Warning: there is the aftermath of a possible suicide in this chapter.
Over the next few days Sam seemed really edgy and nervous, as if waiting for me to suddenly do something with the story he told me. I kept assuring him I felt no different about him except that I admired him even more for the fact he had been so brave at such a young age. Finally I told him if he didn’t stop giving me that wrinkled-brow look I’d punch his princely nose in. That certainly eased the tension and we returned to our normal (or not so normal) selves.
Sam told me about the night in the kitchen, what happened with my father. Apparently before he first visited my dad wanted to make sure it’d be okay with his parents and Sam had to admit to him then that he was an ‘orphan’, though he didn’t tell my dad everything that he told me (all my dad knew was that he didn’t have any family). This time around my dad approached him and asked if he’d like to stay at our place for a while since his ‘home’ was just a–well, not really orphanage as it turned out.
He told me about ‘the Rag’, the place where he lived. A lot of the students at Hunter’s lived there. “It used to be mostly a research facility ages ago but pretty much just turned into a safe house,” Sam explained. It sounded familiar but nothing clicked until Sam indicated a picture of Grandfather and asked if he ever worked at the Rag. I shrugged and Sam said, “Cause there’s a picture at the Rag of a guy that looks a lot like him but younger so not sure if that was him or not.”
“We can ask him.”
Sam and I ended up spending the afternoon listening to Grandpa translate Grandfather’s ghostly talk about the Rag. Apparently it’s where Grandpa turned alive again too, which made Sam’s eyes go big.
“Dude. There’s this legend of a ghost becoming living again at the Rag but–we thought it was just a legend, a rumor. It’s–it happened?!”
Grandpa beamed. “Yep! That was me! Um, they never managed to, uh, relocate the experiment with any other–oh! Thanks dear. Recreate the experiment with any other ghost. I was a special case probably cause I was born a ghost.” Now Sam looked suspicious and obviously not believing my grandpa but he remained quiet. “I’m glad to know the facility is going strong. We should go visit someday.” A pause. Then, “Well it doesn’t have bad memories for me.” Another pause. “You weren’t as possessed as I was and you weren’t possessed at the Rag so I have no idea why you–“
I grabbed Sam and pulled him away as Grandpa got into an argument with his dead husband.
That night I had a vision… a really strange one. Sam, Blake, and I sat around a small table while Eli sat in an armchair looking frustrated. We were talking to him trying to get him to admit to something, and he just kept looking out the window with annoyance etched across his face.
“You can talk to us, we’re–we’re your friends,” Sam said.
“You’re my best friend!” Blake cut in. “If something’s wrong…”
Eli shook his head. “Nothing’s wrong. I swear. I’m just tired, that’s all.”
“Are you sick?” Blake asked while my future self looked over to where my now-self stood. Future-me stared right at now-me. I didn’t look too much older. Maybe a year at most.
Eli flopped back against the chair. “No! I’m not sick! I’m just tired! We’ve been through a lot, I don’t sleep well.” Been through? Been through what? What did we–what do we go through? “Stop harassing me.”
Blake got up, fluttering over. “I’m worried about you.”
A flash of pure anger went through Eli’s eyes. Then he slumped. “I appreciate it, I really do. I’m just–I’m fine, I’m just tired. Honest.”
That’s when I was yanked out of the vision. I sat straight up in my bed and Sam sat up in his bed, watching me with curiosity. I promised him I was fine (sounding a lot like Eli had in the vision) then got up to go to the bathroom. I guess I hadn’t said anything too weird since Sam didn’t seem too anxious. But I felt a bit anxious. Because we apparently went through something and–well, I didn’t recognize the room we had been in. I’d never seen that room before. It definitely wasn’t at Hunters, and for some reason that made me feel really uneasy.
July First blazed in with a clear sky and hot sun. I rolled out of bed and Sam smacked me in the face with a pillow while declaring, “Happy birthday!”
I laughed and dove for my own pillow, pummeling him. We jumped from bed to bed while a few feathers flew. The door burst open and Artemis glared in. “It sounds like a herd of elephants in here!”
I jumped off my bed and hit Arty pretty square in the face. She spun back and her glasses nearly fell off her face. I hesitated in fear that I had really hurt her but she snatched the pillow from my hands and began smacking me. I cried uncle and she tackled me, holding me down as she smacked me repeatedly with my pillow.
