Chapter Three~ Accident
I give the guitar a strum, getting a feel for it. A tiny squeak of feedback tears through the speakers as I adjust the microphone to my height. Behind me, Brie gives the drums a spin. She taps out the beat to our first song, and instincts take over. We get through three songs without incident. When we’re done, I’m surprised by the cheers in the crowd.
The band playing the party made their way to the edge of the make-shift stage as we played. He pulls Brie aside, but I can’t hear over the noise. Mason picks me up in a bear hug, spinning me around. “You guys rocked it!” He has to yell in my ear.
“Thanks!” I yell back. I motion that I need a drink, so navigates through the crowd towards the patio.
Brie comes rushing over as I chug a bottle of water. “They want us to try opening for them at their next show next weekend. What do you say?”
I feel a slight twinge of guilt for going behind our manager’s back, but this is far too good of an opportunity to pass up. “Definitely!” I grin.
Brie takes off excitedly, to give our confirmation to the band. Mason tugs my hand. “Let’s go enjoy the rest of your party.” I follow him back out to the dance floor.
“You know it was a good party when the mess after it is this bad.” Brie only half-complains; I can tell she’s thrilled with how it turned out.
Mason pipes in, “Isn’t there some kind of rule against cleaning up after your own birthday party?” He shoots a look at the garbage in my hands, destined for the bag at his feet. “Shouldn’t you go sit down or something?”
I give him a wry smile. “Actually, I think the rule is you can’t not help clean up when your best friend throws you the most awesome party ever.” Brie grins.
“Yup,” She looks at Mason. “And this is how we roll, so you better get used to it.”
“Okay, okay,” Mason grabs another round of garbage. “I’m no fool. I can see when I’m outnumbered. And you’re right, Kat, I was looking at it from the wrong angle, I guess.”
“No worries,” I tell him.
“Yeah, we take some getting used to.” Brie adds, jokingly.
“Ain’t that the truth,” Uncle Joe pipes in. “Listen, why don’t you guys leave this and come back tomorrow to finish. It’s late.”
Brie eyes her uncle, “Is this so you can go to sleep, or so we can?”
Uncle Joe looks a little sheepish. “So I can get to bed.” He admits. “I can’t party like I used to. I’m whooped.”
“Fine, fine!” Brie tells him. “We’ll let the old man go to bed.” She softens the insult with a kiss on his cheek. “Thanks again, Uncle Joe. We’ll be back early tomorrow afternoon to finish.”
I give him a kiss on the cheek, too. “Thanks for the venue, Uncle Joe. It rocked.”
“Yeah, thanks. And it was nice meeting you.” Mason shakes his hand.
“You, too.” Uncle Joe walks us to the car. “Stay out of trouble, ya hear.”
We all agree at once and begin the trek back home. I’m spending the night at Brie’s, so we drop Mason off at his house. Brie tolerates our parting kiss for a few minutes before she starts making gagging noises. I promise to text Mason when we get to Brie’s before we go. Brie turns the music on, but not loud enough to be obnoxious during this early morning hour.
Upon arriving at Brie’s, we crash. Brie’s still snoring gently when I awaken. I quietly make my way to the bathroom, giving Brie’s mom’s room a wide berth. I’m in no mood for freaky porcelain clowns, thank you. I make it safely back to Brie’s room, without any clown incidents.
Grabbing my phone, I see no new texts, so Mason must still be sleeping, too. I grab my bag and bravely make my way back to the bathroom. I take a shower while I’m waiting. When finished, I wake up Brie and text Mason. We still have a lot of cleaning up to do at Uncle Joe’s. I head to the kitchen to start breakfast, knowing from years of experience to stay out of Brie’s way for at least a half-hour.
Sure enough, movement from the direction of Brie’s room. I start some coffee and fry up some bacon and eggs. By the time it’s done Brie has stumbled in. She makes herself a cup of coffee and then looks at me. “Good morning.” She’s still grumpy.
I smile. “Good morning, sunshine.”
She sticks her tongue out at me. “You’re all dressed and everything, huh? You could’ve woken me.”
I give her a level look.
“Okay, maybe not.” She concedes. “I guess you know better by now.”
“You think?” I smirk at her. “I like all of my extremities, thanks.” This at least gets a chuckle before she digs into her bacon and eggs. I glance at the clock. “What time are we going for cleanup duty?”
She shrugs. “Soon, I don’t want to be doing it all day.” I nod while chewing my own food. “What do you want to do tonight?”
