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Life can change at any moment. You could be having the most ordinary of days and then something happens that changes everything. My life was going good until that one moment. It didn’t seem like anything at the time, but it changed the whole course of my life. I was walking down the street to school; living in New York it was common to walk everywhere. I was on the phone, and like everyone else on the busy street, was too interested in my conversation than what was happening around me.
“I don’t get it?” I said to my friend, Colton.
“What are you, dumb? How do you-“ And there. That was the moment. I was crossing the street, listening to Colton, when a hand grabbed my jacket and pulled me back. A bus zoomed by, so close my hair flew across my face. The blare of the bus horn made me realize what almost happened. I was about to walk into the street and get hit by that bus, but that person…I turned, and no one was there looking at me asking if I was all right. People were walking, sure but no one was standing there. I began shaking from the shock of almost losing my life.
“Lemme call you back.” I said absently shutting the phone. Something peculiar was happening, maybe it was from the shock, because suddenly everyone had bright orange numbers that were decreasing in size every second. On top of their head, as if floating, were these numbers, long numbers some almost in the billions but going down. I rubbed my eyes and looked back again. Everyone had these numbers, what did they mean? Maybe it was the shock still wearing off. I should sit down, I reasoned, something was happening to me. My body was being overused. I walked quickly to the park, keeping my eyes down so I wouldn’t have to be seeing everyone’s numbers. I sat on the ground in the park, my back to a tree, and covered my face in my hands when I heard someone coughing hard near me. I looked around and there, sitting across from me was a old hobo coughing his lungs out. My eyes were compelled to the numbers on top of his head. 3.46 and quickly dropping. Life time played through my head but I dismissed it. Instead I got up and went to the man. Ignoring the smell I sat next to him.
“Hey, you ok?” I asked, really beginning to get worried when the man started coughing up blood. His whole body was shaking,” Hey, do you need some help?” I pulled out my phone, my eyes drawn to those every decreasing numbers. The old hobo shook his head.
“No, no. Hate hospitals. Bound to happen.” These little sentences made him cough more then ever, his body was shaking, his number down to 2.16.
“You seem really beat up. Lemme get you a drink or something.” I said, my body shaking beyond my control. What was happening? What did those numbers mean? Was my life saved so I could watch someone else die?
“No. No. It hurts. Oh, it hurts.” The man whined, suddenly collapsing on me, his long dirty hair over my face. I felt his thin frail body, shaking with the coughs that racked his body and watched his number go down.
“What is it? How can I help?!” I yelled, and looked around. No one was looking. This man was dying, it was evident and no one was helping. I wanted to yell for them but the mans number had reached 1.02. He was as good as gone. I knew what those numbers meant now. Life time, I don’t know how I got this power but I had it. Was it always in me or was it because I was saved?
“Nothing. No more. It’s so cold.” He started shaking, his number was almost up, and I laid him on the floor.
“Im sorry.” Was all I could say before leaving. When I was out of the park I turned back, he didn’t have a number anymore.
I ran. Every where I turned there were numbers. What was this hateful curse? Who had delivered it to me? How could I see when people would die? What could I use with this power? As already proven, there was nothing I could do. I never wanted to know when someone would die. Suddenly my steps slowed. I could know my own death time. I turned to the cars window next to me and searched for my number. There was none. Some cruel twist of fate didn’t allow me to see my own number. I could know when others died but not myself. What was this curse? I could see in my reflection a man approaching and standing next to me. In the makeshift mirror I quickly checked for his number before looking at him. There was none. I turned to meet his eyes, maybe this curse was gone. I looked around and there were still numbers everywhere. But this man didn’t have any. He was a ghost I suddenly realized and stepped back until my back was to the car. He was a ghost, he was dead. He had come to take me.
“Your not really here.” I said, breaking out in a cold sweat. No one turned to look at me. Paranoid people were a common sight in New York. The man smiled. He was a truly beautiful man, with blonde hair and light blue eyes. He was dressed all in white and looked very serene.
“To you I am.” He said, stepping forward,” Come with me so we can talk.” He turned, knowing I would follow and I almost did, until I saw the wings on his back. Long angelic wings curved in. I knew once they were spread out they would be beautiful. They were angel wings. He heard me stop and he turned.
“Who are you? What is this?” I wanted to yell but I had to keep it under control. Maybe this was all a dream.
“We will discuss this if you just follow me.” He said in his calm voice and turned around again. My eyes were focused on his angelic wings, determined not to look around me at those long rambling numbers. I followed him for a long time. I didn’t know how long but I saw a lot of life times and realized something. Some numbers were in red, the lower ones. I didn’t understand it, since the hobos number was orange and low.
“Hey.” I said and the man held up his hand.
