It was two weeks till her birthday – Sweet Sixteenth her mother used to say, and sweet she was. Alexis Fox was an average teenager – interested in clothes, phones and boys too. She was not the most popular girl in school, but not the least either. Alexis fitted comfortably in the middle – with a handful of friends she could really call friends and a boy in her life that was decent, kind and caring.
Melbourne was cold this time of year, the summer sun was hot and unforgiving for only a few weeks and then it gave way to the icy cold that locals came to expect and prepare for. Almost everyone carried a jacket or jumper, with only the styles and value varying between suburbs. Alexis was on her way to school, by bus. The long ninety minute journey had become second nature to her and she was always on time, almost always early enough to have a seat. But her kindness sometimes got the better of her and she would give it up to a younger student or a non-school passenger that boarded the bus. That was just the way her parents taught her.
Alexis was lost in thought about her upcoming birthday party as the bus stopped yet again to pick up another group of loud kids. This early in the morning, the bus was already full and it wasn’t yet even half past seven.
Sixteen already, she thought. Sixteen. “In just a few days my whole life will change”, she mused to herself as if she was becoming a fully grown adult.
The sudden clap of early morning thunder brought her back into the present as the bus made its final turn towards Park Ridge High – a local government funded school that was well run and well funded, resulting in an above average grades in the classroom and on the sports field. Alexis was in grade 10, the school year had just begun and this was the first day back. Grade 10 was a whole different ball game the teachers said and most of her class mates and friends were already stressing about the year ahead. This was the year that mattered – Grade 10 set the precedent for the next two years culminating in graduation at the end of Grade 12. This was the year that would set the student up for college life and essentially mark the critical point at which ones future depended on.
Alexis was a slightly above average student, scoring well in mathematics and life studies. Her parents always tried to encourage her to do better, as they had always wanted her to follow in their footsteps. Well at least one of theirs anyway. Alexis’ mother was an accredited tax accountant working for one of the larger firms in Melbourne’s CBD, while her father was a corporate Attorney working on legal contracts and collections for a major bank. While not at the top of their careers, they were well positioned to give Alexis, an only child, everything she needed and, as long as she worked hard at school she essentially would have everything she needed.
Due to their busy lifestyles and careers, and her father travelling most months interstate and occasionally internationally, Alexis was left to look after herself most of the time. The fairly attractive teen with blonde hair was her own boss. She came and went as she pleased, most of the time letting her folks know if she was going to be home late or out all night. Generally they let it slide, if her mother noted she was out on too many school nights, she would be grilled, but this hardly ever happened and all in all, Alexis was a well adjusted and behaved teenager and although she slipped on a few occasions she never fell too deep as not to be rescued by which ever parent or friend or teacher was on hand to help.
Smoking and alcohol was almost never touched, although her parents kept good wine in the house for special occasions or Friday evening date nights, Alexis was never exposed to alcohol abuse or excessive smoking. Luckily for her, her friends, her really good friends, fell into similar patterns as she did and life was good.
The first day back at school was a nightmare, rushing around to discover where her new classroom was which class she had on which day and which time and what happened to her favourite teacher from last year. Soon, which was to be expected, she bumped into Rachel and Gary. Rachel was a freckle faced redhead and was labelled a nerd or a geek by almost everyone, but to Alexis she was Rach – her bestest of her best friends. They had grew up together, first as neighbours, then went through kinder, prep and junior school together. Now, both nearing sixteen, they were in senior high.
Gary, a strapping young lad with curling brown hair, was quick on his feet and embraced his long time girlfriend – Alexis returned the hug and snuck in a quick kiss before gently pushing him back and embracing her friend. The three of them laughed as they complained about which teacher they had, spread rumours about Mr Coleman – Alexis Mathematics and Business studies teacher from the year before – her favourite teacher out of the whole school – and as the bell sounded, they parted and hurried to their new classes.
The day finally drew to close just like every other first day back, and Alexis met up with Gary and Rachel after school as they waited for their parents. She gave a sad wave to them as they left, and looked at her phone, hopeful that her mom or dad was coming today to pick her up – but again, she read the familiar words – “Sorry hun, a bit under the pump here… take the bus”. Almost every day was the same, and yet she never wondered why they just didn’t ‘make it a rule’ bus to school, bus home. Then at least she would never have to worry or wait. With a sigh, Alexis stood in line for the next bus as the heavens opened again and the rains came down. The screams of her schoolmates were drowned out in echoes as they all tried to huddle under the pathetic plaster and iron shelter.
Fiddling for her keys, Alexis fumbled with the double locking security gate and finally opened the door to the welcome of the silent home. In the back yard she could hear the wining of her four year old dog, Cookie – a chocolate brown Labrador that her parents forced to stay outside after its first week in the house. Before even shaking off her own drenched clothing and school backpack, Alexis opened the door and security gate to let the poor mutt in. Cookie expressed her happiness and love with foot sweeping bounds and ticklish sloberish licks.
Within a few moments, Alexis was in the shower soaking up the warm water for almost forty minutes before getting changed in her bedroom on the upper floor of their Kilsythe home. At her dresser, she stared aimlessly at her face as she brushed out the knots of her blonde hair, tying it up into the common pony tail she wore most days.
The rest of the afternoon saw Alexis lounging around at home, chatting and texting on her iPhone and wasting away time until later in the evening when her mom and dad finally arrived home, within minutes of each other. By this time, Alexis had started a salad for dinner while the QuickMeal was in in the microwave. Not much said save for the usually hug and hello, how are you. Dinner was a quiet affair, but at least they all sat around the table, said their grace, and ate quietly.
After dinner, as was the norm, Alexis dad went to his study and her mom had a long soak in the spa bath. Alexis returned to the sanctuary of her bedroom and spent the next few hours chatting to Garry and Rach and a few of her other friends.
Everything for her was normal and she was content.
Within what felt like the blink of the eye, Alexis found herself at home, on a Friday night, alone. The first week of school was already finished, she had a ton of homework and books to cover. Rachel said she had a family ‘date night’ tonight, and Gary was heading up north to visit his ailing Nana. Alexis’ parents were out. Friday was their date night, and ever since she was about twelve that had been the case – the only way it was interrupted was for business. Except for once when Alexis broke her leg falling down the stairs about two years ago. Her parents were not pleased that night but eventually, the plaster came off and everything was back to normal. Even today though, sometimes, her left leg ached more after physical exercise or in extreme cold weather.
“Friday. And I am at home. Alone.” Alexis thought to herself, feeling a bit down and lonely. She hardly ever felt that way, but today she did. “Oh well, just ten more days…” she said, trying to cheer herself up.
Time went by, and the days turned to nights faster that she could keep up with. At least, Alexis got out all the invitations – most of them sent via Text Messages and Instant Messaging on Facebook, or by email. A few were handed out as well. Especially to her close friends.
The night of her party was a blast. A Saturday. The house was filled with streamers, tinsel and glittering balls hanging from the ceiling. Alexis mom and dad purposes left the house that day, letting her be herself and party hard, long into the night. The neighbours had already been warned – on the whole block – so no matter how loud they got it was going to be fine.