“We have school tomorrow.” I remind her, “So nothing too outrageous.”
“How about a movie?”
I grin. We both love the same movies, so I know her answer before I even ask the question, “The new zombie movie?”
“Oh, yeah,” she grins back, and then sighs. “And you might as well call Mason. I know you’re dying to. Tell him about tonight, too.”
“You are a really great best friend, you know that?”
“Yeah, I know.”
Monday morning Brie and I find that the entire junior and senior classes are still raving about our party. I’m hoping this dies down soon. By Wednesday, the news that we are performing this weekend with the band from my party has made its way through the school. I’m glad for the publicity, but as per my usual MO, I try to push it to the back of my mind. No easy feat when someone brings it up every thirty seconds. Brie is just plain ecstatic about the show and the hype it’s getting, and Mason is really excited for us.
Friday night finds us unloading Brie’s mom’s station wagon, again. I had gotten my permit on Monday after school, but my car is still off limits until I’m fully licensed. We could never fit all of our equipment into it anyway, I suppose.
Mason makes our setup so much easier than usual. Even Brie is impressed with his dedication to our little band. So far, all of my fears about having the two of them not getting along have gone unfounded. It makes me happy that they get along so well.
I try not to think about having my mom meet Mason. I’ve already told her all about him, and vice-versa. I’ve also begged her not to embarrass me. She promised to try, so we are having an official meet the mom Sunday dinner. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully, she does not get into her whole ‘you fell for the boy next door’ spiel. I’ve been hearing it all week.
I force myself back to the present. The almost too hip (but not) coffee shop has a nice vibe. Brie is busy with her wires while I tune my guitar. We’re up first, and the place is packed. I’m surprised that so many of our classmates showed up. It makes me feel good until I spot Kiera’s group. I don’t know why they came, except maybe hoping we screw up, so they can never let us live it down.
I see the manager and Brie talking. She holds up her hand, indicating we have five minutes. Mason gives me a quick kiss for good luck, then makes his way to the front of the little stage. Brie gives me a thumbs up before settling behind her drums. I know this means we’re wired, completely live. I take a deep breath and wait for her to start.
Mason suddenly is next to me again. An acoustic guitar’s in place of my electric one. I shoot Brie a dirty look. They don’t play fair. This means we’re leading with our slow song. She just shrugs, and Mason has disappeared. No doubt they planned this.
Brie taps out the beat. It’s time to either start singing or throw a fit. I decide to sing: plucking and strumming the guitar, enjoying the softness of it with the song. As I hit the last bar, I cringe inwardly and wait for the crowd’s reaction. It takes a second, but then they roar in applause. I smile. I can’t help it.
Mason is back, with my electric guitar, and he looks a little sheepish. Shaking my head minutely, I smile so he knows we’re good.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Kiera and Shelby walking out from the backstage area, on the side of the stage. No doubt that they had lost all hope of us embarrassing ourselves and decided to go flirt with the other band. I turn my attention back to the crowd (no time to wonder what they’re up to now) and focus as Brie begins the fast, complicated beat to our next song.
As I strike the first chord, something is off. Before I can place it, I hit the next chord, and suddenly I’m flying through the air, my body pulsating. That’s what it is. Someone must have plugged my guitar into the wrong amp! When I hit the powerful chord, the amp blew up. This thought is cut off by my harsh impact with first the wall, then the stage floor.
I still feel electricity pulsing through me. It’s painful, but mostly I wonder how I’m still conscious. I will never make jokes about an electric chair again—not that I ever have before. Through the pain, I see Mason being held back by the manager. He’s trying to help me, but with the electricity still coursing through me, it’s too dangerous. A few feet from me, Brie is sitting on the floor. She’s dazed after being thrown by the explosion. She looks at me, realizes what’s happening, and takes off towards the equipment. A few seconds later, the pain and electricity mercifully stop. Unable to move momentarily, I just sit there. Then I rip the smoldering guitar strap from my head, throwing what’s left of my beloved guitar on the ground next to me like a venomous snake.
“Kat!” The manager releases Mason, and he’s by my side in seconds. “Are you alright?”
“Kat,” Brie is right behind him. “Omigod, are you okay?”
My head is fuzzy, like an old TV that needs to be smacked. I nod, unable to articulate anything else.
The manager runs over. “I’ve called 911; an ambulance is on its way.” He looks down at me. “You probably shouldn’t move until they get here.”
