Authors: Thomas Grave
Hidden in his eyes, the black and purple clouds still swirled with electricity, crackling from within. He looked around, sure his mother could see what was happening to him, but she fixated on the burning house. Even still, dark energy swirled within him. He knew it was there. He’d never felt anything so strong before. A droning hum, like a live microphone held too close to a speaker, filled his ears. Then, not a few feet away from him, he saw . . . himself, or rather, a twin version of himself. This couldn’t be real. Maybe the shock wave of the roof coming off Sara’s house and the escaping energy had also affected his vision. Or it could be a figment of his imagination.
He gazed at the image of himself. No, it wasn’t an exact replica. There were subtle differences. His twin had an extra layer of lean muscle to him, and he stood tall, cockiness exuding from him, cockiness Sebastian had never felt. His twin’s hair hung limp with wetness. The scowl on his face was dark and vicious, sending a flutter of weakness through Sebastian.
He wore a deadly hint of a smile and held his head cocked to the side, daring Sebastian to move, to speak, as if he held a secret that could destroy him.
This was not himself.
Could not be himself.
Sebastian couldn’t make that expression if he tried.
Behind his twin, fiery debris continued to fall as the bystanders ran for cover, their screams drowned out by the pounding in his head. If his mother still stood beside him, Sebastian couldn’t tell, couldn’t turn his head to see or block out the buzzing in his ears to listen for her voice. He watched the embers slowly rain down, casting a haze on his twin’s sinister gaze. Parts of the dried grass caught fire. Flames roared to life, screaming to all who would listen to their dark hymn. Sebastian blinked a couple of times, hoping his twin, this apparition, this hallucination, would disappear. When his sight returned to the image, his vision was partially blurred. He had hoped his twin would be gone, but it was still there, that evil smile, mocking him.
The twin stepped toward him.
Closer and closer.
Sebastian blacked out.
Monday, 6:15 am
What happened at Sara’s house must have been a dream. It had to be.
The blaring noise of Sebastian’s alarm went off, grating on his nerves like a meat cleaver hacking into his brain. It forced his eyes open, and he stared at the ceiling for what seemed like forever. The blaring sound repeated over and over again.
With a tremendous amount of effort, Sebastian reached over to his alarm clock to find the magic button that would bring silence. He pressed it down, heard the click and found himself, once again, at peace.
Wide awake, he lay back in bed and let his eyes venture over to his window. He took in the familiar sight, one he had adored for the past couple of years. The sunrise edged over the neighborhood houses, casting shadows back onto the streets. Branches on trees swayed back and forth from a light breeze that trickled in through his open window. The sweet, crisp chill caressed his face and he burrowed into his pillow.
It was still early.
His mind reeled as he recalled what had happened the previous night. Was it just a strange dream? A nightmare? And why was his alarm clock going off on a Sunday morning. Did it bug out?
Reaching for the remote to the TV, he grabbed it and clicked it on. The Morning News sparked to life revealing an attractive female news anchor. In the bottom right hand corner, the time and date revealed to him that it was in fact Monday morning.
Had I slept the entire Sunday? No. Right?
“That’s impossible,” he said to himself.
He sat up and frantically searched for his phone. He needed to call Sara, to see if she was okay. It had to have been a dream. Of course it was. A purple and black tornado vortex thing? For sure it was a weird dream. No doubt about it.
Sara was fine.
She had to be.
He sat up and spotted his phone, but an icy chill knifed through his veins all the way to his fingers and toes. The phone sat directly on top of the book.
book. It seemed to be murmuring, as though it were trying to tell him something, something horrible, something he couldn’t face. The glowing light through the key hole.
Cautiously, he reached for his phone, then paused and retracted his hand.
Don’t be stupid
, he scolded himself.
It’s just a book.
He took a deep breath and, once again, reached over to grab the phone.
The book’s lock opened with a click.
Sebastian leapt from his bed in one swift movement. A noise, reminiscent of a baby sheep, escaped his mouth. If he hadn’t been completely awake three minutes ago, the click of the lock had definitely done it. If the book wanted his stupid phone, it could keep it.
Monday, 7:50 am
At school, Sebastian walked through a crowded hallway. Several students sat on the floor, waiting for their classroom doors to open, eager to pour in. A variety of worksheets and text books were scattered around as they scurried to finish last minute homework.
Other students buzzed around, talking behind his back. Whispers seemed to come from every direction, but he ignored them.
Sara could not be dead. Saturday night was one weird dream, nothing more.
He pushed forward, avoiding eye contact with the other students, staring at the floor. He wondered where Sara was, but no matter. She often didn’t call or text in the mornings. It was one of the things he liked about her, the fact that she wasn’t clingy.
Sebastian reached his locker. Next to the small metal latch was an old Ninja Turtles Band-Aid someone had stuck there in a previous year. When Sebastian first saw it, he considered peeling it off. Staring at it reminded him of Sara. She thought it was cute. He regretted not bringing his phone. It was silly to have left it on the book. He’d been so stupid, thinking the book was somehow talking to him. She’d probably texted by now. She had to have.
He twisted the combination lock until the final number was in place, lifted the latch, and opened it. He grabbed his first period science book and closed the locker door harder than he’d intended. The metallic sound echoed throughout the hallway like a prison door being slammed shut.
“Oops,” he said.
He hurried down the hall toward his science class, but a few seconds later a grumbling came from the bottom of his stomach telling him what he already knew: he was starving. Off in the distance, past all the students, the double doors that led to the cafeteria stared back at him. Above the doors, the hands on small clock read 7:51.
This meant he had roughly fifteen minutes until class.
