I stood in front of the cell staring at … well … staring at me. The caged, unshaven, animal version of me. The way he looked, not at me but through me, brought on the sudden self-awareness that I probably hadn’t survived the bleeding brain or whatever the hell happened to me when I jumped into the future. My eyes dropped to my arms as I lifted a hand toward my face. Transparent. I was transparent.
A magnetic force seemed to pulse in the space between the two versions of myself, pulling us together. Footsteps echoed from behind me and I jumped out of the way as Senator Healy stalked right up to the cell, opening the door and somehow cutting off whatever force had been dragging me forward. The other me stood up slowly, shakily, bruises marring his face and legs.
“Senator Healy!” I tried to croak, not hearing a sound outside my own mind.
“Come on, son. Let’s get you out of here,” Healy said, his voice gentle, barely above a whisper. It reminded me of the way he had spoken to me while I had hung my head over a sink after watching Mason get blown to pieces. Even just thinking about what happened still made me feel nauseous.
The other me shuffled closer, leaning heavily on Healy for support as if his legs weren’t used to walking. The urge to somehow unzip him and crawl inside so I could be seen and heard intensified. I had to find a way! Somehow I just knew that I was dying. And then the old warehouse dissolved and pain shot through every inch of my body.
“He can’t breathe! We’ve got to do something!”
A truck sat on my chest and every ounce of energy I had was devoted to shoving it away. Air. I needed air. Nothing would enter. Nothing would exit.
“His lungs are full of fluid! Open him up!” someone shouted.
And I felt the stab to my chest, skin splitting open and my ribs cracking. I had to get out of here. People aren’t supposed to feel these things.
“Pulse is fading and then coming again … I can’t get it steady,” a woman’s voice spoke right next to my ear.
“He’s jumping,” someone said.
Silence followed for a full five seconds, then I heard Dad’s voice in my other ear, sounding more terrified than I’ve ever heard him in my life. “Jackson, just stay here … please.”
But I couldn’t. There was no way to control it.
“Are you all right, son?” Healy said to the other me, hand clutching his shoulder.
The other me had sunk to his knees with a loud crack as his kneecaps made contact with the hard floor. He clutched his chest, a look of panic in his eyes, and then raised his shirt. A faint line appeared slowly down the center of his chest, blood trickling from the wound.
Which one of us is dying? I thought it was me. He’s not in the future. How can he feel what is happening to me?
A gunshot rang from right behind me, breaking my concentration. Healy fell to the ground, blood oozing from his head. Eyes wide open.
“What the…” the other me said, staring at Healy’s body. Then he looked up, right at me. Or through me.
“Who … who are you?” he stuttered, still on his knees, attempting to stand.
Was he talking to me? No, he was talking to whoever had just shot Healy. But for some reason I couldn’t make my body turn around to see who it was. I needed to breathe air. To feel my heart beat again.
“I’m the only one with enough guts to do this,” the deep voice boomed from behind me.
Chief Marshall. I didn’t have to look.
“Do what?” the other me said, his eyes wide.
Using all my willpower, I forced my body to start to move. The gun fired again. Not just once, but three times. I heard myself scream inside my head … heard the other me’s scream cut off as he slumped to the ground.
Thump … thump … thump.
My heart gave three quick beats as I finally turned, just in time to see Chief Marshall vanish.
Copyright © 2014 by Julie Cross