Blood is pooling down the street as I stare out the window in horror. “Oh my God,” Cerise chokes. “What has he done? What has he done?” It’s true. What has he done?
Julian. My best friend. Gone. Dead. How? I didn’t get the chills. How did I not know? I touch the window, not wanting to see him dead on the street, but I’m unable to tear my eyes away.
I feel something hard jam into my head. “What are you lookin’ at?” I look up to see the bus hijacker, a man who’s only a few years older than I am.
I realize with a jolt how much I hate him. He just killed someone, for God’s sake, and he doesn’t seem to care. How could he not care? Is he a sociopath or psychopath? I decide it doesn’t matter. “Damn you,” I whisper.
“What’d you say?”
“Damn you. You just got him killed, and you don’t care.”
“If you’ve got any sense, you’ll shut your trap.” He jams the gun in my forehead. I feel Cerise tense up next to me.
“You certainly watched all the right movies, huh? You’ve got all your lines pretty well rehearsed.” I’m proud that I can manage to sass, even in the face of death.
“I said, shut it!” I brace myself for the gunshot.
My eyes snap open, and I realize that I’m in my bed, Julian is still alive, I’m still alive, and wherever that bus is, it hasn’t been jacked. Thank God.
The relief fades away rapidly when I realize how cold I am. Oh no. Oh please, no!
Ever since I was ten, I’ve been able to tell when someone is close to death. It all started with my older sister, Anna. When she was seventeen, her life went downhill: her boyfriend dumped her, she didn’t make it into college, and our parents were pretty pissed off. Really pissed off. For two months she kept on losing weight, she barely ate, and she barely slept.
That’s when the chills came. On her last day, it was almost unbearable; I felt like it was below zero degrees whenever I was with her. I couldn’t stop shaking when I was near her, and I somehow knew that it wasn’t her near lifeless eyes or overly skinny body that made me chilled to the bone.
I tried to confide in my mother
“Mama?” I’d asked.
“Kyrie, sweetheart. What’s wrong?” she’d asked.
“Mama, is Anna gonna be okay?”
My mother slammed down the dishes she was washing and huffed a gray hair out of her face. “Oh, she’s just sulking, Kyrie! Of course she’s going to be okay!”
“But mama…I’m cold. I’m so cold. She’s not okay, I know it!”
My mother groaned and rolled her eyes. “Kyrie. I swear to you, she’s just sulking. Everything will be okay, I promise!” she said while patting my round ten year old cheeks.
Later that night I was the one who heard the gunshot.
I didn’t think that the sudden cold had anything to do with it, until the following year. My grandmother had come to visit for Thanksgiving, and when I was with her, I felt the same chills that I got from Anna shortly before her suicide. I was frightened, but I didn’t say anything.
Two hours after grandma left, we got a call from the police; she had died in a car crash.
It took me another year to realize that the chills weren’t a coincidence. I could literally feel when someone was close to death.
I hate feeling this way; knowing when someone’s gonna die and being unable to do anything about it. I’ve never had a dream about it, though.
Normally, I’d shake it off, but I’m freezing and it’s only fall. It’s not that cold, and I can’t stop the vibe that someone I care about is going to die today.
Since I can’t sleep, I get up and grab my glasses. As I pass by my calendar, I stop dead: today. Today, Julian, Cerise, and myself are going to the museum, via a bus. No way. I can’t have the chills and be a…prophet. I tremble a little.
I go downstairs to see my mom. “Hey, mom,” I say.
“Kyrie. You’re already up? You don’t go to the museum until twelve,” she reminds me. I glance at the clock; it’s 7:30. Usually on weekends, I don’t get up before 9:00.
“I…just wanted to get up early. Aren’t I allowed to do that?” I don’t even bother trying to explain the chills or the dream to her. When I tried to talk to her about it when I was twelve, she nearly had me committed to a mental hospital. I still haven’t forgiven her for that.
“Well, yeah…” She’s concerned, I can tell.
“I’ll make myself breakfast, okay?” I say. She nods, but her eyes are worried.
After wolfing down a breakfast of leftover pizza, I get dressed. I wear a black turtleneck with the neck rolled down a little, and I wear a misty gray hoodie over it. I also put on dark blue jeans and gray sneakers, and I tie my light brown hair in a ponytail. After all, I want to look nice, but not fancy.
By the time it’s twelve, I’m down at the bus station just as the bus pulls up. As I get in, I see Julian and Cerise in the front seat. “Kyrie!” Julian calls.
I force my lips to turn up into a smile. I stumble over to them; the bus is moving again. “Hey, guys. What’s up?” I ask, quickly sitting down before I can fall over.
Cerise smiles at me. “You excited? Aw, of course you are! You’re the one who told us about this art exhibit.”
I put on my fake smile. “Yeah, of course I’m excited! Why wouldn’t I be?”
