Sliding glass doors opened to reveal the outside world. Bright blue sky, rolling green hills, and... car emissions. There was always something. Louis shielded his eyes from the brilliant rays of the sun. It had been two years since his accident. Two long years in a rehabilitation center relearning everything he had learned the 18 years before. The first year was the most difficult. 18 years jammed into the brain is a torture all in its own. The last year was easier, just refresher courses and social interaction simulations. Now, finally, Louis felt like he was being reborn. A new man.
"OUTTA THE WAY, ASSHOLE." An elderly man shoved past him yelling more obscenities. "Dumbass, standing in the damn doorway..." Louis watched as the crass old man walked away, got in his car, lit a cigarette, and sped off, nearly hitting a few pedestrians on his way out of the jungle of parked cars and traffic signs. Like a switch, the wonder of the world Louis had been feeling melted away. Now, he could remember just how toxic people were. The bright blue sky was tainted with monoxide, the rolling green hills were mounds of moldy trash discarded by the careless, and air was thirty five percent exhaust. The people of the world were killing the planet and not one of them cared about anything other than themselves.
Louis walked away from the rehab center, hit the sidewalk and started towards his home. Thankfully, it wasn't far. By the first five minutes into the walk, Louis's underutilized muscles were screaming. Louis pushed on anyway, desperate to go home again. He rounded the corner and stopped short. His house was taped shut, a sign reading 'FORECLOSURE' nailed through the oaken door. There was a pile of old mail covered in cobwebs and dust resting on the stoop of his house. Multiple letters warning of the foreclosure, several bills from hospital stays, notices from a bank declaring his lack of funds. Louis stared at the black letters, unable to comprehend what it meant. It took him a few moments before the emotions erupted. He sat on the stoop of his home bawling. He was broke. No home, no money, no family in the area. Louis was truly alone.
Louis looked around, wiping his eyes. He did have something. He has his pride and dignity. He was not one to sit around in self-pity. First thing first, he needed somewhere to sleep and here was as good as any. He slipped around the back of the house and checked to see if anyone was looking. In a swift, familiar movement, Louis kicked the door and tugged on the door handle. The door disengaged from the jam and swung in. His possessions were all gone. A sign in the floor told him exactly where they went. "Estate sale. Wonder how much I made..." He closed the door behind him and began searching the house for anything left behind.
He found an old screwdriver, a bottle of water, and a can of beans that had fallen behind the wall thanks to a hole behind the pantry shelves. He sighed as he popped the can open and looked at his first meal in the outside world. It isn't what he had imagined, but he was alive. And after the accident, he should just be grateful for that.
Louis went to sleep that night on the hardwood floor, his screwdriver tucked underneath him. His mind drifted back to the thought of car emissions and pollution. Then it turned to a vision of himself, homeless, standing next to a barrel of fire, and for a moment, the warmth of the fire seemed all to real.
Louis awoke with a jolt, the heat from his dream now felt like lava on his skin. The room was filled with smoke and a fire had broken out in the room. Louis scooped up his screwdriver and bolted out the back door, leaving his home behind to burn.
Ryan entered the classroom, his backpack thrown over one shoulder, and made his way to his seat. He was early, as usual, so there wasn't many students in the room with him. It was Friday, meaning it was test day after a long week of tearing engines and transmissions apart and throwing them back together. Between work and school, Ryan hardly had time to study, let alone sleep, but he'd always had problems sleeping. Insomniac was his self proclaimed title, though he'd never been to a doctor for his sleep deprivation. Doctors are expensive. He wasn't particularly worried however, because it would seem as though a lifetime of insomnia made it harder to notice how tired you were, as it eventually became the norm.
As the students began to file in, Ryan could tell everyone else was moving a little sluggish as well. The Instructor entered with his usual greeting, "Another day in paradise, goin' to motorcycle school." only today even he seemed to be lacking his usual chipper attitude. The students all made their way to their seats and took out their notebooks for a final study before the test. Ryan's lab partner, Josh, sat down next to him, releasing a yawn that seemed to last forever.
"Long night?" Ryan asked.
Josh nodded slowly, "But hey, it's Friday."
Josh smiled a little then opened his notebook and began shuffling through his notes. Ryan shook his head. He was a little tired, sure, but these people were definitely going to put him to sleep. Instead of the usual talking and laughing that goes on at the beginning of class, it was dead quiet. Ryan looked around the room to find every student was staring straight into their notes without even a mumble.
