Life (14)

Life

His breath was heavy and loud. His steps slowed down as he closed up on destination. He looked around him: dumpsters were filled to the brim, moonlights reflected on the plastic bags lying around against walls creating a path through the darkness of the night. A can rolled behind him. The young man, startled, turned around, his heart ceased to beat. He froze, analyzed the origin of the noise and waited. Suddenly, a furry tailed creature ran out from behind a cardboard box. The young man exhaled of relief, then proceed with his plan. He looked at the fire escape above him, still out of breath. Why did i run? He judged the distance between the first ladder to the ground, took few steps back and ran. His feet left the gound and his hand reached for the stairs. At his apex, his fingers barely brushed past them. ‘Oh, dude!’, he whispered as he stumbled. ‘Shouldn’t have run’. He warmed up his ankle and went again. This time, he had a strong grasp on the ladder. He pulled himself to the first floor where he took a second to get his breath back. ‘Man…I’m heavy.’ He climbed to the second floor and looked through the window facing him. A shy light allowed him to see the empty bedroom. Untouched for days. No one’s home. The young man sighed as he looked down. ‘Damn it! Where are you?’, he whispered to himself before going back to the ground.

‘John!’ The latter froze at the sight of a silhouette at the end of the street. The  voice was deep and strangely calm. The two men approached each other with caution. John squinted his eyes to make sense of lights and shadows on the man’s face. In a second, his eyes widened. Oh shit… John realized he just had an anime reaction: swallowing loudly his saliva. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘I, i was just…’ His sentence was left in suspension. The man in front of him waited. John raised his shoulders, stared at the man, looked behind him then back to the man. He sighed. ‘He’s still not there.’

‘Son.’

‘Father.’

‘Stop searching for him.’ John looked away. ‘You know, i start to find it annoying repeating myself.’ They shared another look. ‘I really do enjoy this bromance that you have with him. What? I can’t use the word bromance?’

‘How do you know the word? That’s the real question.’

‘Saw it on the internet. Do we say ‘the’ internet or just internet?’

‘Internet.’

‘Noted.’ A ghost went by. ‘Garner is back. If they see you lurking around here, they’ll get to you. And that’s not something either one of us want. Miles didn’t just take his son and run away. He left to lead them away from us. To protect us.’ He paused. ‘But if you keep on looking, it will all be for nothing. Now, let’s go home.’

 

Spring came around. Winter slowly left the city to invade the other hemisphere of the planet. John kept on walking by Chris’ house at random hours, in hope of finding signs of change, but everything remained still. On a sunny afternoon, John knocked at a wooden door endlessly for the last five minutes. Out of no where, the door widely opened. John stepped back then froze, his heart pounding against his chest, his eyes widened. There he was, standing, a pair of jeans on, shirtless, leaving his scar in plain view, his face closed and his eyes yelling: WHAT?

‘Hé! It’s been a long time.’ John paused with a huge smile on his face. ‘Where have you been?’

 

To be continued

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Life (13)

Life

The sun was shining high but his surrounding was dominated by darkness. The water runoff clothed the crisp air of the corridor. His eyes locked on the stains, his hands repeated the same pattern automatically. What are you doing? What are you doing? The question was on a loop in his head. Suddenly, footsteps pulled him out of his bubble.

‘No.4! Where is he?’ The latter looked straight in the eyes of his commander. ‘The asset? Where is he?’ As the commander stepped closer, he noticed the disfigured visage of his subordinate. ‘What happened?’

What happened? Years earlier, No.4 had a different name. A different life. Away from the on-going war that his family found itself involved in. He managed to escape his destiny longer than he ever could have imagined. He has found peace in isolation, lived life in his world. Until a girl dared to talk to him, made him love her and created a life with her. His peace extended. He started to appreciate what life was really about: the meaningless moments that everyone seemed to have taken for granted over time. He has forgotten the horror of his kind. Until the greedy daddy’s boy decided to resurface. In a matter of hours, No.4’s world shifted from simplicity to complete mess. His wife and kid were taken away, giving him no choice but to dive into the world he tried in vain to avoid. Over a span of months, he helped track and torture more souls than his father did in his lifetime, his hands constantly covered in red. His heart and mind weren’t in synch anymore, giving frustration and anger fuel to invade his body. His actions became natural. Emotionless. As his conscious took a leave of absence until an opportunity or a brillant idea would come up to save his family and himself, his unconscious made all the decisions for him. A routine installed. His skills were noticed and an important assignement was giving to him. ‘Find the child’, his commander ordered him. It took him few months on the field to find any lead on the whereabouts of the child prodigy. His lead was kidnapped and tortured for days but results weren’t as conclusif as No.4 hoped for. In front of him, chained to the floor, a young man was kneeled, his face down, blood dripping off of his face and body, his clothes stained and soaked in blood, sweat and tears. As he stared at his prey, No.4 slowly started to realize his doings. I’ve become a monster, that’s what happened.

