“How do I do that?” I asked Jude, staring at him in disbelief.
“I-I…. I don’t know exactly,” he grimaced, shifting his eyes away from me.
I frowned, crossing my arms over my chest and putting a finger on my lip, “Well, do you remember anything at all? Anything new?”
He hung his head, looking deflated as he floated down to the couch, “No.”
“I just don’t know what I can do then,” I grunted in frustration.
“I’m sorry, I’m running out of time. I don’t know how to explain it though.”
“I get it. Let’s think.”
Preston cleared his throat, looking over at me with narrowed eyes, “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”
I sighed, shaking my head, “He wants to find his body, but I don’t know where to start.”
“And he doesn’t know where it is?”
Jude rolled his eyes, “I already said that doofus.”
I quirked an eyebrow at him, “He can’t hear you, you know.”
Jude shrugged, crossing his arms in a sulky pout, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, but that’s not exactly my fault.”
I snorted in amusement, but didn’t respond to him, instead looking at Preston for help, “Any ideas?”
“I saw a movie once where the ghost could “sense” his body, like a dog that can pick up scent. He was able to find his body and get back inside,” Preston said pointedly.
Jude scoffed, then laughed, shaking his head, “That has got to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Or death. Or whatever.”
I pursed my lips and scratched my head, “You know, actually that’s not a bad idea at all.”
“Wait,” Preston squinted at me, “Who said it was a bad idea in the first place? Was it Jude? Is he mocking me or something?”
Jude stuck his tongue out at him in a display of major maturity, “Is he mocking me or something?”
I rolled my eyes, “Enough guys. Focus.”
“Okay,” Preston said, inhaling a deep breath.
“All right, I’ll play nice. Scout’s honor,” he said with a sly grin, holding up three fingers.
I narrowed my eyes at his words, the familiarity of them plaguing my subconscious, but I shook away the feeling, not wanting to remember. “G-Good. Now, can you sense your body?”
He was too busy rolling his eyes to notice my discomfort, “You’re serious?”
“You said you were going to cooperate,” I reminded him gently.
“Is he not going to help?” Preston asked, borderline whining. He was more excited to solve this than me.
I gave him a look that told him to be quiet, which he did, then I turned back to Jude, “Can you please try? Help me, help you, okay?”
“Okay. Fine, what do I do?”
“Now who’s been visiting a therapist?” Preston muttered under his breath and rolled his eyes.
I shook my head at him and focused on Jude, “Close your eyes, I guess. Concentrate. Remember how it felt to be alive.”
He shut his eyes tight, opening one eye to look at me, “I don’t remember what it feels like to be alive though. I can only assume that I was.”
“Okay, well, imagine what it would feel like to be alive. Try to find out if something is, I don’t know, tethered to you. Spiritually. Physically,” I tried, winging it and hoping I was on the right track.
“Tethered?” Jude asked, closing his eyes again.
“Yeah. That is, try to see if you are being tugged in any specific direction. Is there something calling to you? Can you feel your body?”
“This sounds bogus, even to me,” Preston laughed.
“For once, I agree with him,” Jude said with a grin.
“Do you want my help or not? I can only go off of movies and stuff. I don’t know much about this type of thing. Humor me, okay?”
“All right,” Preston sighed, thinking I was talking to him.
“Do you feel anything? Anything at all?”
Jude was quiet for a half a second before he inhaled and sat up straighter, “Um yeah. I do.”
“Really?” I asked excitedly, “What do you feel?”
“Something is calling me, not like a voice though. Just...a feeling, I guess?” Jude said, breathing deeper as he concentrated harder.
“Okay good. That’s really good.”
“Anything?” Preston asked quickly, sitting cross legged on the recliner.
“I think so, yeah,” I said answering him, turning back to Jude, “Any particular direction?”
“Yes. This way,” He said, opening his eyes and floating up, pointing outside a window.
“All right, let’s go then,” I nodded, putting my hands on my hips determinedly.
