I rolled off my bed, attempting, and failing, to get my feet under me. I didn’t move from my crumbled position on the floor. Hot tears seeped from closed eyes. As I waited for my come discover me, I fearfully contemplated what was wrong with me. My heart beat in tired sympathy. It scared me.
* * * * *
The boy sat by himself. Kaman and Lele were talking softly in the distance, casting anxious glances at him.
Kaman hadn’t been able to do anything aside from leaving an urgent warning with the boy’s parents. It was suspicious enough as it was without the Californian having an extended phone conversation surrounded in lies with the Brits. Now they were waiting. The boy buzzed with energy. He needed that energy to visit the girl. Or . . . he could use that energy to visit himself. Every passing minute, that second option looked more and more appealing.
He glanced over at Kaman and Lele. They weren’t watching him for the moment. He took a deep breath and let the energy swirl around him. He closed his eyes, thinking of his dark bedroom.
When he opened his eyes, he was sitting on the floor in the corner of his room It wasn’t dark anymore.
The light in his room flared brightly. His mam was sitting on the corner of the bed, cradling his head. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she rocked him back and forth. His dad pounded on his chest, yelling into the phone at his ear. The boy had to force himself not to cringe as his dad touched him, trying to wake him.
The boy felt the edges of himself fading. This was different than the usual fade, where the edges of everything else blurred. He was blurring.
He was dying.
The thought slammed into him with the force of a battering ram. He’d been too anxious, like always, and now he’d let everybody down. Now everybody would suffer.
His edges blurred a little more.
Medics burst through the door in slow motion. To the boy, it felt like they meandered over to his bed. His father slowly stepped out of one medic’s path. The medic searched his pocket and pulled out a syringe with a long needle.
The boy’s eyes drooped. He didn’t have the energy to keep watching.
What happened next, happened quickly. It felt like someone grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him across the room to his prone body. He was thrust into himself.
He opened his eyes with gasp, trying to sit up. Hands from different directions pushed him back down to the bed. He closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look at his mam. The medics prepped him to go to the hospital to flush any remaining depressants out of his system.
He would live.
He angrily thought about the girl. If she’d just listened to him, none of this would have happened. Now he’d have to find a new way to reach her since he’d used all his energy.
* * * * *
My mom pushed the hair out of my eyes and felt my forehead as I rested in bed.
“Your temperature still feels normal, baby. You don’t feel sick at all?” She stood looking anxiously down at me. Dad waited nervously in the doorway. Both were dressed to go to church wearing only the finest.
“No,” I whispered. “Not sick. Just tired.”
My parents exchanged a worried glance.
I closed my eyes so they wouldn’t see how scared I was.
“Just go,” I mumbled, snuggling deeper into my blankets. “I’ll still be here when you come back.”
I felt my mom’s hand on my cheek. “Are you sure?”
“We’ll have our phones if you need anything.” I listened to her soft patter of feet across the carpet followed by the gentle click of a closing door.
I moved my hand to my neck. My heart beat weakly in response.
* * * * *
“We’ve flushed all of the remaining depressants out of your system, but we are going to keep you overnight for observation. You are very lucky, you know.”
The boy stared fixedly at the ceiling, refusing to make eye contact with the doctor. After watching him for a second, the doctor sighed and left the room. He was alone in the hospital room with his parents.
His dad started speaking, a note of lecture in his voice, “Ashton—”
“Don’t call me that!” The boy interrupted. He turned angrily to his mam. “Did you bring my laptop like I asked?”
She nodded sadly and picked up the backpack from the floor, handing it to him.
His dad went to say something more, but his mom gently shook her head and pulled him from the room so the boy was by himself.
He opened his laptop, waiting for it to connect to a Wi-Fi network. He pulled his cell phone out of the side pocket of his backpack and dialed Kaman. He would be awake by now.
He answered on the first ring. “Kiewit! Ah man! Dude, you just disappeared! Is everything—?”
The boy cut him off. “I’m fine. How quickly can you get to Wisconsin?”
“Wisconsin? The girl?”
“Yeah.” The boy opened up the website for British Airways. “I might need some help.”
“I dunno. I’d have to check the flights. You?”
“I’m heading to the airport as soon as I can get out of this hospital.” The boy selected and confirmed a flight. He had two hours to get to the airport.
“You’re in the hospital? Are you getting out legally?”
“No. I’ll see you in Wisconsin.”
“See ya, bro.”
The boy closed his laptop and climbed out of the bed. Now he just needed to find his clothes.