‘An intruder infiltrated the forteress and found its way to the captive. He took down the guards at the door and myself. I blacked out few seconds. When i came back to myself, the intruder was caring the captive away. In an attempt of stopping them, i managed to injure him on the leg.’ No.4 pulled a piece of fabric out of his pocket and handed to his commander. ‘This is a bit of his cloak. The embroidery is from one of the council members.’ No.4 paused. ‘The Turners.’

The commander looked startled. Then his serious expression rapidly came back.

‘He’s onto us. We need to alarm Master Garner.’

 

 

To be continued

Life (12)

Life

‘Karen!’ Thomas Sawyer pulled over on the crosswalk, got out of his car, slammed his door, attracting her attention, then walked to them. ‘Where have you been?’ He shouted, his eyes locked on his daughter. ‘Your brother has been found by…’ For a split second, his attention shifted to his right, noticing two men next to her: one of them with a thin light around him and the other one with a dead look. His pace stopped abruptly. A wave of clarity hit him. ‘You would wonder how he could become evil!’ He made a realization: ‘The child…’. Without any further thought, his fist tightened automatically as he came closer and, in a flowing movement, his hand smashed into the young man’s jaw who stumbled without a reaction. Unlike his friend who made a quick step forward that stopped dead. Sawyer glanced at the latter: a hand held him back. A second later, a huge amount of energy appeared further on his right. Thomas Sawyer felt a weight crashing on his shoulders. He stepped back slowly, as a man approached him. His palms were sweating, his heart pounding in his chest, making his breathing heavier. His back hit a tree and the man’s face was inches away from his. Sawyer couldn’t help himself but to dive into his eyes: they were filled with hate and anger. In the most calm voice ever, the man said:

‘Don’t ever touch him again.’ Sawyer swallowed with difficulty. They stood still a moment, before the man turned his back to get to the young adults. Gravity still weighed heavily on Sawyer’s body and air started to rarefy in his lungs. The man glanced at him one last time before lightening up the atmosphere.

‘Because of your son, mine ended up in a hospital.’ Thomas Sawyer claimed. The man stopped his walk short, took a deep breathe then turned around.

‘I don’t see the corrolation.’

‘Peace was made because you were dead. Your name resurfaced once and my son gets tortured.’ The man glanced behind him then laid his eyes on Sawyer again.

‘It’s what you did after that led to his torture. Not us.’ Sawyer remained silent.

 

Since his daughter mentionned the child, a terrifying idea bloomed in his mind: the family he once served was still alive and threatning his peace and family. Sawyer was on alert, analizing any odd event that could occure. Then began to see a pattern: Garner was building his empire back. Sawyer felt the sword of Damocles hanging close above his head. After assessing his situation, he decided to protect himself and his own by any means necessary. And for that, he contacted old partners, asking questions and therefore spread his suspicions to the world. One day, one of his fears became reality: his youngest son has been caught. For days, he looked everywhere, each corner of the city were combed and yet, he found nothing. Until an early morning, when the city broke, an barely audible groaning behind his main door attracted Sawyer’s attention. As he opened the door, he stared for a second at the body lying before his feet. Regaining his senses, he rushed to carry his son into his car then to a hospital.

 

‘You shouldn’t have done what you did.’ he said.

‘We did nothing wrong.’

‘You did that.’ He pointed at the young man next to his daughter. The man’s eyes changed: death appeared.

That is my son. He’s name is Chris Turner. Don’t forget that.’ Miles Turner kept a frightening composure. He took another breathe. ‘What we did didn’t arm anyone. You were the one murdering my family and friends. You are the one who did wrong.’ He paused. ‘But it is a time gone long ago. That doesn’t involve my son nor yours. You may blame me and my name for any of your fears for the future. But on this moment, you can only blame yourself for what is happening.’ Miles Turner noticed that he pushed a sensitive button and, before things got out of hand, he decided to walk away. As he turned his back, his attitude swifted: his body relaxed, his heartbeat slowed down and his eyes showed nothing but love when he put them on his son. ‘Are you alright?’ Chris nodded. ‘Let’s go home. Our situation is in jeopardy. You’re coming too, John.’

 

To be continued

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

Life (10)

Life

Thomas Sawyer froze in mid-step, his face horrified by the question he just heard. His brain shut down, his heart pounded in his chest and sweat dropped profusely down his back.