“Can’t take it, eh?” she laughed.
“Sammm! Help meee!” I didn’t wait for him. I reached up and began tickling Arty’s sides. She shrieked and flung back, kicking at me while I managed to pin her down.
“Brat! Brat!” she yelled. One kick landed against my thigh pretty hard. I slid off her with a pained groan. “Ugh! That’s what you get, you know how ticklish I am!” she gasped out as she fixed her glasses. I kicked at her ankles and she kicked back. We continued kicking until she managed to get another good blow in and I scrambled away in defeat. “You may have gotten taller than me but I am still your older sister and can destroy you like that!” Artemis said with a snap of her fingers. Sam snickered and I muttered, “Traitor.”
At lunch Aunt Gladdy and Marisol came to visit. Aunt Gladdy gave me a very long hug and a (vaguely embarrassing) kiss on the forehead. She loved all her siblings’ kids but I knew she felt very tender towards me and Arty since she had been pregnant with us. All my other aunts and uncles called me throughout the day and I received cards from them in the main (oh yeah lots of checks, sweet).
My biggest surprise, though, was Tal calling me and asking me to go open the door. Figuring she had sent me a package (like, and got a text saying it had been delivered) I went to the front door and stared in disbelief when I opened the door and found her there.
“Hey,” she said with a shy smile.
“Tal!” I started to hug her then stopped, not sure if I should. Or should I kiss her? This was the first time seeing her since we became ‘official’. How would be the right way to greet a girlfriend? I was spared trying to figure out what to do by Tal reaching out to give me a hug. I hugged her back then let her inside.
“I hope you don’t mind… Sam and your parents worked it out. Uh, me visiting.”
“I’m so happy to see you! I had no idea you were even coming.” I looked back at Sam. “How long was this…?”
“Oh, a week and a half?” Sam scratched his head. “Tal called me and then she talked to your dad and stepmum about it.”
Tal pushed some of her hair back. “And here I am!” She still looked a bit shy and awkward. I felt kinda awkward too. Not in a bad way. Just in a… well, this was the first time.
We went farther in and I introduced her to everyone. Tal hovered close to me but greeted all my family members happily and seemed to come out of her shell as the afternoon turned into the evening. After some time we found ourselves alone and she confessed she had been worried my family wouldn’t approve of me dating a fish.
I poked her lightly. “You’re not a fish, you’re nothing close to a fish. You’re a nymph.”
“I have scales and, like, shark teeth.”
“And I think you look beautiful.”
We shared our first kiss. Then our second. And a few more after that. Her ‘shark’ teeth grazed against my lips and it sent shivers through my whole body. We probably would have done more but Piotr came looking for me since Grandpa wanted to present the cake. Tal and I pulled apart while Piotr managed to hide a smirk. Tal scurried off and I mumbled a request that Piotr not mention this to anyone. He assured me he wouldn’t and we went into the other room so I could blow out my candles.
That night I had one of the strangest visions ever. Not horrible. Just strange. It started off like the vision I had where I first saw Sam. Someone jumping off the cliff and my not-so-future self running and panicking. But then things changed. As the not-so-future Sam approached my other self everything became wobblier than usual. Then, everything froze. Future-me and future-Sam started twitching like you sometimes see in horror games.
Then light slammed into my eyes. I flinched back, bringing my arm up to try and shield my vision. It almost looked like the world began breaking apart. Shattering, like glass. My head felt like it was shattering too. Like someone took a giant hammer and just swung it into my face. I howled in pain and backed away. Then it felt kinda like a vacuum, a giant vacuum sucking everything into it. Including me–sorta. I wasn’t really being sucked in but it felt like my soul yanked forward.
Then with an ear-splitting crashing sound everything returned to normal. Like, being reversed. Future-Sam ran backwards into the woods, future-me ran backwards in the woods, the person flew upwards back onto the cliff then disappeared.
Everything went quiet and… well, normal. Like nothing happened.
That’s when I woke up drenched in sweat and with Sam standing over me his orange eyes huge. As soon as he saw me sit up he reached out to grab my shoulders. “Shit, you all right? Oh–Watcher–you all right?”
“Unng. I don’t–” I shoved him away and bent over the side of my bed to throw up. My head still felt like it was being shattered. I vomited a second time then flopped back into my damp sheets. “I don’t. I don’t.”