He decided to head to the cafeteria.
Monday, 7:54 am
Two of the four walls of the cafeteria were composed primarily of windows. The sun was buried behind heavy clouds, and the lack of light cast the large expanse of the room in a dull gray, giving everything a murky feel.
This did not help his mood.
Sebastian took his place in the short cafeteria line and grabbed a package of Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolatey Crunch and a small carton of milk. He paid for his items and made his way to his usual table, thankful it was empty. The last thing he felt like doing was talking to anyone. He sat down, peeled back the cover on the cereal container, and then poured the milk. It amazed him how the flavor of the milk could change so quickly, from nothingness into a perfect chocolate. He plunged his white plastic spoon into the container and had just grabbed an ample amount of cereal when someone intruded on his solitude.
“Oh, my God! What are you doing here?” Hope said, planting herself in the chair across from him.
The spoon was mere inches from his face, his mouth stood wide open for at least seven seconds. With a low sigh, Sebastian retracted the spoon, placed it back into the cereal container, and then looked up at her.
For a second, he saw a similarity to Sara, something in the eyes, a determination maybe, though Sara’s of course were deep blue and Hope’s were green, kind of like Jared’s but darker. Perhaps they saw more than Jared’s. Hope’s face was soft, heart-shaped, with a perfectly clear complexion. Her features were smoother, not model strong like Sara’s. Her short blonde hair framed her face. Not everyone was lucky enough to be a beautiful brunette like Sara.
“Hey,” he mumbled, turning back to his cereal, stirring it about.
“Sebastian, I am so sorry for your loss,” Hope said gently.
Wait, what? No, it couldn’t be true. What about the vortex of fire? That part couldn’t have happened.
He must have his facts all jumbled.
Was she really gone?
His throat felt tight.
No, facts first, then freak out. Relax. Calm and collected. He took a deep breath.
“Where’s Jared?” he asked, wanting to change the subject.
“I don’t know. He didn’t come home last night,” Hope said, placing an elbow on the table and propping her chin in her hand. “I think he’s really upset about Sara. I always thought he had a secret crush on her. I guess I was right.”
Sebastian blinked. “He did?”
“She was the most beautiful girl in the school, Sebastian. I think every guy here had a crush on her.”
He retreated to his cereal, once again stirring it. Other guys, possibly. But Jared? The thought had never occurred to him. Why hadn’t Jared ever said anything about her?
“I’m here for you if you need me,” Hope said, almost in a whisper.
“Thanks,” he said timidly.
“You should be at home, Sebastian. Something awful happened and it’s okay to be upset.”
He shook his head. “I’m fine,” he muttered. He scarfed down spoonfuls of cereal.
Hope put her hand on his face. “You know I’m here for you if you want to talk.”
With her warm hand on his face, he saw the concern in her glistening eyes. Her sad expression slowly melted his resolve.
Something stirred within his chest.
His eyes began to water.
“You’ve been through something traumatic,” she told him gently. “It’s okay to cry.”
He took a stuttered breath.
Was Sara really gone?
No. No. No.
He stood up with such force that his chair lifted off the ground and crashed onto the floor behind him. It slammed so loud, the students in the cafeteria jumped from the unexpected noise. The room fell into a hushed silence as everyone turned to stare.
He didn’t care.
His attention was completely focused on Hope.
His eyes narrowed as he stared at her with such shock and anger that his hands shook.
He was angry. Yes, he was angry.
Hope stared back at him with sadness.
After putting his shaking hands in his pockets, he turned around and left the cafeteria.
Monday, 8:07 am
As Sebastian sat in class listening to the teacher drone on, the more confused he became about what Hope’s intentions were. The memory kept running over and over in his head. How could she do that to him, try and make him cry in front of everyone? Did she have that much of a pull over him? Of course she did—she was Hope. She was his childhood friend who was like a sister to him. They used to play dol— action figures together.
“Sebastian!” he heard and snapped back to reality. He thought it could have come from the front of the class but wasn’t sure.
“Yes?” he answered. He blinked his eyes, turning his attention to the front of the classroom.
“Well, don’t keep us in suspense, Mr. Scott. Go for it,” his teacher said, his British accent more clipped and formal-sounding than usual.
“The answer is . . .
?” Sebastian replied while shaking his head ‘no’. He was so lost in his thoughts he wasn’t sure what planet he was on let alone what the topic of discussion was.
“The answer is ‘Yes,’” Mr. Thompson repeated with a nod. “Got it. I asked if you could explain Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and you told us ‘yes’. So, we are so dearly waiting for your answer. Go.”
Sebastian looked at Mr. Thompson as his haze on the situation began to clear. Mr. Thompson should have been on a cover of a GQ magazine.
His charcoal dress slacks had ridiculously perfect creases down the front, matching his fancy salmon-pink button-down that was custom made for his trim figure. His dark hair was coiffed and held in place with what had to be a mixture of every hair product on the market. There was even a rumor among the students that GQ Magazine asked
for advice. It was a known fact that he would occasionally write articles for them for the extra money. His latest article was titled
How to properly lighten your hair with lemon juice.
In fact, the pants and shirt, as was the case for his entire wardrobe, were custom tailored. Sebastian remembered that Hope always went on and on about how “gorgeous” he was or “how sexy his British accent is.” Sara would always roll her eyes and say the occasional “whatever” when someone went on and on about how handsome Mr. Thompson was. Sebastian noticed that Mr. Thompson tried to identify with his students, but he also made it a rule to never push that too far. Of course that never stopped other students from flirting with him. And they never seem discouraged by the picture on his desk of his beautiful wife and daughter.