“All in good time.” He said and I kept silent the rest of the way.
He led me into a warehouse. It was big and secluded; glass was on the floor from vandalism the walls were full of graffiti. The man didn’t belong here, in this warehouse or on Earth. This had to be a dream, I begged to some higher being. Please let it all just be a dream.
“Nick.” He said spreading his arms, and with his arms his white wings spread out also. I couldn’t help but laugh a stress reliever from everything that was happening.
“What kinda joke is this? Huh?” I said, my voice beginning to strain.
“Calm down.” He said in his serene voice.
“No! Don’t tell me what to do. I don’t know you! What’s happening?” I yelled louder. The walls felt like they were closing in, my clothes were to tight, I was to hot.
“Listen and understand. My name is Gabrielle. I am an angel of sorts and im here because you are a part of lives puzzle.” Gabrielle began going out of focus and I fainted. I welcomed the blackness with relief, comforted by its cool nothingness.
When I was coming back, I thought when I opened my eyes I would be in my room, in my bed, this all being a nightmare. But Gabrielle was kneeling next to me, and I couldn’t help but groan.
“I am truly sorry that you’re here. If it was up to me, this game wouldn’t be left for mere mortals to play.”
“What game?” I said, sitting up,” What am I seeing? What do you want from me!? Tell me.”
“Nick, listen. You’re here because this is your destiny. You were chosen to save peoples lives.” Gabrielle shrugged,” I don’t know why its you but it is. Someone saved your life today so you can save others. Im sure you noticed the orange numbers on peoples heads.” I smirked.
“Yeah, and I know what it means to. I figured that out.” I said, remembering the hobo.
“Yes and im sorry you had to see that. But im sure you also noticed that some people, the unlucky ones really, that have red numbers on top of there heads.”
“Yeah.” I said, wondering why they were unlucky. Gabrielle stood and turned away from me.
“Their the ones you must save. Their lives are not supposed to be over for a long time but they are unlucky enough to attract the attention of Raphael.”
“What?” I said,” You lost me.” Gabrielle tightened his fists and turned back to me. His face had changed. His eyes were darker, angrier his lip was pulled up in a snarl and his face was turning into a steadily fast red.
“Listen to me! This isn’t a game, this is about peoples lives! The people with red numbers are going to die but they’re not supposed to! You must save them in any way you know how!” I had backed away from Gabrielle’s yelling, he was scaring me. Gabrielle took a step closer, his face still a dark red,” Do you understand me? I’ll take you to the people you must save, you must stop them from killing themselves.” I nodded, not understanding it all but enough.
“Who’s Raphael?” I asked. Gabrielle was returning back to his normal color I was happy to note.
“The one who takes their lives. He takes the lost souls, he makes sure they die.” Gabrielle tilted his head, as if hearing some voice from somewhere else. He was concentrated, then he smiled at me.
“Its time for your first test.” He stepped forward and put his hand on my shoulder,” Lets go.”
In the blink of an eye we were standing in a long white hallway, surrounded by white doors.
“What is this place?” I whispered, compelled to keep my voice low.
“The person you must save is behind this door. Her name is Katie, and she only has three days to live. Save her, Nick. Her life is in your hands.” Gabrielle started to step away.
“Wait! What do I do? What do I say?” I was starting to feel hot again, I thought I was going to faint and Gabrielle saw that. He stepped forward.
“Do what you can Nick. Raphael is not here yet, you have time. I know this has been a horrible day, but you can’t give up. You must be strong Nick, strong.” I nodded. I had to be strong. For this Katie, I had to save her life. Even though I didn’t understand most of what was happening, I had to understand that this girl could die if I didn’t help her.
“Ok.” I said, nodding,” Ok.”
I walked into the door, and into a psychiatrist’s office. I knew that if I stepped out again I wouldn’t be in the same hallway. That white hallway was a portal to the lives of the lost ones. The girl, Katie was sitting there and immediately I looked at her number, shining in red. 3.12.47. Three days, twelve minutes and forty seven seconds. I looked at Katie and discovered her problem. She was dangerously thin, looking like she might disappear into the chair. Her long shirt didn’t cover anything. This girl with her long blonde hair covering her face was wasting away. Her skin was a sickly yellow, her nails a cold blue. She would die if she didn’t eat something. How was I going to save this sick girl? She looked up at me, her face so small and thin that her blue eyes were popping out.
“You’re not my doctor.” She said, wrapping her thin frail arms around herself. Her voice was weak. I sat down wearily.
“Yeah, I know.” I covered my face with my hands, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.
“Then why are you here?” She asked. I couldn’t help but stare at her. Her thin body, her protruding bones, her yellowish skin. Her veins were sticking out of her stick like arms, how could she hold up anything with those arms? “You’re not supposed to be staring.” She said awkwardly, blushing and looking down.