“Be right back.”
Sam ran off and returned just in time for me to vomit again. He brought a wet washcloth, a glass of water, and a small, empty trashcan. He mopped my face off though I couldn’t even rinse my mouth out. I just curled up into a fetal position and began shivering.
“Wh–yelling–what did–I say?” I asked as my teeth chattered.
“Um. Nothing really.”
“I m… must have s-said s-s-s-something.”
“Actually, all you said was ‘it doesn’t happen’ then you just went quiet except for some painful sounding groans. You trashed around a lot and went really pale.” Sam sat down on the bed next to me. “What happened? You’ve never reacted like this!”
I want my dad, I thought not daring to say it out loud. Except apparently I did say it because Sam told me once again to wait then he went out of my room and returned with my dad. Dad took Sam’s place on my bed and his hand went to my forehead. Sam told him what happened while I just shivered and wondered if decapitation would get rid of this headache. Sam left the room once more while Dad pressed the cloth against my cheek.
“I j-just woke up like th-this.”
“What did you see?”
I shook my head. “I d-don’t know it wasn’t li-like anything I saw before. I…” I trailed off thinking about what Sam said that I had said. ‘It doesn’t happen’. And the vision seemed to break and reverse like–wait, did that mean…
Did the future change? Did that poor person not jump off the cliff?
I jerked upright again and stared at Dad. “I think the vision changed. A vision I had before. I think it changes, I think that’s what I saw. I–” I stopped talking so I could throw up in the trashcan. “I feel awful.”
Dad helped me to get up. My head throbbed even more and I pitched forward against him. “Let’s get you into the bathroom,” he said soothingly and he mostly carried me into the bathroom. We passed Sam on the way who carried cleaning supplies. I tried to call after him not to bother cleaning my mess up, that I’d do it, but instead I dry-heaved. Nothing left to throw up.
I spent the night of my fifteenth birthday in the bathroom with my dad and best friend sitting with me, taking care of me. When I woke up at one point Artemis had come in and was arguing with Dad telling him to go to bed, that she’d stay with me. Dad demanded she go back to sleep. They argued until I pitifully whined at them to stop. Artemis reluctantly retreated and Dad stayed.
My eyes didn’t fade back to normal until just before the sun came up.
Tal was only staying two nights so it absolutely sucked I still felt like crap in the morning. I did manage to trudge downstairs so I could curl up on the couch and visit with her. She put my head in her lap and stroked my hair while we watched TV. The only people in the house besides us were Sam, Grandpa, and Angel. Grandpa suggested a walk and asked Sam to come along to help watch Angel so the three of them left us alone. We got some nice private talking time together and I even managed to feel okay enough for some kissing (verge of making out).
Eventually I told her about my dad (she saw his picture on wall after all) and she explained most the school knows I’m related to him but pretty much everyone figures it is a distant relationship. “I can’t believe you’re his son,” she said with a shake of her head. “You look so much like your… er… other father. Mr. Singer.”
I rubbed my nose. “Yeah kinda glad I didn’t get the knife nose.”
“Oh stop, it’s not bad!”
“Look at it! And it’s even worse on the female members of my family, trust me. All my sisters are grateful they dodged that bullet.”
“I think he is very handsome.” Tal gazed rather adoringly at Zaid’s photo. “And so brave.” After a few awkward seconds (for me) she turned and slipped her hand in mine, the faint feel of scales brushing against my skin. “You’re more handsome though.”
“It’s the nose.”
She squealed and smacked me. I laughed and fell back, feigning that I was seriously hurt, so she tackled me and soon we ended up kissing heavily on the couch.
All good things come to an end and Tal had to leave. We said a very long goodbye with lots of hugging and kissing while Sam smirked in the distance. After that he and my sisters constantly teased me while I sulked in annoyance. Jeeeez. It’s not like I ever teased my sisters about their boy—well. Maybe a bit. But not this much. Course Eirene’s boyfriends were all jerks and Artemis’s one and only guy was a total geek so it didn’t count.
Over the next few days things seemed to go fairly well until one evening when the summer shattered into a million pieces. It seemed pretty normal. Sam and I were wrestling pretty hard. Laughing. Having fun.
Then I wasn’t in the living room anymore.
