Summer school is the worst. You’d think not having to wake up until nine o'clock in the morning would be a blessing, but most days it’s just a curse. The afternoon sun bombards your entire body with its infinite length rays, hitting your already sun burnt skin due to your lousy bus driver being late once again. Tell me how that’s a blessing. It's four thirty when my bus finally arrives; despite it being summer school, every seat is taken by the time I get on. It's probably due to covid. It ruined everything else, why wouldn’t it be the cause for this influx of failing students? I drag my exhausted feet from a long day of sitting in a stiff, cramped chair until I reach the back of the bus. The seat I find myself standing at is taken by three things, a boy on the left with medium length brown hair, blue eyes, and an easily unnoticeable smile that says, “This seat is full but of course you can still sit down.” On the right is a girl with long, blonde hair, sunglasses, and a glare that you can feel looking down on you in every way despite her eyes not being visible. Finally, in the middle is a large tuba, it’s only purpose being to spite me. At this point I'm too tired to move, but also too tired to argue so I stand in front of the two until at last, after a good fifteen seconds, the boy says, “Here, I'll move this tuba for you.” As he says that he shoves the tuba on the girl with the sunglasses who begins flailing due to the new added weight. I thank the shaggy haired boy for what he did with a smile, he smiles back, and I suddenly feel my face turning redder than it already was. I go to sit down before the girl has time to object and begin the ninety-degree ride home.
Thirty minutes pass and a part of me wished the girl would get off already, but then another part of me didn’t. On the one hand, it was hot, with her tuba’s leather case pressing against my left side and the boy pressing up on my right, I didn’t know how much more of this I could handle. On the other hand... but before I could finish my thought, the bus comes to a halt. The girl suddenly stands up, grabs her tuba, and says to me, “How dare you sit in a clearly full seat making me have to cramp up against a tuba the whole way home.” Well, she didn’t say this, but with the way she looked at me on her way off, I knew that’s what she was thinking. With her gone I could finally slide over to make room for the boy. Just as I was about to move, he says with a laugh, “You know, you’re kind of squishing me.” Again, with the redness. I slide to the left looking down at my feet, hands, anywhere but my right. But then I start to think, “This is summer school, I shouldn’t be worried about what others think, I mean, we each failed all the same.” So with a newfound confidence from whatever unknown place I got it from, I turn to my right and ask, before my confidence fades, “Do you think I could get your number?” He looks at me, sort of tilts his head a little, all while whatever new confidence I had had entirely disappeared. Waiting for him to say no was the best idea because when he finally said yes, the surprise I felt masked my earlier embarrassment. I ask for his name so I can make the contact and he says with the cutest grin, "It's Nash." He begins saying the numbers, “5... 7...2...” In the middle of numbers though, without skipping a beat, he asks an interesting question. A question a little weirder than one that would normally be asked between strangers. “Did today feel a bit off to you too?”
I was taking some notes for geometry, a subject so foreign to me that there was no way of remembering exactly what it was I was writing, especially not after what happened later. The bell was about to ring for lunch; I was putting my notebooks and binders into my bag, but right as I was about to stand up and leave, I felt something grab at my wrist. I turn around and a guy, Justin, who I didn’t know too well despite having gone to school with him for the past month, was staring directly into my eyes. I stood there, a bit taken off, my breath having been misplaced for a few seconds. The thing that startled me wasn’t the fact that he had grabbed my arm unannounced. It was his eyes. The color was off-putting, a hint of red lined a number places where veins were not normally at. They were wide, yet focused at the same time. His grip loosened enough for me to slip out of his grasp. I didn’t think too much of it as we had been having weird things happen at our school lately so I thought he was just another crazy, but Nash’s question brought it to my mind again. Before I could tell him of the strange altercation though, he stood up, told me that this was his stop, and walked off the bus. I sigh, turn sideways kicking my feet up, lean back using my bag as a pillow, and shut my eyes hoping to forget the whole thing.