With almost twenty teens in her home, and a third of them boys, the party got loud and a bit obscene in no time at all. The first splash marked the beginning of the end of civility and good behaviour as clothes began to fly and girls and boys in underwear took to the pool. All the while, phones beeped and lit up the night as pictures were snapped and videos were shot. This will be a night some would rather want to forget.
Maybe it was the alcohol she wasn’t all that used to, or maybe it was just the fatiguing excitement of the day, Alexis had fallen asleep, strewn out across the leather sofa with half a drink in her hand while the party carried on and shifted up another gear –long into the early hours of the morning.
The night whispered through the darkness and she let out a cry for help. But here, no one could hear her and those that did ignore it anyway. The man held her down tightly as he stared into her brown eyes with an angry lust that would see this night be her last. She clawed at his face, and bit his lip as he tried to kiss her. He hissed, striking her across the face, a rosy red welt upon her cheek. Alexis cried. The man grabbed her short brown locks and pulled her to her feet slamming her against the wall and striking her again from behind. As she fell a second time, she turned, her eyes glazing over as consciousness began to fail her, she looked upon the gleaming blade of his flick-knife and gasped, trying to cry out as the blade was plunged into her stomach. Pulled out, and stabbed in again. Crimson red blood, deep, hot, and almost black it was so dark poured from the wounds as the man slashed at her stomach and chest, eventually ending with the slitting of her throat…
She wept. Slowly clawing herself into the morning light. Her blond hair sticking to her face as her mumbles echoed around her. Her eyes red, her cheeks stained with tears, and her throat dry as if she had been screaming into the winds. Alexis sat up, feeling a bit dizzy and the faint tinge of pain still echoing across her body. The dream was so real. So, so real it could have been happening.
She sighed out, letting go of the breath she had been holding and looked up at her parents who stared at her. A soft smile, but yet disapproving eyes etched in her mother’s face. Her father just shook his head. All the party guests had left. Even Rach and Gary weren’t there.
“What time is it?” she croaked out through parched lips
“It’s Monday honey… Monday. And it’s almost ten.”
Alexis was stunned for a moment. How could she have lost an entire day? She remembered lying down on the sofa, but now was sitting up in her bed. Her clothes were different too. Not the short skirt – the too short skirt – she wore at the party, nor the red blouse she loved so much. She was in faded jeans and a plain T-shirt, she wore sneakers too.
“Monday?” she asked, as if expecting this to be a joke… But not waiting for an answer, she buried her head again in her pillow, closing her eyes and blocking out the memories and anxiousness of not knowing what happened.
The next day, Alexis was up early. She showered and got ready for school an hour before she normally would. She made and ate toast for breakfast and left the house before her parents stirred. The house was clean. No sign of any party anywhere. So clean she thought it was new and no one lived here. Trying to put her thoughts behind her she left, and walked up the street to the bus stop where she waited. Busses ran early during the school term.
At school, people pretty much ignored her. Those that were at the party thanked her, and some embarrassingly hid away as if something bad had happened. She knew things had happened, but didn’t know too who or what exactly. Rachel gave her a huge hug, and they spoke for a moment before heading off to their classes. The party had ended sometime on Sunday morning, and everyone had left. Rachel said Gary had put her to bed before he too left and gave Rach a lift home – borrowing his dad’s car and driving on his learners permit.
Alexis buried herself in school work, but now and then, when she looked across the class room or out into the field, she could see him. The man. Slashing her to pieces she could feel the stinging pain as if it had really happened, forcing her to look down and away from anyone who might notice. “I have blonde hair… Blonde hair, not brown. I have blonde hair. That wasn’t me” she muttered to herself almost inaudibly.
At break she found Gary… “What happened yesterday? I mean… at the party… when you left… I was…”
Gary smiled, hugging her. “You looked so peaceful lying there on the sofa. But at the same time I couldn’t leave you there, so I put you to bed. Nice and cosy. Didn’t you see the note I left? Or the rose?”
Alexis smiled back, forcing the smile as not to worry him, but shook her head. “They must have fallen on the floor when I got up…” she answered, trying to convince herself that nothing else was going on.
Alexis did something she never did just then. She made some excuse to have to go see a teacher, but instead she went to her locker, grabbed her bag and keys and left the school. Been at a school with over two thousand pupils had its advantages for days like this. Sneaking out was easy, and many people wouldn’t be bothered if they saw a student outside of the school grounds. Especially if it was during break.
Luckily for Alexis the bus came before the bell rang, and she got on board. The driver was his usually nonchalant self – pretty much ignoring her as they almost always did. Alexis took a seat right at the back of the bus, and settled in for the forty five minute ride back home. Usually, with this been mid day, the bus would get there quicker than during peak hours of the beginning and end of school periods.
Within the first few moments of been on the bus, Alexis’ iPhone buzzed with text and Facebook Messages – “Where are you?” was the common question. Most were from her closest friends and a few came from class mates. After the tenth one, she switched the phone off.
“Something is wrong. Something happened to me. I can feel it. I know it. But what? Who? Gary wouldn’t do that… he couldn’t… could he? With so much beer and whatever else they brought in who knows? I have never seen him drunk before. Don’t know what he could do.” Alexis was so lost in thought she almost missed her stop.
The bus driver remembered, and kindly reminded her – “Your stop sweetie?” – Alexis hated that. Been called sweetie, or honey, or cutie or anything else by someone she didn’t know. Dear was acceptable, or Miss even. Not these other pet names you should keep for your daughter or lover.
She simply nodded and disembarked with a casual hand wave to say thank you. “He couldn’t” she repeated, this time a loud.
Home was dead quiet. Her dog didn’t even bark when she opened the door – he was outside again. Always was left outside during the day. Alexis quickly went up stairs. The bed was made. The room tidied. “Damnit. It’s Tuesday – the cleaning service has come and gone already…” she swore under her breath as she started hunting for any sign of the note or rose. She was not truly surprised by the fact she didn’t find them.
“Gary wouldn’t lie to me. He never has. The cleaners must have thrown them out.” Alexis told herself, trying hard to think of what happened that whole Sunday.
Alexis sat at her desk and switched on her laptop, opening up the document – Dear Diary. Alexis kept all her personal notes online, even using her iPhone to access her email and documents.
12 February 2011
I am feeling lost today. After I turned sixteen I thought everything would be better. The world would be better. Thought I would feel more like an adult, like a woman. But I don’t. Everything that happened since that night feels odd. Wrong somehow. I lost an entire day, but yet only remember drinking a single beer – and it was awful.
Rach and Gary both said he took me to bed. But. Who undressed me? Who changed my clothes? Could he have? Did Rachel watch? Did they do it together? I am so confused. So worried. So angry. I must confront him. Ask him exactly what had happened.
Did he rape me?
I… I am a virgin. I… I could go to the doctor. Could have a check up. But, Doctor Roland is mom’s doctor too. He is sure to tell her. I couldn’t bare the questions – even though I have never had ‘the talk’ – I know all about sex, pregnancy, protection. We learn it all at school.
Alexis opened another window in her browser and Googled: “How to check if you are a virgin”. The results poured across the page, and although she understood what to look for, she never thought of checking for herself.
Maybe I should go to hospital. But, I only get my allowance next week. I can’t ask mom are dad for any more, they wouldn’t give it to me.
‘Responsible use of money is the most important lesson to learn’ – Dad used to grill… drill that into me more often than not.
