It was late evening when my parents finally decided to come home. But I wasn’t alone when they did. I heard voices outside on my balcony as the gravel crunched under the tires of my parents car.
My balcony door swung open. I could see two silhouettes against the dying sunlight. I didn’t have the energy to do anything but watch, measuring their progress against that of my parents.
They hesitated. The same glaring light that prevented me from making out their features prevented them from seeing me.
“Is she here?” The taller one asked. His voice sounded young, probably my age. The voice that responded jarred me. “I think she just arrived with her parents.”
I’d heard that voice before. I knew it. It belonged to the dark-haired boy.
He continued. “Find somewhere to hide so we can be here when she comes in.”
The first voice responded. “What’ll we do then?”
The dark-haired boy didn’t respond.
There was a shuffling of feet as they entered.
I closed my eyes wishing I could disappear.
The first boy’s voice sounded above me and I couldn’t help but open my eyes and look at the intruders face. “Kiewit! She’s not with her parent! She’s here!”
Even in the fading light I could see that the first boy’s hair was cut short and dirty blond in color. I couldn’t pick out the color of his eyes. Brown? His face was deeply suntanned and a shark tooth hung from a beaded chocker necklace at his throat.
The boy was pushed aside, replaced, by the dark-haired boy who had inhabited my thoughts for the past few days. Seeing his face now was different than I’d ever imagined it would be. Every plane and angle was etched in anger. Looking into his blue green eyes, I was startled to realize that I had put it there.
I was too weary to look away.
“Don’t get too close,” the dark-haired boy said. “Last time I was here, she flipped me.”
It felt like he was reading my soul. He examined each fragile part thoroughly before moving to the next. As he searched me, I watched confusion take the angers place. It was followed closely by suspicion. Somehow, I knew this last emotion wasn’t directed at me.
“She was here,” he whispered to the other boy.
The blond boy stepped forward until he was again in my frame of vision. “She who?”
The dark-haired boy turned on him. “Who do you think?!”
The blond boy paled. “Anna? How’d she find out about her?” He looked back at me in fear. “Has she been blocked?!”
In answer, the dark-haired boy placed his hands on my temples.
I saw a flash and standing before me was a girl, white in every way except the twin black holes that rested where her eyes should have been.
I gasped, the image dissipating. Finding some hidden pocket of energy inside myself, My hand leapt, grasping onto the boy’s wrist as he held my head between his hands.
“Ashton,” I whispered, the name slipping from my lips like the tears from my eyes. I knew immediately that the name belonged to the dark-haired boy. “Help,” I begged, my eyes doing the pleading my voice couldn’t.
Ashton nodded solemnly, resolve filling him. He closed his eyes, concentrating.
Immediately, a heavy blanket lifted from my mind. Slowly more layers were removed, leaving my mind lighter than it had been in days.
“Cadence,” my mom called as she walked up the stairs to my room.
“We have to go now, Kiewit!” The blond boy hissed.
Ashton looked like he was expending great amounts of energy. “I can’t stop! I won’t have enough energy to start over later.”
So he was using energy. I felt great. Fantastic, even.
Why did the blond boy keep calling him Kiewit?
“The wall won’t last a few more hours, Kaman!”
“Cadence, baby, are you feeling better?”
Ashton’s hands disappeared as the blond boy, Kaman, used his superior size to drag him to the balcony. All of the heavy blankets crashed back to my mind, suffocation it. The tears that had been silent before exploded from me, leaving behind a shriveled, shaking mess.
Ashton fought to get back to me to no avail. The handle of my door started twisting and both boys froze. As it inched open, my mom trying to be respectful of my privacy, the boys scrambled out to the balcony and closed the door silently behind them.
My mom poked her head in. “Cadence! What’s wrong?!” My dad was on her heals as they ran to my bedside.
I couldn’t answer her question, and even if I could, I wouldn’t have a logical response to give her.
* * * * *
“What are they saying?”
Ashton waved him aside trying to listen. He couldn’t make out much of what they were saying. Cold washed over him. “I think they’re planning to take her to the hospital.”
He got as low to the ground as he could and peered into the room through the glass on the door. The girl’s dad lifted her from the bed and carried her out the door.
Ashton ducked away from his own door. He nudged Kaman. “Come on.”
They climbed over the balcony railing and lowered themselves until they were only a few feet from the ground before dropping. They scrambled around the side of the house, looking around the corner to the driveway.
“This is not good,” Ashton muttered as the father laid Cadence down in the backseat of their car.
“What’s not good about it, aside from the obvious wall shattering business?”
Ashton wanted to yell at his friend. How could he not get the blindingly obvious?! He watched the car pull away, taking Cadence away from him. His anger at Kaman was quelled by his worry for Cadence. He looked at his friend, despair seeping from his eyes. “At the hospital they’ll give her something to slow down her body and put her to sleep.”
