Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Episode Twenty Six



Episode Twenty Six

Exits

Living just to keep going
Going just to stay sane
All the while never knowing
It's such a shame
-Black Keys


     Tobie opened a groggy eye to the sound of a text message alert. With a groan he swept an arm over the window sill and grabbed the phone.
 

     :Hey man. Bec and I wanna hang today around 1. You down?:: Gus

     Tobie glanced at his alarm clock.

     12:36

     He rubbed his eyes and pulled the phone under the blanket.

     ::Sure:: He typed. ::Meet at Westin::

     He tossed the phone on the pillow and enjoyed a few more moments under the covers before sitting up.

     After a hot shower, and even hotter coffee, Tobie locked the door to his and Holon's apartment and headed down the stairs. The hallway was chilled with the winter wind and he zipped up his jacket before going outside.

     Near the entrance to Westin, he glimpsed Gus' puffy silver jacket. Rebeca stood next to him, her blond waves wafting up from her shoulders in the icy breeze.

     Bike wheels stuck out in front of them.

     "Hey man," Gus said, turning. "Look who we found."


     Jacob peeked out from behind Gus with an embarrassed smile. "Hey Tobie."

"Hey," Tobie said blankly. "What are you doing here?"

Jacob jerked his head towards the sidewalk just beyond the school. Leyah hopped up and down on her hop scotch path, happily singing to herself.

"She wouldn't stop begging, so...yeah."

"Giving in won't shut her up for long,“ Gus said.

"Yeah, probably not. So what's up?"

"Gonna go see a movie or something," Tobie shrugged. "You down?"

"Sure. Lemme just drop off the squirt and I'll meet you guys." He threw a leg over his bike and kicked off, headed towards the sidewalk.

Layah glanced up from her hoping. "Those your friends?" she asked as Jacob braked. "Do they wanna play too?" Her grin faded as Jacob rubbed his eyes. "Alright, brother?"

"I'm fine."

"'nuther headache?'

"Yeah."

"You have pills?"

     "Ran out." He squinted towards the tree line. "Just...so suddenly lately." He swallowed and swung a leg over the bike. "You ready?"

     "I wanna play."

     "We gotta get you home."

     "But I wanna stay with--"

     "Layah! Shut up and get on the damn bike, ok? I've had enough with your stupid imaginary friend. Get on the bike! Now!"

     Layah shuddered, rounded the bike and quickly climbed up on the rack. "You're so mean. Stupid."

     "Yeah, yeah."

     "If you weren't here I'd get to play..."

     The air thickened, titled, sparkled. A mass broke free, swelled and glistened. Jacob pushed off. They traveled towards Westin's edge and were about to vanish down the hill; when, the bike wobbled.
Tobie jolted as the pressure deepen even from the end of the sidewalk. The air around the bike crackled and sparked. Jacob slumped over the handlebars. The bike toppled and vanished. A high pitched scream echoed up from the street.

     "Layah!" Tobie rushed up the sidewalk, Gus and Rebeca on his heels. He leapt over the top, hearing Gus slid to a halt behind him.

     Jacob lay half way down the hill, on his side, motionless. Layah was a few feet above him, under the bike; its revolving back wheel in the air; clackers eerily peppering the air. 

     "Gus, get Jake." Tobie called, skidding forward and kneeling next to the bike. He untwisted her legs from the bike frame and flipped the bike off her. It slid down the hill, screeching against the tarmac. "Layah! You ok?"

     She stared up at him, dark eyes overflowing with tears. "I...think s-so...b-brother...?"

     Tobie glanced over at Gus, standing over Jacob, then back at Layah. "Anything really hurt?" He checked her arms, her legs. Her knees and elbows were skinned, and two sharp bruises were appearing on her legs, but nothing seemed broken. "Stand up for me." He helped her get to her feet. Blood trickled down from her forehead. "Hold still." He pushed back her hair to see a small cut just above her right temple, where the rack could have hit it on the way down.

     "Her wrist looks swollen," Rebeca said, behind him.

     "You think so?"

     "B-brother," she whimpered. "Wh-wheres my brother?"

     "Shh, give me your wrist." Tobie held it gently, twisting it. Layah whimpered, but didn't pull away.