Julian looks at me. “Are you sure you’re okay? You’re acting…weird.” Damn it. He’s too intuitive.
“Weirder than usual?” Cerise giggles. Naturally, Cerise doesn’t have a clue that there’s something wrong with me.
Julian fidgets with some of his caramel-colored hair. “Yeah. Yeah, you are,” he says softly, worriedly.
Before I can defend myself, the bus stops, and a young man walks in. A young man with dark blonde hair and patches of stubble. My heart stops. It’s him. Oh God, it’s him. The chills suddenly increase; it’s like ice is rubbing against my skin. Now Cerise looks at me, concern in her blue eyes. “Kyrie? You okay? You got really pale. Like milk.” If Cerise is worried, that must mean I’m doing a crappy job of hiding my emotions. However, I don’t care. I can’t care; if he’s on the bus, does that mean that the rest of my dream is true as well?
“We’ve gotta get out of here. Right now,” I snap.
“But…why? Why should we leave, Kyrie?” Julian asks.
That’s when I realize how stupid I’ll sound: let’s leave the bus because the guy who came in looks like a bus jacker from my dream! “Never mind,” I whisper. I rub my freezing arms and force on a shaky poker face.
Suddenly, the young man whips out a gun from his jacket and rams it into the driver’s temple. “All right, listen! If I don’t get all the damn money on this bus, I won’t hesitate to put a bullet in this man’s brain! Or any of yours!” His hand is trembling, though: either it’s his first time hijacking a bus, or he’s bluffing. Possibly both, due to how young he is.
I mumble this to Cerise and Julian. I was hoping they’d calm down a little, and Cerise does for a moment, until Julian dashes both of our hopes.
“But wouldn’t that make him even more dangerous? Because if it’s his first time hijacking a bus, he may be more trigger-happy than usual,” he whispers.
Dang it. I hadn’t thought of that. I look at him. “That’s a definite possibility, Julian.”
The jacker looks toward us. “Shut it, all of you!” He walks to us. “Now, give me the cash, and I won’t shoot you, okay?”
As I hand him my wad of cash, I wonder, Why isn’t he wearing a mask? It’ll just make it easier to identify him… Cerise looks at us after he goes further down the aisle. “What’re we gonna do? We can’t just…leave.”
Julian tenses up. “I’ve got a plan. It’s risky…but it’s a plan.”
“What is it?” I ask. God, I feel like it’s dropped ten degrees since he said that. Please, don’t let his death be set in stone.
“It’s too risky to say out loud. Just…don’t look at my hands,” he says quickly.
Why not?” I demand.
“Please, trust me.” I’ve always had complete trust in Julian. And yet, for once, I can’t trust him.
Fifteen minutes pass. The jacker goes back up to the front. “Open up the door.” The driver opens the doors. “All right. Thank you for your cooperation,” he snarls. What a thoughtful hijacker. “If any of you try to stop me, I’ll shoot. Don’t even test me.”
“He’s made that threat so many times…he’s bluffing, I just know it!” I whisper.
Suddenly, I hear noise from outside. “Sirens?” Cerise asks, and we look out the window. I see two cop cars, flashing lights.
“Damn it!” the jacker spits. “Who the hell called the cops?” I make the mistake of looking at Julian, and I see the phone in his hands. He may not have called the cops, but he could’ve texted his mom, dad, or brother and told them to call the cops. “Was it you?” he spits at Julian. He lunges forward and grabs Julian by his shirt collar. Cerise and I scream. The jacker points the gun at Julian’s head, and they start to move towards the exit.
No. Julian is struggling, clawing at the man’s hands. I can’t let this happen. Because I’ve remembered what’s going to happen: Julian will nearly escape, and the jacker, half-mad from fear, will throw him out of the bus. He’ll hit his head on the pavement and die. Just like that.
Julian suddenly jerks out of the jacker’s grip. The jacker screams with frustration and grabs him by the shoulder again, shaking him and shrieking at him.
I can’t handle this anymore. I have to stop this.
Without thinking, I jump to my feet and run towards them. Cerise is screaming at me, but I can barely hear her through the sound of my pounding heart. In his surprise, the jacker lets go of Julian. I shove Julian out of the way, into one of the seats, and the jacker hits me hard in the shoulders. Suddenly I’m the one falling out of the bus.
No. Everything makes sense now: why I had the dream, why I’ve been freezing all day, and not just when I was with Julian.
His life was never in danger of ending today.
It was always mine.
I can’t afford to be afraid. I close my eyes and take a final breath before I hit the pavement.
Author’s Note: hey, just needed a break from A Secret and a Curse, don’t worry it’ll be back soon! I decided to post an old (edited) story of mine. What did you think? Please leave comments and constructive criticism in the comments section! Thanks!