“Isn’t that a good thing? If she sleeps then all is well.”
Ashton shook his head. “Kaman, she can’t sleep, not until I can remove the block. Her body is already running a lot slower than it should be. If they give her something to slow it down more, her heart will stop. She’ll die.”
Kaman looked like a lost puppy. “What are we going to do?”
Ashton bowed his head, asking himself the same question. “I need to get more energy.” He looked at his friend. “If I could get enough, quick enough, I could project myself to her before the doctor’s had a chance to do anything. Where’s the nearest hospital?”
Kaman pulled out his iPhone. His face glowed in its light. “Google says . . . just over twenty minutes.”
Ashton clenched his fists. “We have to hurry. If they make it to the hospital it’ll be too late!” A disparate idea began to form in his head. He’d never tried it before and it might just kill him, but he was out of options. If she died, it wouldn’t matter if he was alive or not. “Come on.”
They went back around the house and climbed back into Cadence’s room.
He looked at Kaman. “We need to find something sharp. Something we can use to cut.” Kaman, being Kaman, nodded and ran out of the room to search.
Ashton went into the bathroom adjoining Cadence’s room. He almost started looking rummaging through the doors and cabinets before he realized that there were probably things in there he didn’t want to see and Cadence wouldn’t want him to see. He braced, telling himself that there was no other way.
Kaman’s voice floated up to him. “I found some scissors!”
Ashton sagged against the counter in relief. “Perfect, bring them back to her room!” he called back as he left the bathroom.
After Kaman hurried through the door, Ashton took the scissors from him. He saw the lamp (wasn’t that the lamp he broke?) in the corner, and ran over to it. He yanked the power cord from the wall. Using the scissors, he cut the cord and frayed back the edge, exposing the wires.
“What are you doing?” A kind of horror had entered Kaman’s voice as he started to understand what Ashton was thinking.
Ashton handed the cord to Kaman so he wasn’t touching the exposed wires. Then, he plugged in back into the wall. A few sparks spouted from the wire’s end. He positioned himself in front of the sparks. “Don’t let me die, Kaman.”
Kaman was too shocked to do anything to stop him.
Ashton reached out his hand and touched it to the sparking wire.
Electricity surged through him making every muscle in his body clench.
Kaman dropped the cord and yanked it from the wall.
Ashton started sinking into the floor as a dark sleep claimed him.
Kaman stopped him from falling on his face but there was nothing else he could do.
* * * * *
When Ashton opened his eyes again, his dying haven greeted him through an energy field so thick he could see it. The field hugged his body. He couldn’t stop himself from smiling. His plan had worked, and he wasn’t dead.
He closed his eyes away from the scene of destruction and concentrated on the girl.
* * * * *
Now my eyes hurt from crying as well as sleep deprivation. I had a blinding headache that made me want to sleep more than ever. I was having trouble focusing on any one thought aside from sleep. Cruel fate had torn relief away. More and more the boy seemed like a dream. What was his name again? I couldn’t remember. What did it matter anyway? He was just some hallucination my troubled mind had created.
It was dark outside. When had that happened? Had the sun set? I loved sunsets and was sad I missed it.
My mom was talking to me. I only knew that because I could see her lips moving. If she wanted me to hear her, why didn’t she make any sound?
The way my arm was pressed against the seat made it so I could feel my heartbeat. I was quiet, soft, and slow. It was tired and struggling like me. Suddenly, my heart paused, as if taking a breath. I gasped. It felt like someone had punched me in the chest. I couldn’t breathe. My heart continued on as if nothing had happened. I don’t think I’d realized before like I had right at that moment. My heart was failing.
I closed my eyes against it all. I just wanted to sleep. Apparently that was too much to ask.
Something jostled me and I opened my eyes. My hallucination boy was sitting on the seat next to my head. He was smiling like he’d just accomplished something great. Forgive me for not sharing his enthusiasm.
My eyes flicked over to my mom. She was smiling kindly at me, not noticing the boy at all, proving to me that he was a hallucination.
The boy placed his cool hands on either side of my face like he had before. I could almost feel a faint buzz of energy under his skin. He took a deep breath.
Slowly, like before, the blankets began lifting away from my mind. I would’ve cried at the relief if I had any tears left. Layer after layer peeled away from my mind leaving me feeling light and free.
The boy leaned down and whispered in my ear. “Concentrate on me.”
I looked at him confused. I didn’t know why he’d want me to do that, but he was releasing me from my own personal torture. I would do as he asked.
I closed my eyes, concentrating on the feel of his hands against my skin. The last layer of blankets lifted away. I was asleep instantly.