“Yeah, I didn’t think so.” I said, looking away. The minutes passed and still I didn’t know what to say. Finally she spoke in her quiet voice.
“Are you new?” I nodded. Yes, I was new to saving peoples lives. I didn’t want to mess this up but I didn’t know what to do,” Well, your supposed to ask me if I had any thoughts about what I have become. Or let myself become I should say.” She said, giving an awkward nervous laugh.
“How old are you?” I asked instead.
“Sixteen. Ill be seventeen in May.” She said, smiling brightly, her mouth to large for her small thin face. I couldn’t help but stare at her red numbers. She wouldn’t live to see her birthday. I was compelled to say something, anything.
“You won’t see your birthday. You won’t graduate high school. You won’t get your heart broken, married, have kids, be old, be anything close to happy. I know adolescence is a bad time, and you don’t like yourself. I get that. I really do. But if you don’t stop hurting yourself, if you don’t stop killing yourself, you’ll never get past it. You’re going through a hard time right now, but what you need to know is that you’ll get past it. You’ll become a great person if you’re strong enough to get through now. Your strong aren’t you Katie?” I said, pleading with all I had. Katie looked down, her tears falling into her thin thighs.
“I don’t…” She said, playing with her fingers,” I cant.”
“Yes you can. You’re a strong person, you want to live. And you know how. Live Katie, make that decision to live.” I was looking at her decreasing red number when a peculiar thing happened. The number disappeared, was wiped away and was replaced with a longer more rambling bright orange number. Katie would live, I had saved her. Tears of relief came to my eyes as Katie burst into tears, of joy? I didn’t know and I couldn’t wait either. I had to get out of the room, I didn’t know how I knew that but I did. It wasn’t safe to be in the doctor’s office anymore, which was fine with me. At least Katie’s life was saved.
“Thank you.” She cried when she saw me get up,” Thank you so much.” I couldn’t bring myself to say your welcome; I really didn’t even do anything, and walked out of the room.
I was immediately thrown back in the long white hallway I had been in with Gabrielle. I didn’t know where to go, and was walking to the next door when Gabrielle showed up at my elbow. He looked hurried.
“Come on, follow me. That was a really close call. I didn’t think you were going to get out of there in time.” He said, walking quickly, forcing me to follow. I had to jog to keep up with his long steps.
“What was a close call? I had a feeling I wasn’t supposed to be in there any longer though.” I admitted, and Gabrielle looked over his shoulder before stopping and facing me.
“Raphael is coming. He knows about you, and he wants to kill you. He won’t be able to, so don’t worry about that. But if you didn’t save Katie’s life and he came, then she would have surely died. Come on, we have to go. He’s going to be very angry that you took Katie away.” He started walking as fast as before, and I hurried to catch up. I was a little disappointed that Gabrielle hadn’t congratulated me on saving Katie’s life, I was looking for a little encouragement, a little praise. Finally, at the end of the long hallway, Gabrielle stopped at a door and turned to face what was behind him, his hand clenching the door knob.
“Hello, Raphael.” Gabrielle said, and before I could turn and see Raphael for the first time, Gabrielle opened the door and pushed me through it.
I landed on my hands and knees in my dorm room. I stood up quickly and got a head rush, but I still turned as quickly to see if there was a door leading to Gabrielle. There wasn’t. And there was no one in my dorm room either. Usually Colton would be here. I looked at the clock and was surprised to see the time. My day started, with me almost dying and instead getting the burden to save peoples lives at 8:00. Right now it was only 10? How could my whole life change, all that happen in only 2 short hours? I sank to the floor, and covered my face with my hands. How? How could this happen to me? Why? I was glad to save Katie’s life I really was but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to have the guilt. What if my words weren’t enough? What if she decided to die anyway? I didn’t want to do it anymore, I couldn’t. And to think I ran the risk of summoning Raphael, whoever he was, to take care of Katie sooner then needed. The door opened then, and Colton walked in. I couldn’t look up at him and confront his numbers; I didn’t want to see it. Colton was my best friend, almost like a brother to me ever since we were young. I lost both of my parents three years ago, and I had no family left except Colton. Hesitantly, with nervous eyes, I looked at Colton. I was relieved to see the long rambling number that I associated with a good long life.
“You ok man? Something wrong with my face?” He asked.
“No, it’s the same old ugly face I always see.” I said, standing up from the ground.
“You sure everything’s ok? You look like hell.” He said, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I probably did.
“I had a long day.” I said.
