Something doesn’t feel right.
The idea crosses my mind as I slowly wake up, blinking as little streams of light wash over my face. The blinds are drawn shut, but the sunlight from outside manages to peek through the little spaces in between, and the light that literally shone on my eyes is enough to wake me up. If I focus hard enough, I can hear the birds chirping outside, and I sit up in my bed to stretch my arms and yawn. Even then, there’s a churning in my stomach that makes me uneasy, and when my feet touches the floor a sharp pain goes through my head.
I hear a couple of voices, but in the midst of the pounding headache one voice stands out among the rest.
Get out get out get out–
The pain becomes a bright hot spark in a flash, as if I just got the worst migraine of my life, but it eases as fast as it arrived. I blink twice, untangling my fingers from the sheets to reach up and massage my temples as I wince. There’s a slight twinge in my knuckles- probably from how I was gripping the sheets on my bed like a lifeline, so tight I could’ve ripped it if I tried- so I try to clench and unclench my hands to let them breathe.
As soon as I have a hold on myself, I breathe in deeply before sighing. I stare at the wall as I recollect my thoughts.
“That was weird,” I muttered to myself, giving my head one last shake as I push the event to the back of my mind, and decided to walk out of my room.
I breathe in once more, and I sigh with relief at being in a space much bigger and brighter than my room. I yawn once more, rubbing my eyes as I make my way down the stairs, and my feet tap against the wood panels of the floor as I make my way to the kitchen. Freshly brewed coffee stands on the counter, smoke still coming out from it; and I don’t think to even question who made it or when it was made to be this steaming hot, because as weird as things could be just as soon as I wake up, I will never say no to coffee. I pour myself a cup, going through the motions of putting creamer and sugar with relaxed ease.
“Finally,” I breathe happily, holding the mug to my face with both hands and letting the small wisps of smoke wake me gently, and I decide to make pancakes for breakfast. I let myself sink into the comfortable familiarity of easy mornings, until the pancakes were made and I realized the maple syrup is probably in the fridge. I flip the pancakes unto a plate and walk towards the fridge, getting the syrup inside before realizing someone stuck a sticky note on its door, and I bring it with me as I approach my meal.
My eyebrows furrow at the message.
I will be out all day today, make sure to eat the leftovers from lunch and water the plants outside okay? Also, I wasn’t able to do the laundry, so be a darling and do it please? Love you lots!
I take a bite of pancakes, now drowning in sickeningly sweet syrup, and frown at the message. My eyes are drawn to my Mom’s sign at the end, and there’s something about it that makes the earlier feeling in my stomach come back with a vengeance.
I think it over, trying it out, but the word opens a floodgate and my head pounds much harder this time. I gasp, stabilizing myself on the table as I clutch my head, and I’m overwhelmed by the phantom noise I hear in my ears. I remember flashes of hands, hysterical screaming, and someone holding my head, and someone’s crying the words over and over again with clarity in contrast to the other voices.
I love you so much baby, do you hear me? Oh god, oh please-
It fades out, and I’m wheezing like oxygen ran out and I’m left suffocating and grasping for any amount of it left. Just like before, my head clears once again, but before I could focus on it once more, I hear a chiming sound from the sofa. I eat all of the pancakes quickly and bring my mug with me back into the living room, and I discover that it’s from my phone, which I apparently left unattended. I grasp it in my hands and slowly sink myself down unto the soft cushions of the couch, and as I unlock it another notification pops up.
I look through my messages, scanning them before reading the most recent one.
Jamzz: morning, sunshine! now get ur lazy butt up because i’ll be there in like, 30.
Jamzz: hello??? are u not awake??? jesus tree I swear to god we’ve been planning this for WEEKS
Jamzz: if u think i wont barge in there and beat you up for oversleeping, u can forget calling me the stupid one. see you in 20 idiot.
I promptly swear and spring up.
“Oh god, oh god, oh god,” I chant as I quickly down every last drop of my coffee and rush back up to my room, carelessly throwing the clothes (that were already prepared, thank god) on my bed before taking the fastest shower of my life. I rush around for the next 15 minutes and was drying applying make up when somebody throws open the door. I swear under my breath as I hear footsteps going towards the direction of my living room, so I grabbed my phone and my purse and stuffed them in my pocket as I make my way down the stairs. I slow into a stop just a foot away from the couch.
James looks up at me from where he’s lounging on the couch, and he clearly looks unimpressed. Looking at him triggers my brain, and another round of voices echo in my head, but it was nothing like the migraine from the two other times so I ignored it. I sheepishly walk up to him and clear my throat.