Darn. What am I going to do. Just ask him? Just ask them both? Rachel said she had waited for him to come down stairs. If he undressed me. If he fucked me. Then he would have been a while. She would have noticed.
That’s it, I am texting Rach…
As Alexis turned her phone back on, it beeped and buzzed continuously in techno rhythm for almost five whole minutes. Before she got too annoyed, she decided to wait for the texts and message alerts to stop. Only then did she send a private text to Rachel
“Hi Rachel. I am fine. I had to go home, was feeling ill. Well… Sort of ill. You see. I didn’t wake up on Sunday. The Whole day. I slept. Woke up a bit on Monday and slept again. The thing that’s worrying me the most though is I don’t know what had happened.
I was in my sexy clothes. My skirt. My red top – the one you love – but when I woke up on Monday I was in jeans and a plain old T-shirt – Lol – house clothes. I would never be caught dead out in that…. I also had sneakers on…
Damn stupid text’s. Me again. Yeah had sneakers on. I only wear sneakers for running and track. And no, I wouldn’t wear jeans and a tshirt for running… Can… Can you help me fill in the blanks?
You know. Um. How long was Gary up stairs? Please don’t tell him I am asking you all these questions. I don’t want him to worry. Please. “
Alexis waited. She thumbed around with the mouse, closing windows, filtering dumb emails. Marking all her Facebook IM’s as read.
“Glad you ok hon. Well. Hope you are ok. Wow. Sunday? You lost Sunday? Look I remember Gary taking you up stairs. But honestly, I was sooo drunk…. and sooo tired… I have no idea how long he was up there. But it didn’t feel long.
Oh gawd… you think he did something to you? You think he undressed you? No Al. He would never do that. He loves you. Gary Loves you.
But. But still. Maybe ask him?
Luv ya. Rach.”
Alexis sat there for a moment, staring at her phone and her computer. Now what she thought to herself. Scrolling through names, she found Gary’s number and began a message.
“Hi sweetie… I am fine. Just felt a bit ill that’s all. I went home. Forgot the cleaners were here this morning so didn’t find your rose or letter. Sorry about that. The thing is, I slept Sunday. Only woke up Monday morning – and in different clothes. Did… did you change me? I … please don’t think I am accusing you of anything, I am not, but I just need to know. I cant remember. Please. Hugs and Kisses, Alexis.”
Alexis exhaled again. Her heart was racing now and her palms were clammy. Very clammy. She had no idea what could have happened that night and she was afraid of what she might find out.
Time passes. Seconds turned to minutes and minutes turned to a full hour. The beeping phone shook her awake and into the now while her mind had been racing over images of sex she had never had and images of Gary taking photos of her. Photos. Camera. She suddenly thought, as she picked up her phone and opened the text message from Gary while simultaneously checking her laptop… and scouring all her Facebook friends to see if anyone uploaded some incriminating images.
The text read:
“Hi love. Sorry you feeling so shit. Guess the beer must have knocked you? Then again, I am really not sure what we were drinking that night – Luke had brought some pretty strong stuff from his father’s stash so there could have been anything in that bottle, but, it did smell like beer.
Pity about the letter and rose. Picked it from your mom’s garden ;). As for your clothes, I only took off your shoes. You were still dressed in what you had been wearing. Wait, here I took a photo – hope you didn’t mind.”
Beeping again. A photo message arrived. Time on the photo showed 02:34 on Sunday morning. The photo was of her, in bed, the blanket not yet pulled up and she indeed looked peaceful and beautiful at the same time. Alexis sighed and wrote a message back.
“Thanks sweetie. You are the best. Love you to the end of the world and back. I am so so sorry to have thought. You know. See you tomorrow?”
Alexis closed her laptop and moved to her bed, lying back and sighing. “The alcohol must have just been spiked. Everything is ok. I just lost a day. Well, technically two…” Before long, she was asleep.
The footsteps fell heavy on the wet pavement as he ran. His breath coming out in thick misty vapours as he pushed himself faster and harder with all his strength. All the while he could hear the beast behind him – like a wild, rabid dog hunting for its dinner, it was chasing him down. Her dark brown hair melted into the black of the night as she hunted him. She was only playing with him now. She could catch him so easily with all those years on the track. She was fit. But yet, the pain in her chest said otherwise. She was losing ground against him but she had to catch him.
He made a wrong turn, and slammed into a mesh wire fence that threw him back and onto the ground and she pounced. He screamed as the knife stabbed into his left shoulder. She smiled at him holding him down against his struggles. He was pushing back, trying to overpower her, but again the knife blade flicked across and cut his arm. She laughed, stabbing him again and again. She leant down and kissed him on his lips, watching the coldness fill his eyes and the spark leave his body. She licked her lips, tasting his blood, his life and she smiled.
The sun was viciously bright that Wednesday. The temperature was said to hit 38, maybe even 40. Alexis hated the heat, and today, she hated it more. She sat up in bed, with the flashes of last night’s dream still fresh. She touched her lips, almost tasting the blood. She looked down at her clothes. Still the same ones from yesterday, her crinkled chequered school clothes.
“I am not going insane…” she said to herself, whispering. It was already seven AM. Alexis hurriedly got dressed and brushed her blonde hair up into an untidy pony, spraying on more than half a bottle of cinnamony perfume. She said nothing to her mother who was in the kitchen, just grabbed a piece of toast and left. Dad’s BMW was already gone so he must have left early, she thought as she walked the two blocks up the street to the bus stop.
Her mind kept wandering back and forth, replaying the dream over and over again like a stuck record. It was horrible and horridly vivid. The blood was fresh and the smell hung in the air. She could smell it, even above the powerful smell of strawberry cinnamon perfume, like it was happening again. She suddenly screamed out “No!” as her left hand went up and slammed down like she was holding the knife.
She dropped to her knees slamming her left hand into the ground again and again until it hurt. The sound of the bus shook her awake, her had was aching and bruised. Alexis got to her feet quickly wiping her tears as she boarded the bus, swiping her ticket with the expected beep of acceptance. Alexis had to stand in the full bus as it lunged forward down the street on the eighty minute trip to school.
School was essentially normal. She focused on school work, tried not to think of her dreams. Her nightmares. Just worked through the day, in the blazing heat. It toped forty centigrade by lunch, hitting a staggering forty two by three PM. Everyone was melting in the heat, but Alexis hardly noticed it. She hated the heat, but at school, focused, she simply ignored it.
That afternoon, Rachel hooked up with Alexis and they spent a good few hours on Girly Goss at the local mall. She hadn’t seen Gary all day but it didn’t bother her much. Rachel was a great distraction, and yet, something stopped her from telling her best friend everything. For a moment, Alexis could see the ‘other woman’ in Rachel. The dark hair. But it wasn’t her. She knew it wasn’t.
They spoke about the usual stuff. The latest hot throb boy band, the price of a sexy pair of jeans and the clothes that girl was wearing two tables over. The subject got onto boys too. Rachel had never had a boyfriend, just never really bothered much.
As the day grew dark, Alexis and Rachel left, catching different busses home. Rachel lived in the neighbourhood on the other side of the school, and Alexis lived in the other direction. Alexis managed to get a seat in the back of the bus, and slowly nodded off to the rhythm beating in her ears from her iPhone.
