“Tell you what,” my mother said. “Let me get my laptop and play it for you. ‘Stranger on the shore’ is one of the songs I have downloaded on it.”
Ken and I looked at each other as mum went to fetch her computer. What if it sent me to sleep again? What would she think? His mind was clearly focusing on the same questions, as he asked, “You up to hearing it?”
I didn’t have any idea. Mum would be asking some hard questions if I keeled over on the floor after a couple of bars, but I supposed knowledge was better than ignorance. “I guess it’s for the best.” I motioned Ken into the family room, and sat in an easy chair, as I didn’t want to chance collapsing in a heap and doing myself a mischief. Thankfully my dad had retreated to his den which, considering his job as a record producer, was virtually a sound studio.
Mum bustled in a few seconds later, turned on her computer, and searched for the file. “Why are you so interested in this number anyway,” she asked.
I searched for a neutral response. Prefacing my remarks with a silly titter which I hoped would put her off, I said, “Guess I want to see if it will still put me out.” Way to get ahead of the game, Janice.
She clicked on the file, and after a short moment, it started.
I opened my eyes to see my mother peering down at me, looking concerned. “I take it this happened recently.”
I just about managed to nod my head, and looked for Ken, asking, “How long was I out?”
“About six minutes, same as last time.”
Mum took my hand, and started a gentle third degree. “So when did this happen?”
“While Ken drove me to school on Monday.”
She turned to Ken, then back at me, and back to Ken again. Narrowing her eyes, and in a serious voice, she made the leap of logic. “What else?”
Ken and I exchanged glances, and he took the lead. “Jani had another experience, it was a bit different. She had a premonition of a truck running a red light and hitting us.”
Mum turned to me managing a weak smile, so I said, “Ken held back, and the truck missed us.” I didn’t want to tell her it had hit someone else. Mum made a motion with her hand, asking me to go on. “There was a song on the radio…I sort of recognized it, but I don’t know the name.”
“I do, it was, ‘I can see clearly now’,” Ken chimed in. “Sort of appropriate, don’t you think?”
“That’s funny,” mum remarked with a wistful expression, “I used to listen to that one a lot while I was pregnant with you, Jani.” She tapped a few keys on the laptop. “I have it here too. Shall I play it?”
Ken came over to me in the easy chair, and put his hands on my shoulders. “Might as well, you need to know.”
This was all starting to go much too fast. It had been one revelation after another, and I felt that enough was enough, so I tried to waffle, but it came out as a whine, “Can’t this wait a bit?”
“I don’t think it should,” my mother disagreed. “Until you find out, you’ll only be wondering. Let’s face it; you may not even be able to sleep tonight.”
Drat, she had a point, and I did like my sleep. I was torn until Ken suggested, “Gotta try sometime!” Well, that tipped the scales, and I reluctantly nodded.
Mum smiled at me, but I said, “Wait a sec until I’m comfy, don’t want to gross you all out if I start shaking or frothing at the mouth.”
That gave Ken an opening. “Won’t happen like that,” he said, straight faced. “Last time your eyes just rolled up in your head, you flopped back, and started drooling like one of those dogs with slobbermouth.” He got a cushion in his own mouth for that, not to mention a couple of well chosen pieces of restrained invective, which he ignored. As I said before, he loved to tease me.
Mum got my attention, saying, “Ready?” and then I was somewhere else.
I woke to Ken holding my hand and mum leaning over me. “So, what did you see?”
By then they could see I was shaking, so mum hugged me, and asked, “Was it bad, honey?”
Predictably, that’s when I lost it completely. “Bad? It was a total fricking nightmare disaster.” I noticed Ken glance towards the door to reassure himself it was shut, as my wake-the-dead shriek was more than enough to tear dad out of his den if he heard it clearly. We so didn’t want dad in the loop just yet.
“What did you see?” Ken asked, nervous, but eager.
“A bloody and nasty death. I guess it was a murder, but it will look like a suicide.”
