Monitor’d

Nobody noticed what he was doing at first. It was subtle, nothing more than a wobble. But as Will’s anger rose, his actions became less subtle, more evident. This was a problem.

He watched as Joey started, once again, to go off on Rachel. He’d probably caught her looking at another boy again, or chatting inappropriately to one of his friends, or any other pathetic reason he could conjure. Will had seen the routine many times before, but always did nothing as Rachel actually seemed to enjoy it; it was their dance, their thing. But recently she had seemed more upset by them and it became clear she was tired of this lovers’ masquerade. So, as Joey’s voice grew louder, so did Will’s irritation. It was unfortunate – for both of them, Will thought, but mainly for Joey – that he had already spotted the old computer monitor resting on top of the IT classroom’s storage cupboard. It was one of those early models whose sheer size was only matched by its weight. The classroom was nowadays fitted with much smaller, flatter screens, of course, but Mr Jenkins had fought to keep a couple of these older monitors handy “just in case”.

Will tried to stop himself, he really did. He had begun trying to teach himself the best way to deal with his new “issue”. He had never really considered himself as having much of a temper, but it had become clear that even the slightest irritation could cause the issue to quickly get out of hand. Just ask the raccoon which surprised him in the garden last Wednesday. Poor bugger.

So it was posing to be quite a problem that Joey was throwing one of his tantrums right in front of him. The computer screen shook a little harder and, unbeknownst to William Macintosh, someone was watching.

* * * *

While the rest of the class chit-chatted away, some watching the argument taking place, others ignoring it entirely, only one person sat still. Summer Stanley was watching him, as she often did. Sat behind Will, and out of his line of sight, she could see that the events unfolding at the front of the classroom had his full attention. She watched closely as he watched closely, face ahead, focused and strong. Summer didn’t say anything as she saw the computer screen above Joey Massey’s head begin to shake. Hell, what would she shout? “Watch out Joey, flying IT equipment!” She’d look even sillier than everybody already thought she was. Plus, she didn’t much like Joey anyway. She watched for a while longer, just to make sure: it was most definitely moving, the screen glistening in the mid-afternoon sun.

That’s when it happened.

When later interviewed by police officers, most of the pupils would say it looked as though Joey slipped on a sheet of ice, legs flying into the air as his top half hit the deck. It was an apt description. Summer actually missed this part, such was her focus on Will. She didn’t miss what happened next. With Joey now led face up on the floor, the shaking monitor rolled of the storage cupboard and fell to earth. There was no drastic movement, Summer noted, but a gentle roll, as if an invisible giant had flicked the monitor with its index finger. If the roll was gentle, the landing was not. As it came crashing down, smashing Joey Massey’s skull with an attention-grabbing crunch – so loud, Max Harper would later claim to have heard the smash from halfway down the corridor – the entire class stopped.

For a moment, silence. Quiet realisation.

Then, noise. Lots of it.

Rachel screamed and turned away, before falling toward the floor herself. One of her friends – conveniently placed nearby in case this latest quarrel got out of hand – managed to cushion the fall by part-grabbing her as she fell. Then she turned, saw a computer monitor where Joey’s head should be, and screamed herself. Then she threw up a little, covering her unconscious friend’s back. Summer watched as some of her classmates ran from the room, some cried, some also screamed, and those which dared take a closer look also filled the floor with their putrid bile. But they all seemed to be doing something. All expect Will… and herself.

* * * *

The screams were deafening, a reaction Will had not taken into consideration. Girls his age didn’t like seeing IT equipment where heads should be, apparently. Mental note made. He felt sure that, once the dust had settled, if anyone figured out what he had done, they’d probably thank him. Will noted that not a single one of Joey’s friends rushed to his aid, just in case he was still alive. He wasn’t, of course – the pints of blood and traces of brain now covering the floor of Room 815 was evidence of that – but they didn’t even try. Regardless, he really needed to get these emotional impulses in check; he couldn’t be throwing around school property whenever someone got him all riled up.