“I’m sorry?” I offer him, making a sheepish smile in his direction, and he rolls his eyes and swings his feet from the armrest just in front of me to the floor. I scrunch my nose at the thought of his dirty shoes christening the couch. “Seriously, James? Don’t put your shoes on the couch, you heathen,” I scold him, and he scowls at me.
“Well I wouldn’t, but you’ve broken my heart and trust and I revoke your right to tell me what to do,” James said, sarcasm evident in his voice, and I groan.
“I said I’m sorryyy,” I whine, dragging out the last syllable as I slump on his chest, knowing he would catch me if my weight drags me down to the floor. He huffs, clearly trying to stay mad, but as expected he catches me by the arms when I start to fall. I go back to standing, grinning at him, as he lets out a disbelieving laugh before dropping his head. He looks back up and he’s smiling as well, so fondly it makes my chest flutter.
“You’re impossible,” he states.
“And you’re a pushover,” I retort happily, and laughs as he shoves me enough to make me stumble. I make a face at him and he reciprocates the action.
“Well what are waiting for, Jamesy? Let’s go then,” I declared, dragging him by the arm, and he laughs at me.
“I’m going to tell everyone that you, Theresa, are a child stuck in the body of a hormonal teenager,” James says, and I swat him as he passes me, squawking with indignation. I close our front door, making sure it was locked, before going around the front of his car to get into the passenger seat. “You didn’t leave anything?” James asks, and I check my pockets before shaking my head. He nods, satisfied, and we make our way to his house.
James’ house is just across the other town, but before that we used to be neighbors. We met when our old dog, Baxter, ended up peeing in their garden, and when we shook on it that we will not tell out parents what happened our friendship bloomed. It has been like that for 4 years now, and 3 since his younger sister was born, and their mom trusts us enough to babysit her which is how we ended up where we are. It should be ridiculous, the amount of planning we went through to make sure his sister doesn’t get bored, but it’s been a month since they last saw each other because of James’ trip with his family to Puerto Rico.
“Ali actually missed you, so she probably will cling to you the moment we show up,” James said, and my heart melts. “Nice to know someone appreciates me,” I tease, and he scoffs as we get out of the car. Just as promised, Ali does cling to me when we enter the house, and I assure her I missed her just as much as she did while they were away.
From there everything is an amazing, beautiful blur, and we jumped from one activity to the other as the day goes on. For all my joking and teasing I really did miss James and Ali, and spending so much time with them makes me giddy and content. However, after having takeout for dinner I began scrolling through my phone as the siblings fight over what movie to watch, I come across an article on my feed of one of my accounts.
Technology of Today (2050) features Project Insight: A project that aims to aid police investigation
I freeze, going so still, and my eyes continue to stare at the words Project Insight.
2050? But that was a year ago, I thought, and one by one everything makes sense. My head pounds as memories began to reveal themselves in one giant blast, and it becomes so painful that I drop my phone and gasp in pain as I holds my head. I vaguely hears James and Ali calling my name, but the pain takes over most of my focus, so I keep holding my head and I bring my knees up to my chest when I slide to the floor. It seems to go on forever, but after a few minutes it eases, and I catch my breath. I become aware of James in front of me, calling my name, and I look up at him as dread and fear squeezes my heart in a tight grip.
“Something’s happening,” I warn him, beginning to panic, “James, we need to get out of here now!”
Before I could do anything all the lights go off, and we’re plunged into deep darkness. Ali screams, and I hear James navigating his way towards her. I open my mouth to call him but somebody covers my mouth, and my screams are muffled as someone else shoots a bullet twice.
Tears begin streaming down my eyes, and with all my strength I try to aim for the attacker’s crotch with my fist. It lands, and he lets me go, and I drop to my knees. The lights suddenly go on, which I assume is not what the attacker expected, because I waste no time knocking him out as he scrambles. This makes me put my back towards the shooter, so when he hits my head with the back of his gun, I don’t see it coming.
Sharp pain ignites, and I fall to the ground, and the last thing I see is the black mask of the guy that hit me in the head. I close my eyes, but before I lose consciousness, I hear voices talking.
“Have you got what you need to reopen the case, detective? The girl’s mother has calmed down from seeing her collapsed and with a head wound, but she’s still asking for her.”
“Yes, more than enough. Whoever killed the other two clearly only came for them. Tell her mother we’ll be out soon, and while you’re at it tell the tech team to clean up here.”
“You got it, detective.”
The voices fade, and I was out like a light.