The longer I’m near that damn stone, the worse I feel. After touching Hazel earlier, and seeing her entire life memories all at once, I don’t think I want to waste any time. My head is still pounding, and everything feels kind of foggy. I sit on the side of the road, as far away from everyone as I can, but I still keep getting little flashes of their thoughts and memories. I know when the tow truck is going to arrive before we can even see it. Because I can see him. I even know what he looks like, and that he’s distracted by admiring himself in the mirror. He heard Hazels voice on the phone and wants to impress her. He hopes that she’s pretty.
I groan and rub my eyes with the heels of my palms. I don’t want to know this much about anyone, especially some random lonely tow truck driver. My mind is bouncing back and forth between everyone who is near me, and I have no control over it whatsoever. Hazel is wondering if we should get a hotel room for the night, because it’s getting dark. She’s— Maria is freezing. Now she’s not. Now she is. Now sh— Toby can’t believe how bright our auras are. He can see them all the time now, without even trying. I am suddenly seeing everyone from his point of view. I see myself, surrounded by a dark cloud. My hands are shaking. And then I’m back in my own mind.
I can’t do this. I’m going insane. I would give anything to be unconscious right now so I don’t have to feel this anymore.
The tow truck driver is here now, talking to Hazel. He keeps looking over at me. He thinks I’m crazy. I would think I’m crazy, too.
“Let me get this straight. You just want me to pull it out of the ditch and you’re gonna drive it? Shouldn’t you be reporting this guy to the police for hitting your van?” the driver drones. Now he thinks we’re all crazy. He saw our Seventh Sense advertisement on the back of the van. “What are you, ghost hunters or something?”
“Sort of,” Hazel answers, unfazed by his sarcastic tone. “Psychics, technically. We just help out with peoples… supernatural problems.”
“Riiiight…well, I’ll do what you want, boss. You’re the one paying for it, so if that’s all you want me to do, then you’re just making my job easier.” He’s thinking about going on a date with Hazel, even though she seems kind of weird. I growl and walk further down the road. I can’t hear them talking from here, but I can tell he’s worried about me hurting someone. Maybe I’m an escaped mental patient. Hilarious.
Toby can see this asshole’s aura, and wants him to step away from Hazel. He doesn’t want any guy taking her away from him. Well, this is new information. I had no idea that Toby was interested in Hazel. Being further away, I can’t see as much. My head feels a little better, but now I have to be in the van with them until we find a hotel. No, until we get to Haylee’s place.
Ten minutes later, the van is back on the road. The sides are pretty dented, especially where the truck hit it, and the front bumper is hanging nearly to the ground, but when Toby turns the key it starts right up. Hazel pays the driver in cash. He gives her a receipt. He wrote his phone number on it, and winks, hoping that Hazel is impressed. She’s not. She thanks him and hops in the van, followed by Maria, who is still shivering every few seconds.
I hesitate. I don’t want to get near them. Besides the fact that it’s giving me a horrible headache knowing so many things at once, it’s also kind of weird to basically know anything about my friends at any given moment.
“Jude, come on!” Maria yells out the window. I take a deep breath and make my way to the van, trying to focus on my own thoughts. As I get closer, everything starts pouring in so fast that I can’t even separate whose thoughts are whose. Before I change my mind, I jump in the back of the van and slam the door shut. Toby takes off, and now I’m trapped here in the hell that is my mind until we can get rid of this thing.
“We’re going to find a hotel for the night, and in the morning, we’ll find your ‘witch that you trust’.” I didn’t miss the sarcasm in Hazels voice.
“Right, but first we’re going t….,” Toby says, but I lose track of what he’s saying.
I can barely hear their conversation over their minds. It’s like trying to think and imagine a dozen things simultaneously. There must have been an enchantment on the locket to keep the stones power from escaping. Once Maria opened it, all the power inside was released to those near it. Us four. I don’t even know if getting rid of the enchantment will make this stop. For all I know, it could be transferring its power to us. Permanently. I hope to God that isn’t the case, because if I have to deal with this for the rest of my life… my life won’t be very long.
I don’t even notice when we pull into a parking lot, until Toby is in front of me, handing me a bag. Inside is ibuprofen and a sleep aid. Great, maybe it will knock me out.
“You know what would really come in handy right now?” I say, glaring at him.
“How the hell was I supposed to know this would happen? Besides, if you had all those pills right now, you’d probably end up killing yourself.”
I catch glimpses of his memories of being in the bar. One sticks out more than the others. The time I beat this guy nearly to death. Fun times. Then his memories slip away, and I’m bombarded with so many things at once that I’m not even sure what’s real anymore. I fumble with the cap on the sleep aid, and finally get it open. Not really thinking, I try to dump the whole bottle into my mouth, but Toby yanks it out of my hand and hands me two pills.
At first, I don’t think anything is going to end this torture, but a few minutes later, I start to feel drowsy. Everything seems slower and the pounding headache starts to go away. All the voices and pictures are fading. Toby is looking at me, but I can’t even comprehend the look on his face.
“You’re not gonna die on me, are you?” I shake my head slowly, eyes closing.