Preston jumped to his feet quickly, “Where are we going?”
“Follow me,” Jude said, going out the window.
“What are we waiting for?”
“Jude went out the window. Let’s go so we don’t lose him.”
“You don’t think he’ll wait for us?” Preston said, trotting to the door with me and opening it.
I shrugged, “You never know.”
“There he is,” I said pointing down the street, looking both ways as I ran towards him.
“This is so awesome, man,” Preston said with a laugh, hot on my heels.
I coughed, not used to running, but grinned, “Agreed. Shoot he’s fast. Come one.”
“That’s what she said,” I laughed, then coughed harder as I tried to keep up with Jude.
“Dude! Nice!” Preston said, holding up his hand, not even breaking a sweat.
I missed his hand and stumbled, but caught myself, seeing Jude rounding a corner up ahead, “This way.”
“You suck at running. You run like a girl.”
“Do not,” I defended, shaking my head.
“Do so,” he chuckled.
“How are you...not even winded?” I panted, “It’s not even...fair.”
“I exercise. You should try it some time.”
“Yeah. Sure. I’ll do that,” I scoffed, spotting Jude once more, “There he goes.”
“Into the hospital, it looks like,” I said with a frown, slowing my pace as we drew closer to the entrance.
“The hospital? Dude, I hope he’s not taking us to the morgue,” Preston said, shuddering as he stopped, “Gross.”
“Well, it would make sense since he’s dead,” I wheezed, “Whew. Come on. I don’t want to lose him.”
“You’re the one lagging behind, bro. It’s pathetic. I slowed down for you.”
I tried to smack him, but I was too slow, “Shut up.”
“Loser,” he said laughing as we went inside.
“Am not. Crap,” I said looking around.
“What is it?”
“Lost him,” I said throwing my hands up.
“Yeah dude, you were distracting me.”
“So you’re blaming me?”
I scratched my head, “Ugh, no. Sorry. Come on, let’s go this way.”
“To the morgue?” He whined, reading the sign on the wall.
“Gross,” he repeated, wrinkling his nose, “Let’s ask for help or something. We can’t just wander around.”
“Can I help you boys with something?” A short, plump red haired nurse with a clipboard asked, looking at us.
“Well, that was easy,” Preston mumbled under his breath and I shot him a look.
“Um, I’m not sure. I’m looking for a friend who might be staying here,” I started.
She raised both eyebrows, “Might? You don’t know where your friend is?”
“No ma’am. We haven’t been friends for very long. I learned he might be at this hospital. Can you help me find him?” I asked pleading with my eyes as well as my voice.
“Well, I don’t know. Maybe. Come with me,” she said, waddling to the reception area, sitting down in front of the computer, “Name?”
“Kai,” I said, “Oh wait. You mean his name right?”
“Duuuude,” Preston chuckled and shook his head, while I did my best to ignore his commentary.
She pursed her lips at me and shifted uncomfortably in her tiny chair, “Yes. Name please.”
“Jude,” I said firmly, “J-U-D-E.”
“Last name?” She said without looking at me, her fingers poised above the keys.
“Uh, I’m not sure,” I admitted meekly.
“Dude,” Preston whispered again, shaking his head at me as he nudged me.
She sighed loudly, obviously annoyed with my incompetence as a human being. “I don’t know that it will let me search without the last name, but I will give it a try. This is very unusual.”
“We met at school. Like I said, I haven’t known him long. I just know that he’s here.”
“And who told you this?” she said in a clipped tone.
“He did,” I blurted, mentally kicking myself.
“But he didn’t bother telling you his room number?” she narrowed her eyes at me suspiciously.
I blew out a breath, trying to collect my thoughts and Preston jumped in, eyeing me, “We forgot it. I’m so sorry.”
She smiled at him sweetly, looking at his biceps, “Oh it’s alright. Let me just take a look here and see what I can find,” she said, typing in Jude’s first name.