And so he rose up from his chair and strolled out of the classroom, away from the scene of the impossible crime. Such was the commotion, nobody even noticed him leave.

* * * *

Summer watched as Will bounced up from his desk and slipped out of the classroom. Some students were now on their cells, frantically dialling for help. She already knew it would be of no help to Joey: he was most definitely dead. So, as the class continued to scream and panic, as Rachel continued to be unconscious, as Joey continued to be faceless, Summer followed Will and slipped out of the classroom unseen. Not that she expected to be.

Such was her happiness at that moment, she didn’t even see Mr Jenkins until he was already on top of her. Their shoulders met and, being much smaller than he was, she stumbled to the floor. He stopped for a moment – a puzzled look etched across his face – and surveyed the open air around him. His bemusement was quickly halted by another scream from within his classroom. Summer watched as he rubbed his eyes and rushed inside. She then popped to her feet and scurried down the corridor, hoping to catch Will as quickly as her little legs would allow her. She had so much she wanted to share with him.

They’d make quite the couple, she fancied.

Grandad’s Story

No mules this week. Sorry.

Grandad’s Story

He gently tucks the covers under Sam’s chin, wrapping him up in a warm duvet cocoon. He stands up and turns to leave. “Goodnight, Sammy.”

“Story!”

“I’m sorry?”

“May I have a story Grandad please?”

He smiles. “Okay, okay. We might have time before your mother gets home,” he says, slumping down on to the end of the bed. “I’ve got just the thing.”

The covers ripple with excitement. “Yes!”

“Shh, shh. Okay, okay. Now, listen closely, Sammy lad. Listen closely.”

Sam slips deeper into his cocoon. “I will.”

“There once was a knight-”

Sam’s eyes widen.

“Settle down, settle down, not that one. This was a much lesser-known knight, but lesser-known does not mean less important. It does not mean that. This knight commanded thousands of men, men who followed him without question-”

“Was he-”

“I’ll take questions at the end, lad. Questions at the end. Are you listening?”

A little heads pivots up and down.

“Good. Now, this knight was a very good knight. He was brave and strong and some might say handsome. He won many great battles and defeated numerous evils. The Grand Queen noticed this and one day came calling on him…”

He feels Sam’s toes wiggle in anticipation.

“…she told him there was an army of monsters rising, monsters intent on destroying the entire kingdom. He agreed to help, without hesitation.”

“Because he was such a good brave knight?”

He smiles. “Well yes, but he wanted to help save his kingdom and all of the people in it, too. But that wasn’t the whole story. The Queen thanked him for his bravery and dedication, but told him there was more. The Grand Queen was also a prophet you see.”

“A what?”

“A prophet. It meant she could see into the future, she could see things that were yet to happen. She told the brave knight that with his help the kingdom would be saved, but that he would die. His last act as a Knight of the Twelfth Kingdom would be to save it.”

Sam pulls the covers up tighter around his neck. “And did he fight the monsters, Grandad?”

“Yes, lad. Yes he did. It was a massive battle, with many soldiers from each side falling. Soon, all but one of the monsters had been slain. The only monster still standing was the Monster King. He was the biggest and meanest,” he wiggles Sam’s big toe, “and stinkiest of them all.”

“Hehe!”

“But this was no time for laughter. Remember, our good knight was to die this day. After an epic battle which lasted for two whole days, the Monster King was defeated. But our knight suffered such fatal injuries in the fight that he was soon to follow, just as the Grand Queen had foreseen. As the entire kingdom rejoiced, the knight began to slip away.”

Sam lets out the a child’s version of a sigh. “He didn’t deserve to die, Grandad.”

