Three Days Later
“Dude, you can’t just go AWOL like that! Scoob and I were fucking worried.” The all familiar sound of Kate on another war path was nearly enough to keep Preston embedded in ice for the rest of his life. A worried tone rung out from the phone’s speaker as it rested on the rim of the bathroom sink.
“I’m sorry Kate, things...just got busy.” Preston studied his face in the mirror. His digits traced features that didn’t belong to him. His normal, hazel eyes, were now a bright blue. Wisps of thinning black hair replaced the normal brown locks. His skin was pale, and the scars that marked his new skin were alien. He felt a heaviness to him. It wasn’t a remarkable difference; the real Timothy Ross was fairly lanky, but much taller than Preston. Preston’s knees shook and ached with an encumbered weariness.
“Preston...are you in some sort of trouble,” Kate asked from within her box.
“Nothing crazy,” bullshit.
“Things are finally calming down for me,” more bullshit. “It’s...it’s been great.” Yet another lie escaped his lips. “But hey, I gotta head out Kate. You and Scoob keep cool, I'll see you guys on Friday.”
“Pres…” Kate gave a weak reply in compliance. The ‘call-ended’ tone was quick and sharp against the walls of Preston’s bathroom.
Flipping through his phone Preston perused the calendar app. Damn, three whole days? Three entire days to turn into a fucking pedophile. Giving himself another look in the mirror he couldn’t help but bare a foreign grimace. As the stranger’s face looked back at him he let out a sigh, but even the sounds of another’s breath betrayed him.
Scrolling, now, through the pictures in his phone there was one that caught his eye. He, Scoob, and Kate cuddled up together on Kate’s old beat-up couch with ice cream and popcorn. He remembered that night pretty well. Neither of his friends had seen Dead Poets Society. A travesty to be sure. Preston ordered a movie night to rectify the issue, but they ended up getting high and passing out halfway through.
With the press of a button the image was gone. Preston tucked the phone into the back pocket of his jeans. On the legs of Timothy Ross they were tighter than normal, and rested right before his ankles.
Looking at the new face one last time Preston steeled himself with a hesitant resolve.
“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
In he walked as the multi-colored lights of Esperanza’s skyline painted the night sky with their vibrancy. His pale and sickly skin was illuminated by the orange tint of street lights as he made his way into the apartment complex nestled away in the back streets of Concepcion. He’d taken to covering his thinning hair with a strategically placed hoodie.
Bright blue eyes studied the street. He surveyed the area with a tempered caution he’d grown accustomed to by now. Making his way inside the complex his eyes quickly shot down towards a pair of dirty old boots. He hated making eye contact, and he could feel the stare of the desk attendant bearing down on him. For some reason she wouldn’t avert her gaze. This made him all the more impatient as he shuffled forward passed the front desk and into the stairwell. The elevator was always broken.
He let out a small cough before forcing shaky knees up three flights of stairs. His lanky frame inched its way towards the door to the hallway. Not much longer now.
Apartment 37. Finally. Opening the door, Ross heard the swelling of music. His eyes quickly darted throughout the small apartment. From the entryway just beyond a small wall he could make out only his living room.
“Who the fuck’s in my house,” Ross cautioned as a hand inched back towards the front door knob.
Ross felt a presence come from around the wall, and tried desperately to make a move towards the door. He felt the weight of the intruder bare down on him before feeling the push of cold metal against his temple. He tried his best to struggle, but the person felt stronger than he did. A hand reached towards Ross’ mouth before he could muster a noise.
In that moment Ross felt the grip of the intruder slip slightly. He managed to push the man back before making his way out of the apartment door.
“Fuck,” was all Preston could mutter to himself. He hesitated. He couldn’t even pull the trigger on someone like Ross.
He felt a swelling of emotions well up in the chest. Pushing past his anxiety he forced himself onto two feet. He scrambled quickly out of the door, and after Ross.
The fleeing Ross barreled down towards the hallway screaming out for help as he did so. He’d have stayed in the hall if not for the sight of a man who looked to be his twin running towards him at a speed he wasn’t sure he could match.
Ross pushed open the door, and tried to rush down the stairs. In his clumsiness he felt the full weight of his body tumble down a flight of stairs as his slender body crashed into plaster. He groaned in pain as he tried to recover.
Unfortunately for Ross his assailant was right behind him, a gun with a silencer pointed straight at his face.
“W-wait…” the man pleaded. “I been doin’ real good. I haven’t fucked up once since I got out.” Ross’ voice cracked with anxious foreboding as he studied the sight before him. Realizing that this man was a spitting image of himself made him put up his hands in defeat.
“W-who the fuck are you,” he demanded. His normally pale face was a devilish red now. His eyes were sunken and filled with steaming tears. Spit bridged his upper and lower lips as his body shook with intensity.
“Your past is catching up with you Timmy,” was Preston’s answer. He eyed the man. It was as if he’d been looking in a mirror all over again. Shaking the thought his grip on the pistol tightened.
“The cops are on their fucking way!” Timothy’s body huddled up closer to the wall behind him. He leaned back as a small bit of blood dripped from his hooked nose.
“Bullshit,” Preston paused for a moment as he looked over the man in front of him. “These people don’t give a fuck about you, dude. They heard you screaming. What’s another dead pedo to them?”
“Fuck.” Ross let out a small whimper. He couldn’t stop crying as the imposing barrel of the gun met his gaze. “I-I did my fuckin’ time. This ain’t right.”
“I don’t think you get to make the call on what’s fucking right,” Preston snapped back. In some ways he was talking passed the man in front of him.
“But you do? That’s bullshit,” Ross’ haggard breaths forced him to turn his head in an exasperated cough. “I know what the fuck you are. One of those fucking mutants.”
“You don’t know shit.” Preston shoved the gun closer to Ross’ forehead.
“I know the system. They love the freaks. Next to us they look pretty and neat and good. It’s when you expose them for the frauds and the freaks that they are that they want ya dead. That’s when they put you down. ” Ross studied the man in front of him. He spoke with a greater intensity than he had before- perhaps in some last ditch effort to draw attention. Maybe instead it was with conviction.
“Put you down? You’ve probably been milked the system since you got out. Who’s hiring a twice-convicted pedo? Give me a break, man.” Preston’s grip didn’t loosen on the handle of the firearm. Even still, his hand shook with an uncertainty.
“And look where the hell I am right now.” Ross pushed himself forward even closer to the barrel of the gun to make his point. “Nah, you and I… we ain’t too different. Whoever the fuck you really are. Your mother was probably some coked up whore who got radiation tests for a quick fix.” Ross snorted with a callousness as if pleased by his little assessment. “Now you’re wearing my face. Pointing a fuckin’ gun at my head. Pretty ironic.”
Before Ross could say anymore the subtle whip of a bullet leaving the chamber echoed in the hallway. The silencer captured most of the sound and gas the pistol would normally make. Blood splattered on the walls of the stairwell.
“No, it isn’t,” was all Preston could utter before he felt the weight of his deeds bear down on him. Staring down at the dead body was enough to bring back memories of the fire. He could feel the stress pulling and contorting his features back into their natural form. He needed to get the fuck out of dodge, but the room was spinning. The sight of the body, and knowing that the bullet hole and the blood were of his doing was enough to nearly make him vomit.
The sounds of police sirens ringing in the distance were just enough to carry Preston forward, and out a back exit down the stairwell. Someone finally gave enough of a damn to call them.
Making his way down an alleyway and away from the sounds of sirens Preston took a sigh of relief.