“Atlas go wake your sister up, she needs to go to school,”
I gave my mom a quick nod before getting off the comfy couch and heading upstairs.
It was my sister’s last day of school and I had heard nonstop all week about it. She was brushing her colorfully dyed hair when I entered her room. It was a mess per usual— Clothes strew about, and cans of Monster lining the gray walls and piled up on her desk.
“Already up?” I asked. “That’s unlike you.”
“It’s the last day of school, Atlas. I want to try and look good at least once.”
“I never thought you’d care. You told me three days ago that everyone at school was as bland as an unsalted saltine cracker and their opinions didn’t matter.”
“Yeah, and you only graduated two years ago. You should know I am speaking the truth.”
“I thought there were plenty of cool people there.”
“That’s probably because you are also an unsalted saltine cracker.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
She put her brush down and moved her hand to her hip, looking at me with pursed lips.
“Atlas, you have no individuality. You follow the lines of the stereotypical teenage boy. Styled natural hair, a stupid need to prove your worth, and you smell bad unless you take three showers a day. The only thing you have going for you is that you aren’t a dick head.”
I put a hand to my chest and feigned injury. “Harsh words Gabby. Harsh words.”
She shrugged and grabbed some earrings off her vanity, looping them through her ear.
“I just had to be honest with you. Also, are you taking me or mom?”
“I’m taking you. Mom has an appointment at the eye doctor.”
“Say optometrist— It’ll make you sound smarter.”
“Whatever,” I sighed. “Be ready in five minutes.”
I shut the door behind me, because I am a good brother, and headed for the couch again.
“Is she awake?” My mom asked as I descended the stairs.
“Yeah, she was already awake before I got there.”
“Weird,” She muttered.
I plopped back down onto the couch and grabbed the remote to turn on the TV.
I flipped the channel to the news and listened as they talked about the weather, then moved on to important events. The only interesting things that had happened were a shooting not too far from our house, and a battle happening in some other country.
Luckily we were winning.
The war had been going on since 2037. It had now been eleven years. It hadn’t been a bloody war. It was just arguments amongst rulers until recently. The sides of the war had finally been decided: The UK, Germany, and the United States on one side, and Russia, China, and North Korea, on the other. There were more countries involved, but they weren’t fighting currently.
I could only speak for the United States since I lived there, but we weren’t being hit very hard. Only a couple of bombings had happened, and they were in desolate areas where no one lived.
I didn’t know too many details about why everyone was fighting because they didn’t want it to get out to the public, but It seems like tensions rose and eventually everyone snapped.
I just hoped they got it all figured out before too many people got hurt.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see my mom peering down at me with worried eyes through her mess of blonde hair.
“What?” I asked.
“Don’t get too caught up in the news. It will ruin your spirits.”
“It’s important to know what’s going on so we don’t turn a blind eye, mom. And it won’t ruin my spirits— they’re already gone.”
She rolled her brown eyes and strode to the kitchen.
“There are four muffins on the table if you want a couple,” she called behind her shoulder.
I heaved myself off of the couch again and rushed to grab one. Two.
“Atlas!” my mom exclaimed pointing at the muffins in my arms. “Leave two for Gabby.”
I grumbled and put one back.
I stuffed the first muffin in my face and it was halfway gone before I sat back on the couch and changed the channel to some kid’s show. I watched the characters play across the screen for a while until Gabby started chewing above my head and dropping crumbs in my hair.
I scoffed and brushed them out.
“Why must you annoy me like this?” I asked turning to look at her.
“Because I’m annoying. Duh. Now let’s go, or I’ll be late.”
I grabbed my keys off of the keyholder and rushed out the door to my car.
It was a newer model and cost a fortune, but it was worth it for the late-night drives. With the LED lights on, and music blasting it made for a perfect getaway.
The car had face recognition, and automatically opened the door when I was less than ten feet away. I had to press a button to open Gabby’s door though. I could have downloaded her face on the system to open it for her, but I was mean and liked to see her waiting outside awkwardly.
“When I get a car,” she started. “It won’t have your face on its door opening system and you will suffer the same fate as me, asshole,” she grumbled, sitting down in the black leather seat.
I chuckled and turned the LED lights to the color green.
I started my car with a simple voice command and told it to drive to Gabby’s school.
I liked the automatic driving feature, but sometimes I would take it off when it was a long drive and I was out of the city.