“And you weren’t the only one to think so, Sammy. You see, just as the knight began to close his eyes one final time, the Grand Queen appeared before him. She told him that, because of his unprecedented bravely and sacrifice, she had made a deal with the God Oah to spare his life. As well as saving his life, the knight would be allowed to live out the rest of his days in peace and quiet. But, he had to agree that when the next big battle arrived, he would be ready to stand again at his Queen’s side.”

“What did he do?”

“He accepted this most humbling of gifts, of course. The God Oah filled his body with life and the Grand Queen allowed the knight to find a quiet place in the kingdom to raise a family and enjoy the rest he very much deserved. He found a piece of land, and a farm-”

“Like ours, Grandad?”

He smiles. “Exactly like ours, lad. Exactly. Except, this wasn’t enough. You see, being a knight was all he had ever known. He soon found himself missing the life he used to have. But he knew he could not rise to fight again until called on by the Grand Queen. To do so before this day would make him appear ungrateful for the gift of life Oah had given him.”

“So he never fighted again?”

“Until this very day, my lad, he never did. His sword has never been raised since the day the Monster King was slain. But it stands ready, ready for the day the Grand Queen calls on the knight to once again fight to protect the Twelfth Kingdom.”

“He’s still alive?”

“Oh yes he’s still alive, lad. He’s still alive and hoping the Grand Queen hasn’t forgotten about him. He’s waited patiently all these years, and hopes he’s got one last great battle left in him.”

“What’s he been doing, Grandad?”

“That, my little knight,” he says, leaning forward, planting a kiss on Sammy’s soft forehead, “is a story for another night.”

Tales From the Split Worlds: Missing – Emma Newman

Hey guys. I’m delighted to be able to present to you a short story from a very talented (and lovely) author by the name of Emma Newman. Emma’s previous work can be found here and here. Emma herself can be found here.

Anyway, to the story. Hope you enjoy (clue: you will*). Over to you, Em…

This is the fifteenth tale in a year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen here. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here.

Missing

Sue watched the photo of her husband appearing again and again in the printer tray as she waited to be connected. The room stank of toner and her head ached.

“Mrs Walker? Sorry to keep you waiting. How are you bearing up?”

The police officer’s voice was softer than her husband’s. “Is there any news?” She was bored of describing how she felt.

“None I’m afraid. We’ve sent your husband’s details to all the relevant departments, and I understand you’ve contacted the local press.”

“I didn’t know what else to do. I’m printing posters. I’m going to take them round town later.”

“Good idea. I’ll let you know the moment anything comes in.”

“Thanks.” She put the phone down, looking at the printed sheets, reminded of the countless missing cat posters she’d seen in recent months. Her husband would soon be just another face pinned to trees and fading in shop windows, ignored.

Her son squealed next door, then her daughter cackled. Sue hunched forwards, resting her head in her hands, waiting for the inevitable as their footsteps came to the doorway.

“Mum! Jen put the toad in my bed!”

“I didn’t, he just hopped in there by himself. He must’ve wanted to be with someone else small and warty.”

“I’m not-”

“Shut up, both of you!” Sue didn’t turn to face them. “For God’s sake Jen, leave him alone and get rid of that bloody frog.”

“It’s a toad.”

“I don’t-” a loud splosh and a spray of tea interrupted her.

“Did you see that?!” Jen cheered as Sue leaped out of her chair and away from the desk. “He landed right in the cup!”

The mug wobbled and then tipped over, spilling tea dregs and toad onto the desk. It croaked. “Get that thing out of my office!” Sue yelled, repulsed by its warty sliminess.

Jen collected it with the theatrical sigh perfected by fourteen year olds and stomped out of the room. Matthew lingered in the doorway, looking at the posters. “Are you okay Mum?”

“I’ve got to make a phone call,” she said, not wanting to show him how upset she was.

He nodded and shut the door as she reluctantly picked up the phone. The number was the last on the list for a reason.

It rang enough times for her to hope that no-one was home before being picked up. “Hello?”

Sue cleared her throat. “Is this Kim?”

“Yes.”

