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

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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 (6)

Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

‘Cal Garner found me.’ he repeated.

 

To be continued

Life (5)

Life

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

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

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

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

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

‘So, what happened to the guy inside?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘How are you and Chris involved?’

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

To be continued

Life (4)

Life

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

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

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

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

‘John Smith.’

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

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

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

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

‘Where?’

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

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

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

‘And do you know the other victim?’

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

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

‘Where are you?’

 

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

‘We’re over prepared.’ Charlotte claimed.

‘As always.’ Karen replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To be continued

Time (13)

Time

Full moon. Clouds have deserted the sky, allowing stars to reveal themselves. A sweet breeze lifted the heaviness of the night, making tourists and locals forget their worries. Lamp-posts were dimed, giving directors the perfect setting to play with lights. Music bounced from wall to wall, voices and applause echoed in the air. Glasses broke every now and then. In the midst of all that, a young man wandered in vain, his own sound in his ears. His steps were slow. Unstable. He held his head, massaging his temples in hope that the swords piercing his brain will go away. Images of strangers appeared and disappeared, the ground shifted from concrete to a large forest in a second. A warm pressure suddenly appeared on his right arm.

The weather changed: rain fell abundantly, dark clouds hung above Toai City, cars created an unnatural smoke, blocking the view from fifty miles away. The foggy mood of the streets reminded him of a dark fictif world. Simo found himself in the middle of an intersection. In front of him, two teenagers were sitting at the window table of a coffee shop. The girl seemed to have fun while the guy was lost in his thoughts. He walked in the shop to hear their conversation.

– ‘Hé! Look alive! Am i that boring, today?’ Thea affirmed.

– ‘Ha, sorry! I was thinking about something.’ Ezekhiel said.

– ‘I know. He’s in my mind too, but for now, there’s nothing we can really do.’ She paused. ‘Besides…’

– ‘Waiting, i know.’

– ‘In the mean time, please, look like you’re enjoying this moment.’

They exchanged smiles before the scenery swithed back to his present. His wet clothes dried instantly. Interesting. He looked back at his friend, his pain intensifying.

– ‘A bit intrusive what you just did, isn’t it?’ Ezekhiel said.

– ‘My bad. I wanted to know…’

– ‘Yeah, it’s what i’m saying: intrusive. You’re alright?’ Simo held his head a little tighter.

– ‘You found him! Dang! You’re fast when you want.’ Megan yelled as she joined them.

– ‘Maybe, listenning to music in a loud place isn’t a good idea while having a major headache. Let’s go somewhere more quiet.’

– ‘I know a spot with a nice view.. and very calm.’

After few minutes of walks, they arrived at the top of a small hill. Below them, the population of Toai invested the beach to the edge, where waves crashed. Laid in front of them, endless water. ‘Nice view, indeed.’ Thea said. Megan and Simo shared a glanced: their thoughts went to their common memory, their mind were connected for that split second. ‘You’re feeling better?’ Ezekhiel asked him. He turned to him, nodded then laid down on the grass. ‘When does it start?’ Their voices faded to reduce into silence. He felt his heart pounding in his head, slowed his breathing, relaxed his body and tried to focus on the dark sky. As the pain started to leave, an explosion reverberated in the air, followed by others. Detonations shut everyone up. Simo sat then froze. Colors have painted the sky: green, blue, purple, pink, red, orange and yellow appeared and disappeared on the black background. A symphony. His focus swang from his breathing to his sight: his pain vanished. A smile appeared on his face. The salty wind blew on his face like a bowl of fresh air. It took a deep inspiration, closed his eyes then exhaled. ‘It feels good, right?…Sy? Simo? Si…’

 

When he opened his eyes again, Simo found himself in a room, laying in a bed that wasn’t his. Walls were white and light blue at the same time. Cold. A tone beated to his respiration. Hospital…

 

To be continued

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

Sandstorm

Imagination

I woke up in fear. A bell was ringing loud at the door of my habitation. I stepped outside: panic invested my village. Mothers and children ran towards the common living space that held a tunnel that will keep them safe. Some of men went with them, giving them an extra-protection in case of an attack. The other men came in and out of every home to collect each family their most valued properties. It was a clean organisation. Everyone knew where to be and what to do. Everyone, except me. It wasn’t the first time we experienced this situation: sandstorms were our daily. Yet, i was still not used to it. ‘Hé!!’ I stopped stopping and ran under the dome. I found myself a place and sat with the rest of my people. I wanted to help in any way possible but my training would start only in ten solar cycle. The underground got crowded: on one side, all belongings, on the other, us. It was quiet. All we could here was the wind blowing strongly and sand hitting our roofs. Although, everyone seemed calm, a point of fear floated in the air. Mothers kept their progenitures close. And kids didn’t let go of their creators’ hands. Men felt fear as well but were better at hiding it. One man stood out.