After a few minutes, the Instructor stood up, a pile of folders in one hand and a stack of scantrons in the other. The test was about to begin. Ryan's eyes were becoming heavier and heavier, he almost didn't realize the instructor was now in front of him, sliding a folder and a scantron onto his desk. Ryan leaned back and stretched, trying to shake of the overwhelming feeling to take a nap, and began writing his name on the scantron. He could hear yawns all around him as the test began. He couldnt remember the last time he was this tired, and of all days, on his exit exam. He knew he needed to wake up somehow. Ryan stretched again, popped his neck, and sat straighter in his chair in an attempt to liven up.
Question after question he found himself feeling a little more energized. His focus became more solid, and even the parts of the test he'd been worried about seemed to become simpler to him. His memory seemed as refreshed as he was, and he finished the test much faster today than he had any of the other tests. As he stood up, Ryan tucked his pencil into his shirt pocket, and gathered up his test and scantron. HE made his way to the Instructors desk and extended his arm to hand him the test. The Instructor was sound asleep, propped up on his elbow, and drooling straight into his steaming coffee mug. Ryan smirked, and turned around to see if an of the other students had noticed. But as he turned around, the wide grin on his face slowly faded, and he had what was probably the most puzzled expression imaginable.
As he gazed around the room he realized, every student in the room, was also sound asleep. Ryan couldn't help but wonder if he was dreaming. If maybe HE was the one asleep while all the others finished their tests. He could imagine the Instructor looming over his sleeping body, shaking his head at Ryan's lack of professionalism. But Ryan knew he wasn't dreaming. He felt more energized than he's ever been in his whole life. What a curious thought....an insomniac....that isn't even the slightest bit tired....
A splitting headache crept around Isaac's forehead. Usually prone to migraines for years, this one felts like vines binding his skull, latching on to his eyes, and pulling them together until the bone snaps. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he leaned against the guard rail and tried with all his might to ignore the pain, and concentrate on the waves jumping over the sea-wall and flailing onto the sidewalk.
Shakily swift hands locked on to Isaac's messenger bag. Before Isaac could even react, he was twisted around, grabbing back onto the guard rail for support, the pain in his head pounding like the waves tearing at the wall.
"Yikes, Izzy, y'know, this bag could sell for quite a bit." A raspy voice called out, gently tapping the bag, "I can compensate for it, how does 5% sound?"
"Matt, listen," Isaac replied attempting to regain his composure, "I'm not in the mood to try to haggle my stuff back, can you jus-" He held up a finger to Isaac, "You don't look so good, fine, I'm feeling generous. 6%. Final."
The pounding in his head was like a jet engine against his forehead. Matt was an old friend once close, but soon fell into the hole of half of everyone in the deeper parts of the city fall into. Mostly skin and bones with needle scars dotting his arms and neck, Matt was your typical, run-of-the-mill junkie looking for the next thing to pawn. However, Isaac knew that most of the junkies kept to themselves in the lower districts, surrounded by tunnels, overpasses, and the occasional flooding from heavy rains. Matt was out of his niche, and Isaac knew it. Isaac blended in to the rest of the crowd along the coastline, but not Matt.
"What, what are you even doing here?" Isaac said, pushing off of the guardrail. "What? I can't be posh for a day?" Matt smiling and spinning Isaac's messenger bag around his arm. "Not if you wanna cause a scene." "You and 'blending' in," Matt mockingly retorted with air-quotes "What a drag. Now c'mon, I got a gig for us." Isaac's eyes grew wide open, "Absolutely not." "What? Why not? Too good for me and the brothers, eh?" "HEY. I'm doing good, and y'know I was never into the whole gig thing." "But you're good at it, that's all that matters! Now don't be a puss, we're going." He said heading for an alley.
Isaac stood his ground. "No." Matt spun around, with one eye cocked towards him, "S'cuse me? No?" The pain shooting through his entire body now, gritting his teeth, "No. Not again. The end of the line." Isaac's vision blurring through torrents of tightening muscles and pulsating veins, Isaac's glare tunneling towards Matt.
"Then the bag is mine. Everything in it is mine. And you'll be next." "You're a piece of shit. You know that. Always have been." Isaac began rubbing his eyes, his vision began to shake, like quick vibrations moving his eyes left and right nonstop.