A cold chill wind tugged at her uniform and rustled through her hair. Alexis woke up slowly, groaning as she lifted her body off of the cold tar. She looked about, bewildered, trying to see something, trying to find a land mark, something familiar. The road was damp from the late night drizzle. Her clothes were wet too, and she was missing her left shoe and sock. But other than that she felt fine, physically. Mentally she was absolutely terrified.
Alexis stood up, leaning against the red brick wall. The outside plaster was falling off in some places and mostly the light blue paint had all but completely pealed off in large flakes. She was in a market street. For as far as she could see up and down the road there were shops – mostly middle class fashion boutiques, a hair dresser or barber shop near by and a café across from where she was now. None were open now and Alexis had no idea where she was. None of the names meant anything to her and the clothes in the windows were not her style either. This was not a place she would ever come to.
The street was quiet. No one walking around, no cars either. Alexis found her missing shoe not far from where she was. The sock too. She held her head, trying to focus, murmuring nothing more than a groan. Her bag was not here. Neither was her iPhone. Was she mugged? Why here? Why would she get off here?
Alexis walked for what seemed like an hour. The rain got a bit stronger and the chill wind bit right through her thin uniform forcing her to take cover under the aging awnings. Waiting patiently, quietly. Her mind flooding back to the bus trying to remember, trying to filter out the normal sounds, trying to block out the music. It was no use. A thunder clap overhead brought her back to the present. Alexis had to brave the rain, maybe just around the corner ahead she could find help. A cab perhaps, or a public phone…
Another hour went by, and Alexis was soaked. A couple of cars now move up and down the road every so often, but she was still no closer to figuring out where she was in the city. No cabs, no public phones, no signs or land marks. No police stations. Odder than all this, was that Alexis didn’t see any bus stops either, and no houses. The area seemed to be very retail and commercially orientated with the chimneys and taller buildings of factories and manufacturing plants peaking out above the shops that and businesses that lined the streets.
Alexis didn’t really notice them though; even when silhouetted by the lightning, Alexis folded her arms tightly across her chest and walked. Trying to keep to a single direction as best she could, she had now found what must have been a ‘main’ road of sorts. It was busier. More cars. But no one stopped, no one cared. When she stepped out to try flag down a cab, the driver hooted at her and swore out his partially open window. No one cared.
Tired and nearing exhaustion, Alexis stoped nest to a flickering street pole. She looked up and down this road. It had gotten quieter in the last half hour or so, and now, only cars far in the distance could be seen. The rain continued, bucketing down and overwhelming the street drainage. It’s going to flood, she thought to herself as a shorting light in the distance caught her eye. It was a bus stop.
With renewed vigour and determination, Alexis pushed herself forward. It took her only a few minutes to walk-run the three hundred or so meters.
“What the fuck?” Alexis swore as she tried to read the map behind the scratched and tagged plexiglass.
“Ba..g…holm… “ she read, wiping away the rain from the map and her eyes. Looking on the other side, she could barely make out the times – and not know what the time was now didn’t exactly help her much.
“Last bus at 22h30…Fuck. It must be later than that.” Going back to the map, Alexis slammed her hand into the plexiglass, cracking it and cutting the ridge of her right hand at the same time. She grimaced, but managed to pull off the plexiglass. “Keys Road. This is Key… no… That’s keys road, this is Pillars road. Jus that way is the East Link. Damn, I could be anywhere.”
Alexis started walking again, having torn out the ‘map’ from the bus stop and folded it neatly, sliding into her top and under her bra. Hopefully it wouldn’t get as soaked there, but she knew it wouldn’t last long.
Ever few hundred meters she would check. Perry Road… and finally she was there. The East Link. Cars even at this time of night sped up and down the highway that linked the outer suburbs and more distant rural communities to the centre of Melbourne.
“The Eastlink… Emergency Phones. They have emergency phones ever few kilometres…” Again, fighting her hunger and exhaustion, Alexis walked with renewed hope and determination. As if answering to her will, the rains subsided and the storm began to move further south. Alexis walked quickly up the on ramp keeping as close to the sides of the road as possible. Soon she was walking along the freeway, in the emergency lane, cars hooted and beeped at her but none stopped. None ever stopped.
Her feet were now blistering in the wet soaks, but still she walked on. Red lights ahead of her – amber flashing as well. A car. A broken down car. Alexis began to run towards, not caring who or what the driver may be, with any luck she would get help.
The cars lights went off, and smoke came from its exhaust… “No…no.. wait for me….” Alexis screamed, but the driver didn’t hear her, didn’t even notice her in the mirror as he pulled off down the road. Alexis dropped to her knees, crying in heavy sobs. The clouds opened up once more with a deafening boom. The rains came down again, heavier and harder than before, soon Alexis was been pelted by small pieces of hail, stinging and grazing her face and arms. Alexis got up and ran under an overpass, huddling in the cold darkness, waiting out the hail storm.
It must have been hours before the hail stopped. The rain subsided shortly after, and a glow started to grow in the sky. Dawn was approaching. Traffic on the freeway got busier and busier, and soon dozens of cars were flying passed at break neck speeds. Alexis slowly pulled herself up and began to walk again. Soon, and with some relief, she heard the unmistakable sounds and saw the red-blue lights of a free way patrol car.
She stood quietly, folding her arms as the car pulled to a stop a few meters from her, its lights still flashing in a silent rhythm. A uniformed officer got out, and looked her up and down before approaching, cautiously.
Alexis could not contain herself and she ran forward, throwing her arms around the policeman and bursting into uncontrolled sobs. The man took her to the car and carefully put her in the back seats. Once he was in the driver seat he pulled off cautiously, radioing in to the station.
“What’s your name miss?” the officer finally asked.
“Al-Alexis Fox. 102 Stoneway Drive, Malborone. Sir.” She added after a pause.
“Malborone? You sure?”
Alexis gulped. “Yes sir, officer…”
“Wow. What on earth are you doing this far south?”
“How far south?”
“About two hours Alexis.”
“Fuck…” Alexis swore again, the officer only smiled.
“You want to tell me about it?” he asked.
Alexis replied, “I cannot. I don’t remember. I… I was on the bus…. Must have fallen asleep… Don’t even know what the date is.”
“By god, really?” He exclaimed. “It’s Saturday. Saturday the 11th.”
“FUCK! There, It – It was Wednesday. Someone must have reported me missing or something?”
“I’ll call it in, just refrain from the cursing hey?” he said with a smile, calling in to the station again.
Alexis stared out the window as they sped down the free way, finally turning off onto another road. She felt they were heading in the right direction. She Felt good.
The radio crackled again. “Confirm that Blagholme 7. One Alexis Fox: Caucasian, sixteen years old. 1.6 meters, light build, blonde hair and blue eyes. Last seen on public transport in school uniform.”
“Confirmed VKC, Blagholme 7-out.” The officer said, replacing the radio. “You were reported missing on Thursday morning Alexis.”
“Let’s get you home shall we.” He added.
Alexis gulped again and lent back in the seat, staring aimlessly out the window as she shivered through her cold clothing. What is happening to me? She thought to herself again.
The patrol car rocked on its shocks as the roads became worse on the way to Alexis’ home. The see-saw motion soon had Alexis drifting off into sleep again, her head cushioned by the nylon seat covers gently made a tapping noise as it bumped against the window.
