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

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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

Time (8)

Time

The next morning, Simo woke up alone in his room. Sunlight encompassed him. A strong pain immerged from his eyes. He tried to sit but, as soon as he lifted his head, he started to lose balance. He leaned on his arm but the world kept on spinning around him. The pain migrated to his frontal lobe. A desire to vomit grew in him. The floor below disappeared. His heart beated faster, he was out of breathe and his vision became blurry. Panic got to him. Numbness invaded his body. Mechanically, he moved his fingers and realized there was a solid matter underneath. He focused on that, kept on moving his hand to regain sensation of his body and took deep breaths that slowed his heartbeat. He regained his composure.

‘Simo! Wake up! Josh’s father is here.’ The latter jumped: his pupils dilated, his muscles tightened, his mind lost in between two worlds. Time stood still. Then Simo took a deep inspiration: he forgot to breathe. His sight cleared. He was confused; the floor and the roof were in place. Simo felt the warmth of the sun on his skin and could hear birds cooing outside of the walls. He gazed around and recognized the harmony of his room. Although, what he experienced seemed to be a dream or an hallucination, his headache was very present and it spread to his temporal lobe. ‘What?’ Simo located the origin of his ache. When he looked at Ezekhiel, his eyes burnt. ‘What? Who’s here?’ He said as he stood up. ‘Josh’s father is at your doorstep. Let’s go! Your father is waiting for you to… I don’t know, do something.’ Ezekhiel announced. Five minutes later, Simo joined his parents at the door. ‘Where’s my son?’ Josh’s father. He had no response. ‘Tell me where he is?… JOSH! COME OUT!’ He started to lose his patience. ‘Calm down, sir.’ Simo’s father stepped up. ‘JOSH! You, little scum! You better make him step out or…’ – ‘Or else what?’ Simo interrupted.

The latter stared straight the abusive man in the eyes. Unafraid.

– ‘What are you going to do? Beat me up? Then what? Drag your son out of my house to yours then beat him up a little bit more? I don’t where i’m going with this but i have a question: where’s your wife?’ Simo realized he touched a sensible subject. The man’s face changed. Simo glanced at his right. ‘I’m sorry. I thought wrong: i thought you killed her but from your expression, it seems like you didn’t. I’m guessing you started to drink after her death, then. Trying to forget, grieving, i understand… I saw the pictures on your walls, when we broke in your house. You looked happy: you, Josh and your wife. She didn’t look – how can i say this – like, dangerous. No, that’s not the word…’

– ‘Violent.’ His father helped.

– ‘Violent! That’s it! She didn’t seem violent. None what so ever.’

– ‘Your point being.’ His father tried to shorten his son’s speech.

– ‘My point is that what you’re doing right now, who you’re becoming, right now, isn’t the person she fell in love with. I don’t think that she would have been happy seeing you beating her son like that.’

As Simo voiced his thoughts, Josh’s father felt the anger grow bigger in him to a point where he couldn’t control himself anymore. He walked towards the young man and punched him in the nose. Simo fell on the ground. Josh’s father attempted to hit him more but Simo’s father intervened. Simo’s mother called the police. Ezekhiel ran to Simo to make sure he was alright. And Josh stood there: overwhelmed. The police arrived, five minutes later, breaking the fight bewteen the fathers. Two officers handcuffed both of them and brought them to the police station to clarify the situation in a neutral space. Another asked Simo, his mother and his friends some questions then notified them that a social worker will come within the hour. ‘Here: put some ice on your nose.’ Ezekhiel handed a towel filled with ice cubes. They sat in cercle in the kitchen waiting for the bell to ring. A silence settled.