"What? Crying your eyes out? Bitch ass." Matt scoffed. "No, dude, I can't- Screw it. Just give me my damn bag back. I have my thesis and research over-" Motioning Matt back to Isaac "Listen, if I can take from the blind, I might as well." He laughed
The pain was splitting his head into pieces, and he couldn't hold it in. Isaac let out an animalistic cry. Matt's sly smile faded as he looked at the crowded boardwalk staring at them both. Hundreds of eyes peering. Murmurs and whispers began to flood the air like a toxic cloud. Isaac dropped to his knees, clawing at his eyes, slowly hunching forward. "Whoa, whoa, whoa" Matt put his hand on Isaac's shoulder, "DUDE, CHILL. C'mon, here's your bag back. Shit. I'll be back for you ass later."
Matt dropped the bag in front of Isaac with his hands in the air by his shoulders, walking backwards, then turning and heading for an alley. Pain like sharpened nails were tearing at Isaac's eyes, as he looked up once more to see Matt about to disappear into the shadowed alley, he screamed- "MATT!"
Silence. Isaac's mouth was wide open as he gently touched his eyes. What he could see was like looking at a broken mirror, his vision was split into fractals throughout his peripheral vision. The fractal viewpoints looked like running water on glass, a steady but slightly blurry sight. "Matt?" Isaac whispered, looking straight ahead. Matt's body was rigid but standing, with his body half twisted, and neck bent with a heavy head. One of the little fractals in Isaac's vision morphed into a view point, staring at the cut stone, the boardwalk's pathway. Isaac went to look around, as did the fractals viewpoint. Isaac went to look around, but Matt's head moved with his, and countless others in the crowd.
The night had been cold. Louis only had the clothes he had been wearing during the accident. A blue T-shirt with a breast pocket that had severed the stitching on one side, old blue jeans with a few tears, the bottoms of the legs frayed and ragged, a lightweight red jacket, zip-up, no hood, a sweat-stained blue ball cap and muddy red sneakers. It was late fall, and the nights got awfully cold. Louis had managed to find a tarp covered car on his way from his burning home. He regretfully stole it and used it as a blanket. He couldn't help but chuckle at the irony that he was running away from warmth. The horizon had a fantastical orange glow about it, but he knew it was because of the fire. He prayed that the fire wouldn't spread. It was just the crack of dawn when Louis's heavy eyes cracked open. The bright sunlight was an unwelcome sight today. he crawled out from underneath his tarp and shivered. The tarp hadn't helped much; Louis was cold to his core. He rubbed his hands together and brought them together at his lips, exhaling into them. His hands seemed to be instantly warm... No, they were hot. Insanely so. Louis cried out in pain as he fell backwards onto his tarp. He racked his brain to explain what had just occured.
The airspace between his hands had somehow.... burst? Popped, like a firecracker. Louis looked down at his ravaged hands, skin red and irritated. That's when he noticed the smoke. Louis, in a panic, ripped off his jacket. He inspected the sleeves for burns, but found no trace of fire. He looked back at his hands to discover that it had been his palms that were smoking. They were still smoking, without a fire. Louis looked around, his head spinning as he searched for a fix. There!, he thought, there's a birdbath.
He ran straight through someone's freshly cut lawn, not caring slightly about the sign telling him to keep off the grass. He plunged both hands into the cool water of the birdbath and sighed as the water calmed his pain and nerves. He cocked his head to the front of the house as he heard its door open. "What the hell are you doing?!" The homeowner had come outside, still in their bathrobe, with a revolver in hand. "Oh, no, I--" Louis searched for and failed to find an answer to what the hell he was doing. However, it didn't seem as if this lady cared to hear anything Louis had to say as she raised the revolver. "Wait!" The shot echoed off the trees and buildings. Louis closed his eyes at the sound, but felt no pain. There was a few sharp sensations on his face and his shirt felt wet. Louis opened his eyes as he fell onto his back. She had shot the birdbath. He held his hand out, trying to plead the woman to cease fire. Instead, she fired again. This time, Louis did feel pain. She had managed to graze his shoulder. Louis tensed at the burning, and heard a third shot. He looked back at the lady in wonder, amazed she had missed again, but she wasn't there. Well, she was there, but she was obscured by a cloud of thick smoke. He could hear her coughing and spatting.
