, you meant two human beings, in a female gender? Including that special someone…’ Simo said as he turned to the driver. The latter got out, greeted quickly Thea and Megan, and loaded their bags in the trunk. They took place at the backseat and he drove away from the city. The road trip happened in an awkward mood. The girls talked in whispers to each other while Ezekhiel watched every move Simo made. ‘What?’ The latter asked. ‘Since when do you have a car?’ A voice came from the back. ‘Euhm since i have my driver license… two days ago.’ – ‘Alright, i feel safe.’ Thea let go in a sigh.

Once arrived, the first thing they did was getting food. They went to the closest restaurant. It was small, intimate: lights were dimmed and music was barely audible. Then they headed to the house they rented, unpacked and took a walk alongside the ocean surrounding them. Thea pulled back Ezekhiel, slowing their pace: ‘So, what is this all about?’ The latter gathered his thoughts: ‘Do you remember the white dwarf that landed in Toai? Well, Simo, right here, touched it.’ Thea looked surprised. ‘So, since then, he can, sort of, see anyone’s memory just by touching them.’ He paused. ‘For the last few weeks, i noticed some things: he starts to be forgetful, misplace things, lose track of time and space…’ – ‘Alzheimer?’ She interrupted. ‘That’s what i thought too, but i haven’t enough symtpoms to tell. That’s why i organized this trip… And for other reasons.’ They turned around as they reached the end of the beach and walked back to the ephemere home. ‘And then? What are you going to do? What’s your plan? And why not telling his parents?’ Ezekhiel turned to her. They stared at each other for a moment, then: ‘He needs to accept his situation. So that we can help him.’ – ‘How?’ He got lost in his thoughts once again. As he was about to explain his plan, in front of him, Simo froze. He caught up to him and faced him: his friend’s nose was bleeding and his eyes were blank. ‘Hé! Simo! What’s wr…’

The young man was trapped in his own body. His hearing slowly faded away and his vision stuck on the scenery in front of him. Without notice, the sand below his feet turned into a white concrete matter. Away, in the background, he could see a cold room filled with strange instruments. People were alarmed and moving fast. Drops of blood smeared on the floor. Simo walked closer. The men and women surrounded a table where someone laid. His face was covered by a towel, leaving his body in the sight of all. That part was cut in two then teared apart. As the image engraved in his mind, Simo started to feel a discomfort. He stared at the hands coming in and out of the corpse, inserting tools and towels, and blood sucked out. Before he vomited, he chose to acknoledge the identity of the patient. He approached the bust and looked at the sleeping face. As soon as he laid eyes on it, a violent pain bursted from his stomach. He reached out for it and felt a warm liquid staining his shirt. He looked down and realized it was blood. He panicked, fell on the floor and agonised.

‘SIMO!!’ The voice woke him up. He returned to the beach where wind blew in the rhythm of waves crashing on land. As he realized it, he slowed his heartbeat down, gathered himself up and smiled: ‘I’m good.’. The group went back to the rented house. On the way, Simo shut himself up, afraid of what he has seen. He tried to convince himself that it was nothing. When they arrived, unable to calm down, he pulled his best friend into a room and explained what happened to him. ‘Maybe it’s just my imagination…’ he ended. ‘But?’ Ezekhiel insisted. ‘It felt… real. I, i don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on with me…? Maybe it’s the white dwarf. Maybe i’m losing my mind. I don’t know but it’s getting crazier and scarier… What do you think it is?’ Ezekhiel took his time to answer. He tried not to disturb him more than he already is. ‘I don’t think your mind created something like that out of nowhere.’ – ‘So it’s the white dwarf. But what does that mean?’ Ezekhiel shook his head. He didn’t want to push too far: ‘I don’t know.’

 

To be continued

Time (10)

Time

TRRRRRIIIIIT!

‘Zeke!’ The latter turned around and saw Thea’s face, sweaty. He glanced at his team gathering around the coach then ran to her. ‘What’s up?’ She was out of breathe. ‘You’re alright?’ He looked around. ‘Where is Simo? What’s going on?’ She took his hand and pulled him but a fence prevented him on moving forward. ‘Come on!’ she screamed. He gave her a look then proceeded to jump over it. They ran towards the restroom. ‘Euhm… where…?’ Ezekhiel noticed Megan banging at the door. The latter looked worried. ‘Simo? You hear me?’ Silence. ‘Hé! Simo! Open the door! Simo! Simo!! Simo!!!’ He heard a mumble but the silence reclamed its place. Suddenly, a big smile appeared on his lips. He stepped back then got ready. He whispered to himself: ‘This is the perfect time to fulfill my goal…’ He started to run. As he came closer to the door, his right shoulder moved forward and acted like a shield. His field of vision diminished to the door’s frame. A film of light appeared around it then grew bigger and bigger until Simo showed up. The latter looked up and felt a rush and stepped back. ‘Aaaaaaaaah! Don’t…!’ Ezekhiel froze. The four teenagers looked at each other for a minute before Megan broke the silence: ‘What were you doing?’ Simo put his eyes on hers. ‘No.2.’ Another silence. ‘You… did not!’ Thea tried to convinced herself. Ezekhiel put his nose in the room, inhale then made a face. ‘Yep. He did.’ The girls expressed their disgust and walked away. ‘Don’t you have a game to win?’ Ezekhiel had a sudden realization, as soon as he started to run, Simo said: ‘Hé, don’t you have a… Alright.’

Days later, they all met again at Toai’s famous zoo that hosted many wild animals from all over the world. Each species were brought by two as the owner, a multi-millionnaire animal lover, was inspired by Noah’s story. They walked by the underground world: Ezekhiel and Thea entered the dome, leaving Megan alone with Simo, who was afraid of legless creatures. Their next stop was up, up and away, amongst dream-makers living things. They fastened their pace under water and quickly paid a visit to the least seen animals, as maned-wolves, zebus, patagonian maras, tufted deers and others. Simo froze in front of the buffs‘ couple’s enclosure. He stared at them living their lives, eating as slow as they can then laying on the ground to fall asleep. A third buff appeared from behind their cabin. He walked to the fence, staring at his visitor, smelled the latter then licked his mouth. Simo gently raised his hand to his muzzle and pet him.

The second he touched the animal, a violent wind blew fences, cabin, plates and all visitors away to leave place to the hot savanna’s of Africa. The landscape was beautiful, enlightened  by a high sun. A tree nearby gave a nice cover, accompanied by a warm breeze now and then. The surroundings were empty of men. Until he made a complete rotation. There was a woman, standing thirty three feet away from him. Simo scanned her and didn’t recognized her face. She was stoic and immobile. Her lips were in motion but no sound arrived to his ears. He looked at her more carefully, tried to come closer but his legs refused to move. After narrowing his eyes, her name appeared like a revelation:

– ‘Sanaa…’

To be continued