Alexis woke up realising the car had stopped. Lights were flashing and brightness like the sun itself was only a dozen meters or so away. She climbed out the car into the light rain that still fell from the skies. They had come back onto the freeway for some reason, and the officer was rushing towards a burning car.
An accident, he must have been called while I was asleep Alexis thought as she took a step closer, watching the young officer reach the first car. Smoke bellowing out of another as well in what appeared to be a three car pile up. They were the first on the scene, and in the distance she could hear the different pitches of police and fire engine sirens, followed shortly by ambulance.
A sudden explosion in the first car through her back against the patrol car, knocking the wind out of her lungs as the second car erupted in flames and the fire engulfed a third as well. Alexis coughed, gagging, and started standing up. Her eyes were blurry and she stared around as if looking through a fish tank or frosted glass. Her mouth was dry and she licked her lips, pulling herself up on the driver’s door, she leant in and grabbed the radio.
“VKC – This is Blagholme 7. Emergency services req…”
“Who is this? This is a secure channel… get off the line.”
She stared down at her hands, looked around again as the other police cars, ambos and fire truck was struggling to get through the traffic. She grabbed the side mirror and stared at herself her eyes widening as if she was looking at a stranger.
She coughed again, gagging and rubbed her hand through her hair, feeling a bloody mess near the back where the skull curves into the neck. She moved forward again, staring through the heat and flames, and there, she saw what she sought. A crumbled body was lying slumped against the medium barrier, still smoking from the explosion.
“By God, it’s me.” She said without thinking the words.
The fire truck got through the traffic and the men were already fighting the blaze. Alexis cried out sharply in pain as she picked up the hot badge, burning her hand. She coughed again, and staggered back towards the car, here eyes straining to see through the bellowing smoke, the noise of sirens and the hoses and shouts of firemen was deafening.
She slumped intro the driver’s seat, and saw another officer approaching in her mirror. She started the car, adjusted the seat and accelerated, spinning in a wide one-eighty arc and roared passed the other patrol cars, her head dizzy, her stomach cramping.
Alexis had no clue where she was headed, and yet her movements and controls of the vehicle was second nature. The lights eventually went off, the radio too. She stared absentmindedly out the windscreen of the car, the wipers making a soft squeaking sound as the wiped away more of the rain.
She soon arrived at a townhouse complex. Drove right in and stopped outside of a garage. She get out the car, staggered to the door and unlocked it with the keys. She punched a number into the alarm keypad, deactivating it before heading down the hall to the toilet. She fell to her knees, grabbing her stomach as the pain shot through her.
She sat there for more than hour, staring at the toilet. Eventually she picked herself up, and looked at herself in the mirror above the hand basin. “How is this possible?” she asked the reflection. “Are you there? Are you seeing this?” Alexis could not answer herself. She talked again, but this time she screamed, shouted, “Are you there?!”
She slammed her hand against the wall, cracking the plasterboard. She felt the pain, but it too was subdued, distant somehow. She walked out the toilet and went to the living room with a kitchenette just off of it. She opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of bear.
10 beers in a dozen pack. He likes his beer, but doesn’t drink excessively. Alexis was even surprised at her own thoughts. Thinking but not talking. Witnessing but not seeing. Hearing but not listening. She felt and sensed it all, but at the same time she didn’t.
She took a long swig of the beer, and coughed, spitting a bit. She had never drunk beer before. She slouched into the leather armchair and flicked on the thirty-two inch LCD, staring blankly at the screen.
“What the hell is going on? How can this be happening? Am I dead? I must be, I saw the body. I saw my body.” She took another swig of the bitter drink.
She finished the beer before the next ad came on. She wasn’t even watching the program. She just sat there, staring at the floor. At the screen, at the window, at the empty bottle in her hand. She dropped it on the floor and stood up, the dizziness came back to her again and she staggered forward before falling to the floor, the lights snuffed out like a candle.
Alexis stared into the blackness, awake, for a few moments before she felt sleep taking over and stopped fighting it, drifting off into the darkness.
Ringing… Ringing. Loud, too loud. Alexis grabbed her ears trying to block out the sound. The taste in her mouth and the smell – stale beer and urine. She opened her eyes, blaring at the light streaming through the windows.
“Mommy” she uttered through her burning throat. She lifted herself to a sitting up position and brushed her hair back over her shoulders. She looked around the strange room, vaguely recalling it as if she had seen it before in a dream or an old black and white film.
“Mommy?” she called again, softly as the phone rang again. The phone she thought, as she pulled herself up to her feet, realising she had wet herself in the night. She groaned. Her head throbbing as if she had gone ten rounds in a boxing ring. She was sore and ached all over, her thoughts were only on the phone.
She picked it up and heard the dial tone. No one was on the other end. She pressed the hang up button and then started dialling.
The phone rang and rang…and eventually someone picked up, a sad, tired sounding voice: “Mrs Fox…”
“Mom? Mom.. come get me… Mom?” Alexis cried into the phone.
“Alexis? Alexis!” her mom cried back realising it was her daughter. “Where are you sweetie? Where are you?”
Alexis scratched her head and looked at a bill on the table. “Alexis?” her mom called out again. “I’m here mom. I have an address. Unit 5, 32 Olive Crescent, Barrowheights.” She read out.
“Oh my God? Barrowheights?”
“Come get me mom. Please come get me. I want to come home.” Alexis cried as her head ached again.
“I’m coming sweetie. I’m coming.” The phone went dead and Alexis slumped against the back of the sofa sliding to the floor.
Alexis sat there, waiting. Her thoughts swimming in her head as she tried to remember. Her hangover was like a black sky over the ocean in her mind. The bus. She remembered been on the bus. And then, nothing. She remembered the highway. The police car. The officer. Oh God the officer. He tried to help her. He was taking her home.
Alexis sat up again, looking at the letter on the floor. Mr Anton Jansen she read. I am sorry she whispered to the room. I am sorry.
The door bell rang and then came knocking on the door. Alexis was up and moving towards the door when she heard her mother call out: “Alexis!”
She opened the door and threw herself into her mother’s arms who held her tightly, hugging her. “Let’s get you home.” Her mother said, not asking any questions.
Alexis was silent in the car and still silent when they got through their door. She smiled at her mom who was helping her undress, tired and worried eyes looking back at her.
Alexis climbed into a warm bath and soaked there as her mother slowly washed her hair, gently, caring for her daughter as she had done many years ago. After the bath, Alexis put on a tshirt and climbed into bed, her mother tucking her in and kissing her on the head before she left the room. Alexis lay awake, thinking, her head still swimming and even now, still aching.
The pictures and images of her room gave her comfort. Familiar comfort. She smiled, relaxed a bit. She was home. It was Sunday morning and she was home. She was safe. Alexis laid there for a few hours before she got up and went down stairs to the kitchen. Her mother and father were talking to a police officer in the living room, and Alexis blushed, pulling the shirt further down and quietly fading back up the stairs to put some pants on.
A moment later she came down, and went to sit next her parents. The female office smiled at her. “Good to see you Alexis, we were very worried.”
“Thank you maam. “Alexis replied, her eyes unknowing swelling up with tears, and asked “How is he?”