Did the gun explode? He wondered for but a moment before realizing he should probably get moving. He winced as his shoulder moved, aggravating the flesh wound. He looked back again at the smoke, apologized, and ran. Louis ran until he couldn't, then he forced himself to jog. When that was no longer an option, he tried speed walking. Eventually he could only walk. He slowly walked down a sidewalk, tenderly touching the wound on his shoulder. He bumped into an old man, excused himself, and realized he had no clue where he was anymore. Looking around, he saw several buildings, store fronts and food chains. He checked a street sign, "College Ave".
Louis walked a little further before deciding he couldn't any longer. He sat down against a building to rest. Checking out his hands, Louis was pleased to see the birdhouse had done the trick. The burning had stopped and the redness was receding. An argument across the street made Louis look up. There were two guys talking loudly. One had a backpack and was taunting the other. Isn't he a little old to be bullying? Louis stood up to go do something about it when the bully across the street dropped the bag and bolted. Louis felt an odd sensation, something akin to a headache, but it passed quickly.
"MATT!" The kid across the street was grabbing at his face. Did something happen? Is he hurt? Louis went to help him, but suddenly found himself unable to move. Was he really that exhausted from a run? Then he heard a voice. "What's wrong with my eyes? Is that.... Am I hearing that guy? Louis put everything he had into moving. That man needed help and no one else would care enough. No one ever cared enough. Louis's legs began moving slowly but soon he was sprinting across the street. Louis looked to the right as he crossed and saw a car speeding his way and he panicked. The guy wasn't even looking where he was going. Louis heart sank as the driver began to swerve onto the sidewalk. He dove, tackling the guy with the backpack. Together they slid underneath the guardrail as the car scraped against it. They rolled down the hill, entangled together. Louis's shoulder was searing as he picked himself up.
Ryan leaned toward his Instructor, Bruce, and nudged him. He was really starting to get creeped out by the simultaneous slumber party that seemed to have take over the class. As he touched Bruce's shoulder it merely broke the rhythm of his quiet snoring, only for it to quickly relapse to its original standard.
"Bruce" Ryan said quietly, trying to be gentle in his attempt to rise his mentor. The instructor's snores did not falter. Ryan cleared his throat and shook his teacher harder, this time without stopping. "Bruce," He said, this time louder, "Mr K, I'm finished."
Bruce slowly opened his eyes, like a lazy kitten stretched out in the sun. His eyes were still partially rolled toward the back of his head. He must've been sleeping pretty hard. The instructor gathered himself in a manner that Ryan could only compare to a sloth....or maybe a zombie, and after several minutes he seemed to finally realize that he'd just been caught sleeping on the job by a student. Ryan felt a little uncomfortable now, it was an akward situation that he could never have predicted he would ever be in. Bruce wiped the sleep from his eyes and looked at Ryan confused, then slowly took the test and answer sheet from his hands. The instructor stood and looked at the clock, scratching his head, then turned back to Ryan.
"Very good Mr. Fowler, you may-" Bruce paused and looked past Ryan, obviously spotting the rest of the class, still drooling onto their desks. "Are you feeling alright, Fowler?" He asked.
Ryan felt a surge of unease come across him. He couldn't help but wonder why everyone in the class, including the Instructor was fast asleep in a matter of minutes, or why he felt oddly energetic. Did Bruce suspect this was HIS doing? that Ryan was somehow involved? No. That would be foolish. Ryan was sure he was blowing this way out of proportion.
"I feel fine." Ryan answered, trying to smile, but not too big of a smile. The akwardness is just impossible to mask at this point. Still, Bruce seemed to believe him.
"Do me a favor son," Bruce began.
"Yeah, whats up?" Said Ryan.
The Instructor propped the door open as he ushered Ryan into the hall.
"Go make sure MOTO-6 has their exhaust vents running, and if so, ask the Instructor to double check the fans."
"Yes Sir." Ryan replied, heading out the door toward MOTO-6.
Neither the classroom or the hall smelled like exhaust emissions, and judging by the way Bruce was acting, Ryan was sure he knew that wasn't the case. But it still seemed to make more sense than everyone but the insomniac taking a nap in the middle of a test.
Isaac was staring at the sky, with the stranger getting to his feet, and a limp body near by. Isaac sat up and rubbed his eyes, making sure the haziness would fade from the sides of his vision, but they faintly lingered. "Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks, I guess." His migraine was gone, for the first time in years, the slight fog of pain was gone. Clarity for the first time in ages, but now it was met with a strange vision perspective. Did, did I pop a vein or something? He thought to himself, looking at the stranger dusting himself off, and then to the body next to them. It was Matt's, seemingly lifeless, but still breathing. Isaac stepped over Matt and climbed up the hill, but just to the guardrail. People all across the boardwalk were getting off the ground, the car stalled out and scratched along the sides. But as if they all had collapsed at once, and then came to at the same time, the people began helping each other up, confused, looking around, or quietly went about their own business. Isaac slid back down the hill, "What happened?" The stranger looked at Isaac dumbfounded, "You tell me."