I reeled back at the change from real life to vision, feeling very disoriented–especially since Grandpa stood in front of me sobbing. He wore black clothes now, though. Next to him Uncle Vilkas (also in black clothes) had an arm tight around him to keep him upright.
I looked around and realized we were at a funeral. Most the people in the room I could recognize. They were mostly family. My eyes landed on the coffin but it had already been closed. Though the large memorial picture next to the coffin stared happily towards me.
“No–NO?!” I backed away as my heart began racing. “Shit no, shit–no–no this isn’t–this can’t be…!”
I backed through someone and the someone turned around. Me. Looking pretty much the same age I was now. He–me–I–future-me stared exactly where I stood, giving me a very sad, despondent look. Then he turned back towards the front of the room.
“No! NO!” I screamed. “NO!”
I sat up, gasping for air as I still screamed. Sam knelt next to me looking concerned. My sisters and Suzanne had come running from wherever they had been. My eyes darted around to each face, wondering what I had said.
“What happened?” Sam asked, helping me to my feet. “You just kept crying… I’ve never heard you just cry.”
Oh Watcher. I looked down at my shaking hands. How could I say it? How could–why? Why?! And when? It couldn’t be too far in the future. Oh shit. Did I say something? Did I warn everyone? What did I do? And how did it happen? An accident? A car wreck? Or a slip in the shower? Could I prevent it?
“Phone–I need the phone–“
I had to prevent it, I had to do whatever I could to prevent this. I ran for the phone and just as I reached down it began ringing. The caller ID popped up and it filled me with sickness. Oh Watcher. It couldn’t…
“H–hello?” I brought the phone up to my ear, praying I heard the right voice.
“Apollo…? I–is your–grand… grandpa….. there?”
The raggedness, the grief. No mistake, no doubt. It had already happened. The vision came too late for me to save her.
Aunt Lumie… was dead.
My vision had happened about half an hour after the paramedics pronounced her dead. I saw the funeral while Uncle Adan prepared to call his father-in-law to tell him his daughter had died.
Or possible suicide.
No one–not even Uncle Adan–was sure. All we knew was she had been more than depressed lately, tearing at her hair and crying out that her head felt too empty. The loss of her twin’s voice in her head had been getting worse and not better as the years went on. Culminating into her taking a lot of sleeping pills. Either on purpose or just to sleep through the night, I didn’t know; none of us did. I found out she often took sleeping pills. All the adults in the family knew.
My family went through several weeks of shock and sadness. At the funeral when I stood near Grandpa and Uncle Vilkas I heard someone say something that I remembered from my vision and I turned, looking at the empty space where the me-from-a-few-days-prior stood in shock. I wanted to say I was sorry, or that he/I couldn’t stop it, or–or something. Instead I just turned back to look towards the coffin, too full of grief to do anything about my previous self. I just didn’t care.
Sam stayed in the background during this time, being there but doing his best not to be bothersome or invasive. Tal came for part of the viewing. She sat with me and held my hand. Before she had to go we went outside and I wrapped my arms tightly around her and kissed harder than I thought a kiss could ever be. She kissed back, sweet and comforting. I didn’t want the kiss to end but she had to go; she couldn’t stay anywhere in town overnight and she hadn’t wanted to even ask to stay with us.
I got sympathy cards from all my other friends. The one from Romance said she had wanted to come but didn’t want to intrude.
Carlos and Catalina stayed a couple nights. Piotr was still here so for one of the nights, at least, there were four of us crammed into my small room. Piotr offered to get a hotel room but I begged him to stay if he could–it felt better with him there.
Grandpa was pretty much inconsolable. Other than the viewings and the funeral he just stayed curled up in his room, crying. We were all worried about his health since he barely ate and didn’t have much weight on him anyway but he pushed on and as summer came to a close he returned to his normal weight and sometimes he smiled. I couldn’t imagine how hard it was though… losing two children.
I didn’t take things very well either. I kept flashing back to the damned vision. Coming too late. Why?! I could have stopped it! If I had the vision just a few hours before I could have stopped her, I could have done something. Obviously the future could change. My other vision proved it–the one on the cliff, I knew that meant things could change.
I could have saved her if my stupid freaking damn power had occurred just a little bit earlier, and it hadn’t, and it wasn’t FAIR.