“I’m good,” I yawn. “Better.” I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I know, its morning, and the mind torture is back, full force.
I open my eyes, just a little. Light streams in through the van windows, and I groan, closing my eyes again. The others are inside of the hotel room, awake. Hazel seems to be getting used to the spike of power in her abilities. She’s learning to control it. Maria is just freezing constantly now. Toby is still loving that he doesn’t have to work for his ability, because he’s lazy. I can actually see them getting ready to go. From their own points of view, all at once. I don’t even know how that’s possible.
I open my eyes again, this time prepared for the stab of pain from the light. It’s not like it feels much different from what I’m already feeling. I sit up slowly, my head pounding. I think I’m okay, but then my stomach heaves and I scramble for the door. I barely get it open before throwing up.
“Wow. I’m glad I wasn’t standing there. You would have owed me two pairs of shoes,” Toby jokes. I’m not in the mood for jokes, and I kind of just want to murder him right now.
“Shut up,” I grumble, searching for a bottle of water. While the others are packing the van, I hear my phone ringing from somewhere inside. I groan and dig through everything until I find it underneath my coat. Haylee’s name appears on the caller ID. “Hello?”
“Hey! I had this crazy dream about you last night, and I thought I’d check up on you!” I pull the phone away from my ear. Her overly peppy voice is like someone stabbing me in the temples.
It takes me a moment to comprehend what she just said. “Are witches psychic now?”
“Psh! Of course not! Sometimes the universe just tells me things.”
“Right… sounds reasonable. Actually, though, I’m headed to your place, but I need your address.”
“Are you okay? I live in the same apartment. You’ve been there enough time’s that I thought you’d remember by now.”
“I… can you just text it to me? I just… can’t really think straight right now…”
“Okay, sure,” She mumbles something under her breath, but I don’t catch what she says. “I’ll text it to you if you promise to make it worth my while.” I don’t miss the hidden meaning behind her words.
“What am I, a prostitute? No. Just text it to me and I’ll explain things when we get there.”
“I’m hanging up now. Text.” I hit the end button. A few minutes later, I get a text with her address and I toss it up front to whoever. I really don’t care who gets it, as long as someone does.
“Dude, this is like three hours away!” Toby whines.
“Then get driving.” I lay down and try to drown out everything going on in my mind. Which is difficult when I know that Maria is still having trouble with her ability. She’s freezing! I sit up and look at her over the seats. She’s bundled in layers of clothes, and the heat is on, but she’s shaking. “Maria.” She looks back at me and I hand her a blanket and my jacket.
“Thanks,” she says through chattering teeth. It doesn’t really seem to help her.
After a couple of stops for food and bathrooms, we finally reach Haylee’s apartment complex. It’s in a bad area of the city, and you can tell what kind of people live here based on the graffiti covering the dumpster and sidewalks. For whatever reason, no one has decided to deface the apartment walls. It might improve them, considering the paint is chipping off in large chunks, and the top half is a different shade of grey than the bottom half.
“Lovely,” Hazel murmurs. “Friends in high places, Jude?”
“Do we live in a much better place?” I retort. She doesn’t respond, but she doesn’t have to. She’s angry that I trust this girl that I barely know, and probably banged (yes), but that I didn’t trust Amy. “I actually know Haylee pretty well. I’ve known her for about five years now.”
“Did you just read my mind?” Hazel asks incredulously.
“I can’t control it, Hazel!”
“Then figure it out!” she squeaks. “I don’t want you seeing everything that goes on in my mind!”
“Oh, like it’s that easy!”
Toby is trying to imagine what Haylee looks like. He’s way off. He’s imagining some junkie looking girl with ratty hair and needle marks all over her arms. Yeah, like I’d hang out with someone like that. I like my girls STD free, thank you very much.
Somewhere nearby, someone is dreaming a completely nonsensical dream. The images are starting to get overwhelming again and I lose track of who is who and what’s happening. I’m already halfway up the stairs to her apartment and I don’t even remember getting out of the van. What was her apartment number again? 15? 30? 27, 55,3756151611565118948631… “Stop!” I scream out loud. The others stop and stare at me. “S-sorry… just… numbers.” Okay, so when I think about something specific, I hear it. All of it. I thought of a number and saw every other number that was being thought of nearby.
“Okaaaaaaay. Let’s just hurry up and find your witch,” Toby says nervously.
I hear a voice from the next floor up. “Jude?” Haylee. Thank God. “Why are you yelling?” She’s in front of me. Or… I’m in front of her. I’m at the door to her apartment now. “…k terrible.”
“I said you look terrible. What the hell happened to you? Are these your friends?” Her voice is way too loud. Everything is way too loud.
“Please tell me you have some sort of witch spell thing to knock me out.”
“Wait, seriously?” Maria sounds skeptical. “That doesn’t sound safe at all!”
“You need a knockout? Okay. Coming right up. You look like you need it…” Haylee lets us into her place and starts grabbing a few things and mixing them together, then hands me a glass of suspicious looking liquid. I don’t even question it and down it in one gulp.
“How long does it…” I barely get the words out before everything goes black. And silent. Wonderful silence.