I nod again. The fuzziness is making it hard to focus. For a second, I note that the place is now empty, but then I’m distracted as the fuzz begins to dissipate into a tingling that’s running all over my body.
It’s not a completely comfortable feeling, but it’s not quite painful either. Mostly, it’s just annoying, but I’ll take it, because my head feels better, and now I can sort of think and focus.
The first question that pops into my mind is directed at Brie. “What the hell happened?”
“Some idiot switched the cords from your amp to the bass amp from the other band. It blew when it couldn’t take it.” Brie explains.
Mason looks pissed. I’ve never seen him pissed off before. It’s kind of hot. Oh yeah, I shake my head, trying to focus. “Was it an accident, or intentional?” Mason asks her.
“It could have been either.” Brie frowns and looks at me again. “Are you okay?” She repeats.
Both of them look at me intently. “I think so. I feel really weird.”
They share a look. Before I can ask them what it was for, an EMT rushes in. The next hour is chaos. Brie, Mason and the manger explain what happened to the police that have arrived. I insist Brie gets checked out too, since she was also onstage when it happened. Then I’m stuck playing twenty questions with my own EMT. They take us to the hospital: Brie in her own ambulance and Mason somehow manages to convince the EMT to let him ride in mine. I call my mom to meet us there. She’s freaking out. Brie makes the manager promise to lock all of our equipment in his office for the night. My body still tingles.
The emergency room isn’t very private—with only curtains separating the beds. I have Mason pull all the curtains except the ones between my bed and Brie’s, so we’re all together. I can tell when our moms arrive, almost simultaneously, by the flurry of activity they create.
They do their concerned mom thing. When my mom calms down, I introduce her and Mason. If anything good came from this, at least she’s too distracted to embarrass me. They hook me up to a ton of machines. I can’t help but notice that Brie is machine free. I frown at this.
Before I have a chance to say anything about it, the ER doctor makes his way over to us. It’s not until he pulls my mom aside that I really start to worry. This can’t be good.
The doctor and my mom come back, but he focuses his attention on Brie. “We’re going to release you. Other than some minor bumps and bruises, you were very lucky. Take it easy for a couple of days, you’ll probably feel worse tomorrow than you do now.” He continues on with some more instructions, before he turns his attention to me. “Katarina,” I cringe at my full name, “you are going to be our guest tonight. We want to keep you for observation. You took quite a jolt of electricity and we want to be sure there won’t be any residual effects.”
I pout. Sure, I’m tingly, but I’m fine and I just want to go home. My mom is on it before a complaint can leave my lips. “It’s just for one night, Kat. I can stay with you if you want.”
Mason chimes in. “Or I can. I already called my mom. She says to feel better.”
My mom’s eyebrows shoot way up. I give her a level look. It’s not like we’d be unsupervised, what with all the doctors, nurses—her coworkers no less. She must realize this also, because, to my surprise, she answers quickly. “I guess that’s alright. I’ll be back in the morning?”
My head is answering yes before my mouth can. “Love you, mom.”
She kisses my head. “Love you, too, Kat. Call me if you need anything.” She gives Brie and her mom a hug before saying goodbye. I see her stop and talk with the doctor again. Obviously satisfied, she gives one more wave, then leaves.
Brie stays until they move me up to my room. I promise to call her first thing in the morning. She looks a little guilty leaving without me.
Mason stays right by my side, even when he has to cram his body into the corner of the elevator, to accommodate the rolling bed they insist I stay in. I guess I can cross embarassment off of our relationship list. I can’t think of much worse than this.
Finally they get us in a room. It’s a double bed but no one is occupying it, basically leaving the room for me and Mason. I look at him. “This sucks.” I state the obvious.
“You get zapped by some large, unknown amount of electricity, and you’re complaining about a hospital stay?” He shakes his head. “Frankly, I don’t think this sucks anywhere near as much as watching you get hurt.”
I consider this, and I can see his perspective, so I acquiesce. “Fine, you win.” I soften a little. “Thank you for staying, I mean.”
He doesn’t meet my gaze as he answers. “It’s as much for me as it is for you. It scared me, seeing you like that.”
“I wish I knew what happened.” A memory vaguely pulls at me. I try to recall it, but it slips away.
“Me, too.” He answers. “I-“
He’s cut off by a nurse entering. She fidgets with a machine then looks sternly at us. “You need rest.” She points to me. “You may as well lie down over there.” She motions Mason to the empty bed next to me, and then leaves, shutting off all but the light next to my bed.
