I’m woken up by a harsh scream. My eyes open quickly to see Sarah standing over me almost as pale as a ghost.
“Oh my god what the hell happened?!” I hear her scream out.
“Wh-What?” I say, still quite dazed.
“You’re covered in blood!”
I try to stand, but I have some difficulty doing so.
“I’m…fine. It isn’t mine. I think.”
“You…think? How could you not be sure?”
My head begins to pound once more. Another shape walks up and my vision focuses and I see it is Iris. She turns a similar shade of pale when she sees me.
“What the hell happened?” She nearly screams.
I can feel my heart pounding all the way up to my throat. “I…I woke up covered in blood. Then I found the gym teacher’s body mauled in the corner of the gym,” I explain.
“You…what?” Iris asks.
“I don’t know what is going on, to be frank with you.”
“Can you start from the beginning?” Sarah asks.
“The last thing I remember was going to sleep and then dreaming about that guy, Micah.”
“Forget that, you’ve been missing for two weeks!” Iris calls back. “They thought you ran away or something.”
“I’ve been what now?”
“Today is March 14th, John. Nobody has seen you since the 26th,”
“No…that isn’t possible. Today is Monday.”
Sarah and Iris look at me in confusion. The bursts of light seem brighter today.
“No, today is Wednesday, March 14th,” Iris says.
My head pounds like a bass drum and I can barely find the strength to stand. I look down to my phone and the date is as plain as the sky. March 14th, 2029.
I drop my phone and it bounces off of the pavement below, making a sort of clang. I freeze up instantly and stare straight at the ground. “Wh…no…that can’t…how…”
“John, please look at me,” Sarah says.
My mouth runs dry and I try to re-moisten it up, but all I taste is blood. I look up at them, no doubt with some sort of crazy look in my eyes. “What happened? What is happening to me?” I fall to my knees and look up at the sky. It is the same blue as it always is. It is like what Sarah had said before, only in certain instances do we take the small things into consideration.
“John, are you okay? I can leave you need more time to take this in,” Sarah says.
“No, please don’t leave…as much as this is all to take in, I don’t want to do it alone.”
She walks over to me and kneels beside me. Then she does something I don’t expect. She hugs me, cradling my head in her neck. I don’t even realize that I start crying. I let out the troubles of my day in one shallow inaudible groan.
“We’re going to find out what happened to you, okay?”
I close my eyes and slowly nod my head. “I appreciate it. You don’t know how much this means that at least someone else is here.”
“Let’s start by going and getting you changed and washed up. I trust you can manage that part alone?” Sarah asks.
“He better be able to,” Iris replies.
I manage out a small chuckle and nod. I wipe my eyes and stand up. Sarah walks me over to her car. It is a small 2027 Prius and by small I mean small. “Wait a moment, you can drive?” I say, wiping my eyes once more.
“Yeah, I moved from Colorado. You can get your license there when you’re sixteen. It’s been like that since Avery came in.”
“Damn, take me to Colorado,” I say, letting out a hollow laugh. It feels good to laugh. She giggles and opens the door. I take a seat in the back and nearly have to bend my head over to even fit in the stupid thing.
“Oh come on. You don’t have to exaggerate. I know it is small, but it was the only thing my mom would let me get.”
“I don’t know, I was thinking of doing the same kind of thing,” Iris says, laughing.
“Seems like if I stay here too long I’ll start growing shorter,” I joke.
“Alright alright, the both of you can quit it. Just because you went missing doesn’t give you free reigns for jokes on my height.”
I don’t answer. “I’m just joking. What? You two are the only ones who can make jokes?”
“I guess not,” Iris says.
“But honestly, it’s nice to hear you haven’t lost your sense of humor in the time you were gone,” Sarah says.
I nod back at her, trying to keep a smile up.
“How does something like this even happen?” Iris asks.
“I don’t remember much. The last thing I do remember is I was sleeping and I heard these shouts, or screams or something. I could see bits and pieces, but it looked like a bunch of people in my room, the rest of it was just a bunch of colors and shapes.”
