Authors: Wendy Owens
Tags: #Fiction, #Coming of Age
Copyright 2011 by Wendy Owens
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold. If you have not purchased this please visit
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This book is dedicated to the love of my life, my husband, Josh. Thank you for pushing me when I felt this was impossible, you helped me see I am mighty.
I owe thanks to an amazing group of people for this book. Ashley and Tai, thank you for making my book even stronger with your editing. Samantha Young, a fellow author, thank you for your advice, your warmness came at a perfect time. And lastly thank you to my three kids, Zoe, Brayden, and Penelope who put up with a messy house and a lack of clean laundry so that mommy could write.
Gabe closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the cool subway tiles behind him. The pungent smell of urine and burnt electrical wires filled his nostrils as the loud roar of a passing train erupted in his ears. His social worker’s words replayed again and again in his head, “difficulties with home placement,” “past with such tragic incidents,” “more time needed to find the right parental candidates.” Gabe knew what that meant, after years of being shipped from one foster family to the next it was clear people felt he was cursed. “And why wouldn’t they,” he thought. It was even becoming obvious to him.
The bustle of the station began to increase as the train squealed to a halt. Gabe grabbed his ragged black backpack and headed to the nearest set of open doors. He twisted and turned trying to make his way through the thick crowd. A chill came over him, one that was all too familiar and Gabe was suddenly filled with dread. Coming to a sudden stop he looked around at the sea of people. Just steps from the train doors he found himself unable to move. He was simply staring and searching. His breath was shallow. All the voices around him were instantly silenced as a pulsing white noise filled his head.
Gabe’s hands had become clammy and he felt his legs weaken. “Are you getting on or what?” the man behind him shouted. The man was wearing a plain, tan trench coat and carrying a briefcase. Gabe looked back at him, not able to hear what he was saying for a moment, still distracted by the deafening white noise in his head.
“Come on, some of us have places to be.” The man grumbled as he rudely pushed past Gabe and boarded the subway car. Stumbling to a nearby column, Gabe steadied himself and attempted to regain his composure.
As sounds came flooding back, he heard the buzzer warning that the doors would soon be closing. Gabe looked up, prepared to make a dash for the opening. Before he could make his move he caught site of a young woman standing in front of the subway doors. She was wearing a long, black leather coat that was cinched at her waist. There was an odd grey color that surrounded her, creating a halo effect around her entire body. He had seen this before, actually more times than he cared to recall. He even saw the same grey aura the night his parents died.
Gabe stared intensely at her back as she stepped into the subway car and she slowly turned around. Her black hair was short, cut just above the chin. She wore it slicked back and tucked behind her petite ears. Gabe thought she looked as though she were trying to remove the femininity from her small frame in any way she could. Her skin was pale; the color reminded Gabe of milk.
He watched, frozen where he stood, as the girl lifted her head and looked directly into his eyes. She flashed him a small, wicked smile and as the doors closed, he saw her eyes flicker a hint of red. A moment later, the train pulled away. Gabe slid to the cold floor as the crushing weight of the impending doom filled him.
Gabe had been plagued by these feelings and visions his entire life. He could remember being sent to at least a dozen different therapists all over the city in recent years. Their diagnoses were all the same however, ‘hallucinations brought on by depression caused by the tragic loss of his parents.’ Some had him writing his feelings in journals, but most of them found it easier to load him up on medication and send him on his way. He had learned a long time ago the easiest thing to do was to lie about the visions.
Gabe wondered if the therapists were all right. Perhaps he was just crazy with grief. His parents had died when he was only five years old. He found it hard to believe such grief could plague a person for eleven years but what did he know, he was no...
A loud explosion suddenly interrupted Gabe’s thoughts. He reached out his hands to try and steady himself as the ground under him shook violently. Gabe threw up his arms to cover his head. Plaster began to crumble and rain down from the high ceilings.
He looked in the direction of the explosion. The tunnel, where just moments before, the train he was supposed to be on had been, had now become a huge cloud of flying debris. Gabe’s pale brown hair blew back from the rush of air. He had to squint his eyes as the ash clouded his vision. Larger pieces of plaster and tile began to fall all around him. He rushed to the bench he had been sitting on earlier and slid under it, taking refuge from the dangerous rubble.
The one question all of those therapists could never answer for him was, if his visions were simply a result of grief, then why did a disaster follow each one? Gabe laid under that bench, listening to the overwhelming screams of panic swirl around him. He clenched his eyes tight, trying to make it all disappear, but it wasn’t working. It never helped.
