The Sounds of New York

July 14, 2011
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Luke sat in the corner, letting the rain fall down his shoulders. He looked up at the sky, pitch black and relentlessly pouring down. The sounds of the cars on the streets blended into the orchestra of the rain. Rain. So calming, so cooling. Whenever it happened, he ran outside and sat in the rain. He held his arm to his side, caressing the bruised bone. His dog, Max, ran up to him, whining.
“Are you okay boy? Did they hurt you too?” he worried, inspecting the dog. Max just ran up to his arm, licking it gently and looking with those big, sad eyes up at him. “I’m okay Max. Good dog..” he cooed. Luke tried to get some warmth, huddling against the brick wall. The sounds of New York were always calming. He closed his eyes and slowly let sleep take over him. Max snuggled closer, and Luke put his non bruised arm around him. The sounds faded away, and Luke was in a world of sleep.


Luke woke up, freezing. Max had gone inside, and he slowly made his way to the house. He walked in, quietly getting his stuff for school. His parents were in their room, sleeping. He snuck by, grabbing his bag and a few things from the fridge for lunch. Luke changed into some dry clothes, throwing the wet ones into his hamper. Quickly afterwards he walked out of the house, walking the five minutes to the bus stop.
He waited for the bus to arrive, and finally saw the big yellow monster coming his way. The door opened, and the friendly driver greeted him.
“Hello Luke! How was you’re night? Really bad weather yesterday. My cat was scared out of it’s mind” he laughed.
“I’m good Joe. Pretty good” Luke replied, walking to the back of the bus. It was relatively empty, just him and another girl; Laila. She sat near the window, leaning on her arm and staring at the trees outside empty minded. “Hey Laila. Can I sit here?” he asked. She looked around, seeing that they were surrounded by empty seats.
“Sure Luke” she agreed, moving her bag onto the floor. He sat down, and the bus lurched, driving away. Laila sat stiffly, staring ahead and not saying much.
“What’s up?” he asked, getting ready for a conversation.
“Oh, not much. We have a test today in German, I didn’t study at all”
“Ah, I’m sorry. Do you like German? French is kinda dull, we don’t really do much”
“I do like it, I wanted to do a language that no one else would do, everyone seems to want to learn “the language of love”. There are a few other people in my class, but not as many as I thought there would be. So I’m happy about that”
“Cool” he responded. They nodded awkwardly for a few moments, sitting in silence as they drove towards the school. A few other people got onto the bus, but Luke just sat there. He was holding his arm, grimacing slightly.
“Are you okay Luke? Oh my god! Your arm is like, dead” she cried. He sat alertly, then saw that his sleeve had pulled up. He swore under his breath, pulling it down.
“It’s nothing Laila. Really, it’s nothing. I... tripped” he stuttered. They arrived at the school quickly, much to his convenience. “See you at lunch” he said, running off. He ran up to the school, quickly walking in. He had to print an English assignment that was due that day, and perhaps work on a computers project if he had time. He dropped his stuff off in front of the lab, going in.
Luke logged into his account, finding the document on Google Docs. He printed it out, running to his first period class, making it just as the bell rang. He got his stuff out, talking with Luis while they waited for their teacher to start. She was talking on the phone, a look of fear spreading over her face.
“Everybody, get down! There’s a murderer in the school. Quick!” she yelled, corralling everyone to the corner of the room. She moved several tables, and they were in the protection of cloth covered desks. “He’s escaped from the nearby mental asylum; he was put in because he killed all his children. He doesn’t pardon anyone, if he sees you he will kill you” the teacher whispered in a stern voice, trembling with fear. Several people screamed in fear; they knew this wasn’t a drill. Shots were heard from outside of the room, and the teacher quickly crept to the door and checked that it was locked. It was. One girl cried, leaning into the arm of her friend. Luke sat there, thinking. Is this where he wants to be if he dies? In front of his friends and teachers? Not really, but better than other things. Better than with parents, better than being alone. They sat there for a long time, quietly whispering every so often. Many times they heard glass breaking, screams, and the abrupt silence which was the worst of them all. Deafening silence. Maniacal laughter, the sound of a female voice, many bullets being shot in a round.