“I guess this is goodnight then.” Mason plops down on the other bed.
“Goodnight, Mason.” I whisper, watching him fall asleep quickly.
I’m not so lucky in the sleep department. My body is still tingling, and it’s hard to get comfortable much less fall asleep. I suppose I could call the nurse and ask for something, but I really don’t want to.
So I begin counting ceiling tiles and replaying tonight’s events in my mind. I stop when I recall something. Something right before the explosion occurred.
There’s no way I would vocalize this thought to anyone (even Brie or Mason without real proof) because of the severity of it. But I recall, almost perfectly, Kiera and Shelby walking away from where all of the equipment is set up. I remember my confusion. Well, I’m not confused anymore.
First, I’m pissed. But as that wanes, I realize how serious it would be to bring the allegations in my thoughts to the attention of anyone else. I’d be accusing them of a crime. I certainly don’t have anything to go on, other than seeing them and a hunch. I decide to keep this to myself, for now.
Mason’s snoring is oddly comforting. I angle myself slightly in my bed, as best I can with all of the wires attached to me, so I can see him better. He’s still gorgeous, but in rest he has a peacefulness about him that lies dormant when he’s awake. Or, maybe it’s just that he dazzles me when he’s awake, and the last thing I feel is peaceful.
This is the first real chance I’ve had to study him without having to worry about my appearance. He’s in need of a haircut; his dark hair is longer than when we first met. A few wayward strands hang into his eyes. If I was closer to him, I would brush them off of his forehead. My gaze travels the length of his face: his straight roman-inspired nose and his strong jaw contrasting it. I know when his eyes open, I will get lost in their blue depths.
Part of me, albeit a small part now, is still waiting to wake up from the dream that is Mason. I’m well over the shock that he likes me, but not only is he great looking; he’s also smart, funny, kind, and sweet. Pretty much perfect, for me anyway…like he was made just to be mine.
My thoughts are interrupted when the door opens and another nurse quietly walks in. She makes her way over to my side of the room, checking all the machines on her way. “Can’t sleep, honey?” Oh, she’s much nicer than the last nurse. I shake my head no. “I’ll go get something for you.”
I don’t turn her down as she walks out of the room. I know I should be tired. I’m just not. Typically, sleep and I don’t have any problems. I wonder vaguely if the tingling feeling still coursing throughout me has anything to do with my sleeplessness when the door opens and the nice nurse re-enters, a small cup in each of her hands. “Take these, honey, and you’ll fall asleep soon.”
I comply and thank her before she leaves again. I resume counting ceiling tiles, but don’t get very far before the pills kick in and I drift off into a medicated haze.
They release me the next day, but not before I catch snippets of whispered conversations between my mother and the doctor. Phrases like ‘should have been killed’ and ‘unexplainable’ float in. I can tell by the looks Mason gives me that he’s overheard, too. I was very lucky, considering the amount of electricity they figure I was shocked with. I still feel tingly and almost…charged, with nervous energy. But besides that, never better.
It’s a relief to get home. Mason and my mom insist I rest, but I hold my ground and demand a shower first. I need to wash the hospital smell off of me. My mom insists Mason go home for an hour or so also, so she can start the dinner that she is still determined to make. Mason gives me a chaste kiss before he crosses the backyard to his own house.
While standing under the hot water helps, it seems to increase the tingling sensation just under my skin.
I reach for my shampoo, only half looking at my hand and for just a split second I can swear my hand is glowing. I pause in mid grab and examine my outstretched hand. I give my head a small shake and grumble to myself about overactive imaginations, when I very plainly see a distinct shimmer glimpse over my hand and travel up my arm. What in the hell is that?
I wash my hair and finish my shower. Unsure exactly what to do and perhaps in a state of shock, I get out and towel off. The creepy shimmer has vanished. Shrugging, I chalk it up to paranoia and reach for my comb.
I keep my comb above the sink, and as I reach for it, my hand passes next to the electrical outlet on the wall. A loud spark of electricity jumps from the small slots of the socket and into my arm. I jump back: scared, then confused because it doesn’t hurt.
Unsure if it’s the best move to make, I slowly reach out for the comb again. This time, I’m expecting the shock, and I don’t get scared or jump away when it comes. It still doesn’t hurt, and the closer I get, the steadier the shock gets until I can see the crackle transferring between the wall and my hand. The tingling under my skin feels supercharged like insane pins and needles. It begins to get uncomfortable, so I quickly snatch up my comb and pull my hand back.