“This is Sue… Gary’s wife.”

There was silence, then the scrape of a chair. “What do you want? I got the solicitor’s letter, I thought it was all supposed to go through them now.”

“It’s about Gary.”

“Oh my God, has-”

“He’s missing,” Sue said it quickly, dreading the words she’d spoken so many times. “This is the fourth day and I wondered if you’ve seen him, whether he came to visit… um… Natalie.”

“No. He hasn’t seen her for months. What do you mean by missing?”

From anyone else it would have been a stupid question, but Sue understood the subtext; she was asking if he’d abandoned them, like he had his first family. “He didn’t turn up at work, all his things are still here, his credit cards and bank account haven’t been used. The car’s still on the drive.”

“God. Are the police-”

“They know. He wasn’t in contact with you… directly, in the last few days?”

“No.”

“I’m sorry things have got difficult with the child maintenance payments. We didn’t want it to be like this. The fallout from divorce is messy.”

“Gone through it have you?”

“Yes, actually, I have.” There was a yell from the kitchen and then the sound of running up the stairs. “I’ve got to go.”

“Let me know if anything… if he…”

“I will.” She ended the call. So many sentences had been unfinished in the last few days, so many sympathetic looks given, so many empty expressions of support. A thousand times she’d imagined him lying dead in a nearby ditch, or slumped in a drunken heap down an alleyway or even on a plane to a foreign land and a new life. None of those made any sense.

The kids were climbing the second set of stairs into the converted attic. Gary finished it two days before he disappeared, the garden was the next project, they’d talked about a holiday too, hardly topics a man about to run away would discuss. There were no signs of a struggle, his car keys, wallet and a pile of his clothes were left by the bed, converting the house into a modern day Mary Celeste.

The kids were chasing each other by the sound of it. They’d been running riot since she’d been obsessed with finding him. The last of the missing person posters landed in the printer tray as the doorbell rang. She gathered them up, ran down the stairs and opened the door to find a man dressed in a suit and raincoat, his face was the ugliest she’d ever seen.

“Sorry to disturb you,” he said, no smile, no warmth in his manner. “I’m an environmental officer from the local council.” He waved an ID card at her, but she was too distracted by his strange lumpy nose to take it in. “Have you had any problems with local wildlife in the past few days, amphibians in particular?”

“What?”

“Any problems with frogs or toads? We’ve had a couple of reports of them coming into people’s houses.” He noticed the posters. “Someone’s missing?”

“My husband.”

He extended a hand. “I could put one up in my office if you wish?”

She gave one to him. “Thank you. About the toad problem, we found one in the house a few days ago. Where are they coming from?”

“Population spike,” he said flatly. Everything he said was flat, there was a complete absence of emotion. “When did you find it?”

“Four days ago. It-”

A scream high up in the house stopped her, something streaked down from the sky and landed with a terrible splut less than a metre from the man.

It was the toad.

The kids were hammering down the stairs, Sue stepped out to look at the poor creature, its guts spilling out onto the driveway. The visitor peered down at it.

“This is the toad you mentioned, the one found in your house four days ago?”

“It was,” Sue replied as Matthew and Jen pushed past her.

“Matthew threw him out of the skylight!” Jen sobbed and promptly punched her younger brother on the arm.

“She was putting him down my shirt!” Matthew said, staring at the dead creature. “I didn’t mean to do it.”

“I’ll be off now,” the man said. “Nothing to be done here.”

Sue watched him go as the kids squabbled. He paused at the end of the drive, screwed the poster into a tight ball and dropped it in his coat pocket without glancing back. She looked down at the toad and somehow knew, with a certainty she couldn’t explain, that she would never see her husband again.

Thanks for hosting Jack!

I hope you enjoyed the story. If you would like to find out more about the Split Worlds project, it’s all here: www.splitworlds.com – you can also sign up to get an extra story and get each new story delivered to your inbox every week. If you would like to host a story over the coming year, either let me know in the comments or contact me through the Split Worlds site. Em x

*See?