Each time that someone screamed, they all sank further back into the corner that they were lodged in. They sat, silent as night, barely breathing for fear that they would be heard. No one dared move a muscle, cough, make any sign that they were there. A lot of bullets were shot suddenly, and everyone crouched down as though it were right near them. It wasn’t, but the school was so quiet and the gun was so loud that even if it were very far away, they would have been able to hear it. From outside, not even a bird chirped, not a gust of wind shook the trees, rattling the leaves. The world its self had paused, suspended in fear and anxiety.
The silence was overwhelming, sinking him into the depths of fear. Luke could practically hear the frantic beating of every one's hearts, all in unison in a pounding, steady beat. They were all thinking their last thoughts, revisiting past memories, thinking they were living their last moments. A shaking came from the door, and the sound of someone beating it down. A few people whimpered, their breathing becoming heavy and panicked. A gun was shot several times, and the door shuddered under the strength of the bullets. Several times, a hollow clinking sound came as they bounced off the door and hit the ground outside of the room, which was hard concrete.
The door slammed open, and a half crazed man was holding the gun ran in. An evil gleam was in his eyes, as he loaded more bullets into the gun feverishly. Luke closed his eyes, looking away. If he were shot, he didn’t want to see his death. The class was hidden in a corner, in a way that they could see him, but there was no way that he could see them. The man shot a few bullets in each direction, some landing close to them, some not. A small squeak came from the person next to him. He turned around, and saw Luis, clutching his arm to his side. A look of blank pain was on his face. His mouth was gaping open into a small ‘o’, though only the sound of his sharp breathing came from it. But the murderer didn’t hear a thing, didn’t see a thing. He left, throwing the door off it’s hinges. They stayed silent for a long time.
One of the teachers instantly rushed to Luis, asking him in a whisper how he was hurt. He took his hand away from his arm, where his skin was stained red and ragged. Somewhere, beneath everything, a silver metal glinted. The bullet. The teacher grabbed a first aid kit, taking out an entire roll of gauze and wrapping it around his arm. She secured it with a paper clip, and Luis still had the frightened look in his eyes liking to a deer caught in headlights. Empty; scared.
It was terrifying, sitting there, waiting; for someone to come, someone to kill them all. It was about two o’ clock, and some people were nearly falling asleep. Luke was extremely uncomfortable sitting how he was; squished into a tight corner, but he didn’t dare move. Everyone was squished together, like animals in cages. The sounds of the murderer had long since faded away, and the class was getting restless. Alina was caressing Luis’s arm, staring at him with sympathy and love. It was cold in the room, the window was open and it was chilly outside. How long had they been waiting? It could have been anything, and hour, five. It was so suspenseful, so agitating, just sitting there and not knowing if you’ll live or die. Essentially, it was a game of hide and seek. Only when the hidden got found, they suffer worse than becoming the next seeker. And it’s no longer a game, with laughter and breaks with Popsicles. It was a game of life or death; hide and you live, get found and you die. Simple as that, only it was so messed up that it couldn’t make sense (though it did). A flash of something light blue appeared in the doorway, Luke thought it was just his imagination.
“Luke, I’m scared” Michael whimpered, tapping him on the shoulder. Michael was a bit strange, he wasn’t really friends with Luke, though he always clung to him.
“It’ll be fine Michael, I’m also scared. But the murderer has already come, and he didn’t see us” Luke reassured.
“But what if he comes in again? What if he sees us and kills all of us? The teachers said that he’s very violent... and that he doesn’t spare anyone. We could easily get killed. I never said goodbye to my family! I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye...”
“We’ll be fine, Michael. Now quiet. Stop saying ridiculous things” the teacher scolded, glaring at him. That ended the conversation between us. Her face was red, and she was fuming.

At last, they got a phone call. It was safe to go out. Here in New York, it was always very dangerous. There were murderers roaming the streets, but they usually went at night, and not usually to a school. This must have been one crazy person.

The teachers counted all of them, just to be safe. Every one was here. The teacher got another call, and a sad look went over her face.