The officer looked at her. “I was about to get to that. Officer Jansen?” she asked without waiting for an answer, “he called it in that he found you on the East Link. Shortly after that he responded to a major accident and went back.”
“How is he?” Alexis asked again, sitting on the edge of her seat, tears rolling down her eyes.
“Office Jansen is in a coma at St Albert’s. He is in a critical condition.”
Alexis breathed, sighed out heavily.
“Did you know him?” the officer asked. “Did you know Officer Jansen?”
“No. I did not. And I know you going to ask how come I was at his house. I can’t answer that. I don’t even know how I got there. I, I think I drove but I don’t know how.” She grabbed her dad’s hand and squeezed it. He squeezed back in a way that said it will be ok.
“Ok. You must be exhausted. I have enough for now, but will have to come back as there are more questions.”
Alexis nodded and stood up with her parents, walking the officer to the door. She turned and hugged her parents tightly. “I don’t have the answers mom… dad… I don’t know what happened.” She cried. Her parents just stood there, holding her close as they looked into each other’s eyes realising what they had almost lost.
“I’m hungry.” Alexis said at last and broke the cuddle going to the kitchen. Alexis busied herself and made a fairly large brunch for herself and her parents – tuna sandwiches, vegetable pieces and for desert, fruit salad. To drink, she made a pitcher of orange juice.
They sat down at the dining room table, probably for the first time in ages as a family. They smiled to each other quietly content in just the company. They spent the rest of the morning together just been a family. Watched television, spoke about school, friends, work, relatives. Never once did they raise the questions about what had happened.
She was tired by three pm and sat on her bed, speaking to Rachel and Gary and a few other odd friends. No one knew what happened to her on the bus. No one had a clue. But everyone was happy she was ok, and before she finished another call Rachel and Gary were both there, talking to her. Rachel had brought some work from school and Alexis had realised that tomorrow her life will be back to normal and she would be back at school. The first few days will undoubtedly be awkward as she will answer questions and ask a few herself. Maybe she will see someone that w2as on the bus that Wednesday. Perhaps someone will remember what had happened.
She shook off the thoughts and anxiety that began to creep in, and she just enjoyed the company of her friends. Friends she thought, almost sadly when she looked at Gary. He was her boyfriend, but today, now, she saw him as a friend. A best friend. Best friends forever she thought as she looked at Rachel again.
Before dinner, Alexis and her mother went to the mall near their house and bought new school shoes and a new school bag as well. Her mother also surprised her with a new iPod and a Samsung smart phone. Alexis hugged her closely, not caring anymore if anyone saw her.
That night, dinner was take a ways – chicken burgers, salad, and chocolate mouse for desert. Again they sat at the table as a family and enjoyed been close to each other. After dinner they watched television for a while and before eight Alexis excused herself, had a shower and climbed into bed. That night she slept well. No dreams invaded her, and no nightmares. Alexis just slept.
Monday she woke up early and got dressed after a quick shower. She made herself breakfast and put extra toast in for her parents who were just stirring. The coffee machine was on and two espros were already been brewed when they came down stairs.
Alexis’s mom drove her to school before heading to work herself. At school, it was just as expedcted. Both students and teachers asked questions – mainly revolving around how are you, how you doing rather than leaning towards what happened. Later in the day, those questions were asked and Alexis dodged them as much as she could – most of the answers were “I don’t know.” Or “I cannot remember.”
Alexis’s own questions were not answered however. No one remembered what happened on the bus. No one even saw her get off. Her bag was gone as well, she never thought of finding it again or anything that was inside it. As the day grew to a close, she still could not help thinking that someone must know something.
Her father picked her up after school, and Alexis realised that they – her parents – were been very cautious, ensuring that Alexis was safe.
For the next few days Alexis hid herself in homework, school work, cooking and hanging out with Rachel. Gary seamed to give her space during this time, she at first thought it strange, but she soon discovered that it did not bother her much. She did not need the pressure of having a boyfriend, no matter how sweet he actually was.
For two whole weeks things seemed back to normal. The weather was cooling down from the hot summers and Autumn was in full swing. Alexis was enjoying school. Gary had become even more distant, and it was evident that unofficially they were no longer a couple. Again, it didn’t bother her much and Alexis just went on with her life.
It was a Friday night, Alexis had enjoyed a night out with Rachel. They had gone to see a movie, and after that they went bowling. Her mother came out to pick her up shortly before eleven and they went home together. Alexis took a shower and got into bed with her usual sleep shirt – an old tshirt of a local band that Gary had given her more than a year ago.
Alexis fell asleep fast.
“Help me…” came the voice in the darkness, waking her up almost immediately. Alexis was paralysed with fear, and couldn’t speak.
“Help me…” the voice said again. Strange and yet familiar.
Alexis broke through the fear, “Anton?” she whispered. The voice responded, “Alexis. I. I can’t see you. I can feel. Feel you all over, but I can’t see. Help me.”
“I don’t know how. I don’t know”
“Alexis, please. Please help me. I am falling. I am falling. Catch me Alexis. Catch me.”
Alexis reached out a hand, but felt nothing. For a brief moment she could see his face, and saw him falling away from her as if drowning into a pool of black water. Alexis cried out and her father was in the room in an instant, followed shortly by her mother, comforting her as she cried: “I saw him daddy. I saw him, I saw officer Jansen.”
Alexis moved to her parents room and laid down on the floor near the foot of the bed. The carpet was thinning just a bit here, and Alexis chose a piece of fluff to focus on, trying to block out any memories or thoughts until she finally fell asleep. Stirring now and then as if caught in a nightmare, but not waking up.
At breakfast, she could hardly eat. The silence was almost unbearable, until her father broke it: “Do you want to go see him?” Her mother stared at him in shock and back at her before asking: “Jansen?”
“Yes. He is still there. In a come in hospital. I am sure we could get to see him. Let me make a call.”
An hour later, Alexis and her parents were at the hospital. Alexis was allowed in to see Officer Jansen while her parents waited outside. The room was bare, an empty vase sat on the bedside table but what ever flowers they once had were long gone. Alexis could feel the cold emptiness as if no had been there for days.
She sat down next to the bed and carefully reached out her hand, taking his in hers, feeling the clamminess and coldness. There was a subtle pulsing warmth, that beat in rhythm with the machines. A tear rolled down her face and she squeezed his hand, leaning forward she whispered: “I am here. Take my hand Anton.”
Anton did not move, not even the slightest response. Alexis sat there for more than an hour, waiting, watching, hoping for something. When she left the room she was in tears. In the car, she was silent. Her parents tried to get her to speak, but she couldn’t.
At home, she went back to bed. Lay there for hours, awake, staring at the ceiling, at the wall, at the photos and posters.
Eventually she got up and sat at her desk, taking her new laptop out of her bag, she opened it. It’s been so long she thought as she opened the document and entered today’s date.
Things are different. He called to me last night, but today, at the hospital there was nothing. I couldn’t even feel Anton anymore. Anton. I call him by his first name like I have known him for ages and in some way it actually feels like that.
At least I don’t think I am going crazy anymore. Somehow, I think Anton’s spirit possessed my body. And, maybe, maybe that is it. Maybe all the other times I was used. Like a Vessel.
Alexis sat there for a moment, staring at the words she wrote. It all began to make sense now. Oh my God. Is this actually possible?