He was the last to arrive, heavy bags on his shoulders. He sat his back against the door, a piece of wood on his thighs. While everybody looked down, his head was up, surveilling everyone. His eyes stopped at mine. For a moment, we stared at each other, then he kept on going.

2604. We are hundreds of years after Mother Nature reached a breaking point. Disaster after disaster, the human race was forced to retreat in the most hostiles environments: forests, isolated islands, deserts, etc, and divided in clans. Mine was a nomadic clan. We barely stayed put for a full moon circle. Next to where my clan settled the longest, there was a large forest, ruled by animals with claws as big as my arm, surrounded by mountains of sand, infested by odd creatures thirsty for…anything. In between all of that, there we were, armed with sharp arrows and poisonous wooden lances. There were rules installed before i was born. Two of them were very important:

  1. Do not enter in contact with any other clan.
  2. Do not disrespect animals. No matter how small or big they are.

The first rule was easy to follow: the nearest clan was three sun circles of walk away. The second rules was respected to the extant of necessity: we killed some of them in order to survive. On a shiny day, Clay, a kid at the cusp of becoming a man, was sent in the forest to prove himself to the village. I was told of his story. He spend several moon under a fallen tree, hunted snakes, ate worms and drank the water from the sky. On the last day of his trial, he noticed unknown footprints that he followed with ease until the traces were washed by a river. He crossed it and found on the other side a small fury animal, sleeping. Out of reflection, he went around it without waking him up. When he was far enough, the mother came out of the bushes. I was told that Clay froze a moment before the fight began. Both Clay and the mother bear engaged at the same time. Claws and lance clashed in rhythm. It didn’t last long, but human’s stamina was lower that the beast’s. Although, in his last strength, he managed to jab his weapon into the bear’s throat. The latter fell instantly, leaving the human alone and weak. As proof of his value, Clay dragged the mother across the forest, and carried the baby bear on his shoulder. Facing this image, the entire clan remained silent. The chief of our clan stepped forward and stared at the young Clay. He, then, took his lance and gave it to him. For my people, that was a sign of respect. Since that portion of his life, Clay was trained harder that any other, to become our leader. Strong and fearless.

The storm has passed. Clay stood up first and checked the safety of the overground. Once he came back, everyone stood up then froze. Our leader had blood on him. His soldiers rushed outside. It seemed that some people from another clan had found refuge in one of our home. No contact with another clan. Our chief reassured us and led us out of the tunnel. We were found. That meant that we needed to move to another location. We left our installations behind and walked through the desert. I didn’t know where we would plant our houses again nor when. None of us did. All we could do was trust our command. After all, he’s my brother.

Time (9)

Time

Few weeks went on. ‘How do you feel?’ Ezekhiel asked as they were heading towards a basketball field. Simo looked at him a small smile on his face, then walked away. ‘Still have an headache?’ He nodded. ‘Do you think it’s related to the white dwarf?’ He looked at his friend without saying a word. When, suddenly, Simo was brought to a coffee shop. Lights were dimmed, the room was full of students, discussions floated in the air, accompanied by a familiar song in the background. Simo scanned the place. In front of him were two girls he recognized: his good friend, Megan, and Ezekhiel’s complicated ex-girlfriend, Thea. He stepped closer to hear what they were saying. ‘Hey, listen! That’s Weathered by Jack Garratt!’ Her friend looked up and listened carefully then shook her head and raised her shoulders before scrolling back through her phone. Simo had the same reflex: he looked up to a speaker and focused on his audition. …My weathered soul, and memories reclusive, elusive, help me take ’em out… His fingers synchronised with the drums. As soon as he smiled, the music faded away along with the coffee shop. Ezekhiel appeared in front of him and a breeze found its way in his coat. ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ A female voice resonated behind him. He turned around and Megan was standing there. They shared a looked. ‘Hi!’ she said with enthousiasm. ‘…Hi’ Simo replied. A silent settled. ‘Euhm, what are you doing… here?’ He asked. Megan gazed around, stopped a second on someone on her left then continued her scanning. Simo picked up on that pause and gave a look in the same direction: Thea was  buying some drinks. ‘Oh! I see.’ – ‘Hé, Megan! How are you doing?’ Ezekhiel interrupted. ‘You know, i’m a basketball fan.’ The latter was skeptical. He looked at Simo who looked at him. ‘What?’ He shook his head. ‘You’re going to be late.’ Ezekhiel hurried up and disappeared in the crowd.

– ‘So; why are you here?’ Simo started the conversation as they walked towards to center of the agitation.

– ‘Thea… wanted to come. So, she forced me to go along. So, what happened at the party?’

– ‘The party?’

– ‘Thea’s birthday. You saved someone… Euh… Josh, right?’