“Class, we have to go to the theatre. We have an important meeting. Afterwards, we can go outside for the remaining school time” she sighed. Everyone walked to the auditorium, joking happily. Everything was forgotten. Luke had a light heart; the hell at school had ended, and now it was just the uncertainty that polluted his mind. Everyone had made it, everyone was fine. After school maybe he’d talk to Laila about this, she knew a lot about crime, since her dad was a convict and has been in jail for most of her life. She decided to research these things. They walked in, sitting down in the seats. It wasn’t a huge room, about the size of three or four classrooms. It was strangely shaped, like an octagon only slightly more crooked. They all sat quietly when the teachers and the principal walked on stage, worried looks on their faces.
“I wonder what happened” Luke whispered to Luis, but before he could reply the teacher started.
“Everyone, you have been called here to talk about today’s event. Unfortunately, not everything had turned out as we’d hoped” the principal announced Luke leaned forward, listening. What did they hope would happen? Oh well... “Anyways... this is hard to say. The murderer, was horrible. That person spared nothing, had no consideration for the lives of innocent children that did nothing wrong to them. A few of our students were killed”. A huge silence fell over the grade. “We’re holding this conversation to inform you, to tell you about what has happened. You’re mature enough to know all of this. To the friends, the people in relationships, the siblings, you need to know,” Everyone looked around them, trying to find who was missing.
“First, I will give some background information on this whole thing. The murderer was an escaped convict from the New York State Asylum for the Insane. They went there because of all the murders that they committed, mainly to teenagers like you. I’m really not sure which gender they are, because there have been many sightings, of a man, and of a girl. They might be in a partnership of murdering, no one knows. Anyways, they escaped a few days ago. Right now, no one knows where they’ve been hiding. But one of the people is rumored to have a light blue umbrella, which she carries around all the time. She hasn’t been seen face on, and the asylum has lost her records and photos. Same with the man, we don’t know anything. But we will find out soon enough, and have them punished rightfully. Now, to the people which died:”
“From the seventh grade, a few people were killed. And I am so sorry for the friends of those people. You’ll be able to attend the funeral when it’s planned. First, Alicia Martinez.” she grievously cried out. The entire grade wailed in sadness. Alicia was the girl everyone adored, the popular one. Her friends started crying, loudly sobbing and choking out memories. “Please, the mourning will happen in the end. We need to honor the other lives which were taken. The other people: Mike Lee, Laila Mann, and Sergei Zedler. Now...” she began, but her voice broke and she too started sobbing.
“Laila!!!!!!!!!!” a two distraught voices screamed. Luke sat, shocked. Laila? Dead? How? He was the last to talk to Laila, the last to hear her words. And her last words were of concern for him. He had pushed her away, and she had died sad. What kind of a monster was he? In the corner, Marie was crying, leaning into her legs and wailing loudly. Her words were inaudible and muffled, but it was the sound of despair, sadness coming from her. Sally was sitting emotionless, staring forward into space. Her face had a look on it similar to Luis’s when he was shot, he seemed to be fine now. She never had much emotion in her, although when she was younger she cried a lot. They were both really close friends with Laila, though they had only known her for two years or so. Sergei was a exchange student from Poland, he traded places with another guy for three months. Mike, now that was a loss. Mike was a pretty interesting guy, last year he wasn’t too much, just another person of the seventh grade. He tried to hard though, it would have been better if he were the same. But, now he couldn’t change.
Everyone sat quietly after a while. A sob, a choke, a whine; escaped from the silence every so often. No one wanted to go outside. But who would? Best friends, crushes, a lot of people died in the eyes of everyone. For every person, there was at least one loss. Luke sighed. All of this was so sudden; a murderer comes in the school, kills four people from the grade, and a lot more in the entire school? It’s ridiculous. Why? What does a person need with the lives of dead children lying on their conscience? What kind of a sick idiot wants that?
The final bell rung, and people sadly stumbled out of the theatre. No one said much, sad thoughts only. Regrets of arguments they had with the person they were mourning, tears of how they wish they said one last thing. Luke regretfully made his way to the bus stop. He wouldn’t go home if he could. But he had tried that before, it had only ended with the police coming and extremely angry parents, and that wasn’t a good thing. The last person he had talked to had been was Laila, to his memory. And that was what? Six hours ago? Seven? Nothing. She couldn’t be dead, she couldn’t. The one person that actually noticed he was hurting. And now dead.
