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Usually when something bad happens, you can feel it. You can feel it tingling in your bones; you can feel it creeping up your spine; you can feel it tugging at the depths inside you, nudging every nerve to beware, anything could happen. But tonight, in the moonless, breezeless, noiseless dusk of my neighborhood, there is nothing. I feel nothing, I see nothing, I hear nothing. But through the soul of the nothingness, the silence screams at me the loudest.
Although I can't hear him, I know my little brother, Bob, is playing with his toy truck in the next room. My parents half-willingly left me in charge for the evening, and I half-willingly accepted. It isn't my ideal night. The fall weather seems to be settling in, and the sun had rested far beyond the mountains before I had the chance to make Bob's and my favorite meal: macaroni and cheese.
I step from the open window where I had been standing, not feeling any air, and enter the kitchen to start boiling the water. I call for Bob and he comes in, his truck cradled in his arms, and sits on a bar stool.
“You're making macaroni, Jamie?” Bob asks, like a puppy begging for a treat.
I smile, turning the stove to simmer. “I have to go get the box from the pantry,” I say to him. “Don't touch the stove. It's hot!” He nods, but I'm not sure he heard me since he's completely engrossed in making vroom noises with his truck.
I wander back into the pantry, which is separate from the kitchen. Now where is that macaroni? I crouch to look when suddenly and unconsciously, I stand up.
I hear a faint sound like someone calling, the silence beckoning for help. I feel deep inside, the feeling that something is going wrong, terribly wrong. From my scalp to my toes, everything twitches, trying to send me a signal. Everything around me goes blurry, but my fuzzy vision barely impairs me as I race back to the kitchen. The empty bar stool screams at me, shrieks in my ears, pierces every bone in my body.
“Bob!” I call, my voice echoing through the house. “Bob!” Something flickers in my peripheral vision. I whip my head around to see an object in the pool in my backyard. And although I know the situation is urgent, something holds me back. Fear? Apprehension? Terror?
I can feel my pulse through every vein in my body, beating harder with each second. I place my hand on the doorknob leading out to the backyard and push it open, scanning the yard.
When my eyes land on the pool, I feel a sense of insanity thrust upon me. There is my brother, floating facedown, his toy truck bobbing next to him. I feel my knees grow weak as I struggle to remain vertical.
I race to the nearest phone and dial 911, my fingers moving robotically. I sit in silence and solitude while I wait for the police to come, watching the simmering water start to boil, though I have no intention of making the macaroni. Finally, I see the blue and white lights flashing on my street, casting shadows on the other dark houses.
“Don't worry,” the officer says. “I'll find out what happened.” I nod, still in shock. I sit back down and let my head fall into my hands. Not happening. Not happening, I think. But despite my attempt to console myself, it doesn't work. The same thought plays over and over in my head like a broken record. Gone. Dead. My brother Bob, so young and now in the pool, so dead.
I feel the cop's presence behind me and I turn. “W-what did you find out?” I stutter, staring at the pot of water that's boiling higher and higher with each moment.
“Oh, not much,” he answers nonchalantly.
He starts to open the macaroni box and I ask, “What are you doing?”
He puts the packet of cheese down and looks up. “I want some macaroni,” he replies in a way that makes me feel like a child. “I wish you had the Sponge Bob kind. He's the best.”
I stare at him blankly, caught up in emotions. I don't know what to feel. He stares back at me, though I can't decipher what he means. Suddenly, I feel it, that strange sensation that something is about to happen, and there is nothing I can do. The tingling in my bones, the electric current racing up my spine, the fact that I know deep inside that this is wrong, he is wrong, and I am completely helpless.
I spin around and race for the door. But he's too fast. “Where are you going, Jamie?” he asks. He gets right in my face, so close I can feel his breath, smelling vaguely like macaroni and cheese. “I'm making this macaroni specially for you and the loss you suffered tonight. It'd be rude to leave.” I can hear the sarcasm in his voice and can feel the danger everywhere on my body, yet I already feel like a corpse.
“Let me go.” I struggle, breathless.
“Not likely,” he whispers. “Now have some macaroni.”
Before I can even register his words, heat consumes my entire body. I feel a jolt of electricity and silence envelops my world. Then everything goes black.