“Yeah. I mean, I almost died, then was saved and got the power to see when people are going to die. Then this one angel almost came to me and told me I had to save these peoples lives from this evil demon named Raphael. So I went and saved some anorexic girl named Katie’s life and made it out of there just in time because Raphael was coming. And that all happened in about two hours.” I said, waiting for Colton’s reaction. He looked dumbfounded, I didn’t usually mess around I was very straightforward. Colton was contemplating what to say, to call me crazy or call someone else so I quickly smiled. It was a sad smile; I realized I was all alone. Colton laughed.
“Man, you almost had me going there for a second! You hungry?” Colton asked and when he said that I realized I was. As we walked out of our dorm, I wished I could tell someone anyone of what was happening to me and what I could do.
The whole time I was at the restaurant I was staring at peoples numbers and their death dates. I was fidgety with the knowledge of death lurking around me. One man, a very fat man, was sitting close to me, downing his hamburger and fries in record time. It was his number my eyes kept going back to. 100.49.32. One hundred days, forty nine minutes and thirty two seconds. He was going to die in less than a year from today. Didn’t he know he was killing himself? Another girl, fairly attractive and thinner then most, was sitting with a friend of hers I presumed eating a salad. Her number flashing in orange was 32.34.57. Thirty two days, thirty four minutes and fifty seven seconds. What was she going to be doing when her time was up?
“Is everything ok Nick? You’re like totally zoning out on me.” Colton said and I shook my head to clear the thoughts.
“Yeah, yeah im fine.” I lied, death playing with my mind. Everyone had a time, I always knew that. But it was different when you knew the exact moment someone would die. I couldn’t help but think what would have happened if I had this power when my parents died. Could I have saved them, kept them at home make sure death passed them by?
“Nick, im not kidding around.” Colton said, leaning to me,” Tell me what’s wrong.” I shook my head; I wasn’t ready to tell him anything. He wouldn’t believe me, he would think im crazy and I was already thinking that. I didn’t need it from anyone else.
“Im just tired, I think im going to go back to the dorm, take a day off from all my classes.” I said, standing up and putting some money on the table. Without waiting for a response I left the restaurant.
Gabrielle was waiting in my dorm, sitting on my bed, his wings were spread out.
“Hello Nick. Im sorry im back so soon, but saving peoples lives requires a lot of commitment.” Gabrielle said, shrugging his wing donned shoulders.
“No. No, no! I don’t want to do this anymore. Please find someone else.” I begged, the stress of the day putting tears in my eyes.
“I can’t, Nick, im sorry. It has to be you, this is your calling. And when your time is up, you’ll feel it and pass the power on. You are the only chance these lost souls have. You must commit to this, Nick, you must.” Gabrielle said, telling me the words I already knew. I had to do this, I couldn’t back out. From this moment on, I had to be ok with what I was doing. Even if it meant people dying. I nodded.
“I just don’t want to know when people are going to do. I really don’t.” I said and once again Gabrielle shrugged.
“There’s nothing I can do about that.” Gabrielle said,” Are you ready for the next mission?” I nodded, what else could I do? “This man your about to go to has only hours left to life, he is a cop and is about to die in the line of duty. His name is Troy Baker, he is a honorable man, is married and has a boy Dave age of seven.” I knew Gabrielle was telling me this so I could be committed to Troy and saving his life. But it was like a slap in the face for Gabrielle to think I wouldn’t take saving peoples lives seriously.
“You don’t need to tell me all that. A person is a person to me. Ill save their life even if they were nothing, even if they had no one.” I said aggressively and Gabrielle clapped his hands.
“That’s what I want to hear! Now come on.” He grabbed my shoulder and we were off.
We were in that long white hallway again, and I couldn’t help but look around. So many doors, how many people were I to save?
“He’s behind that door. You only have a few hours, probably less when Raphael feels what you’re doing. So hurry,” Gabrielle said opening the door and pushing me in. I walked into the mans bedroom, and when I turned around there was his closet door, opened with clothes spilling out. The man, Troy was standing in front of his mirror buttoning up his uniform. The first thing I noticed was his number, of course. 3.45. Three hours and forty five seconds, I had no time to waste. He was handsome and looked young, and when he saw me standing there staring he immediately grabbed his gun, kneeled down and turned around.
“Hands up right now! What are you doing in my room?” He said, taking charge. I put up my hands and stayed where I was.
“Hey, listen nothings wrong with me. Im here to save your life.” I said, knowing it sounded ridiculous. Troy started to lower his gun, thinking me harmless, and smiled a little.
“Are you ok? Do you need help? Some money maybe?” He asked, and when he said that I truly wanted him to live. He was a nice man, I realized but I shook my head.
“I don’t need money. I need something else though. I know this will sound ridiculous but you need to trust me. You will die today if you go to your job. You’ll be shot. This is your warning.” I said seriously. Troy put down his gun now, believing I was harmless.