Gabe had a trick he had learned long ago from his mother. She told him when he was little, that if he ever was scared of something, to count to a hundred and somewhere along the way the object of his fear would disappear. As a child, the fear would usually subside around fifty. He found that after his parent’s death, though, he would often exceed a thousand before he could regain his composure. Gabe stayed hidden and counting, completely losing track of time. Under that bench, counting his safe numbers, Gabe was leaving the world behind. The world that he had come to know which was filled with a wicked darkness. It was a fear he could not count away.
As Gabe lay there, hoping to go unnoticed, he felt the bench rock. Glancing to his left he saw a pair of combat boots planted firmly on the ground. He wondered with all the screaming and running around, what kind of person would have a seat to watch the havoc unfold?
“Are you just going to hide under there all day?” asked the cool, calm voice from above. Gabe decided staying quiet and playing possum was the best solution. He continued his counting.
A few moments passed and the voice asked again, “Well?” An open hand reached down in an offer of assistance to Gabe.
The black mesh fingerless glove on the hand was unique, but what caught Gabe’s eye was the silver jewelry perched proudly on the ring finger, over the glove. On it was a serpent coiled around a tree with a dagger piercing through the serpent. The ring looked old and worn; hundreds of years old if Gabe had to guess. Realizing this person was not going away, Gabe took the hand and allowed himself to be pulled from his secure hiding spot out into the open chaos of the subway tunnel.
Gabe pushed himself up from his knees to a standing position while studying the stranger in front of him. This stranger wore faded and distressed jeans - they were a straight leg cut that had been gathered and tucked into his boots. He wore a black v-neck shirt, the type that looked old even when they were new. Over his t-shirt was a heavy green military jacket, but the name badge had been ripped off.
Looking at the boy’s face, Gabe realized that this kid couldn’t be much older than himself. He had thick, sandy blonde hair that twisted and fell in large chunks all around his face. There was slight stubble on his cheeks and chin.
The boy smiled up at him from the bench. Gabe noticed his almost glowing blue eyes. Gabe’s eyes were eerily similar in color. He found this unsettling since he had always been told how unique they were. Gabe was overcome with a feeling of peace and serenity, not something he was used to feeling at all.
The boy motioned for Gabe to sit down next to him on the bench. It was like he didn’t notice all the people around them screaming and crying for help. Gabe hesitated.
“Look, it’s not like we’re going anywhere anytime soon.” The boy said motioning over to the cluster of cops streaming down the stairs. “You might as well have a seat. We have a lot to talk about.” The boy’s voice was calm as he stared directly ahead at the back wall across the subway tracks.
“Do I know you?” Gabe asked anxiously.
“No, but we know you, Gabe Harwood.” The boy replied with a mysterious tone as a mischievous smile flash across his lips. Glancing all around him nervously, Gabe wondered if he should make a mad dash for the nearest police officer. He had to give plenty of witness statements in the past and the thought of spending the evening at a police precinct did not sound like anything he particularly wanted to do. Rethinking his strategy, Gabe turned and sat next to the boy. He stared at the floor in front of him as if he were studying the detail in the dirt stained tiling. He focused all his energy on resisting the urge to climb back under the bench to his hiding place.
“I know this is hard and it doesn’t make sense, but all I ask is that you listen to everything I have to say. Then you can make your decision.”
The boy’s voice cut through all the chaos around Gabe. Suddenly he realized it was as if a volume knob in his head had been turned down on all the background noise. The chaos had become muffled and distant. Gabe stared at the boy with a look of disbelief, not knowing if he were even real or just another figment of his imagination like the girl on the train.
“My name is Uri and I am like you.” Gabe looked up at Uri’s face.
“What do you mean, you’re like me?” Gabe asked.
“I understand where you are in your life right now because years ago, I was at the same place.” Uri answered.
“Look, no offense,” Gabe started. “But I doubt you could understand anything about my life or where I am at.”
“Oh really?” Uri smirked. “Let me take a wild guess. You feel like you’re cursed. Death follows you wherever you are and you feel completely abandoned. You wish it would all end for you. You think about how death is a release, yet something compels you forward.” The blood drained from Gabe’s face as he listened to Uri speak. “You’re not alone Gabe, there are many more like us and we want to help.” There was silence for a moment as Gabe processed what the boy said.
“So what, my social worker sent you? She was worried that not being able to place me in a home would send me into a suicidal downward spiral?” Gabe scoffed as if the suggestion were humorous rather than the truth that it was. “Well, tell her not to worry, I’m fine. I don’t need anyone.” Gabe started to get up from the bench, but before he could, Uri reached out and grabbed his wrist. Suddenly Gabe felt an ache in his chest and a shortness of breath. He looked back at Uri who was no longer smiling, but staring intensely at him.