“Will?” my brother asked.
“Yes, Ken, will, at least I think so. In my vision the sun was just setting.” Right now that was an half an hour away. I hesitated to go further, as that piece of information carried bad vibes. Actually everything that I had seen cried out for me to forget. They weren’t about to let me, so when Ken prodded me to explain, I did so, but with obvious reluctance. “It all started with me focusing on this very creepy boy. Round our age, I’d guess, but hard to tell, as he was so weird. Dressed funny, no clothes sense, and a scraggly beard. Even the way he moved was odd. Anyway he met up with this man, older, forties I think, and took his hand. When he did that, the man’s expression simply vanished, as if he had turned into a zombie or something.” I waved at mum, listening agog, and asked her, “Get me some water.” That gave me a little break to collect myself and get the nerve up to go on. After taking my time, I continued, “The man walked out onto what I then saw to be a bridge. It might have been the Vincent Thomas one, but I’m not an expert. The creepy guy followed at a distance, and watched him until he had got well out over the water…”
Ken grabbed me as I was shaking again, almost sobbing, and murmured, “You can do it, Jani. This could be important.”
“And then he climbed up over the side and jumped.”
“He squeezed my hand, saying, “That wasn’t so bad, now, was it?”
“It was worse.” Hysteria was creeping into my voice, and I did my best to damp it down. “Instead of hitting the water and having a chance, he landed splat on the deck of some sort of cargo boat, and even in the trance or whatever, I could feel bones break. Not only that, I don’t think anyone on the boat heard it.” I buried my head in my hands, and wept until mum dried me off with a paper towel. “He may not even be found ’til morning. I mean, there’s no way I could get there in time to intervene.”
Ken brought me down to reality. “We don’t know it will happen. At least until we see a newspaper report, or hear something on TV. It may not even be today if it is in the future.” He massaged my head gently in the vain hope of soothing me. Wasn’t going to work, but I appreciated the gesture. “No point in getting ahead of ourselves.”
Mum went to the fridge and got me a scoop of ice cream out of the freezer. “Here, Jani,” she said, handing it to me, “Make you feel a bit better.” It did, of course, although I didn’t notice the flavour, as its normality settled me down better than my brother’s suspect shoulder rubbing. At least I mellowed until mum asked, as she took the finished dish from me, “Is that all?”
Since Ken and my eyes swiveled back to each other, back to mum, and back to each other again. With our guilty expressions, there was no way we could pretend that it wasn’t. I spoke this time. “One other.” I swallowed and licked my lips, “I ran home, and heard another song coming from a parked car. It made me speed up, and I couldn’t even stop until I hit a fence.” She looked at me, and the question was implicit in her gaze. “It sounded like, ‘Run like the wind’.”
Her fingers hit her keyboard, and then she asked, “I have ‘Ride like the wind’, might that be it?”
“Don’t play it,” I screamed, scared shitless. “I don’t know what will happen.” Jumping up from the chair, I went on, “It’s all too bloody much!” I let the tears come then, slapped Ken’s hands away, and hugged my mother until I got a grip. “Sorry,” I mumbled, as I grabbed a paper towel to wipe my face.
Once I had calmed down, mum gave a reassuring smile which I didn’t entirely trust. Quite rightly, as the next thing she said was, “I used to listen to that one when I was waiting for you to join the world too. In fact it was part of a playlist I put together at the time. I can’t remember all of them.”
Damn, what the hell was going on? I had another moment of high angst. “Mum.” I shouted, as Ken glanced towards the door, still firmly closed. “Are you suggesting that all those other songs on that playlist could have me jumping all over the place doing funny stuff? What else could go wrong?”
They clearly hadn’t made the connection I had, and sort of stood with open mouths while I collapsed back in the chair, head in hands, trying to stop myself from breaking down completely.