Hero

“It’s over.”

I can’t move. Those two little words have frozen me to the ground. Did she really just say that? I can’t be sure, I can’t think straight. Despite everything I was now able to do, I didn’t see this coming at all.

I’ve let the silence become uncomfortably long. I know she’s waiting for me to respond, but I can’t find the words. Even if I did, I’m not sure I could voice them.

“But-,” is all I eventually mumble, but she’s already prepared to counter.

“Don’t do that, John. Please. You must have known this was coming?” she says.

I think I’m still in shock. I mean, we’re on the sidewalk, just had dinner, and now this. Words usually come quite easily for me, but not tonight. She’s caught me entirely off guard and I don’t know what to do, what to say.

“No,” is all I can manage. Brilliant.

“Please don’t. Last night was the final time, I swore it. I needed you and where were you? I needed my boyfriend with me and you weren’t there. Yet again.”

Her tone tells me she’s waiting for an explanation, the reason I couldn’t be with her. The thing that was so important I let her sit in the hospital alone. I guess it’s one thing to miss a date or two, but not this.

“It was work. I’m sorry, Kate. I would have been right there if I could,” I say, but it’s clear from the look in her eyes it’s not enough. They’re glazing over: she’s going to cry.

“That’s the thing, John,” she starts, tears streaming down her face now, her voice stuttering, “I rang your work..last night..several times…asked for you..and they said..they said..you weren’t there..that you quit months ago!”

I move in to hold her for what I’m beginning to realise will be the last time, but she moves away. Behind the tears are eyes of anger now, not sadness. She’s still waiting for an explanation. A reason for all the missed dates, the late nights, the early mornings, my whereabouts last night. Something to explain all of it, something that will suddenly make sense of it all so she can forgive me and we can stay together. I know this is what she wants, and I want nothing more than to give it to her. But I can’t.

“I’m so sorry, baby,” is all I say. It’s not nearly enough.

“Then so am I.”

As she goes to turn away, I reach forward and grab her arm. She turns around and our eyes meet again. She pulls me close, leans toward my ear.

“Don’t do this. It’s really over. If you can’t trust me, be there for me, then I can’t trust you. And without that, we’ve got nothing,” she whispers.

It’s strange, but I swear she knows more than I think. I sure this can’t be true, I’ve been so careful, but the way she speaks sends a shiver right through me. Is she saying my secret would be safe with her? Does she know? This and a thousand other questions run through my head as she turns and walks away. It’s all happening so fast, I can’t make sense of it. The love of my life, the woman I was just eating dinner with, walking away to start a life on her own. Without me.

As the outline of her body fades, calm begins to creep back over me. More composed, I realise all of the things I could have said to make her stay. All of the good things I have done since that day six months ago. All of the people I have helped, and the bad ones I’ve stopped. They’re called superheroes in the comics and on the TV, but there’s nothing super about what I’ve done. It’s just life, and doing things other people aren’t able to. There’s no use in me having these abilities if I’m not going to use them. I could have told Kate this, she may have understood. She may have even loved me for it. But to tell her one side of things would open the door to the other. Of the people who want me dead, and the ones who would use anybody and everybody I love to make this happen. She doesn’t know it, but it’s all for her. Maybe one day she will. Maybe one day I’ll be able to tell her.

I feel an odd sensation coming over me as I skip around into the alley, something I feared had been lost to me forever. A single tear rolls down my check. Its warmth is oddly unfamiliar, yet comforting. I enjoy it a moment as I allow myself a brief thought of what might have been. Of a life lost, of a different future. But I’m shook from these thoughts by the sound of a woman’s scream. I judge it to be no more than ten miles away.

And so I catch the last remnants of the tear in my fingertips, allowing its warmth to moisten my hands, protect them against the winter’s cold. Then I fasten the button on my coat, rise myself from the ground, and soar up into the dark of the night.