He approached the stop, and sat down on a bench. He waited for ten minutes, twenty, and hour. Nothing came. It was getting dark; it was almost winter. A light snow began falling, and he sat there. Eventually he stood up, walking in the direction of his house. It grew steadily colder, and the long sleeved shirt wasn’t warm enough. He pulled out a sweatshirt from his bag, slipping it on. For a few minutes he was warmer, but eventually he grew cold again. Soon the snow began falling steadily, with the determination of a lion stalking a gazelle. The bright lights of the city shone happily, oblivious to the horrors that had happened a few hours ago. Silhouettes of snow shone against the bright lamps. Luke approached his apartment building, opening the glass door that led to the lobby. He greeted the secretary, who was sitting and typing something on the computer.
“Did you hear? There was a horrible murder in on of the schools around here! Who would do that... a lot of people were killed, but it was mostly kids! Thankfully though, the man was captured. Now there’s that crazy girl running around... be safe Luke” she warned in a nasal voice. Luke shrugged, walking to the elevators. He rode up to his apartment, the fourteenth floor but technically the thirteenth. Always unlucky.
Luke entered the small apartment, shaking the snow off of him. He made himself a cup of hot chocolate and sat down at his computer. Max ran up to him, jumping in his lap. Luke smiled, rubbing Max’s soft head. He was very young, about six months old. Luke had gotten him for his birthday; he went to the shelter himself and paid for it. He didn’t regret it one bit. Max was the best dog in the world.
Luke heard the front door open, and he slammed shut his computer. He got out his homework from his bag and started working on it. His door slammed open, and his dad stormed in.
“What are you doing?” he screamed, spitting in Luke’s face with anger in his eyes, bitterness seeping through his skin. Luke shrank back, a scared look in his eyes.
“Nothing Dad... homework” he stammered. His dad tore it from his hands, scanning the page.
“And why do you have nothing done?! What were you doing before this!?” he spat.
“The bus never came, I waited and then I had to walk home... I just came here” Luke stuttered. His dad glared at him with malice in his eyes, took the empty cup of hot chocolate and threw it at Luke’s head. It grazed the side of his head, and his dad stormed off. Luke sighed, flopping down on his bed.
His head ached painfully, but it could have been worse. Last month, his dad had become a raging alcoholic, and took out everything on him. Luke finished the rest of his homework, it wasn’t too much. He lay back down on his bed, thinking about the day. Poor Laila, poor everyone. And why did he deserve to live? Why him, over all the innocent, perfectly good people? People that deserved to still be alive, that had dreams to pursue? Luke knew nothing of what to do with his life, and knowing his parents, it wouldn’t last much longer. If he had been killed by the murderer, it would have been a lot quicker and less painful.

Luke sighed and stroked Max, who happily squealed. He smiled slightly, petting his head. Luke was freezing, so he decided to take a shower. He lived in a pretty good apartment, it had three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, so he had his own. Luke filled up the tub, getting in. He gently stroked the wounds on his chest, large and red. They soon started burning, so he got out. Every part of him ached, making him shake. Hopefully his parents woudn’t do anything too impulsive today, otherwise, he didn’t think he could stand any more.
Luke sighed and lay down on his bed, reading a book. The events of today just seemed so unreal, so fake. That when he woke up the next day, everyone would still be there. He would sit next to Laila on the bus, talk to Mike about the newest snowboard. That nothing would have changed, and that it was just a nightmare. If things were that way though, he’s have a lot of things stay the same. He’d have his dad never discover alcohol and the joys of weapons. He would have had his mom never have her second child, lose her job, her money.
If he could, things would rewind. Way back, when things were good. And that was only a month ago or so. When he had a perfect family. Him and his mom used to go on picnics, joking, laughing. It was so much fun, so relaxing. She was pregnant, and in a few months would have given birth to his new baby sister. His dad used to be relaxed, carefree. Luke used to be in the boy scouts, and his dad attended the meetings with him. Now, the boy-scouts are gone, and so it his dad. Or at least, the old one is. But he didn’t know this new, violent man.