Alexis immediately began hours of research into ghosts, spirits, possessions and how to protect herself. Most of the nonsense she found she saw right through and realised it was rubbish. A few key points and some blogs pointed her in the right direction, or so she thought at the time.
Salt. Salt came up time and time again as a protection against malevolent spells and magic. But this was not about magic or spells. It was about spirits. Garlic. What nonsense. Garlic was for Vampires. She laughed at some of the tales and some of the evidence. Excorcism. She stopped at this one. Approaching this subject was crazy. How do you tell a priest you need one? How you tell a holy man that you are been haunted. That was not an option for her and she knew it. Her family was far from religious and they hadn’t been in a church since way back when Alexis was eight or nine years old.
Alexis sighed, and finally went down stairs for dinner. They sat at the table again, and spoke about school and other small talk. “Dad, “ Alexis asked, “How did you get permission to see the Officer.” Her father smiled back at her, “I spoke to the detective that had been assigned your case.” Alexis nodded in thanks. “Do you know anything about…” Alexis stopped herself, swallowing hard. Her mother took her hand, squeezing it gently as if to say its ok.
“Do you know anything about ghosts?” Her parents fell silent for a while. Alexis continued. “I heard his voice. I saw him. That night when he brought me home, I saw the car explode and knock him to the ground. I then drove the car. I am certain of it now. I drove all the way to his house. Please believe me.”
Her parents were fairly shocked at her sudden testimony.
Her mother finally broke the uneasy silence. “You think that somehow he, Officer Jansen, had taken over you? Your body? You know how crazy that sounds honey?”
“Of course I know!” Alexis retorted, pushing her seat away from the table. “I have been thinking about this for weeks – Ever since my birthday. Things have been happening. I never ever thought I could tell you.” Alexis pulled away from her mother and ran back to her room. Angry, more than sad, but still she cried.
Alexis? Alexis? I can feel your tears on my face. I hear your breath getting caught in my throat. Where are you? Why cant I see you? This place, where I am is so so dark. I can hear, briefly, barely, in broken segments. I heard your tell your mom, your dad. Heard most of it. I realise now what has happened too, I didn’t want to believe it but now I know. Go back to the hospital, go back now. Let me help you get there.
Alexis left her room, heard her parents still talking at the dinner table. Quietly she snuck down stairs. The keys, take the keys. Alexis took her father’s keys off of the side table in the hallway. She snuck outside and stepped over to the silver-grey BMW Sedan. She switched off the immobilizer and got into the driver’s seat.
“You had better be there Anton.”
I am. Came the answer in her mind. He was still there, inside her body and mind.
The car started and rolled quietly out of the driveway, as she revved the engine and pulled off, she saw her mom and dad in the mirror behind her as the car took the corner wide, narrowly missing another vehicle as it sped towards the Freeway.
As if been controlled by Anton again, Alexis lifted the pressure off the accelerator. She turned another corner and then she was on the freeway, hitting more than seventy kilometres and hour as she headed in the loose direction of the hospital.
You are doing fine. Anton said as she changed gears again, revving the car to eighty… ninety.
Slow down. You don’t want to be pulled over. Not now.
Alexis smiled, feeling the presence of Anton all around her and within her. She put the car into cruise control at seventy-two and relaxed, enjoying the experience of actually driving for the first time.
Alexis finally left the highway, turning off the cruise control, and listening to the instructions she got from the car’s GPS. She pulled into the hospital’s parking lot, leaning out the car window to get the parking-voucher. She nodded to a security guard and found an empty area to park in.
Through her side mirror she could see the guard looking at the car, at her. It was not hard to tell that she was young, too young to be driving a car. Alexis swallowed and looked through the car’s glove box – bingo, dad had left his wallet. He always carried cash, a few twenties and fifties and some coins too.
Alexis got out the car, with the notes shoved into her jeans pocket. She looked directly at the guard and walked up to him, swinging her hips just a little bit to distract the middle-aged man. She smiled, looking up into his green eyes as he brushed a hand through his silvering hair. She pushed herself up on her tip toes, kissed him on the cheek and carefully slid a twenty into his trousers, whispering “I wasn’t here.”
The guard just nodded, and Alexis sauntered off towards the main entrance, looking back at the last moment to the guard who was still staring at her arse. Alexis swallowed again, feeling a tad bit off at her simple attempt at seduction. She was also more surprised at herself that it worked, but a man like that, stuck in the role as a security guard – probably forty, forty five years old.
Alexis went to the front desk, and waited patiently in turn as she looked about the hospital foyer. Sterile, like most hospitals, but at least they tried to liven it up a bit with real plants and the common television in the waiting room, as well as two vending machines – one for drinks, the other for snacks.
Alexis whistled to herself, missing the iPod she wore like her favourite top. Finally her turn came and she asked for Officer Jansen’s room.
“Floor 2, Nelman Ward, Room 16. Are you family?”
“I’m his sister. “ She said, smiling to the woman. “Ok then, off you go.”
Alexis went up the stairs, four flights, two full floors. At the top she was a bit out of breath, but not by much. She found the ward and the room. A single room, still technically an intensive care ward or at the least, that room was been used as such.
Anton was there, just as she remembered him. A smile twitched on his lips. Alexis closed the curtain around the bed, sitting next to him.
“Are you here still?”
There was an eerie silence again and Alexis could feel her heart beating in her throat. A doctor’s call came over the intercom.
“Come on Anton…” she pleaded to the room, to his silent body. “Wake up. I know you can… I just don’t know how to do this.”
She sat there, holding his hand. Touching his fingers to her lips. “You never touched me. Never even looked at me in that way. What is it? What was the trigger?”
Alexis sat there, thinking, thinking back to how she met him, on the road – her rain drenched clothing. He was polite, kind, and concerned. He was nice. Older, too old for her, but nice. Almost like Gary she thought. Maybe more tougher… more manly.
Alexis smiled, feeling the fluttering in her stomach she used to get when she was with Gary. She felt her cheeks flush and she smiled at him. Anton. He was at least ten years older than her, and yet, Alexis couldn’t help it. She was falling for him.
She suddenly felt the grip on her hand and she smiled. “Anton?”
Anton’s eyes opened and fluttered, like he was looking into a bright light after been in shadow for hours. He pulled his hand away from her, looking at her, staring.
“Who are you?”
The words struck her like three blows, each getting harder than the last and she coughed out her breath, tears filling her eyes almost immediately.
“It’s me? It’s Alexis?” she stammered out, but the name didn’t register on his face and he stared at her.
Finally he called out, “Nurse…”Reaching for the call button. Alexis panicked, and ran, tears streaming down her face she fled the ward, running down the corridor she almost knocked over another doctor who shouted after her, but did not give chase.
Alexis ran down the stairs, slipping and tripping on the last step and falling against the wall. The fall winded her, and her head struck hard against the floor, tearing open the skin just above her right ear. Alexis laid there for a few moments until she caught her breath again, and forced herself to stand. Finally she continued down the stairs, wiping the blood from her head.
She realised she had gone too far and took a wrong turn when the sounds of the hospital escalated into alarms, beeps, and shouts. Doors opened and two paramedics rushed in with a woman on their gernie. The woman was screaming, blood covering her arms and dark stains all over her clothes. Even to Alexis, she could tell this woman tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists.
