The alarm clock makes a dry clicking sound as it flips. I stare at the digits, which show me it’s just past one. I am not really looking at it though. My mind is otherwise occupied. It has drifted off to my memories of this afternoon. It plays the scene over and over again in my head. How Chloe had laughed and touched my arm. The jolt that went through my body. I never craved anybody’s touch as much as I craved hers in that moment. Chad just looked at us and I cringe because of how he had felt the need to kiss me senseless after that. I sigh. He is way to possessive. We got together right at the end of Junior High. Just because we wanted to feel cool and grown up. Foolish really. But we are going to be seniors in a couple of months and nothing has changed since then. Chad likes to show me off on his arm, especially after his team won another game, and I let him. All the other girls seem to do just that, so why shouldn’t I? It’s about as much as he gets anyway. And that’s not because of his lack of trying. I shudder while I think of his fingers running all over my body. Why? Why do I shudder? I should enjoy that thought, I should want him to do that. Shouldn’t I? But I don’t. My body retracts with every touch. This big ball of darkness digs itself deeper in my chest, clawing its way inside me, making me want to cry out loud. But Chad’s tongue is in my mouth before I can even utter a word. And I let him. God, why do I have to be so weird?
It is the screeching sound of the back door, that pulls me out of my thoughts. I hear the screen door slam back into its place and then thud against the wooden frame another few times. I glare over at the alarm clock again. 01:11. I frown. What the hell? I push my covers aside and sit up straight, my head tilted slightly to the side to listen. The house is dead silent now. Did dad go outside to smoke? He supposedly quite a few weeks ago, but I know he sneaks one in every now and then. Can’t blame him either. Now that mum has left for California, he has to do everything on his own. Funny how things can work out like that. She’s the one who cheated. Yet she ends up with a new family and a life in the sunny state, while dad and I have to stay behind in this dreadful miserable hole in the ground called Mason. Fuck that.
My mind starts to drift of again and I almost fall asleep. Almost. Until that car starts beeping. My eyes open wide and this time I swing my legs over the side of my bed. The floor is cold under my feet and my nerves instantly wake me up. The tingling sensation makes me cringe, but I push through it regardless. With every step the feeling intensifies so by the time that I reached my window, about four paces down, it feels like sharp needles are shooting up the soles of my feet. I grunt and push away the curtains. I look out over our shabby garden and into the dark street. I see the orange lights flashing on the beat of the car alarm. The silhouette of my neighbor Don, who is standing right next to it, lights up at every flash. Why doesn’t he turn it off? He just stands there, frozen. Staring out. I frown my eyebrows again, and shake my leg at the same time. The shooting pains finally turn into a dull sensation. I glare down the window again. Where is dad? Why isn’t he helping Don?
I grab the clothes on my chair and roll my eyes. Of course my cheerleader outfit is the first thing at handy right now. I put it on regardless and then dribble downstairs. When I push through the door I hear it slam back again with the well-known wooden thud. The car finally stopped beating, but Don is still standing there. Frozen. I am about to jog down, when a dark spot in the corner of my eye draws my attention. I slightly turn my head and the blob instantly shapes into a human form. I jump and squeak. My hands move toward my mouth to cover it as I back away two or three steps. My dad stands on the porch, to the right hand side. His arms hang by his side, almost as straight as his back is. There is no emotion on his face and he doesn’t respond to my yelp. His eyes are open, staring off in the distance, but it doesn’t look like he is registering anything. His head is cocked slightly to the left as if he is listening to something. I look over my shoulder at Don, who is standing in the exact same position. It’s only then that I see Janine and Ralph from across the street standing outside as well. A chill runs from the base of my neck all the way down my spine and I shiver. I turn to dad and reach out my hand to touch him. The tips of my fingers are only a few inches away from his face when something yanks me backwards. No not something, somebody.
The pulls is so strong that I fall right after I set my first step backwards. In my momentum I knock over the person behind me. My scream drowns out the two thuds form our bodies hitting the ground. The second I feel my hands slide over the wooden floor, I pull my chin in to prevent my head from hitting it as well. Then I roll over and jump up to face my attacker. A figure in a dark hoody and sweatpants scrambles to its feet in front of me. I ball my fists and raise my hand to sucker punch who ever just jumped me, when the figures raised to small hands and yelps.
“Tara no, it’s me! Chloe.”
She pushes the hoody back to show her face and I feel my hands drop together with my mouth. My throat is dry and my heart is racing. The look on her face tells me something is off. Very, very off.
“Chloe, what the hell? What are you doing here?”
“I came to see if you were awake. You have no idea how glad I am that you are.”
She nods at my dad. “They are all like that?”
“Everybody, the whole town.”
“They are all standing outside like that, frozen.”
I look at my dad again, at how his head is tilted. “You think they are listening to something?”
“More like waiting.”
“We should wake them up.”
I reach for my father but right before I can touch him she yanks away my hand. Again. Frustrated I turn to her but before I can say anything, I see the panic in her eyes.
My voice is but a whisper, shaken and hoarse. She just looks at me with a plead in her eyes and I can feel it again. Something is terribly wrong. I furrow my brow and then swallow. Chloe just squeezes her eyes shut and we stand there for a moment. Her hand is still grasping mine and I feel the heat from her touch. The pressure from her fingers, clinging onto me. I swallow again as I feel my cheeks flush. I have no idea what is happening tonight, what is happening to me. The world seems to be a different place.
Before I can form my thoughts coherently, a piercing screech fills the air. It’s not just Don’s car anymore that is beeping like crazy, all over the street other alarms go off. Dad just cocks his head back into a straight position and lifts his chin. He then jumps off the porch in a supple movement and starts running. He is joined on the street by Don, Janine, Ralp, and other people from the neighborhood. The blood inside my veins just freeze at this sight. The screech moves away from us, and so does my father. I want to run after him but Chloe intensifies her grip.
“Don’t.” She whispers. “They are gone.”
I turn around to face her. The tears on her cheek glisten in the poor lighting. She shakes her head to confirm what she just said.
“Let’s go in, I’ll explain it all to you.”
A big ball of anxiety forms in my stomach as I hear the screech move in the distance. This is not the kind of adventure I imagined Chloe and me having. But it looks like we are alone at last.