“It sounds like you were kidnapped or something. I mean, if you are telling the truth,” Iris says.
“What?” I ask.
“I’m just saying…there’s an equal chance that you aren’t telling the truth, so how do we know that it isn’t that case?” She asks.
“Iris, I believe him.”
“Yeah, well, people believe all kinds of things. It doesn’t necessarily make them true.”
Sarah puts the keys into the ignition and fires up the small car.
“I didn’t kill anybody.”
“I never said you did. I’m just saying that I don’t know if you’re telling the truth.”
“Where would I have gone?”
“I don’t know. I’m not the person who went missing.”
“Iris, stop. This isn’t the place or time. Someone has died for goodness’ sake.”
“Maybe that makes it the perfect time to talk about this.”
The car pulls out of the parking lot and onto the street.
“What does that mean?” I ask.
“I don’t know, whatever you want it to mean, I guess. One possibility is that we just picked you up.”
“And another possibility is that we are transporting a killer away from the crime scene, thereby becoming accessories to the crime,” Iris says.
“But I didn’t…you aren’t…” I say.
“It’s just a possibility.”
“But you still got in the car. If you’d really believed me to be a killer, why would you have done that?”
Iris stops for a minute. “I don’t believe that you’re a killer, not consciously.”
“What…?” Sarah asks.
“Your parents, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors surrounding them and yourself?” Iris asks.
I don’t answer, but my lack of an answer seems to be an answer in of itself.
“So, they’re true.”
“John, I’m so sorry,” Sarah says.
“Even you’ve heard them?” I ask.
“She only knows what everybody else does. You used to come in with black eyes sometimes and get really nervous when people asked you where they came from. You get abused at home, don’t you?”
“Iris! Okay, that’s enough. You’ve gone a little too far and you can’t just ask people stuff like that!” Sarah’s voice rises.
“I’m just saying, it’s completely possible that he snapped and-”
“Iris. No more.”
Iris puts up a hand to argue, but then drops it.
“You don’t need to believe me.” I say.
“What?” Iris asks.
“I wouldn’t believe me if I were in your shoes. I know of my innocence, whether you believe it or not is up to you.”
“We need a change of subject…where around here do you live, John? I’m going to need some directions to your place,”
We turn the corner onto the Boulevard.
“It’s over on Quarry Crossing, you’ve quite a ways to go,” I reply.
“Quarry...that’s like, forty minutes away,” Iris says.
“Yeah,” I reply.
“And since you don’t drive…?” Sarah asks.
“You’ve really clammed up, huh?” Iris asks.
I look to her, a headache forming. “When have you ever known me to be the talkative type? I mean, honestly?” I ask.
“Please, the both of you. Please just stop. It isn’t helping anything. And Iris, please don’t start anything else,” Sarah says.
The next few minutes are filled with complete silence. I’m silently glad for the momentary relief. I’ve shown too much of my emotions. They probably think I’m like some stray dog they’ve picked up on the side of the street.
“Hey, do you need a ride for school?” Sarah says quietly. “I could come and pick you up if you like?” Sarah asks.
“No, it’s fine. You don’t have to do that,” I say, blinking.
“Do you want me to-”
“No, it’s fine.”
“John, it’s seriously no-”
“Sarah, it’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.”
“You can’t shut everything out of your life, John.”
Sarah returns her focus to the road and it remains quiet.
“Take the next right up here.” I mention.
Sarah nods her head and turns up the road. Familiar houses fill my vision, we’re not far now.
“It’s going to be one final right after the shop there,” I say.
Once we turn onto my road I can see my house come into view. Sarah begins to slow down and she comes to a complete stop along the side of the road.
“I’ll just wait out here, okay?” Iris says.
“I’ll come with you…” Sarah says.