Alexis flattened herself against the wall and stared at the woman. She couldn’t me much older than twenty, maybe twenty five at most – Alexis thought as she looked at the woman’s face. For one brief moment, she had stopped screaming, stopped fighting and was looking at Alexis. Alexis motioned her to hush with her finger against her lips.
Within that moment, she quickly left the hospital through the emergency entrance. No one really cared who she was or where she was going, and were busy with other things, other patients. Alexis found the car and started it up, the guard smiling as Alexis rushed passed him.
The car lurched forward, the gears grinded. She smiled at him again, and he took her card opening the gate for her as she lunged forward again. The memories of Anton’s driving skills were almost gone, and she struggled now getting the car to cooperate.
A few moments later she was heading back home and found herself again on the freeway. “Stupid Nav… I don’t want the freeway. Maybe I can.” Cars screamed passed her, hooting and she finally reached over and flicked on the cruise control.
The car’s systems recalled the last setting and the car revved up, Alexis changing the gears roughly as it reached cruise control speed. Alexis slumped back in the seat, breathing heavily. She found some tissues, and dabbed the wound on her head, looking in the mirror. It was not too deep, thankfully, but the pain was still there and sometimes, Alexis found it hard to look out of her right eye – it blurring every now and then.
Dad’s going to kill me. Alexis thought, and then her thoughts shifted back to Anton. How can he not remember? Was it so brief? Is it possible that the thoughts and experiences we had or he had while in my body – is it possible that he could not remember any of that?
Alexis sighed again, slipped off the cruise control, jerked sluggishly off of the freeway and followed the directions home – the car revving and suddenly slowing down as she struggled over the clutch and gears.
Alexis rolled up the driveway and her mom and dad came out. Her father looked furious, her mother concerned, worried as she ran to them hugging
“I am so sorry.” Alexis cried into her mom’s chest.
They all went inside again. Her parents had not yet contacted the police, even though it had been a few hours since she left.
They all sat down again, in the lounge and spoke. Alexis told them about Anton, how he woke up and didn’t remember. Eventually Alexis conceded that perhaps these were her memories, her thoughts, her wishes and not his. Perhaps nothing she thought happened.
“Monday we will go and see Doctor Anderson.” Doctor Anderson had been the families GP for years, and for as long as Alexis could remember. He was nice enough, even though he was almost sixty by now.
Alexis nodded. A Doctor. “Am I insane?” she asked them, “Am I going mad mom?”
Her mother hugged her again and her father did too. “We will get through this Alexis. And no, I don’t believe you are going crazy.”
Alexis went to the bathroom and ran a bath, soaking her tired body and cleaning the gash on her head. Her mind was accelerating with thoughts of doctors and tests. The warm water and soothing scent of rose-oil in the bath crystals let her relax a bit, let her mind and body unwind.
Alexis found herself drifting into sleep and then startling awake as her she slipped deeper into the water. It must have been a few hours before she got out, pulling a plain white towel about her body and wiping her hand across the steamed up mirror. The reflection she saw seemed to be her at first, and then seemed to fade, drift into darkness like her very own reflection was dissolving in the steam.
She breathed in deeply, and looked again, rubbing her eyes. The reflection slowly returned and it wasn’t her. The reflection was of a young brunette girl with shoulder length, curly hair. Three ear rings in the left ear, two in the right. A small stud in the nose too. Her face was pale, almost deathly white.
“I know you. I do. Where? Where did I see you?” Alexis asked the mirror, half expecting the reflection to respond. It didn’t though, just looked at her, their eyes staring at each other, trying to read the thoughts, emotions. Trying to remember.
Alexis shook her hand, wiped her hand across the mirror again and returned to her bedroom. She dropped the towel over the back of her chair and pulled her night shirt out of the laundry basket that sat near the door. Smelling it she shrugged and pulled it back on over her head, and down to cover her thighs as she looked at herself in the mirror on her wardrobe door.
Alexis smiled at her own reflection, running her hand through her familiar blonde strands. She stood there for a moment, almost unsure of what to do. Eventually, as she heard her parents’ bedroom door, she climbed into bed and lay there, holding an old teddy bear, awake. Sleep did not want to come, or perhaps she did not want to sleep. A small bit of her was completely terrified of what may happen and where she may wake up. Another part of her wondered. Wondered who the girl was, wondered where she saw her.
It was after midnight when she finally drifted off, with the brunette girl’s face engraved on her mind, she slept. Whispers reached her ears and her mind. She found herself in a corridor of white, but the edges of her vision were blurred and filled with steam like the hot bathroom. She was walking in the mists, and went through an automatic sliding door, into a full hospital emergency room.
In a sudden burst of light and sound that almost knocked Alexis to the floor, she was right in the middle of it. People yelling, nurses pushing passed her, doctors and orderlies calling for equipment. Alexis backed off towards a wall. The curtain was pulled closed around her and she turned to look at the bed.
The girl, it’s her. She thought. The brunette girl was asleep, a machine beeped in time with her pulse and a breathing machine was working too. She was in a bad way. Alexis sat on the bed next too her and took her hand, holding it. The heart-machine beeped slightly faster as if responding to her touch. The girl’s pale lips opened and she murmered. Alexis lent forward, squeezed the girls hand and felt her cold breath on her cheek. A very cold, icy breath. Alexis took a second look at the girl, and in that moment, the heart-machine droned into a flat line, and the alarms sounded loudly.
Alexis was suddenly pushed out of the way as nurses and doctors tried to help the girl. The girl opened her eyes, and raised her finger to her lips in a gesture – “Shhhhhhh.” – Alexis felt herself doing the same thing and then felt the rush through her body. Her heart was beating like thunder in her head, and her palms got clammy, perspiration started to form and run down her neck, breasts and thighs.
Alexis woke up, trembling, but in her own bed. She sat straight up, her whole body was shaking, and her throat was dry, and aching. Her arms were weak, and drips of blood formed in the elbow-pit, blue-black bruises all around them. Alexis flicked on the bedside lamp and looked at her blonde hair. Alexis breathed heavily. It was 3 AM. The house was completely still. Alexis could not get back to sleep. The ‘wounds’ on her arms looked like she was a blood donar, but there were too many marks. And then it dawned on her. The girl. She over dosed on something – she was there at the hospital. No.
Aelxis ran to the bathroom and washed her arms, the wounds opened again and the blood dripped into the basin. “No.” she cried out louder this time. She knew that if the doctor saw the sores on her arms that they would conclude the same thing – drugs. Alexis had never ever done drugs before, ever. She hated it, and tended to hate people that did it too. Even cigarettes were out of the question and alcohol was extremely rare.
Alexis breathed out again, looked at the reflection of the brunette girl in the mirror. “Help me.” Alexis was about to give up when the reflection held up a small brush – a make up brush. Conceal it? Alexis thought. That would work. She returned to her bedroom and got out her makeup bag.
Alexis dried off her arms and applied foundation and other powders to mask the wounds – she had done it before, like almost every girl, covered up pimples and blackheads and occasional scratches like the gash on her head. Once satisfied, she climbed back into bed and lay there. Again, she couldn’t sleep for ages, but, mercifully it came, a few hours and a bit before dawn.