‘What now?’ Josh’s voice resonated in the air for the first time since he left his house. Simo looked at him. The latter had fear in his eyes. Then Simo turned his head to Ezekhiel hoping he will have an idea. But he remained silent. ‘Wait for the social services to come and we’ll figure it out then.’ Simo’s mother said. Her son took a minute to think. He stared at the table, his hand pressing the towel on his nose. ‘Do you have any family other than your father? Like an aunt or uncle.’ he asked. ‘Grandparents.’ Josh said. ‘My mom’s parents live in New York.’ Simo looked up. He grabbe his phone and handed it to Josh. The latter entered a phone number then handed it back to its owner. ‘Do you talk to them often?’ Simo asked while the tone rang. Josh shook his head. ‘When was the last time you saw them?’ Josh raised four fingers in the air. ‘Months?’ He shook his head again.

– ‘Are they ni…. Hi! Good morning! Am i speacking to Josh Scarrey’s grand-parents?… Hello, sir! I’m sorry to call you this early on Sunday. I am a friend of Josh’s and euhm, there’s a bit of a situation that you might solve with us… Ha? So he was violent even before your daughter died?… Oh. Alright, i see… Yes… He’s fine. He’s next to me right now… I’ll let you talk to him in a minute, he’s eating… Yes, i was wondering, well, we were wondering if it was possible for you to become his foster parents or guardians. To give him a safe place to live until he can fly with his own wings…’

– ‘What are you saying?’ Ezekhiel commented. Simo stepped away.

– ‘Do you know what that implies, right?… I mean, financially, could you handle it?… Oh! Perfect!… Mmh, mmh… Ok, cool! Well, for now, i can’t do much. Since i’m just a kid, still. But a socail worker is going to come to my house to talk to Josh about his situation. We’ll explain to her/him and talk about you… Euh, yes, my mother is here: she’ll do the talking… And after, that, Josh will wall you back to let you in the know. And that would be it… Ok… I let you talk to him.’

On that note, Simo gave his phone to Josh who left the room for more privacy. Simo reported the conversation to his mother and Ezekhiel. An hour later, a woman appeared at their door step. She requisitionned the living room to speak to Josh. Simo’s mother insisted in being next to him throughout the process.

Simo and Ezekhiel were locked out of the conversation. Simo glanced in their directions some time to times but his headache intensified. ‘Are you alright?’ Ezekhiel noticed the discomfort his friend was experiencing. The latter nodded. He massed his skull to ease his pain. It didn’t seem to work: ‘I’m going to lie down for a moment.’ As he walked through the hallway, he met the social worker. She stopped and scanned him, a smile on her face. ‘Hi!’ she introduced herself. Simo turned around. They starred at each other for ten seconds then the social worker realized her strange attitude. ‘You must be Simo. Josh’s friend. The one who convinced him to walk away from his abusive father. Josh yarned me.’ she said as they shook hands. ‘Euh, yeah. I mean, yes.’ Simo replied. She used her right hand.

They teleported to another house, the social worker rejuvenated by twenty years. The room they were in was dark: blinds were shut and lights were off. She looked up to Simo, fear in her eyes. Suddenly, a slammed door made her jump. A man rushed towards her, a belt in his hand. As he came closer, he prepared his arm behind his back. The little girl made a step backward, her hands as only shield. The man was close enough. He swang his arm. The belt followed the movement.

Before the belt touched its target, Simo came back in his own house. The social worker’s face was blank: her eyes were wide open, her heart skipped a beat, a chill went through her spine. Suddenly, her facial expression turned into worry. ‘Your nose… is bleeding. Are you alright?’ Ezekhiel joined them, intrigued by their sudden immobilization. The social worker offered him a tissue but the latter seemed to have frozen. His vision became blurry again then returned to normal. ‘Are you alright?’ Simo looked up: ‘Mmh? Yeah, i’m fine. Sorry.’ The social worker smiled to him. She said goodbye and left.