Disturbed, I bring my comb to my room and get dressed. When done I sit at the edge of my bed. I study my hands again, looking at my palms for another shimmer—anything to confirm my sanity. As I study the backs of my hands for any anomalies, I see and feel a powerful current of electricity run between them. My eyebrows shoot to the top of my head, and I know in my heart that this is not normal.
A knock on my door lowers my hands and shakes me from my newfound freakiness. My mom pops her head through the door before I answer.
“How are you feeling?” She asks, looking concerned.
I manage a weak smile. “Better, thanks. The shower helped.”
She chuckles. “You never did like going to the doctors.”
I shudder involuntarily. “Nope, still don’t, either. Do you need help with dinner?”
She shakes her head. “You are supposed to rest. I’ve got the couch set up for you.”
“Thanks, Mom, I’ll be down in a minute.”
She doesn’t bother to shut the door behind her. I take a few more moments to collect myself, but If I don’t get downstairs that my mom will come back up to check on me. I don’t want to worry her. Especially until I figure out if there’s anything to worry about.
A quick glance in the mirror confirms that I still look like me. No freaky glowing skin or sparks flying out of my ears. This is comforting. I bank all of the weirdness in the recesses of my mind to think about later. Like when my new boyfriend isn’t coming over to dinner for the first time.
When I’m halfway down the stairs, there’s a knock on the back door. I smile, knowing Mason is here. The door open, my mom and he exchanging pleasantries as I round the corner into the kitchen.
My mom permits a quick hello before she banishes me to the couch. I can’t really complain, because Mason is following. As soon as we are no longer in view of the kitchen, he pulls me close and slips his arms around my waist.
“How are you feeling?” He murmurs into my ear; sending a delicious sensation up my spine. “You look better. I was worried about you…even this morning you seemed a bit shaky.”
I gape at him idiotically for a moment before forming a reply. “I feel better, thanks.” I say breathlessly.
He dips his head and gives me the sweetest kiss I’ve ever had. It’s a good thing he’s supporting most of my weight, because my legs turn to Jell-O and I actually swoon. I’ve never swooned before and my face flushes in embarrassment. From his soft chuckle, he has noticed my reaction.
“Maybe we should sit?” He suggests.
“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.” I lead him to the sofa.
Once we’re settled, I grab the remote and turn on the TV. I flick randomly through channels, pausing momentarily when I see the BioNano logo on the news. I turn up the sound and the female news anchor’s voice fills the room.
“We’ve had the first official medical use of BioNano’s new nanobots and it has been a complete success.” The picture changes to a young army man in fatigues, then to the same man, with one leg. “When Michael lost his leg in service he never dreamed we would have the technology to regenerate it. Three days ago the BioNano doctors implemented their first nonclinical use for regenerating tissue and cells. Today, Michael has his leg again.”
A doctor comes onto the screen. “Michael’s journey is just beginning. We are able to give him back his leg, but he will still have to undergo months of physical therapy. So far, he can wiggle his toes and he’s in high spirits.”
The female voice returns. “This is history in the making, folks. Stay tuned for last night’s sports scores.” I turn down the volume.
“Wow.” I say. “It’s crazy to see them in action.”
“I know.” Mason agrees. “I mean, I know we were just there and saw most of the theories behind it, but you’re right: it’s crazy to see them utilize it.”
“I guess it works.” I say more to myself than to Mason.
He looks at me quizzically. “You really have some serious reservations about them, huh?”
I make a face. “It just seems too freaky, too…chaotic to control, to me anyway. It’s like BioNano is playing God, but history and science has shown us repeatedly how dangerous and unstable that is. And it seems to be moving so fast. They just grew the guy a leg in three freaking days. It makes me nervous, that’s all.”
“I can see that.” Mason smiles. My mood automatically lightens, and worries of microscopic robots flee my mind. I change the channel and find a funny movie. We spend the rest of the time laughing until my mom calls us to dinner.
Dinner goes surprisingly smooth. My mom and Mason get along better than I could have ever asked for. I just hope they stay that way. My mom refuses any help cleaning up, and since tomorrow is a school day (a school day I plan on attending no matter what my mom says) we call it an early night. I’m lying in bed, trying to relax and go to sleep when I hear my phone go off. Mason texts “goodnight” and it brings a smile to my lips. I reply with the same, and promise to see him in the morning. Mason occupies my thoughts until I drift off to sleep, much later than usual.