I nod my head and open the car door. Sarah does the same with hers. She keeps the car on. We approach my front door. I would wonder why Sarah is coming in with me, but maybe I should just silently thank her that I don’t have to face my father alone.
I stop walking momentarily when I see the front door is wide open. I instantly stop and feel a chill down my spine. Sarah stops behind me and she looks at me, confused.
“Go in quiet, I think something is wrong,” I whisper back.
I slip inside the door, Sarah following right behind me and I notice that all of the lights in the living room have been turned off. I walk towards the staircase near the back of the room and begin walking up towards my room. I throw open my door and almost double over from the intense smell that is thrown in my face as soon as I do.
It isn’t just the smell, but the sight as well. Lying on the ground and across my bed are the dead bodies of my parents. Their blood has dried to my bed sheets and the floor below, but it is absolutely everywhere. Their bodies had been mutilated just as Mr. Underwood’s have and they both have a bullet hole straight through their temple.
My eyes are darting back from my mother to my father and I can’t help but hyperventilate. My legs feel like jelly and I have to hold the door behind me for support. Sarah makes it up the stairs and sees my parents over my shoulder.
“Oh god…” She says.
I take a step back, my eyes growing wide. I can feel my heart beating out of my chest. Any amounts of dizziness I felt before is multiplied about a hundred times.
Sarah’s voice sounds like it’s coming through heavy static when she speaks, “John...John, are you okay?”
I nearly fall over and look back into the bedroom. My throat is running dry, I can’t find my voice. Sarah closes the door and turns my head towards her.
“Listen, John. I can’t possibly imagine what kind of pain you’re feeling right now, but I’m here for you. You aren’t alone in this, okay? Let’s go back out to the car, we can go to someone for help,” she says.
I feel like I’m in some sort of dream, like none of this is real. Yeah, that’s it. I’m just dreaming and I’m just really lucid right now. I’d like to think that, but there’s this pervading feeling that that isn’t the truth, the feeling that I’m awake for the long run here. I turn back towards her nod slowly and silently. I turn around and nearly trip on the way down the stairs, but I catch myself. I swallow hard and make it to the bottom of the steps.
“John, can you speak to me? I don’t like this silence…” Sarah says.
“I...I don’t know what to say.”
“Listen, John. I’m here for you and so is Iris. We’re both here for you. This is awful…but you don’t have to go through this alone.”
I open the front door and step outside. I turn my head and give her a weak smile.
We walk back to the car and I step inside, resting my head on my arm as I do.
“You didn’t change…” Iris says.
“Uh, yeah...there’s been a...change of plans,” Sarah says.
She pulls out into the street and I close my eyes. I float around in my thoughts for a few minutes, dissecting everything that has just happened. Just then I hear a bit of whispers from the front.
“What the hell happened to him?” Iris asks quietly.
“What? Are they actually that bad?”
“They’re dead, Iris.”
“What? Where are we going now?”
“We’re going to report this to the police. We’re going to see if we can get him somewhere to stay for the night. If they can’t then I’ll bring him to my place.”
“Are you sure that’s the best thing to do?”
“I feel awful, he has gone through so much,” Sarah says, hushed.
“Sarah, I’m not sure you understand what I’m saying. Do you know what this means? You need to stop the car,” Iris says, worried.
“He did it. I mean, his parents are dead! He obviously tweaked out…” Iris says.
“Iris, you can’t really be-”
“Sarah, stop the car,” Iris says, louder this time.
“Sarah, stop the c-”
My eyes flip open and I see the car careening off of the side of the street. I see that Iris grabbed the wheel to try and manually stop the vehicle. I bolt upright and look around. The car is flying off of the side of the street right into the woods.
“Iris! Let go of the wheel!” I say.
“I need to get out of this damn car!”
“Iris calm down!” Sarah says. We hurtle past two trees and Sarah jerks the wheel away from Iris and looks back out of the front window. I do the same and see we’re headed off of a cliff. I try to yell, but it is too late, the front end of the Prius nosedives down and we drop like stones.