The three teenagers gathered in Simo’s room. Discussions were flowing like they were old friends. Josh was silent most of the time but a smile appeared on his face. Fear slowly vanished from his mind: he felt safe. When the conversation faded, he asked: ‘How did you know about me?’ Simo took a moment to think: ‘Euhm…’ – ‘You have bruises. When he rescued you at the party, yesterday.’ Ezekhiel responded. Josh was lost in his thoughts. He stood up and enclosed himself in the bathroom. Ezekhiel scanned his friend.

– ‘What’s going on?’ he asked.

– ‘Yesterday, we went to a party…?’ A silence passed.

– ‘Is that a question? Or an affirmation?’ Simo thought.

– ‘A question.’ Another silence.

– ‘Thea’s birthday… You don’t remember?’

– ‘Apparently not.’

– ‘Where do you think we met Josh?’ Simo remained silent. ‘You don’t remember.’

Ezekhiel’s tone was grave. He looked at Simo who seemed worried as well. Am i losing the small control i have on this thing? Simo thought. Josh came back in the room and noticed a familiar look on his saviors’ faces: both of them were scared.

To Be Continued.

Time (6)

Time

The next morning, Simo went to the hospital where the drunk teen was supposed to recover from his recent near death experience. At the doorstep of the enrance, he saw a familiar silhouette: Ezekhiel seemed to have the same thougt he had. ‘When the great minds meet… Or something like that.’ Simo said. They didn’t stay long: according to the receptionnist, he went back to his home against doctor’s advices.

They went to the school. For Simo, it has been two years since he saw the tagged wall of the main building. When they crossed the hallway, Simo couldn’t help himself but to scan everything, a feeling of nostalgia filling his mind. At the administration room, a woman was sitting behind a desk bigger than her. Ezekhiel and Simo had to tip-toe to be able to face her. ‘Hi! A friend of ours missed a few class this week and we have a test on monday.’ Ezekhiel started to explain but the lady didn’t even look up. ‘Euhm… Excuse me?’ The receptionnist gave them a death stare. Simo was surprised by the attitude. ‘What can i do for you?’ She said. The two teenagers looked at each other. ‘We need an adress from a student in senior year. His name is Josh Scarrey.’ Simo cut to the chase. The woman looked at them for a second before typing on her computer. ‘What’s the name again?’ Ezekhiel spelled it for her as Simo contained a sigh of exasperation. A minute later, they walked out towards Josh’s house.

The neighboorhood looked calm. Cars were lined up to create a separation between pedestrians and drivers. Sidewalks were covered by a film of water. Simo looked around to understand the world Josh lived in: ‘It looks normal. I mean, not depressing at all.’ Ezekhiel seeked for the 67th house. ‘What do you mean depressing? How do you know he’s depressed?’ Simo stayed quiet. ‘Here it is.’ They walked to the door and each hit their turn in rhythm. Noises of footsteps rushed towards them, heavely. As a reflex, both Ezekhiel and Simo stepped back. Their heartbeat quickened. The door opened abruptly. A man in his forty appeared, a beer in his hand and anger in his eyes. ‘WHAT?’ The two visitors jumped of surprise simultaneously. A silence settled in. ‘Well? What do you want?’ Ezekhiel opened his mouth but no sound came out. His brain just went blank. ‘We’re Josh’s friends.’ Simo paused to see if the man had social intelligence. He stood still. ‘Can we see him? He was in a pretty bad shape last night, so… We were worried about him. Hence our presence….’ The man didn’t move at all. ‘Can we see him?’ Simo insisted. After a moment, the man tried to slam the door on them, but Simo slipped his foot before it. Almost at the same time, Ezekhiel knocked the door with his palm: ‘We need to talk to your son.’ the latter said. The door opened suddenly. The man stepped towards them, his teeth out like a rabid animal. Ezekhiel retreated but Simo stood still. ‘Get the hell out of my property’, the man whispered at Simo’s ears. The latter ignored him and proceeded to walk through the door. ‘Josh! It’s me: Simo! The dude who helped you last night!?’ He yelled. But no response. A heat envelopped his shoulder. Simo turned around and beheld something coming from his side. He fell down. Before he could recollect himself, Simo was lifted then thrown out of the house. ‘Next time you come back, you’ll meet my shotgun. Understood?’ the man yelled. Before Ezekhiel could hit back, the man slammed and locked the door, once and for all. ‘Ass.’ Ezekhiel said. ‘Aaaah, he sure is.’ Simo leaned on his knee to stand up, while holding his back with his other hand. He scanned the front of the house: each windows were dressed with curtains, blocking any sunlight. Simo sighed. ‘Maybe from the back!?’ Ezekhiel suggested. ‘No. No need for that.’ Simo sat down on the grass and focused on the front door. Ezekhiel understood his friend’s intention. Even if he wasn’t convinced about the efficiency of his actions, he followed the movement anyway. ‘How long?’ he asked. ‘As long as it takes.’