‘What happened between the Garners and the Turners?’ she repeated. He remained speechless for several moment. ‘Dad…’ Her breathe was short.

‘It’s too early for that kind of story.’ Thomas Sawyer said. His daughter stepped forward about to object the statement: ‘Karen.’ His tone was severe.

‘Dad.’ Thomas took a deep breathe. From her eyes, he knew he couldn’t escape from this moment. No matter how long he tried to stall. He took another deep breathe then walked to the living-room to take a seat. Karen joined him.

‘You already know that we are different from most of the world. Not just us. But a handful of humans.’

 

Over six million years ago, evolution enabled the developpement of early humans from apelike ancestors. Through time, species appeared and disappeared all around the world, some of them leaving evidence of their existence: tools, fossiles, even remains of hearths and footprints. As paleonthropologists kept on searching places on Earth and digging bones to complete and understand the historical journey of human beings, paleongenecists came across a phenomenon occuring in neanderthals’ DNA. One specimen, from the dozen where DNA could be recovered, seemed to have an additionnal pair of chromosomes. Paleongenecists found few replicas of such anomaly in other relics of the past. But in the year of 2000, every trace of this discovery vanished in thin air, altering the veracity of a still existing rare species.

‘It was the making of the council, composed by the Garners, Morgans and Turners. The three most powerful families of our kind.’ Thomas continued. ‘They kept us safe from the ‘outside’ world.’

 

In recent History, stories of mysterious events were reported in literature and newspapers. Singular events happened now and then but were always referred as miracles or illusions by the population. Until in 1992, when an agitation all around the world could be felt.

‘It was the beginning of a forbidden relation between Jean Morgan and Miles Turner.’ Karen twitched but remained composed recalling an inkling of her father’s diluted version of History, that he told her when she was smaller. ‘They broke the only rule that maintain the balance between us all and amongst the council.’

 

The agitation grew bigger and bigger as warrants for an ordinary couple spread rapidly from city to city. Suddenly, in 1996, a massive wave of energy made the world stand still for several minutes.

‘The inevitable happened. And only our kind knew it. We all felt it in our bones.’ Thomas said. Karen was confused.

‘They had a child.’ His wife interrupted. ‘A child that holds the power of two powerful lineages.’ Karen looked at her as she sat next to her husband. Chris…, she thought.

 

For seventeen years, a succession of killing spree were reported all over the world, families went missing, cold cases skyrocketed and members of respectable families were murdered without motives. An unexplicable wind of violence raised in the atmosphere.

‘Ralph Garner, the head of the Garner’s family, warned the council of the potential threat of that relationship, but they didn’t listen. A lot of families agreed with him and followed his lead.’ Thomas continued. ‘He tried to restore the balance by sending men to find the child and keep him under careful watch, but his face was unknown to any of us.’

 

In 2005, a journalist digged in a case that occured in his building. One of his neighbor, a quiet person without any trouble, was brutally murder in his appartment. There was no trace of break ins and nothing was stolen. His researches led him to other cases where bodies were found and everything around them seemed to be in place. Through his investigation, he noticed two recurrent names amongst the victims: Morgan and Turner. Before he could corroborate his suspicion of a possible genocide, the journalist was involved in a car accident, putting him into a deep coma.

In 2013, what appeared to be a gang war broke out under the eye of a helpless police, in northern Nevada. The crime scene revealed clues that two groups of people were fighting each other, no guns were involved. Hundreds of inanimate body were found in and between craters: both side suffered damages. The investigators spend months trying to make sense of the inscrutable carnage displayed before them but only more questions resulted from their reflexion.

‘The Great Battle put an end to everything: Ralph Garner and his son, Marvin, died on the field by the hand of Miles Turner. Cal Garner, the Garner’s last descendant, fled after being seriously injured by Turner’s child. After that, each remained families stayed low and hidden. In a way, the balance was restored.’ Thomas Sawyer’s face darkened.

‘At what cost.’ His wife replied.

 

A heavy silence fell between them. Rays of sunlight pierced through the curtains to lighten the living-room. Sounds of engines created a relaxing stream through walls. Streets returned to life. Karen processed the informations she just received. Her eyes traveled around her then went back on her father who still had his face down. A thought then struck her: her father took part of the hunt. Horrified, she put her hand on her mouth, stood up, exchanged a look with him then slamming the door of the bathroom.

 

To be continued

 

Life (9)

Life

It’s been seven hours since the new year started and one by one, the group fell asleep, returning the night to its rightful silence. Chris was left alone in the darkness of the living-room. He overlooked the room then stood up. As he closed the door behind him, a noise irrupted. Karen stepped out of the bathroom, waking Mike Banner up.