He lay in bed, and it started raining. Thunder cracked in the distance, and lightning flashed like a strobe light show. The tall silhouettes of the buildings were highlighted in the night sky, dark and brooding. Cars sped on the highway, and he was reminded of last night. Luke hid deeper under the covers, as he heard his mom enter the house and start screaming at his dad. He heard heavy metallic clunks, and closed his eyes tightly, though it didn’t block out the sounds of the hatred. He had lived with those sounds for the past month. How could people that have it there whole lives survive?
Luke sighed, and thought. Thought of a perfect life, of a perfect family, a perfect school where no one got shot. But those things weren’t true. And they never really would be. His life was perfect for the first twelve years of his life, as far as he could remember. Sure, he didn’t always get what he wanted, but his life was great in every way. Great friends, great parents. But in New York, things change. For some people, it’s for the better, like the ones that once were poor and now are stars. For some, it’s for the worse. Like the people that were killed in the school today. Like the person who’s job was taken away because they were opening a new theatre where the stars perform. Luke fell asleep quietly, thinking these thoughts.
Suddenly, a tapping came from his window. It was loud enough to wake him up, but quiet so that his parents wouldn’t hear. Luke stood up, shuffling sleepily to the half open window. He looked outside and saw the outline of a person, dark against the bright flash of lighting. He panicked, thinking it was the murderer.
“Shhh, it’s me Luke” a feminine voice gently reassured. Luke opened the window all the way, taking out the screen. She jumped in, shaking the water out of her hair. The girl turned around, and Luke saw that it was Laila. She was soaking wet, despite the fact that she was carrying her pale blue umbrella.
“Laila! But you’re dead... I must be dreaming... I’ve gone crazy” he ranted, pacing nervously and hyperventilating.
“Quiet Luke, you’re parents will wake up. And you don’t want that, do you? You haven’t gone crazy, you aren’t dreaming. Look” she whispered, gently touching his arm. He felt it perfectly fine. “And about that, I didn’t actually die. But I have to leave soon, New York that is. I came to say goodbye to you”
“Why? What happened Laila? And why are you here?”
“Let’s just say that I’m going to a different, school, a different city” she sighed, tracing the lines on his table. “I had to say goodbye to someone, so I came. I know what’s happened Luke. Your parents, I mean. How long has it been going on?”
“A month, and why do you care?” he spat.
“I’m just wondering... I have the same problem. Once, my parents sent me to an asylum. They thought that I was crazy. I nearly went insane there, it was so horrible, so dark. My mind was slowly deteriorating from that place. I got out soon enough though... but I was a changed person. The people there were crazy, they couldn’t even remember their names. I was so scared that I would become like them, that I would too slowly go insane. I was terrified”
“Oh, I’m sorry. It does sound really bad... sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped, I’m just not feeling my best. I can’t believe what happened today... why did they say you were dead? And how did you get up here?”
“I don’t have time to explain all this. But, goodbye Luke. I probably won’t see you again. Remember, stay strong. If your parents do the same thing to you, don’t let yourself sink into the depths of that place. Goodbye” she murmured, walking over to the window and sitting on the ledge. She hesitated, and jumped back down onto the soft carpet.
Laila walked up to him, looking deeply into his eyes. She gently pressed her lips against his, took her umbrella that was lying on the floor and went back to the window. ‘Bye’, she mouthed. And she jumped.
“No!!!” he screamed, running to the window. Several shouts came from below, and he fell to the ground. Luke stumbled blindly to the kitchen, drunk with grief. He grabbed a glass of water and drank it down, his tears making it salty. He then fell. His mother stared evilly from the shadows, smirking.

He was drugged, drugged by the water. His parents then beat him up in the worst possible way, in a way that would have driven someone crazy had they been in a conscious state. Luke couldn’t feel the pain. Maybe he did, but it seemed to be just a dream. The gunshot that ended it for him was painless. He never woke up. At his funeral, many people attended. The entire school, his friends. His parents had been arrested, taken to jail for their crimes. A girl stood, holding a light blue umbrella at her side as the rain poured down outside. It was getting dark, and the lights of passing cars flashed by in the distance. “Goodbye... Luke” she whispered as she stood by when the box was closed. It slowly rolled into the large incinerator, and she was asked to step outside of the room where they were standing. She did, but closely watched through the window. An inferno was lit inside, and a tear slid down her cheek. “Goodbye...”

He always did love the rain.

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