Gabby kicked her feet up on the dash and shoved the rest of her muffin in her mouth.
“You know, I’m might actually miss you when you move out,” she said.
But all I heard was Oo oh, ah ight Ah too ee mith oo wehn oo oove out.
“Don’t talk with food in your mouth. That’s gross.”
She chewed with her mouth open for a few more seconds, making sure to be as obnoxious as possible.
“Whatever. Can we drive faster?” she asked looking out the tinted windows eagerly.
“We are going over the speed limit already.”
She sighed and leaned her seat back.
“Ooh a plane,” She muttered, pointing to where it was out the window.
We didn’t get planes as often as usual anymore. It was cheaper to take a ship, and with new advances in boating technology, it was worth the longer trip.
“What’s it look like?” I asked moving to try to see. I leaned over her seat and she shoved me back.
“It looks like a fucking plane, idiot.”
“Well, what kind of plane?”
“How the hell am I supposed to know? I don’t study aircraft for a living.”
It finally came into view and I squinted at it. It was pretty big.
I took an interest in learning different types of planes when I was a freshman. My sister had teased me for it, saying there was no use.
Something dropped out of the bottom and it took a second for my brain to process what I was seeing.
my heart dropped.
“Kind of weird to go skydiving over a city huh?” Gabby asked. She raised her eyebrows and grimaced. “Uh oh. I don’t think his parachute is opening.”
I pressed a few buttons on my car and took over the controls.
“Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit.” I repeated as I took over my cars driving.
I looked at the oncoming traffic before turning in the opposite direction of the plane. Some cars honked at me, but I kept accelerating.
“Atlas, why are you driving so fast- What are you doing?!” Gabby screeched as I almost side-swiped a car.
“Bomb,” I yelled, swerving to avoid another car.
She looked back out the window and her face turned deathly pale as she realized that wasn't a parachuter.
I floored it.
By this time I weaving around cars like a stunt driver. I was honked at too many times to count, and police sirens echoed in my wake.
Then the impact happened.
I heard the boom seconds before it hit us.
My car was pushed into another vehicle and then into a pole. The airbags deployed and my breath was forced out of my lungs.
The ringing in my ears made me wince as I gazed around half alive.
Hammers pounded my head and my ribs felt like they had been crushed by an elephant. I gasped painfully and looked out the windshield.
At the first glance, I could see that not many people had survived. Actually, it didn't look like anyone was alive outside. In other cars, I could see blood splattered all over windows, and one had its passengers laid over the dash and out on the hood.
I thanked whoever made the bulletproof glass used in my car.
"We're alive!" I realized. "We just survived a bombing, Gabby!"
She didn't respond.
“Gabby?” I called, looking over to her.
My head ached and I felt like I was looking through a red haze. The image was blurry, but I saw her slumped over in her seat. Her arm was at a weird angle and some blood was spattered on the window.
“Gabby, wake up,” I ordered reaching my arm across to nudge her.
She tilted and fell into my lap.
I nearly vomited at what I beheld.
Her skull... It was disfigured and blood was seeping out of a gash on her temple. Her brown eyes that were just like moms stared blankly at the wheel.
My breathing quickened and I felt a new, fresh wave of panic settle over.
“No!” I cried. “Gabby, no.”
I grabbed her shoulder and shook.
This could not be happening. My bittersweet sister wasn't gone. She wasn't dead— She would just wake up and tell me to shut the fuck up because I was crying all over her face.
“Wake up!” I screamed. “Wake up right now!”
I sobbed and brushed her hair, now matted with blood, off her forehead.
“Why?” I whispered. “Why?”
I don’t know who I was asking. I didn’t believe in God after all.
It was probably an hour after it all happened that I had run my voice course with screams and cries. Hoping, praying perhaps, that she wasn't dead.
I barely noticed as a man in a white hazmat suit came up to my car door and knocked. I glared at him through the tinted window before sobbing again and turning my head back to my sister.
The suited man huffed out some muted words and left.
A few minutes later, he came back with more suited people.
One of them pressed a device to my car and the locks to my door clicked open.
I tried to tell them to go away, but my voice didn’t work.
“Catch him,” one of them ordered.
I didn’t realize why they needed to catch me until I started to fall out of my car.
The last things I saw before I slipped into peaceful darkness were white-gloved hands and the lifeless body of my sister.