Ten Minutes

Hello all!

It’s been a week since my last post, as I’ve tweaked this next story a few times.  I let the inital version ‘stew’ for a few days and when I revisited it I felt it needed a slight change.  I hope you enjoy the final outcome.

Before I post the story, I feel it necessary to point you in the following direction: http://www.splitworlds.com/stories/

Emma Newman is an author I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with on Twitter (@EmApocalyptic) and I’ve really enjoyed reading her short stories.  Her Split Worlds tales provided the inspiration for what you are about to read, so may I (stubbornly) recommend that, once you are finished here, you go and give the above site a little peruse.

Anyway, here’s this week’s story.  As always, I’d love it if you could leave me a small comment below, or send me a tweet with your thoughts.

Thanks!

Ten Minutes

As the bus pulled up to the stop, Peter looked down and checked his watch: 11:01am, it read.  He’d be late again.  Stepping to one side before she had even summoned the strength to stand up, he allowed the fragile old lady to enter first.  The driver gave him a cheery welcome and took his fare, just as he had done many times before.  And just like the many times Peter had used this bus before, the same old people sat in the same old seats.  He was used to it all by now.

Here we go again, he thought.

He took his usual seat near the back, just tucked away on the left hand side.  He liked being able to have a look around and observe all of the little things happening on the bus, without being seen himself.  He was in his own little world, looking out at the real one.

Sat on the opposite side of the bus, at around two o’clock, was a beautiful, petite brunette, who he had admired many times before.  He knew her name was Kate, but he wouldn’t introduce himself using this knowledge, as he knew she would not remember him.  Being so close to her, but being unable to speak, pained him.  But this was not their time, something he had very little of anyway.

And so he shifted his gaze away from Kate and towards the front of the bus.  As the bus made its way down the always busy and heavily-populated Frogmoor St, Peter reached forward and gripped the bar in front of him.  As the front wheel on the driver’s side dipped down into a small pothole, a collective, audible gasp echoed out around the bus.  There were a lot of shocked passengers.

“Sorry, folks!” the driver shouted.

Slouching back down into his seat, Peter turned and stared out of the window, down the road towards the next stop.  As the bus slowly pulled up, Peter could make out the faces of people he had seen many times before.  The old Indian lady with her basket of fresh fruit and veg, the two young boys who he felt for sure should be in school, the wearied mother and her two small children, and the ragged-looking middle-aged man carrying a laptop and tripod.  As the varied group of people took their turns finding a seat, the driver prepared to pull away.  But Peter’s gaze remained out of the window.

Five, four, three, two-, he counted down.

As his mind hit ‘one’, a man raced out of the building adjacent to the bus stop.  The man dived towards the bus and forced open the door. Panicked, the driver left his seat and attempted to stop the man.  As he lurched forward, the man reached inside his jacket, where, nestled inside his belt, was a small firearm.

“Back at the wheel!” he shouted.

The driver froze.  He was reaching his twilight years and this was too much for him to take in.  Peter knew that John, the driver, had only taken this job as he needed the money to pay his mortgage.  He had reached retirement age but couldn’t afford the house he lived in after his wife had passed away.  He needed the money and the bus followed a simple enough route, which is what he was after.  A nice, simple day’s work, is how he had once described it.  Not today.

Stumbling back into his driver’s seat, John lent forward and rested himself on his steering wheel, the large style that only vehicles of a certain size seem to use.

“Drive!” the man ordered John, forcing the butt of the gun into his temple.

The bus screeched away from the stop, at a speed most of its inhabitants had never felt from the vehicle before, John included.  But Peter had, and he knew what would happen if this kept up.

Keep it steady, John.

The old Indian women began to scream; gripping tightly to their mother, the two children opposite her quickly followed.  The man pulled the gun away from John’s head and approached the old women.  Pointing the gun at her chest, he spoke softly:

“Do that again, and I will pull this trigger. Do you understand?”