"I remember my migraine just, it was stupidly painful, and him" pointing to Matt slowly moving, but still laying down, "Then, I could see-" he stopped mid-sentence Would this guy really believe me? I saw something else, a viewpoint I wasn't seeing. "Well, I went to look up, and everyone turned their head at the same time I did. It was like, eh, I don't know."
Isaac went over to Matt and opened his eyelids, and while the pupil responded to light as they natural should, a smokey black rim appeared around the edges of the iris. Matt's green eyes were stained with an odd black fog and glossed over. As Isaac opened his mouth to say something, police sirens were wailing down the road to the scene of the wreck. "Ah hell," Isaac sighed and grabbed his messenger bag, "C'mon man, we gotta get outta here." "What about him?" The stranger asked. "Honestly, prison would keep him safe for once in his life." Isaac motioned for the stranger to follow, the hesitation in the stranger's steps barely noticeable, but the police sirens were certainly a driving force to get moving. Staying along the hillside that eventually led back to main boardwalk, crowded with people, although Isaac noticed that almost every other person was rubbing their head. That can't be linked, can it? Isaac swallowed a lump in his throat, and looked back to see if the stranger was still following him amongst the crowd. He was, but at a distance, lightly holding his shoulder. At least he knows how to lay low. Isaac turned into the stoop of an apartment building, the stranger stopping at the base of the stairs. "Hey man, thanks for doing, whatever you did to get us off the street."
"Someone had to, no one else would've." He replied.
"Well, thanks. Um," Isaac pointed to the strangers shoulder, "You need that patched?"
The stranger shrugged, "I'll live."
"Oh, ok, yeah man. Listen," Isaac pulled out a paper and scribbled a number down, "If you need anything, here's the code to the door. 6th floor, is mine." Isaac tossed the paper down to the stranger and went inside.
His stomach tossing, Isaac took the elevator up and unlocked his small penthouse, heading straight for the sink. Sweat beginning to drip from his forehead, he lurched forward vomiting bile into the sink. Disgusted, but giving a relieved sigh, Isaac sat on his beat up couch and replayed the events from the boardwalk over and over. Something isn't adding up, he thought It wasn't just me, or one person who collapsed, it was everyone nearby. Isaac laid down, and let his mind wander endlessly.
Louis stood at the stoop for a time simply staring at the door the guy with the backpack had gone through. He slowly bent down and scooped up the note.
Why would he give him this? Sure, Louis probably had just saved his life, but to give him access to his home? Just because you do a good deed doesn't make you a good person. Does it?
A stranger grazed past him as Louis was lost in time. "Excuse me, do you have the time?" "Huh? Oh, 2:30." 2:30? Already? Louis wondered how long he had slept. His thoughts became distracted as he realized the warmth he felt on his thigh. He looked down to see blood staining his right pant leg. "Ah, shit." The screwdriver. That's what you get for helping people.
Remembering what the guy, Isaac, from before had said, he punched in the door code and began the ascent to floor 6. He knocked on the door when he arrived and a flushed Isaac answered. "Yeah, uh, I do need this patched up."
Wiping his mouth with a towel, "Yeah man, c'mon in." Isaac led the stranger in and directed him to the couch while he grabbed a fishing gear box from his bathroom. "I'm Isaac by the way." He began as he placed the fishing gear box on the small coffee table, and opened it to reveal a plethora small medical utensils. Gauze, numerous bandages and wraps, scalpels and needles, disinfectants, and medications like no other. "Sorry, this looks bad, but this happens when you study the human body, and your main source of income was being a thief." Isaac rolled up his sleeves, "So, it looks like your shoulder and your leg need a quick clean and roll-up. So roll up your sleeve, and we'll start there." As Isaac grabbed the disinfectant and some gauze, "So, what's your name?"
Louis squinted as Isaac went to work on his wounds. "Uh, Louis, but most people just call me Lou." Louis shifted nervously on the couch. "Uh, sorry if I make your couch dirty, it's been a long day and a half."