“Listen kid, I think you should go now. I don’t care if your in my closet really,” Troy chuckled,” Its kind of weird, but whatever. I think you should go-“
“No!” I screamed,” Listen to me please. For Dave, for your wife, you can’t go to work today. Do you understand me Troy Baker? Don’t you want to live?” Troy seemed thoroughly freaked out, but he kept silent.” Promise me Troy that you won’t go to work today.” I looked at the red numbers willing them to change like Katie’s did when she decided to live. But they didn’t, they blared in red,” Please Troy. I know this is weird, I know. I’ve been living the weird life lately and if you want to live at all, you’ll listen to me and stay home.”
“Is everything ok? Because you’re not making sense. Please leave my house.”
“No! Come on, listen Troy. Stop for a second and believe me. You will die today if you go to your job. If you really can’t believe me, then just take a day off of work for the hell of it. Go to the park with Dave, have dinner with your wife. Entertain me and stay home. I know you don’t know who I am but you have to believe me. Please Troy just don’t go.” Suddenly I got the feeling that I shouldn’t be there. That I should go. Quickly. I started walking back to the closet and with the hand on the door knob I turned back to Troy. He was looking down, his forehead wrinkled in thought.
“This is extremely weird,” He laughed to himself,” But I do believe you.” He raised a hand, and as he did that his bright red number changed to a brilliant orange number,” I don’t know why, but I do.” Before he could say anything else, I was out of the door and back in the white hallway.
“Good job,” This time Gabrielle congratulated me. I smiled, exhausted but happy. Maybe this ‘job’ wasn’t so bad. Maybe I was good at it; maybe I could start enjoying myself.
“Thanks, but I felt Raphael coming back there. I should probably go?” I said, and Gabrielle smiled.
“Yes, of course. What a weird sixth sense I must say. Go through this door and you’re out of here.” He said, pointing to a door across from me.
I opened the door and landed in my dorm. I was tired, but relieved. What I was doing was starting to feel right, ok. I crawled into bed, and immediately went to sleep.
A man was standing in front of me when I opened my eyes. I wasn’t in my bed anymore or in my dorm room, but a small all white room. The man had on a simple white shirt, and his green eyes were opened wide. He was staring straight at me, and I looked to see his numbers. They weren’t there.
“Nick? You must be Nick, right?” I nodded, and the man started crying. Suddenly in the middle of his shirt, blood started to appear. Dark red blood was suddenly on his shirt and spreading. He looked down in horror, then gripped his stomach. Blood began to seep through his fingers,” Nick! Nick please help me! Im going to die, please save me! I’ve been shot, help!” He screamed, sinking to the floor as the blood dripped. I couldn’t move, didn’t know what to say. I started walking to the man, his blood creating a pool around him, and knelt beside him.
“Are you ok? What can I do?” I said, fear starting to pound itself into my head.
“Help me! Don’t you save peoples lives? Save mine, now, please. Oh, it hurts. It hurts!” He screamed, his face going paler and paler.
“I don’t…I can’t…” I didn’t know what else to say. And as the man began to die in front of me, I began to scream. I couldn’t let go of the dying mans shoulder, I couldn’t get up even though my knees were beginning to soak in blood. This is where I belong, among the dead.
And then I was shaken awake.
“Nick? Nick, you ok? You were screaming your head off!” Colton said, and I breathed a sigh of relief. A dream, just a dream. But what did it mean? Of course I knew that. It meant that I couldn’t save anyone’s life, people would still die. I couldn’t save anyone. How about Katie and Troy? I asked myself, and with a heavy heart I knew that the only reason I saved them was because they wanted to be saved.
“Yes, im fine. I just had a bad nightmare. What time is it?” I said, sitting up. The dream, other then scaring me, really didn’t bother me to much. The message conveyed was a message I knew. I couldn’t save everyone; I couldn’t save anyone I actually wanted to unless Gabrielle wanted me to. I could just see them die.
“It’s six,” Colton said, looking at me suspiciously,” Nick, come on. Something’s wrong. Tell me.” He said and I couldn’t. I wanted to, but I knew I shouldn’t.
“Im going back to sleep.” I said, lying back on my bed,” Nothings wrong. At least, nothing that wont be fixed in the morning.” I tried my best fake smile and Colton didn’t buy it. Usually he pressed me for more information until I broke, but this time he nodded. I turned over, and promptly fell back to sleep.
“We will meet soon.” I jolted awake, looking around. Those words were spoken right in my ear. But by who? I looked across at Colton’s bed through the dark room. He was sleeping his snoring making a steady soundtrack. Who said those words softly in my ear? I didn’t know and I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. I stood up and looked at the clock. It was eleven, and I decided I couldn’t stay inside anymore. It was New York everyone was always awake.
