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‘Are you okay?’ the voice asked the same time the man scowled. “Why the **** did you stray from the path?”
Evi blinked. Same voice, Different personalities. “Um…” she began not very convincingly. She didn’t know what to say. What could she say? She didn’t even know the answer herself.
He made a frustrated noise and strode past her. “It doesn’t matter.” She turned, watching him return to his car. He threw open the boot, opened a hatch in the bottom and threw in the shotgun. He slammed the lids close causing Evi to flinch like he had punched her. She closed her eyes. She wasn’t feeling well again. Her head felt light and the ground beneath her feet unstable.
Beside her, Matt rolled on his heels. “You could be a little nicer to a civilian,” he noted.
Gold-Eye boy didn’t glance back. “No need. She won’t remember any of this.”
Now the alarm bells were going off. Evi took a step back, away from the boys, raising her hands. “What do you mean?” She pronounced the words slowly, trying to keep control of herself. Her hands were shaking, her skin cold and clammy—her heart rate had picked up again and wouldn’t slow down. But it was different from before. She wasn’t scared, but paranoid. Things were moving around her—that boy moving closer, and it was like her mind couldn’t process it. Or maybe it was over processing it, which caused it to overload and blank on her. Her hands started to flex and unflex into fists. Not a defense stance, she needed to do something to stop her from going crazy, which was pointless, as it seemed she was well and truly over the crazy boarder into insane land.
“Evelyn,” Gold Eye said calmly, and so did the voice in her head. “Everything is going to be okay. You need to breathe.”
“You shouldn’t know my name,” she said. “And this shouldn’t be happening. Things like this don’t happen.” She gave a panicked, breathy giggle as if this was all suddenly really funny like one big joke. She hoped it was a joke—it wasn’t funny, but that would make sense. Her chocolate curls which had fallen out of her now sloppy bun flew into her face and she battered them away. It was only when her hand brushed her nose did she realize she wasn’t wearing her glasses—they were in her bag. Maybe she had imagined the whole thing after all. That would make sense. Yes. You can often misinterpret blurry images.
She was nodding, but she was kidding herself. Her eyesight was hardly damaged. She could see perfectly except for things quite a distance off and that thing had been anything but.
“You’re going into shock,” Aiden said and she made a sharp, amused exclaim which sounded more like an off cackle.
“You’re telling me I’m going to shock? Bucko, I well know what shock is,” she sputtered in a breathy, flushed fashion where the words just rushed out of her mouth before she could catch them. “My mum’s a nurse—I think I know what shock is.”
“Then you know you need to calm down before you make yourself sick.”
The ever-hated voice of reason. It was odd hearing it spoken out loud instead of nibbling at the back of her head. She glared. “Who are you exactly?”
“A friend.” He said it every so gently that for a moment, Evi paused as something washed through her—assurance. She stared at him dumbly as her hands fell to his side. Who are you? The boy didn’t answer and nor did the voice. He just stared at her, and that was enough. She was memorized.
I know you.
We’ve met before.
Matt cleared his throat and stepped between Gold-Eye and Evi, breaking the connection. “We are people who help people like you. And ignore what Aiden said—” Aiden. That was his name. Why didn’t she know that? She should have known that. Why? “We won’t be wiping your memory. Stuff happens and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. A one in a billion chance. And it’s one in a trillion that you actually awaken from it, so no harm done. Just a bad nightmare.” Yeah, except he said ‘stuff’, and stuff like this didn’t just happen.
Instead of stating this, Evi asked: “awaken?”
“See more things like this,” he elaborated. “Things should return to normal. Put it down to a bad dream. That guy was just some hobo who really wanted a sandwich—and your body. But its okay. Because you have people like us to save you. Like police! We’re good guys!” He grinned. Evi didn’t feel reassured. So this happened a lot. How was that comforting! It wasn’t. It really wasn’t.
“We need to wipe her memory,” Aiden said, a low stated fact.
Evi stared at him. Did she feel hurt? Why did she feel betrayed, like this boy—whom she may actually have no real connection with—should be on her side, whatever side that was. He was avoiding her eyes now. She must have made him feel embarrassed. Was she staring?
Ugh. Too many thoughts. Too many emotions.
I want to go home.
The boys were staring at her both uncomfortable and pitiful at the same time. She looked at them. “What?” she asked. The silence was overbearing. She hated the silence. Please talk. But they didn’t, and the voice in the back of her head remained silent as ever but she could feel it, and it was upset. Hurt. Why are you hurt? She should be the one hurt! She had it wrong. It was hurting for her. It wanted to comfort her, but couldn’t. It didn’t know how. I’m crazy! God. She just wanted this to end.
Something wet slipped of the edge of her chin and she stiffened. Raising her hand she touched her damp left cheek and her lips parted in an oh. She wiped away the tears with her hands, but now that she realized she was crying, they began to dribble down her cheeks, freefalling in little streams. “Oh,” she said, out loud this time.