“I think that’s something we can leave until another time.” Thank god my mum made the leap that even tomorrow would be too soon for me to want to wrap my head around this development. After that I struggled up to my room and threw myself into the remains of my homework as a stratagem to get my mind elsewhere. Didn’t work, but at least I was left alone.
I was very subdued in the car when Ken drove us to school the next morning. I had avoided the newspapers, and tuned out the TV when dad turned it on for the news, as I just didn’t want to know if there had been a man splattered all over a boat the night before. I mean, would you? The shifter twins cadging a lift in back must have smelled my mood immediately, as they didn’t say a thing beyond a polite, “Good morning, Jani.” I guess I was beginning to get used to them. And them me.
Getting out of Ken’s car once we got to school, however, was different. Harry was waiting, and he managed to open the door for me before I realized it. That set the twins buzzing, and they were out of the car in a trice, and were both sniffing him eagerly. It wasn’t obvious, but since I knew what they were, my reaction was WTF? Making like bookends, they both held out their hands, “I”m Alex.”
“And, I’m Shaun,” his brother added.
Poor Harry didn’t know which way to turn, so he focused on me, put out his hand, and helped me out, which was what he had intended doing anyway. Taking only a small measure of pity, I straightened, and told the twins, “This is Harry Lawler, the bane of my existence. Known as Lawless, and a friend of Ken’s.” No way was I going to let them know his effect on me.
While Harry caught up with the introductions, I tried to take off, but as soon as Shaun let go of Harry’s hand, he grabbed my arm, and whispered, “He smells like Ken.”
Of course I knew instantly what he meant; Harry was not exactly human, in the same way Ken and I weren’t. Based on recent revelations, that looked like being something witchy.
This gave me a bit of hope, as it could explain my sudden fatal attraction to Harry, whom I otherwise loathed. Perhaps it was simply that there were no others like us around, and that’s why we couldn’t help being drawn to each other. This moment of exhilaration with me thinking that this unwelcome magnetic force was generic, and not him specifically, lasted only a few seconds. That’s because Alex came up, and whispered in my ear, “Harry’s and your scents mingle so well, it’s almost like an elixir.” That was it, I got on my toes and ran.
I almost hid during lunch, but felt I’d wimped out enough. I was strong and I didn’t like acting out of character. Naturally, I ended up squashed between Harry and Ken, doing my best to behave. It was alright until Harry stood up, pulling me with him. Since I had decided face up to what was happening, I went with him.
“Jani,” he said, as soon as we were far enough away for a private conversation, “Alex and Shaun had a word with me, well, and Ken.” I waited, trying to avoid his face. “Did you know?”
“Hard not to when they start telling you how interesting you smell.”
“Oh!” He seemed slightly deflated, realizing he was way behind the curve. “What do you think about them believing you may have witch blood?”
Now I was annoyed. Although it was what I had guessed, I really felt that they should have asked me before blurting things out to Harry, of all people, even if he was in the same boat. My temper had been getting shorter what with all the shit I had being going through, and I almost exploded. “What do I bloody think?” He took a short step back in surprise as I got up a head of steam. “It’s a complete mess. I never asked for this crap to land on me, and I can only see it going from bad to worse to full out shitting freakadoodle.” I clenched and unclenched my fists and Harry’s expression suggested I had turned into a whacko demon. I didn’t care, and my rant went on. “My bigot of a dad will blow a fuse, and I don’t dare listen to any blasted music in case I have a vision of another murder, or turn into a sodding pumpkin…” I trailed off, and burst into tears.
I felt myself enveloped in two large, warm arms, as he pulled me gently against his chest. “There, there, Jani,” he cooed, as I rubbed my teary eyes against his shoulder. “Everything will work out.” That was the last thing I believed, especially as he was a big slice of my anguish. Nevertheless, I needed the reassurance, and leaned into him, as it was what I needed, and because it felt oh so natural and right.
Suppressing a sigh, I gave in to the good feelings, while all my brain could think was, “Damn, damn, damn, oh shit.”