“Now that wouldn’t be the best idea.” I turned and Gabrielle was standing there.
“Not you. Not now.” I said, sighing.
“Im sorry, but there’s always people to save.” Gabrielle turned to Colton’s sleeping form, and smiled,” He’s dreaming of eating a hamburger. What innocence.” Gabrielle turned back to me,” Lets go.”
We were in that white hallway again when Gabrielle briefed me on the subject.
“His name is Scot, and he will die in his apartment. I have no idea what’s in that apartment, but it’s something that will kill him. If you can keep him out of it for a day or so then he’ll live.”
“It would be much more helpful if I knew what was in that apartment.” I said, and Gabrielle shrugged his wing donned shoulders.
“We can’t know everything.” Gabrielle opened the door,” Good luck.”
I landed in another hallway, this one an apartment hallway in front of room 325. Someone was turning the corner, and it was Scot. He was a huge man, about six foot five with long red hair and a long red beard. He was an intimidating man, his glaring red number almost as red as his cheeks. His number was extremely low, 12.34. Twelve minutes and thirty four seconds. I would have to act fast.
“Um, sir?” I said quickly, stepping in front of Scot.
“Yeah?” Scot said, folding his arms.
“Are you the Scot who resides in apartment 325?” I asked nervously.
“So what if I am?” Scot asked, his eyebrows shooting up suspiciously.
“Um, well. There seems to have been a gas leak in your apartment, and it would be better if you didn’t go in there tonight so we can solve the problem.” I said quickly, hoping I sounded convincing.
“Gas leak? What kinda gas leak you talking about?” Scot asked, sounding even more suspicious.
“Well, we don’t know sir. We just know it’s not safe to go in there yet.”
“Yeah? Why not? Why don’t you go in there and check right now?” Scot asked.
“I don’t have the equipment yet to go in there and do a search. And we would need to clear out this whole hallway in case it spread. We’ve isolated the problem being from your apartment, so we think it would only be harmful for you to go in there.” And then I felt it. That bad feeling. Raphael was coming, and in a hurry by the way I was feeling. Voices screamed in my head to run, and fast. But I couldn’t I had to see the numbers change to orange. Scot couldn’t die. Not on my watch.
“How’d you isolate the problem?”
“There have been complaints.” I said, patience running thin,” A lot of them of a weird smell. I came and looked around and sure enough it was from your apartment. Listen sir, nothing will happen. The most is a loose screw on your oven. You’ll be back in your house by tomorrow but just for today, please. Stay at a friend’s house or another apartment.” Scot nodded.
“Ok, ok.” His number changed. I breathed a sigh of relief and started walking away, the voices silent,” Wait. Shouldn’t you take my number…?” The rest of his sentence was lost when a black shadow appeared behind him. Raphael had come. The blackness seeped into the hallway behind Scot. And then footsteps. He appeared, wearing a black suit. His skin was ghostly pale, his lips as red as his eyes, his wings were even black. Evil he screamed, and then he turned to look at me. One of his eyes was blaring red and the other…the other was a milky blue, he was blind in one eye. He smiled as I took in his mean face. The bringer of death, the murderer of many lost souls. Why? I would never understand and nor did I want to.
“Hey mister? Is everything ok? It’s cold in here.” Scot said, turning around. It was cold, very cold. And the whole hallway was now black. Raphael walked up behind Scot.
“No!” I screamed, stepping forward. Raphael titled his head.
“Nick.” Raphael said, his lips curling to show pointed fangs. His voice, he was the one who had woken me up. He was right, we finally met.
“Hey, you ok?” Scot repeated to me. And with sad eyes I watched Raphael touch Scots shoulder. Immediately the number turned into smaller black numbers. Black. What did that mean? Scot pulled out his cigarettes and lit one up.
“On second thought, I think ill take the risk and stay in my apartment.”
“No, no please. Don’t, don’t do that.” I said, stepping closer to Scot. He breezed past me, and opened the door to his apartment, dropping his cigarette. There was a flash of fire, burning destructive fire, and for a second I could see Scot all six foot of him on fire. Every little part was burning, and then he screamed. I turned away, but I couldn’t stop hearing those screams and the noises of the fire. Raphael began laughing as the heat of the fire reached us.
“A gas leak. What a clever idea, I couldn’t let it go to waste.”
“No!” I screamed, turning back around. Scot lay dead on the floor his skin melting and oozing like wax as the fire licked at it. His eyeballs burst, the yellow creamy pus burning up quickly. His red hair had turned to burnt straws, his arms were becoming bones, and his cheeks were showing teeth. I couldn’t stop looking.