‘Sorry.’ she whispered. She paused and scanned the couch. ‘Where is he?’ Mike pointed at the door. She followed his finger and stared for a moment. ‘Does he always leave like that?’

‘He usually doesn’t stay this long.’ He mumbled as he straightened up.

‘Why does he… do that?’

Mike had a smile. Few years back, shortly after they met, the group has raised the same questions she’s presenting. For the longest time, John refused to explain anything to them, keeping them to a certain distance. But on one evening where Chris granted them of his presence for more than ten minutes, Mike began to rant on him, unable to tolerate his behaviour anymore. When James and Malcolm slowly showed their agreement with Mike, John felt the need to intervene. Once he told his story, Mike understood the character. All of them did: Chris developped a wrong way of viewing the world. A selfish way… The following days, Mike decided to correct his point of view. His strategy was to compel Chris to spend time with him once a day. At first, the task was uneasy: Mike struggled to find excuses for them to meet, raising suspicions amongst the rest of the group. But as time went by, they saw his intentions and followed his initiation. Slowly and without him noticing it, a bond was forged between them and Chris. At leat, that’s what Mike thought until the latter disappeared for a month. Their actions weren’t in vain, for all that. After many failed attempts of reconnecting, Chris naturally went to them. Mike gave a faint smile when he saw him walk through the coffee shop’s door. One small step for mankind, but one giant leap for Chris.

‘You’ll have to ask him yourself.’ he said knowing it wasn’t his to answer.

Karen hesitated then grabbed her jacket and stormed outside. She scanned the street before getting a glimpse of his silhouette in between trees. She ran and caught up with him.

‘Hé!’ He turned around. ‘You’re ok?’ He looked beyond her then laid eyes on her again. ‘Can i ask you a question?’ She paused. ‘Besides this one… Why is everyone so secretive and protective of you?’ He glanced beyond her again.

‘I don’t know.’ he replied as he stared at her. When the discomfort emerged, Chris looked away and left. She followed suit. ‘Why are you following me?’

‘I’m not following you. I’m just walking with you.’ They stayed in silence for a moment, then she finally asked: ‘Who was that guy, the other day?’ She could notice him taking a deep breathe. Too straightforward.

‘Not today.’ He said. ‘Another time, maybe.’

They walked aimlessly through Toya City until the sun broke through the horizon. They retraced their steps to Sarah’s appartment where Chris left Karen alone before disappearing in the light of day.

Two nights later, a loud tone awakened Karen: a message just came in. She stared at the screen for five minutes, trying to make sense of the blankness of the text. She tried to arrange her thoughts, when a single knock on the door suddenly pulled her out of hypnagogia. When she opened the door, she found him, standing in the darkness of the hallway, his hands in his pockets and a hoodie on his head.

‘Up for a walk?’ Chris asked in a low voice. She glanced at her phone. 5:04 am. ‘Sorry.’ he said in a breathe as he turned his back.

‘Wait!’ she whispered as she grabbed his arm. ‘Let me change.’

Thus began a strange routine: few nights a week, she found herself wandering in each corner of the city, covering any and every subject that came in her mind. She learned more about Chris as he learned more about her. The wall he built extended to her, allowing her to be in his world. At each sunrise, it felt more natural to talk to him.

‘So, what happened the other day?’ she dared to finally ask.

Chris abruptly stopped his step, looked at Karen and entered in the building next to them. She followed him to the roof where he placed two chairs facing a jungle of concrete. She sat next in one of the chairs, intrigued in knowing how Chris knew they were here.

‘How…’

‘It was…’

A silence settled. Karen just missed her chance of knowing a part of his truth. A sigh slipped.

‘It was Cal Garner’s henchman. He was following you.’ Chris glanced at Karen’s reaction: she gave him an interrogative look. ‘He saw you following me.’ Karen remained suspsicious, repeating the name over and over again in her mind.

‘Garner… Why does it sound familiar?’ she mumbled.

For few seconds, the cold air warmed up, particules of dirt elevated and time seemed to have slowed down. Karen’s eyes widened up. Startled, she stood up, knocked her chair off and stepped back. Fear and confusion surfaced as thoughts raced in her mind. Several questions needed to be answered but she knew only one could explain everything.

‘What’s your name?’

Chris slowly stood up and faced her.

‘Turner.’ he said as he made a step toward her, his eyes locked on hers. Karen’s heart skipped a beat. She stayed motionless and voiceless for a second before runninf off.

Chris stared at the door. He closed his eyes, took a deep breathe and tightened his fist to contain the slight discomfort appearing in his chest. Fuck.

 

To be continued

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 (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