The woman nodded.  The only noise left filling the bus was that of the children, their sobs and cries.  The rest of the passengers were in a state of shock, all except Peter.  He watched on as the man sat next to the two children, whispering something to them.  Again, Peter could not make out what the man had said, but whatever it was, it worked.  The children soon stopped crying.  He rose from his seat and moved in front of Kate, blocking her from the man’s view.

“Steven, please, stop,” Peter called.

Steven shot up from his seat and stared Peter right in the eyes.  He was shocked to hear his name spoken so recognisably.  Instinctively, he again raised his gun, pointing it towards his perceived aggressor.

“What did you say?” he asked, clearly agitated.

“Listen, I know about what happened. Please, just relax,” Peter replied.

And he did know, too.  Steven had once told him all about it.  He had spoken of the argument he had with his girlfriend, of his pushing her away in anger, of the bag she had tripped on which sent her tumbling down the flight of stairs outside their apartment, and the fact he was already on probation.  Steven had told him all about it, in a much calmer state than the one he was currently in.  But that conversation seemed a world away now.

“Trouble? What the hell do you know about trouble? How the hell do you know my name!?” Steven shouted back.

Peter’s intervention had Steven more on edge than before, his temper slowly rising.

Shit, this isn’t going very well, he thought.

Kate began shifting nervously behind him.  He reached back with one hand, placing it reassuringly on her shoulder.  He raised his other hand, palm facing forward: a sign that he meant no harm.

“Please, don’t worry about that. Please trust me. I know you don’t want to do this. I know you’re running away from what happened. But it wasn’t your fault. I promise you, I know it wasn’t your fault. Please put the gun away,” Peter reasoned.

But it wasn’t working.  Steven strode back to the front end of the bus, where he could keep all of the passengers, especially Peter, in view.  His gun still raised, he now pointed it at various people, waving it haphazardly.

“You don’t know anything about me. Any of you! There’s no getting out of this now, I know–”

John leapt from his driver’s seat, grabbing Steven around the throat.  Peter watched on helplessly.  As the two men fell to the floor, the sound of a gunshot resonated through the vehicle.  Peter felt his hand behind him being squeezed tightly.  Screams once again filled the air; passengers dived to the floor, seeking cover under their seats, bags, anything they could find.

The bus veered off the road.  The small fence at the road’s edge offered no resistance as it gained speed.  Plunging down the hill on the other side, it began to tumble.  It flipped over.  And then again.  Its passengers were thrown around like rag dolls.  After three full rolls, the bus, now resting on its right hand side, led still.  Those still conscious were in a state of shock.  So much so, not a single of the dazed passengers noticed that Peter had been shot.

In the moments before their death, it is often said that people see their lives flash before their eyes.  All of the meaningful moments in their lives, the good things they have done, all relived before they pass on.

But this did not happen for Peter.  He knew better than that by now.

Glancing to his left, he saw the motionless body of Kate; eyes fixed forward, a trickle of blood seeped from her mouth.  He still remembered the first time this all happened, and the sadness he felt.  He remembered how she tried to fight Steven off and how he had shot her.  She was a fighter alright.  And so was he.  He’d find a way to save her.  Even if he had to do this for an eternity, he’d find a way.  It just wasn’t going to be this time.

Not again, he mourned, as he once more watched Kate’s eyes close for the final time.

Mustering all of the strength he had left, Peter pulled the amulet he had tied around his neck to his lips.  With his dying breath he spoke a short incantation.

A bright white light filled the sky, forcing him to close his eyes tightly.  The light was so intense that he still wasn’t used to it; he wasn’t sure he ever would be.  After a few seconds the light rescinded and Peter reopened his eyes.  He was back at the bus stop.  He pulled up his shirt sleeve and checked his watch: 11:01.  A new plan of action was already being formulated.

This time, he thought.  This time…