“Nick, come.” I looked up into Gabrielle’s face,” There’s nothing more to do.” I turned and realized Raphael was gone.
I couldn’t move though, my body was shaking, my throat was closing. The smoke was getting to me and I heard people running to the hallway. I started sinking to the floor, when Gabrielle grabbed me by the shoulder. And we were thrown out of that fire, out of that hell and back to the white, white hallway.
“No, no!” I screamed, falling to the floor, covering my face with my hands,” No! No, why?” I couldn’t help screaming, the tears streaming down my face. I felt Gabrielle sit beside me but I couldn’t look at him. My body was shaking beyond control, I was breathing so rapidly it seemed as though my heart would pound itself out of my body.
“Hey, hey. It’s ok. You can’t always win; this is the way life is supposed to be.” Gabrielle murmured, and didn’t I know that to well? My own parents died in a car accident, I knew death. I was familiar with it and now it was walking around me, it was me. Always.
“I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t watch someone else die, it feels like my fault. It all does.” Gabrielle shrugged.
“No business of mine, I don’t want to be harsh. I really don’t. But you were chosen. Your good at this, this is your destiny. There is no way out, even if you are scared.” Gabrielle stood,” I can’t comfort you. I am sorry that this had to fall on you; it shouldn’t be a responsibility for anyone. But it is, and you’re just going to have to accept it.” I nodded, I knew that. I was starting to get overwhelmed; I didn’t want to lose another. And the thought that kept playing in the back of my head was what if my parents were still alive and standing in front me? What if I had this new power when they were about to die? Could I have saved them? I had to go on with this ‘project’, I couldn’t back out. I stood up, truly beaten. I had to go on, because for every Scot there was a Katie and Troy.
“Is there any more like me?” I asked, looking at Gabrielle with tortured eyes. Gabrielle shrugged.
“There should be.” He said, and pointed to a door. I didn’t go through it yet.
“Raphael…he was horrible.” I said, my skin crawling as I thought of his eyes. One was red, no irises no pupil no white, just red. As if he had a fire burning behind his eyes, as if he had nothing going on between his eyes except hot fire. And the other eye, milky, no color to it. He was blind, what did that mean?
“That was the first time I saw him in his human form, count yourself lucky.” Gabrielle said. I nodded numbly and walked out of the door…
…and into my own personal hell. Raphael was standing in the middle of my room, staring at Colton as his red eye licked fire.
“Car accident? Cancer? Heart attack? So many choices…” Raphael said, his finger above Colton’s sleeping form, his hand caressing the bright long number.
“Get away from him.” I said, stepping forward. Immediately the smell hit me. Raphael smelled like fire, like things burning. He smelled like sulfur, like the burning destructive fire that takes so many lives. I had thought the smell was from the fire that burnt Scot to death, but it was from this thing right in front of me. Raphael turned to face me, his milky eye now looking at me.
“Nick, how nice of you to join us. I was just admiring your friend Colton here, you know you can never have to many souls…the innocent ones are always the best. I was just wondering what to give him, what sort of disease. I don’t think anorexia would fit this case well.” Raphael began laughing, smoke coming out of his throat. He was literally burning up inside. I watched in horror as Raphael’s finger dropped closer to Colton’s blonde head.
“Please don’t. He didn’t do anything,” I stepped forward, stretching out my hand,” Take me. Take anyone else.” Raphael turned to me, his hand still wavering above Colton’s head, and looked at me oddly.
“I took your parents life, do you know that? They died screaming for mercy, they died consumed in flames. But that is fate, it was their time. When ones time is up, you must let it happen. Stop playing with destiny; this is all supposed to happen. You’re saving the souls which are supposed to be lost.” His voice had taken on a silky texture, almost convincing me my part in this game was the wrong part.
“No, no. You take the ones who aren’t supposed to be dead yet. You’re a murderer, you kill people. I have to save them.” Raphael shrugged, and his hand which hovered over Colton’s head lowered.
“Listen, you. This game isn’t up to you, this is your warning. If you do not stop using your power, saving my souls, the ones that belong to me, I will kill every one who has come in acquaintance of you. Your first girlfriend, your neighbor, your professor, Colton. All these people will be dead, and you can’t save them because you don’t have that power do you? You’re a plaything, used for matters that don’t concern you. Stop this foul game before someone you love gets killed. Every day that you keep this power and save the dead souls I will kill another person you know. Every day.” And with that Raphael disappeared, leaving behind that lingering smell of fire.
How? How was I going to stop this power? And why should I listen to Raphael anyway. The Devil always lies, I knew, but I hoped Raphael wasn’t really the devil. I couldn’t stop saving peoples lives, letting them die because I was scared. Raphael was probably bluffing anyway.
But the next morning after a bad night of sleep I realized how false that statement was. In the bed next to me, cold to my touch, Colton laid dead.