Matthew looked to Aiden, his brow furrowed. “Maybe we should…” Evi began to shake her head. He looked back at her, sympathy creasing his dark eyes. “It’s not that bad. We’re not going to make you into a vegie or wipe everything. You’ll just think you went straight home and none of this happened.”
“No.” Evi’s glare had returned, but she barely saw the boys through the blurry sheen of tears covering her eyes. “Don’t you dare tamper with my head. No!” The mere thought terrified her. She didn’t know why. But she didn’t want them anywhere near her mind. Don’t let them do this. Don’t you do this. Aiden began walking towards her and she backed away, her legs trembling. She could hardly keep herself up right. One wrong move and she’d break.
Evi was hyperventilating but she could still gasp out refusals. “No…” It was a heartbroken plea. Her foot caught on a crack in the road and she tumbled backwards. She didn’t hit the ground though as Aiden caught her in his arms. Even though his grip was firm, his hands were gentle. He lowered her down so her bottom pressed against the bitumen and everything in her mind went blank. Dumbfounded, she stared up at him, at his golden eyes and she allowed them to engulf until that’s all she saw. Beautiful molten gold.
“It’s just a dream,” he said.
“But it wasn’t,” she breathed.
He didn’t say anything, just stared at her. His face was too close to comfort, but she wasn’t paying attention. She saw only his eyes. “Is it you?” she asked. “You can at least tell me I’m not crazy… Please.” She offered a weak, quivering smile.
Aiden remained silent. He couldn’t say it, but the voice did: ‘You’re not crazy.’ But she never trusted it. That voice was just in her head, just like everything else. Her eyelids were getting heavy, drooping lower and lower until they shut on their own accord and she fell asleep. Once she was under, Aiden went in and altered her memory. But his expression was pained when he pulled out and focused on her peaceful, though still ******* face. I’m sorry, but of course she didn’t hear him—and even if she did, she wouldn’t believe it.
Aiden looked up as he heard the shuffle of Matthew approaching.
The kid stopped beside him. “That was intense.”
Aiden didn’t reply. He stood, picking Evi up with him.
“Is it done?” Matthew asked.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know? You always know?”
Aiden began to walk towards the car, Evi cradled against his chest. He had done it, and yes it had worked—but he didn’t know with Evi’s mind if it’d last. One small bump and she could awaken her Sight. How did you get into this? She was supposed to be out of it completely.
“Come on,” Matthew exclaimed as he walked side-ways so he could face Aiden as he interrogated him. “Don’t leave me hanging. Who is she? Do you know her? Is she why you’ve been like crazy paranoid for the last for days over this area? Geez, you’re eyes are still Gold! I’ve never seen them last that long—is it because of the girl? Come on, come on, come—” He cut off as Aiden shot him a look that was harsh enough for Matthew to back up. “I’ll stop,” Matt said quickly. His voice had risen an octave into a squeak.
Aiden gave him a filthy look and approached his car.
Matthew rubbed the back of his neck as he watched Aiden gently lay the girl in the back of his car. These actions, this softness, was a side he had never seen before—and when he supposed it was meant to take masculinity points from Aiden, in truth he had never been so scared of the dude before in his life and that was saying something. I hope you know what you’re doing mate.
His legs gave out the moment he reached the living room. A cry tore from him as he slammed into the wooden coffee table with a sickening thump and crunch, then a low moan as he rolled off and dropped to the floor. Blood splattered the wooden paneling beneath him and he turned his head to numbly stare at it. He had never seen so much of blood before outside of a screen, nevertheless so much of his blood, and as he watched, more leaked out into a thick pool by his leg. That ******* had shot him! Rage unlike anything he had felt crashed into him, burning through his veins. His slow healing wounds suddenly kick-started at the sudden rush of energy fuelled by adrenaline and anger. They itched and throbbed and the man squirmed on the ground as they healed. He flung back, grabbing onto the table for support, his knuckles white from the strain.
The deepest wound was his left shoulder, where the boy had shot him first. It was completely shredded, but even though it had only been a few hours since the incident, the wound was clotted and scabbed with all his bits back in place. Then new skin began to form under the old and it burned so the man tightened his hold on the table, creating dints.
He froze at the voice before slowly sitting up. Gradually, he turned his head to face his wife who stood in the doorway. She wore a simple egg-white shift dress with a slim navy belt around her waist, and her straight blonde hair up in a ponytail with her fringe hanging in her eyes. Once she would have been beautiful, now she was handsome with her lined face with the slightest of wrinkles starting to become permanent. Seeing him and his new silver hair, she dove to turn on the light but Henry shot up from the ground and barked:
“Don’t turn on the light.”
She let out a whimper at his raised, hoarse voice, but obeyed. Trembling, she fell against the wall, her hands rubbing the plastic casing of the light switch. “Oh Henry,” she moaned.