– ‘Oh! That.’

– ‘That? Don’t act so cool. What you did was incredible! Reanimating someone like that! How did you know? You reacted so fast!’

– ‘I… it was just luck. I saw him wondering around the pool. I just didn’t really think about what i was doing.’

– ‘That’s what makes it incredible. What happened after that, you know?’ She glanced at him: his behaviour was strange.

– ‘Yeah, he stayed a few days at my place then moved out to New York with his grand-parents.’

– ‘His grand-parents? What happened to his parents?’ Simo hesitated.

– ‘His mother passed few years ago and his father was beating him ever since.’ He paused. ‘Now, he’s in jail, i think… I should ask my dad.’

– ‘Wow… Sounds like a movie.’

– ‘I know.’

– ‘But he’s fine, now?’

– ‘Yeah. He’s safe, now.’

– ‘What’s going on with you?’ Simo looked at her. ‘You’re dodging everyone. I mean, we’re in the middle of a crowd, i know, but you’re too careful.’

– ‘Oh. My shoulder hurts. That’s also why i’m not playing today.’ He glanced at her and saw her worry face. ‘And i have an headache.’

– ‘Not in a great shape.’ He shook his head.

They arrived at the side court. Each team occupied the field, passing the ball amongst players. The focus grew as the countdown kept on going. The anticipation spread through the spectators that gathered around. Megan kept watch on her friend from the corner of her eyes. The latter examined every player then called Ezekhiel. They exchanged few words in a whisper, pointed to some of his opponents before the coach called his team. ‘What did you tell him?’ Thea asked. Simo jumped of surprise: ‘Oh! I didn’t expect you to… be here… Nothing special. Just tips…’ At the same moment, a group of guys made their way to the first row, pushing Thea against him.

In a matter of second, Simo traveled through time: darkness replaced sunlight, people emptied the place, leaving two teenagers alone in the middle of the field. The leftovers of the previous day’s heat was interrupted by a breeze, making shadows dance on the ground. Branches cracked releasing few leaves. The teenagers listened to the sweet sound of elements crashing into each other. They were just sitting there, staring at the stars. ‘Well?’ started Ezekhiel. ‘I lov…’

Day light covered the park. Simo and Thea looked at each other, as they came back to the present. ‘You’re alright?’ He asked as he saw confusion and a bit of fear in her eyes. ‘Be careful, man. There are people around.’ His interlocutor didn’t care enough to turn around. ‘Let it go, Simo. The game is about to begin.’ Thea said. She gave him an insistant look before he calmed down and moved his attention to the referee. The latter blew the whistle. The game began. Ezekhiel jumped higher than his opponent, taped the ball behind him and ran forward. His teammate quickly crossed the middle of the field, threw the ball to the basket, penetrating the defense. Ezekhiel caught the ball, made a step then a fadeaway underneath a defender’s arm. A whistle. ‘2 points for The Pandas.’ The scorer looked at the audience and made a head sign to one person. Simo responded the same way with an aura of proudness surrounding him. He felt eyes starring at him: ‘I taught him that.’ Megan let a laugh slipped. His attention turned away from the players and focused on a the sky. His look was blank. Did you know that hummingbirds were able to fly backwards. He blinked to come back from his absence. He turned his head and looked for the origin of the voice. But everyone’s eyes were glued to the court. The first quarter went fast, led by The Pandas by six points. ‘Did you hear that?’ He asked to Megan. She looked at him, her eyebrows frowned: ‘…No…’ Instantly, he held his head. Dizziness got to him once again. ‘Simo?’ Simo!? The latter stood still for a minute. Then he looked up: his face was peaceful. The pain disappeared as fast as it resurfaced. ‘You’re ok?’ Thea asked. ‘Ha… Yeah, i’m fine.’ He crossed eyes with Megan. She looked concerned: ‘Your nose. You’re bleeding.’ He located the blood, apologized and left the young women by themselves.

He locked himself in the public restroom of the park. He stared at the mirror, toilet paper on his face. The bleeding wouldn’t stop. What’s happening? Is this related to … A strong pain traveled through his brain. Blood flowed profusely. What’s going on? What can i do?

– ‘Hé! Simo! Open the door! Simo! Simo!! Simo!!!’

– ‘Wait… I need a minute…’ Simo whispered.

Suddenly, he found himself catapulted in a strange place: roof and floor became one. A strong light enlightened the room. There was no shadow. No wall. Now and then, shooting stars appeared around him. Simo looked around him: he flew and yet, was stable on his feet. As he noticed that his pain was gone, he heard a voice from afar:

– Simo!

– He’s in cardiac arrest! Get the defibrillator. Page Dr. Carl!!

– What’s happening to him?

– Parker! Take them out of the room!

 

To be continued