“Gabrielle!?” I yelled, running out of my room, not registering yet that my longtime friend and brother was dead because of me,” Gabrielle where are you?” People began walking out their rooms, looking at me oddly but I didn’t stop. I didn’t know I was shaking I didn’t realize I was sobbing my heart out, all I knew was I needed Gabrielle. Maybe he could make Colton smile again. I ran, and I didn’t know where I was running. My cell rang a lot of times before I finally threw it away. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I had to find Gabrielle and save Colton, who wasn’t really dead. My better mind knew that Colton had passed away and this was how I was handling my remorse but I pushed those thoughts away. I couldn’t lose Colton, not because of me! I saved Katie and Troy couldn’t Gabrielle help me out now? Everything was blurry from my tears but finally I found where I was headed. The old warehouse where I first realized my power, my mission. Yesterday? It felt so long ago.
“Gabrielle?! I know you’re here, where are you!” I yelled, running around the warehouse before collapsing to my knees out of breathe. Finally the sobs took over, and I began shaking as I realized what I had done. Colton… I should have listened to Raphael… maybe he would have still been alive… maybe…
“Nick, im so sorry.” Gabrielle’s soothing voice appearing behind me did nothing to calm me.
“Bring him back.” I cried, standing up,” Bring him back. You have to, I can’t live without him. Bring him back please.” I begged snot and tears falling down my face. Gabrielle’s face was mixed with a look of sadness and pity.
“I can’t do anything, you know that. Im sorry Nick-“
“No!” I yelled, interrupting him,” You have to bring him back! This isn’t fair! He should live, he has to!” I took a step forward, stretching my arms to shake Gabrielle’s shoulders.
“Your just sad right now, you should rest. Everything will look better,” Gabrielle said.
“No, no. How can it? I killed my best friend.” I cried, the realization made me start shaking again and I wrapped my arms around my body,” I won’t do this anymore unless you bring him back.” Suddenly that smell of sulfur appeared, Raphael had come.
“I promised you I would take someone every day you continued your job. Colton was for effect, for you to see I wasn’t lying.” Raphael said, stepping forward. Gabrielle took a step back, his white wings spreading.
“Leave, he doesn’t need to hear your voice right now.” Gabrielle said, looking at me again with pity, his face making me angry.
“Nick, you don’t want to do this anymore do you? The only way to give this up is the simplest thing. Do what someone did to you to give you this power.” And I remembered. I was saved; I had almost hit a bus. Someone had pulled me back. The Devil had never wanted me I would have been a truly accidental death.
“No, Nick. Don’t listen to him.” Gabrielle said, but his voice was to soft his pleas to silent. Wasn’t the angel’s voice always the hardest to hear? I couldn’t think of that right now, I thought of Colton’s face, I couldn’t let that happen to anyone else I knew.
“I understand.” I said to Raphael, and ran out of the warehouse. I didn’t like the deal I had struck the decision I made, but what could I say? I never wanted to do this in the first place; I always wanted to be normal. How could that happen now with Colton dead and so many people dying because I didn’t save them? Im sure there were others like me, I comforted myself. Im not strong enough, im just not. There. Suddenly I saw it. The number was a sparkly blue, it said 1.32. One minute, thirty two seconds. The woman behind the number was walking hurriedly to her car, and I ran to her faster. I had to save her, this accidental death. I had to get rid of this power, I had to. I pummeled myself faster, pushed myself harder, until I opened my eyes…
…And looked into Colton’s face.
“Hey man, you ok?” I sat up quickly, looking at Colton.
“You were screaming, and now you’re all sweaty what’s wrong with you?” My heart started beating faster, sweat began pouring down my face, and it wasn’t because Colton was supposed to be dead. It was because there was no numbers on top of his head. He was bare.
“What day is it?” I asked, my breathe coming in short gasps.
“Just tell me! What day is it?” I yelled, shaking his shoulders.
“Monday.” He said, and I collapsed back on my bed. It had all been a dream, every little thing about it. saving peoples lives, the numbers, Gabrielle, Raphael, The white wings, Scot burning to death, Raphael’s milky eye, Colton’s death…everything. I began laughing hysterically, thanking God every second that it was fake, that nothing happened.
“Im sorry,” I said, out of breathe giddy with relief,” I just had a really weird dream.”
Two hours later I was walking in New York’s crazy streets, thinking. I was looking down at the pavement, deep in thought when I crossed the street. I was thinking of Raphael’s red eye as I was pulled back from a bus that almost hit me. Just like my dream. I turned around quickly, ready to scream if I saw the orange numbers again on top of people’s heads, but all I saw was familiar white wings, gliding away from me in the busy crowd.