wonders in revealing every obscured demon
S A R A H
Aurora Outskirts -- Highway 45
Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
|Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.|
Flashback to Quarantine Hour...
“Where’s Barb? Did she... convince you to stay?” Sitting against the hood of his Honda Accord, with his hands buried in the pockets of an old high school letterman jacket he’d pulled out of the trunk, Pat watched from the parking lot as Sarah came down the steps of the small condo she rented with her best friend. She, too, had put on some layers. Her green sweater and black skirt hadn’t really fit with her mood today, after all. And it was getting a little chilly out, too. But the red jacket, grey thermal, black jeans, and black winter boots she wore now certainly compensated for that. Safely holstered to her hip now, too, was the gun her father had given her for her eighteenth birthday.
“She wasn’t home… she didn’t leave a note or anything. And the land-line’s dead. I wasn’t able to make any calls out of that either.” She replied in a bit of a worried mutter, looking around for any sign of life besides herself and Patrick. Her neighborhood, once a lively student housing sector, was empty. She guessed most of them were at the quarantine the military wanted them to go to. The one in the middle school.
“You think she’s at that quarantine, too? With everyone else?” Pat continued, lifting his butt off the hood of the car as she came to a stop before him, hands buried in her armpits as she tried to warm herself up. “Maybe we should go, too, I--”
“No, nope,” Sarah interjected, shaking her head dismissively. “Barb wouldn’t do that. She’d leave me a voicemail. Or a note on the fridge.”
“Yeah, but Sarah, she probably had to leave in a hurry to grab her parents or something. I’m telling you, I think if we go to the--”
“I said no!” She suddenly shouted, covering her face with the side of her arm and sniffling as she hurriedly walked past him, opened the passenger side door, and slammed it closed.
It took a moment for Patrick to snap himself out of his stupor afterwards. He had to catch his breath, before heading to the driver’s side door himself and entering the car. Sarah, with her face turned away from him and out her window instead, was usually pretty good about keeping her emotions in check. The whole time he’d known her, she’d only switched between neutral, sarcastic, and playful. Sometimes 'playful' in the ways that he really liked. But, even for an oaf like him, it was clear to see something was wrong. He was about to ask, but then she answered as if he already had.
“I’m still having trouble believing it but… it’s official, Pat. I have the same kind of crazy my nana had.” She sniffed, resting her forehead against the cold surface of the window pane. “I started... seeing things two weeks ago. Inexplicable things that no one else saw. At first, I thought I just wasn’t drinking enough water or maybe somebody was playing a prank, but… then I started seeing it in my house... and I freaked out Barb. So I went to the hospital today to get it sorted out… turns out it’s been with me my whole life. It just doesn’t start showing symptoms until early adulthood… fuck me, right?”
She snickered, looking down at the wrinkled note in her hands. She’d been doing so well, up until this. Crushing the note into a ball, she flung it forwards against the windshield disdainfully. “So the good ol’ doctor signed me up for some drugs and recommended I get a psychiatrist.” She scoffed, turning away once more. As Patrick reached up to grab the crumpled piece of paper off his dashboard, Sarah took a deep breath to steady her nerves before sighing. “My mom’s gonna have a fucking field day...”
After opening up the prescription note, Pat struggled to read a lot of the scrawled gibberish upon it. Even as a nurse, he was still having trouble deciphering doctor’s notes. But, from what he could tell, Sarah had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. And Doctor Schultz apparently had seen fit to start her off on some serious medication. He sighed, crumpling the note and stuffing it into his pocket when she suddenly continued.
“I just… I feel like my whole life just came crashing down on top of me. And the last thing I need is to be in a school full of people I don’t even know. People who wouldn't even understand me on a good day. I really just… I want to be away from it all. I want to go back home, to my dad.” Tears started silently rolling down her cheeks. She sniffed and rubbed them away with the sleeve of her jacket as Patrick looked at her solemnly.
A moment of silence passed. The birds outside chirped and the wind blew. Then, without warning, Sarah suddenly heard the engine turn on. “Okay,” Pat spoke nonchalantly, buckling his seat belt. “Let’s go then.”
Sarah removed her forehead from her window, confusedly blinking as she turned to him. “Wait... what? Really?”