Isaac chuckled, "Don't worry about it, that couch has seen a lot worse." He tightened the bandage, Isaac's eyes shakily looking over his work, "Alright Lou, your leg looks banged up, so let's get started on that. If you want, you can handle that in the bathroom if you're comfortable with that." Isaac got up momentarily, "You can also use the shower and freshen up, but give me a second, my eyes are screwing up on me." The fractals in Isaac's eyes reappearing, attempting to control his breathing, hoping to subdue the stomach turning feeling.
Louis found his way to the bathroom and slid off his old jeans. As he did, he felt the screwdriver pull from his flesh. He winced, let out a curse, and began applying pressure to the flowing wound. "Holy Christ, Lou, you really did it this time." Louis began snooping around, since he was going to be sitting here for a second stopping the blood flow. There wasn't too much information he could gather here, but could tell by the medicine cabinet that this guy was either the worst pill popper in history, or had a severe case of chronic migraines. He borrowed a few of the pain pills, then swiped a few more for later.
Eventually most of the bleeding subsided and Louis cleaned and wrapped the wound. He walked back into the living area where he found Isaac holding his head in his hands. "Hey, listen man. I appreciate the invitation for the shower, but it wouldn't do me a lot of good. Same clothes to wear and all. But, hey, if my being here is going to bother that headache, I can let myself out." Louis started towards the door.
"Nonsense," Isaac clicked his tongue, "Listen, you look like you've been roughed up a bit more than myself. If you have other places, I won't stop you," he continued rubbing his eyes, "But you're more than welcome to stay for as long as you want. The apartment is usually empty, but hey, I have enough food and pills, if that's your thing." Isaac shrugged and walked into the kitchen, he grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, then went to the window. Peaking down towards the street as police cars glided by. He closed the blinds and turned a lamp on, plopping down on the couch with his head in hands. "I dunno about you and your story, but your hands and shoulder say plenty. Sorta." He placed the ice cold beer against his forehead.
Louis chuckled. "Don't get the wrong impression. These were accidents. And hell, the screwdriver to the leg was because of you!"
Louis lightly looked over the layout of the space. If this guy was after something, he'd have already done so. "No, actually, my house burned down last night. Well, I say my house, it foreclosed while I was in recovery after an accident. So really, I don't have any place." Hey, whoa, why are we spilling our guts to this guy? We don't know him. "I don't have any money, so I can't repay any of the hospitality you're offering." Stop talking. Louis clapped his hands together awkwardly, trying to buy time to find the next thing to ramble out. When his hands came together, however, a shock wave released and knocked over some of Isaac's things, and Louis himself.
The shock wave pushed against Isaac and lost his footing, slipping and slamming against the wall. The coffee table and medical supplies strewn across the floor. The books and tv skewed, and a gentle cloud of smoke hovering around the room. Wide-eyed and coughing, "What the shit was that man?" Isaac lifted himself up and lifted an arm towards Louis, "You ok?"
The door seemed to give to the weight of Louis being thrown into it. Louis slammed into the floor and clacked his teeth together. "You ok?" Isaac called out to him, having also been a victim to whatever had just happened. Louis slowly pulled himself together and stood up.
"Yeah... I'm fine... That's not the first time that's happened to me." Louis knew he probably sounded insane. "Uh, look, I'm gonna go. Thanks and sorry... Sorry about your shit." Louis fumbled with the door handle and ripped it open, ready to sprint out of Isaac's life and never look back. He went to take the first step and felt an odd sensation, something akin to headache.
"Wait." Isaac called out. Louis wanted nothing more than to leave, but for some reason, the only thing his body wanted was to wait.
"Wait." Isaac called out to the open door, and Louis stopped He actually stopped "What do you mean it's not the first time." Isaac's vision began to vibrate ever-so-slightly, and a small fractal in the corner of Isaac's eye began to see part of the hallway, then faded to normal sight. "I-" Isaac stuttered as he put the table back to it's upright position "I think we need to talk man." He stopped and breathed in deep, "What happened at the boardwalk, I had a migraine and I was writhing in pain, and all of a sudden, I could see other places, but like, it's not me seeing it." Isaac sat on the now lightly dusted couch, "And before you tackled me, everyone was frozen, but they-they weren't themselves. When I moved, so did they."
Louis strained against whatever was holding him in place, his vision blurred and head ached. It felt as if a massive pressure was resting at the forefront of his skull. The pressure receded as Isaac began talking. Louis found himself in possession of all of his functions again. "...When I moved, so did they." Isaac stopped and stared at him as Louis slowly turned around.