“Thank you,” Preston said, oozing charm and causing another smile to brighten her face.
“Yes thanks,” I said, which produced only a frown from her. What the heck?
Preston smothered a smile with his hand, avoiding my eyes. I rolled my eyes in frustration. Of course. Mr. Charming over here gets whatever he wants, as usual, while I’m still chopped liver. Where was the fairness in that, I ask you? Where?
Her fingers tapped the keys with skill, searching for Jude. I wished that I hadn’t lost him, so that I wouldn’t have to put up with this lady. What was her problem exactly? Was I not good looking enough? Not like I cared, I wasn’t into chicks anyways. It just rubbed me the wrong way. Psh, she could suck my big toe.
She stood up, smiling at Preston as she wrote something on her notepad, ripping it off for him. “I found one youth named Jude. He’s in the ICU. This is his room number.”
“Thank you ma’am,” Preston said, winking at her.
She giggled and smoothed out her scrubs, “It’s not a problem, really. Glad to help. Just so you know, though, they might not let you in.”
“We’ll take our chances, thank you,” I grinned, as she nodded at me, looking at me with scorn. What the heck was her problem?
We walked in the direction of the elevators, taking it to the ICU as Preston laughed out loud, shaking his head. I snatched the paper from him and grunted, annoyed at being laughed at.
“What?” I snapped at him.
“She did not like you, dude.”
“Yeah, I gathered that, but I don’t know why.”
“You were kind of rude to her.” “What? She was rude to me first,” I scoffed, as the doors opened with a ding.
“True, but bro. You have got to work on your charm. No one likes a Crabby Abby.”
“A what?” I said, laughing.
“You heard me,” he sighed, “This way.”
“I can read, thank you,” I said, bickering with him.
“Okay then,” he chuckled, holding his hands up in surrender.
I stuck my tongue out at him, but smiled. “You know what this means, right?” I breathed, my heart beginning to race.
I turned to look at him, hope in my eyes, “He’s alive.”
He whistled as we turned a corner, “Yeah, that’s pretty intense.”
“You’re telling me. I mean all this time, I thought he was dead.”
“I think his room is down here,” Preston said pointing.
I found his room number according to the paper, reaching for the handle, “Yes. Here it is.”
“Are you a family member of the patient?” A male nurse asked, intercepting us.
“No we’re not. We’re friends of his, but-” I started.
The nurse held up his hand to halt me, “I’m sorry, but he’s only allowed to see family. You’ll have to come back when he is allowed other visitors.”
“And when would that be?” Preston asked, one hand on his hip, the other in his hair.
“Probably when he wakes up from his coma,” he said deadpan.
“Coma?” Preston asked.
“Wow, is everyone rude here or what?” I said, an exasperated chuckle escaping my lips.
“Excuse me?” The nurse asked, standing up straighter and looking down his straight nose at me. He crossed his arms, “I’m sorry. I’m going to have to ask you to leave or go wait in the waiting room.”
“Bro, listen,” Preston started, leading him away from me, nodding his head in the direction of the room as he walked. “I’m sorry if….”
I smiled, grabbing his file from the door. Their voices trailed off as stuck my head in the room to make sure the coast was clear. I snuck into the room, closing the door behind me with a soft click. I breathed out a sigh of relief as I turned around.
“Took you long enough,” Jude said, turning to look at me with a spooked expression.
“Sorry. We lost you. Had to ask for directions,” I said, moving forward.
He shrugged, turning back to his body in the bed forlornly, “It’s okay.”
I looked at the bed, my eyes doing a double take as I took in all the tubes, the machines hooked up to him, the wrappings on him, a couple of contusions and bruises. What happened to him?
“What’s wrong with me?” he asked softly, turning to me.
“Let’s see here,” I said looking down at the clipboard, my eyes going wide as I whispered, “No way.”
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
I sat down and looked up at him with a dazed expression, “My dad was the one that hit you. You’re the other person from my accident. It really was all my fault.”