     "Is it broken? Do I need to call my dad?" Rebeca asked, sitting next to Layah.

     "I don't think so. Maybe sprained. Hey, Gus! How's Jake?"

     Gus looked up, kneeling next to Jacob. "I don't think he's conscious, man." He shook Jacob's shoulder. "Jacob? Hey!"

     "Take her." Tobie pressed Layah into Rebecca’s arms.

     She nodded and smiled gently at Layah. "Come here. I have some band-aids in my purse."

     "But...Brother." Layah strained to watch Tobie hurry over to Gus and Jacob.

     "It's alright. Tobie will take care of him. Turn towards me."

     Tobie glanced over his shoulder. The haze retreated to the tree line, the colors fading back into nothing, the thickness in the air lifting.

     "Man...I-I don't think he's breathing," Gus stammered, getting out of the way as Tobie knelt. He pushed Jacob gently onto his back, a scraped and bloody arm flopping back on the road. He put his ear near Jacob's mouth and frowned. "Got your glasses on you?"

     "Yeah." Gus fished a slim case out of his back pocket and took out a pair of glasses. He handed them down to Tobie. He angled them towards Jacob's mouth. A white haze fogged the glass.

     Tobie leaned forward, two fingers at Jacob's temple. A shot of amber frizzled between their skin, like a small electric shock. "Jake. Come on, Jake. You're freakin Layah out. Wake up man."

     Jacob moaned. His eyes opened. "Wh-what happened?" Tobie took his arm and helped him slowly sit up. He reeled forward, but caught himself on Tobie's knee. Eyes shut tight, he ran a hand over his forehead.

     "You tell us." Gus slipped his glasses back into the case.

     "Don't...know...Just felt this pain and..." His eyes flashed open. "Layah!" He lurched forward, as if to get up, but caught his shoulder with a gasp.

     "She's ok."

     They looked up. Rebeca walked towards them, Layah clinging onto her skirt. The little girl's face was clean, a pink band-aid above her eyebrow. The second Jacob turned around, she bolted. "Brother!" She tore from Rebeca’s grip and ran down the hill, tackling Jacob around the middle.

     "Easy. Easy, kid!" Jacob winced as her arms cinched around him.

     "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" she cried, face pressed against his polo.

     Jacob slipped an arm around her. "You didn't do anything. It's ok."

     Tobie stood, dusting off his knees. "Gus, Beca, help these two home. Jake, if you're in pain call a cab or something. Other wise take the subway." He turned up the hill, hands sliding into his pockets.

     "What?" Gus started. "Where are you--"

     "Make sure they get home safely," Tobie called, cresting the hill.

     "Gus?"

     "Yeah, Jake?"

     "Is it...d-dark." Jacob slumped against Layah, then fell forward.

     "Jake!" Rebeca squealed, dropping to her knees.

     "Oh man." Gus lifted him off Layah, who’s cries caught a frantic tinge to them, and laid him back down on the ground. "What do we do?"

     Rebeca knelt, digging in her purse. "It's ok, Layah. It's ok."

     Layah quieted in an instant.

     "Just hold on Jake." Rebeca yanked her phone out of her purse and dialed 911.

     Layah stood. 
 
     "Help’s coming. Gus, make sure he’s still breathing!"

      "Uh, hey, Layah's leaving."

     Rebeca's head whipped around. "Layah! Layah stay here--"

     The girl turned. Rebeca nearly dropped the phone. A voice startled her from the other line.

     "911, what’s your emergency?"

     "I, uh, I." Rebeca blinked. "My friend crashed his bike. He seemed ok, but he just passed out."

     "Remain calm. Is he breathing?"

     "Gus is he..."

     "Yeah, he's breathing. Jacob! What the hell man?"

     Rebeca glanced back. "Yeah he's...breathing..." Layah was gone. She put a hand over the mic. "Layah? Ley--"

     "Miss? Are you there?"

     Rebeca scanned the quad. "Yeah, yeah I'm here. Gus! Go find Layah!"

     "Ok. Take care of him." Gus headed in the direction Rebeca pointed, stilling talking to the dispatcher.

     "Layah? Hey Layah!"







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