"I wanted to leave, just now. Every fiber of my being was telling me to go down these stairs and never contact you again. But when you said wait, I waited. Not because I wanted to, but because I couldn't will myself to go. I don't know about what went down on the street, but for me, crazy shit just keeps happening. First, two years ago, I was in a grocery store when it exploded. Killed everyone inside, except me. Bomb crews couldn't explain it. Said it looked like I was at ground zero, but the only thing wrong with me was blunt trauma from the building collapsing. When I got out of the hospital, I slept in my old home the first night, last night. I woke up, and it was on fire. No electricity, no gas, nothing. Just up in flames. And then, this morning, I tried to rub my hands together for warmth, and my palms practically exploded, like I was holding Black Cats or something. I'm not sure what's going on, but I think we're doing it."
Ryan sat outside the school on one of the many stone benches underneath the large blue awning known as the "smoke tent" puffing on a long cigarette. The students from his class were also around him, along with the occasional instructor or janitor taking a break. Bruce was standing by the entrance talking to one of the directors of the school, talking very seriously about something. Ryan couldn't help but feel like a target, as if they were going to throw the blame for whatever just happened on him. Perhaps that was because he was unable to put the blame anywhere else either.
He had done as Bruce asked, and jogged down the hall to MOTO-6, a class in his building that frequently had running motorcycles inside the classroom. The school had once had an issue with instructors and students passing out due to the carbon monoxide in the exhausts not being properly ventilated, and had to update the facility to include long hoses that clamped around motorcycle exhausts and channeled into a large overhead ventilation system, forcing the exhaust outside the school. The ventilation seemed to be working properly, and all the inhabitants of the MOTO-6 classroom seemed perfectly fine, and Ryan hadn't smelled anything in the classroom that could be related to exhaust. Nonetheless, the instructor in that class ordered all the bikes to be shut off and an evacuation of the class.
Their class was joining Ryan's at the smoke tent now, as were the few other classes in Building A. The students from other classes were finding their friends from Ryan's class and checking on them, bringing them water or even fanning them as if to flush out any carbon monoxide poisoning with fresh air.
Ryan turned his attention back to Bruce and the director, who was now gazing around at each of the students with a horrified expression. Ryan imagined the last thing this guy wanted was another story about carbon monoxide in the school affecting students. The director nodded to Bruce, who started making his way to the smoke tent.
Much to his surprise, Bruce came and sat down next to Ryan, who put out his cigarette in the stone ashtray on his left.
"So what's gonna happen now?" Ryan asked.
"Well," Bruce started, "If there's an exhaust leak in the building, we can't chance anyone getting poisoned. We'll wait for the board's official decision, but I don't think they're gonna chance it. The school may be temporarily closed until we can have the ventilation systems inspected, and if need be, updated."
Ryan frowned, he gave up everything to relocate and come to this school. He never had much, but everything you have is everything you have. Update the system? That could take months! What am I supposed to do while until then?
"How long will that take?" Ryan asked, unable to hide the panic in his voice.
Bruce looked back at Ryan, their eyes locking. Somehow his expression and tone reassured Ryan. "You'll be fine, son." He said, interlocking his fingers, "You're grades are solid, and your lab work is spot on. I'm not sure how long this will take, but look at it as a break. You've been busting ass and it shows, in your grades, and in all your instructors notes."
Bruce's eyes narrowed, and he put a hand on Ryan's shoulder, "You sure you feel alright?" He asked, "You're looking a little bit like the rest of us now..."
Ryan suddenly realized he was tired again, like he felt on most days. Only moments before though, he was surging with energy, like he could've run for miles. Now he was crashing again, and the thought of bed was the most blissful thing he could imagine. What the hell is going on?
The instructors voice shook Ryan out of his sleepy trance. Back to zoning out it seems.
"Yeah, I'm fine," He replied, "Just been a long day."
"Well I'm gonna go check on your classmates," Bruce declared, standing up, "seems like they're all coming around now."
Ryan snapped his head around to see the other students. He hadn't even noticed how loud it was becoming around him. Conversations were flooding the air, and even pockets of laughter. Life seemed to suddenly appear out of what was moments before a horde of the undead.
"Fresh air," Bruce proclaimed, "works wonders."
The instructor smiled and walked away to check on the other students.