His wounds were practically healed now besides dried skin and a little scabbing, but his clothes were tattered with holes and matted with his blood. His eyes were also completely immersed with charcoal. She couldn’t see him like this, and luckily the curtains and shadows hid him from the strong beams of moonlight that kissed her skin. “Where have you been?” she whispered.
“I don’t know,” he answered which was a partial truth.
“I called the police. They were going to start searching for you. What have you been doing?”
“Nothing.” His voice was still low, angered, and coarse. Nothing. That was a lie. He had done something, heaps of things, and he wasn’t going to stop.
Her face crumbled. “Henry…” She said his name like it was magic word that would fix everything. But he was struggling to grasp the strands of sanity that were Henry. Or maybe, the side she knew and loved.
“I’m going to the spare room to wash and sleep,” he said, struggling to get the words out calmly. “I’m going to lock the door—” She made a pained noise. “Don’t disturb me.”
Her wet cheeks glistened in the moonlight. Giving up on holding her weight, she slid down the wall to the ground. “What have you done?” she breathed. “Oh my loving God, what have you done?”
“What I had to get home. To stay with you.” He said the words like they were his heart’s pledge to his family, but his wife just stared at him. She just stared and although tears trickled down her cheeks, she no longer looked upset. Instead of cold calmness filled her stone face.
“If you threaten this family,” she began and Henry took an angry step forward. His nostrils flared like a bull. But she continued on. “If you threaten this family… I will throw you out.”
“This is my family!”
“This is Henry’s family,” she said, her voice steel and calm against his exclamation. “Right now, you’re not him.”
He threw himself forward at that. He was hungry, angry and would not put up with it. But he stopped his fist before it connected with his wife, instead it tapped the wall above her, not even enough to make a real thud. She flinched anyway, but made no sound. She cowered below him, unable to meet his eye. She was shaking so hard and he could feel the fear on her, smell her blood. Hungry. Without another word, he strode off to the spare bedroom. He slammed the door behind him and there was a click as it locked. Each noise made his wife wince as she slowly drew her legs into her chest.
There was a gentle whine as the front door opened and a young school student strode in. Light flooded the hallway beside her. “Sorry I’m late,” Tanya called, messing with her sweaty hair that was frizzier then usual from running. “Soccer practice ran over.” Silence. “Mum?”
“Here.” Her mum entered the waiting hall just off the lounge room. She had wiped her tears away, but her cheeks were still ******* and her hair a little messier then usual.
Seeing her, Tanya frowned. “What’s wrong?” Her face dropped. “Did they find—”
“He’s in the spare bedroom recovering.” She gave a quick ghost of a smile. “He’ll be fine.”
Evi slipped into the kitchen with a yawn, still wearing her school uniform that was now crumbled and creased. She looked around, perplexed, at the sudden change in times. Night? She remembered coming home for school, and dozing off… How long had she been out for?
Helena looked up at her entrance from the stove and her face lit up at the sight of her daughter. She was a beautiful woman, which like good wine, only strengthened and matured with age. She had a head full of dark curly hair like Evi’s that fell to her shoulders and dark eyes that brightened at the sight of the daughter with relief? “Evi!”
Her bright and enthusiastic voice cut through Evi’s dazed state and her brow creased. Still half asleep, she mumbled a confused: “hi?”
“I’m making apricot chicken,” Helena said, displaying her pot proudly.
Evi dragged herself over and peered inside the simmering orange goo. Her stomach rumbled. She looked back up at her mum with an eyebrow raised. “You’re cooking?”
Helena whacked her arm with her tea towels lightly. “Of course I am. I get the day off tomorrow so I can drive you to school and pick you up.”
“I need an excuse to look after my daughter?”
“No, but you haven’t taken a shift off in years.” Evi could hardly remember the last time her mum cancelled a shift—not since primary school when she came down with a massive fever and was hospitalized. Not since dad left.
“Well, you know with the recent activity—I thought it would be best if you weren’t taking the bus.”
Evi paused. It was true, the murders were starting to become quite the issue in the neighborhood. The school was already sending out letters concerning the student’s safety to and from school… Something nudged the back of her mind, but she didn’t know what. “Fair enough,” she said, and her mum beamed. She threw a quick hug at the daughter before pushing her towards the table, fussing over her hair and clothes. Evi took it all in, enjoying seeing her mother so energetic.
Aiden lent against the back fence of Evi’s backyard watching the mother and daughter inside. Something buzzed in his ear. “All good?” It wasn’t Matthew, but a deeper, older voice.
Aiden didn’t respond for a moment, his jaw worked as he watched Helena playfully gloat over her daughter. Evi on the other hand didn’t know what to do with all the sudden affection and just let her play with her hair, and push her to the table to eat while she set it around her. His eyes lingered on Evi’s who slowly brightened as she awoke. A smile began to lift her lips—
Aiden pushed off the fence. “Yeah. For now.”
“It’s the best we can do for the moment. I’ll see you on return.” The connection cut off and without glancing back, Aiden jumped over the fence and walked away from the house.