“Patrick, my parents live in Oregon. That’s over a thousand miles away.”
“I got a friend working at the hospital in the next town. We should be able to grab your meds with him then make that trip, in what… six hours?”
Sarah laughed, the corner of her eye twinkling with a forgotten half-formed tear. “More like twenty-four if we make some stops, but yeah.” She smiled.
“Well, we’re not stopping, baby. Ready or not, Mister Sinclair, here I come!”
“Waiiit, I just need to grab some things out of--”
“I said no stopping!” Pat grinned, prompting her to laugh again and buckle her seatbelt as he pulled out of the parking lot and drove them towards the highway that would lead them out of Aurora. Behind them, the sounds of gunfire at the middle school echoed.
Oh, god… oh god, what did I do?The last vestiges of her scream echoed throughout the woodland bordering the highway as Sarah’s erratic breathing caused her to whimper and her throat to wheeze. It felt as though her entire body was constantly shivering… but she couldn’t tell. Her gun appeared steady in her hand even if her legs blatantly weren’t. She tried to keep her eyes focused on it, and not her ex-lover’s bloodied corpse splayed across the driver’s seat. But, soon, the glock was calmly taken away from her grasp and placed on the passenger’s seat. She didn't resist. She couldn't. The way her body and mind was reacting right now was alien to her and she had little to no control over it. But she felt naked without her gun. And she gulped at the thought of having to step forward and pull it off the seat it'd been placed on. Because that meant she’d have to get closer to… to it.
As such, Sarah remained frozen in place, her eyes completely shut as she tried to choke back her sobbing and breath normally. She had to focus and concentrate and ground herself in reality. This is reality. This is reality… is it, though? Could it be? She’d either just seen a horrifying thing or done something equally as horrifying to a man she’d only just been beginning to love… or both. If this was what reality was, she didn’t want to live in it. But she had no choice, did she? If this was reality, she’d have to go back into the car-- even if only for a split-second-- to grab the gun the stranger had taken out of her docile hands. Her daddy had given it to her. She didn’t like having to use it and she had planned to get rid of it the next day, considering her affliction.
But, if she opened her eyes and this was all real… she needed it back.
The moment came to her like a spear of lightning, however, when she felt herself being forced to turn by a pair of hands on her shoulders. Sarah opened her eyes sooner than she’d expected at that point. Then, without warning, was slapped hard across the face. She’d been ignoring this girl up until now, almost completely. The pain that stung her now reddened cheek did well to snap her mind back, however. She felt as though her perspective had once again widened, clearing up her world like the new lens of a camera. The girl apologized and introduced herself. Her name was Alex.
“S-Sarah.” The raven-haired female replied in a stutter, blinking her eyes as she sniffled. “My name is Sarah. I… I have to get out of here.” She continued, drawing up a burst of courage as she turned back to the car and to finally draw her verdict on ‘reality’. Finding out that it was all true certainly shook her to the core, but she’d already spent most of her life expecting the worst. Instead of letting the fear and horror paralyze her again, however, she sucked in a breath and held it there. In a blur of motion, she bent down to pluck her glock out of the passenger’s seat quickly and pull back immediately after.
Too worked up to wait or beckon her, Sarah walked past Alex and proceeded up the hill slowly, holding her empty gun in her right hand while her injured left arm hung limply by her side. Whimpers of pain escaped her lips with every well-placed footstep forward. Her knee didn’t hurt as bad as her arm or sore torso. But it still begged for her to quit.
‘At least they’re not broken, baby girl. You still want to get that cut on your arm stitched up, though. You’re bleeding out. We can’t have that.’
Meanwhile, the walkie clipped to the soldier’s corpse on the other side of the crashed car would crackle on as one of his comrades check in on him. It was clear they would have to leave the scene immediately, before any more of them came. Sarah had already figured as much by the time she made it to the top of the hill and onto the paved highway, making a beeline towards the neighborhood on the first exit.
She paused for a moment when the pain in her arm became too great, seething between her teeth and mentally trying to block herself from it all… before turning over her shoulder to find Alex standing there. The girl probably thought Sarah looked a crazy person with her bloody face, unkempt hair, and the tired bags under her eyes. “I… I might need your help. My arm, it… it keeps bleeding.”