‘You know you’re sitting on a wet grass, right.’ Ezekhiel noticed.

To be continued

Time (5)

Time

We have a pulse. Finally…. Yeah. Prepare him for an IR…

His conscious awakened. Disturbance of a closed space grew louder and louder, then a recurrent tone appeared. After a few seconds, his eardrums vibrated to a breathing. Slow and steady. Simo opened his eyes to a white wall. He turned his head to his left and saw a monitor drawing his heartbeat. A little bit further, Ezekhiel was deep into Morphee’s arms. Simo gazed around, trying to sit but from neck to toe: he felt numb. He’s first instinct was to check his right arm. Footsteps and ringtones went through the doorway, accompanied by low voices. Simo’s eyes travelled to the window to see his parents on the other side of the glass. Behind them, he could behold a man in a white blouse holding a folder. He focused on them and tried to catch a word. After tuning down every noises, he stretched his ears to listen carefully but they tuned down even more their murmurations as if they knew someone was spying on them. ‘Hey!’ Simo was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts, whispers faded away leaving place to the monitor and perturbations of the air. The voice came from his left: Ezekhiel woke up. ‘How do you feel?’ he asked. Simo tried to sit but his father walked in and put his hand on his son’s shoulder: ‘You need to rest.’ The doctor was close behind and started to check Simo’s vitals. ‘Everything seems to be ok. A brain scan was realized and revealed nothing abnormal. Can you tell us what happened before?’ Simo looked at his parents then Ezekhiel before staring at the doctor. ‘Nothing special: we were just chilling.’ Simo replied. The doctor remained silent for a second then continued: ‘We’re going to keep you in observation for the night ‘ Simo’s parents shared a look. ‘It’s just for precaution. Don’t worry.’ reassured the doctor before leaving the room. Simo’s parents left as well, few minutes after. Simo looked at his friend and his right hand back and forth. ‘Do you think…’ He let his sentence hang. ‘You said i disappeared for a moment. right? At that time, i was following Thea.’ Ezekhiel looked at Simo going deeper and deeper in his process of thoughts. ‘Maybe, you should stop. That was the trigger to your seizure. Just… sleep on it for now, alright?’ They shared a look and Simo agreed.

Ezekhiel didn’t hear from Simo for an entire week, until the week-end. It was on a saturday evening, at a birthday party, where Simo and Ezekhiel meet again. ‘What are you doing here?’ Ezekhiel asked. Simo looked at him with big eyes. ‘Is it ok with your…Condition?’ he whispered. The two friends shared a look. As soon as Simo opened his mouth to share his thoughts, a female voice interrupted them: ‘Hi! You are here!’ They both looked towards her. ‘It’s been forever! What are you doing now?’ Simo assumed she was talking to him since he stopped hanging out with his classmates the moment he dropped out of school: ‘I’ve been busy.’ She waited for the second part of his statement but an awkward silent settled. ‘Euhm, i’m, euh, let you two talk.’ Ezekhiel said; Simo watched him leave. ‘How you’ve been!’ Simo continued the conversation. ‘I’m good! Well, a bit stressed: exams are soon so i’m….’

As she kept on talking, Simo tuned her voice a bit down as a background noise in his mind. He gazed around. Some people were dancing, some people were playing around the pool. But most people were just sitting around and talked about everything and nothing at the same time, an empty glass in their hands. Others were just trying to keep their balance. ‘…and then a huge dragon came out, grabbed me by the shoulder and pulled me into the air to fly away from the mafia.’ Simo’s eyes crossed hers. She smiled. ‘You haven’t changed.’ she claimed. ‘It hasn’t been that long either.’ She shook her head and let go of a laugh: ‘Just two years.’ One of the Sunday dancers ran into her, making her all of her drink on Simo’s shirt. ‘Sam!!’ She yelled. The latter put his left hand on the troublemaker’s back who turned around and stared at them for a second: ‘Yo! Simo!! What’s you’re doing here? Hey! Megan!… What’s up?’ Then he walked away. Megan looked at him, confused about what just happened. ‘What was that?’ she whispered to herself, before turning to Simo: ‘Oh no! Your shirt! I’m so sorry!’ The latter smelled the wet area: ‘Coke? I thought you were drinking alcohol like everyone else.’ She shook her head. At the same time, far behind her, Simo noticed something odd: one of the guests had an empty bottle of vodka in one hand and a half-full bottle of HSE in the other. He stood still in the middle of the crowd, raised the empty bottle in the air before dropping it at the break of a song. Then he drank the rest of the rhum in an instant. When he raised his arm, Simo noticed some bruises underneath his t-shirt. The drunk teenager walked the best he could through the crowd of other drunk people. As he marched along the swimming pool, he froze on his reflection few times.

When suddenly, Sam pushed him violently. The drunk boy lost his balance and fell into the water. Sam didn’t notice he hit someone, once again, and kept on moving his body around off beat. As the music was loud, the party attenders raised their voices to be heard creating an excessive level of frequencies that covered the sound of someone falling. Simo stared at the scene: from where he was, he could see splashes of water. But after a minute or two, it stopped. Simo waited a moment, expecting to see the swimmer stand up and walk away. But nothing happened. Intrigued, and worried, Simo walked to the pool. As he got closer, he saw the teenager inanimate at the bottom of hole. A rush of adrenaline burst from his chest. He dived in, grabbed the teen by his right arm and swam as fast as he could to the surface. As soon as they made contact, Simo had flashbacks: a sunny day at the park with his mom, a dark afternoon in his bedroom, his father raising his fist, empty  bottles and cans of beers all around his living room, boring days in class and sleelpless nights. When he reached the surface, Ezekhiel helped him pull out the teen out of the water. Music was turned down. Discussions paused and people gathered around them. ‘Step back!’ Ezekhiel yelled. ‘Give him space to breathe.’ But the latter wasn’t. When Simo got out of the water himself, he kneeled next to the unconscious young man. He put his ear on the latter’s chest: no sound. Simo had to think fast: he put his hands together slightly below the chest and started to push at a regular rhythm. ‘Zeek, call 911.’ he said as he was counting. ‘Fifteen.’ He listened to his chest again: still nothing. He continued. ‘Thirty.’ Simo pinched the kid’s nose, pulled down the latter’s jaw and blew air in his lungs. After the forth time, Simo practiced CPR again. He listened, hoping to hear the siren of the ambulance. But it was quiet. All we could hear was his breathing. Seconds passed. ‘How long can a human brain stay without oxygen?’ Simo thought. His hands started to shake. He was out of breathe but kept on pushing on the diaphragm. The world stood still. Everyone held their breath. When, finally, he coughed. Simo was in disbelief. He immediately turned the kid’s head to the side to make him spit the water from his lungs. Everyone sighed of relief. Simo looked at Ezekhiel, a huge smile on his face. The latter mimicked him and pointed to his ear. Simo looked over the crowd and heard it: sirens.

To be continued.