I wake to the sound of a faint voice calling my name repeatedly, I try to ignore it until something touches my shoulder. My bus driver was standing over me, saying that he had been trying to wake me for a few minutes now. I shoot up, embarrassed at the mess I was in. I had drool down to my chin, a red mark on my cheek from the pressure of the makeshift pillow made from a bag filled with brick-like textbooks, and a headache that reinforced my need for sleep. I hurry through the aisle, down the stairs, and across the yard, trying my best to get to the safety of my bed as quickly as possible. At the door to my house, I twist the knob and hear an unexpected click as the door opens without the need for a key. “That's weird,” I think, “the door’s usually locked.”
The flowing air hits me like a wave of relief. The first step into the cool house is always the best part of coming home; already I could feel the once gnawing sunburn turn into a slightly pleasant sting of warmth. I start towards my room, but on the way my stomach lets out a pleading growl, overpowering, even, the constant noise coming from the multiple air conditioners working their hardest to overcome the heat. So I take a turn towards the kitchen to make something to eat, what, I wasn’t quite sure. Before I could ponder the question, I catch a glimpse of a silhouette facing me in the room opposite. I’m supposed to be the only one home right now, but from the size of the figure I can tell that it’s my dad. I walk past the room calling out that if he wants anything to eat, he was going to have to make it himself. Sleep depravity and temperatures over two hundred degrees wouldn’t make a good mix. That’s when I hear my dad’s footsteps. Before I could make it to the cupboard where all the snacks were at, I hear the creaking of watered-down, wood floorboards a few feet behind me. I go to turn around and welcome him to look at the assortment of food with me, only to be hit with an immediate chill that no air conditioner could replicate. He’s standing with his hands placed firmly at his side, like he’s waiting for something to happen. The look in his eyes were all too familiar while, at the same time, something seemed to be getting more distant within their gaze with every aching second. It felt as if I were being watched by someone who did not know they existed, yet knew exactly what it was they were looking for. The most ominous part though, was that the blue that had consumed his eyes before had now been replaced by a deep, burning red.
It had been just a moment, but in that short span of time he had leapt at me and we were now in a tussle on the hard boards that covered the kitchen floor. After a minute I couldn’t breathe, his hands were around my neck with an immeasurable strength that I hadn't known was possible. I didn’t know why this was happening, all I knew was that if I didn’t do anything quick, there was no doubt, I was going to die. I begin fading in and out of consciousness, the blacks and grays consuming my vision. I am on the verge of giving up the struggle when a glaring light makes its way through the ocean of spots so that I can barely make out what I think is my only hope. I grab the object only a few inches away and swing, with my last strength, a blow to my dad’s left arm. A screech, so loud and high pitched it would make an ally cat turn tail and run, reverberates throughout the house. He lets off me and I gasp for air, the coolness stings my throat at the absence of it for what seemed like hours. Having caught my breath, I jump over my writhing father still on the ground with a screwdriver lodged in his upper arm and make a dash for the front door. Running past the room I first saw his silhouette in, I see a pool of red I'd missed before. My mom was dead, lying on the carpeted floor unmoving, but there was no time to think. I grab the keys, jump in the car, and call the only person I could think to call.
I’ve calmed down for the most part, though Nash still isn’t picking up. My hands are trembling at the steering wheel and I can hardly see with how dark it is and with the hard rain that had set in only a few minutes after I'd began driving. I wish I’d stayed awake on the bus, at least then I’d know exactly how to get to his house. A flash of lightning, followed by thunder, then a voice, “Hello?” He picked up!
“Is this you, from the bus?” he asked, sounding distressed.
“Please listen to me, this is going to sound crazy, more than crazy, but please hear me out. My dad, he... he had these red eyes and he killed my mom and started attacking me and I didn’t know what to do, I was going to die, please believe me it was the only thing I could do I had to protect myself I swear it was only for protection...”
He stopped me, "I understand."
“I mean, I know... I know what you're talking about. My parents had them too. I’m outside my house right now but I don’t know how much longer the door I locked them behind is going to hold.”
“You mean both of them had red eyes!?”
No answer; my phone was dead. I start cursing myself for being so unprepared, like I knew I was going to come so close to death today. I try my best to wade through my memory, sifting out everything in search for something, anything to tell me where Nash lived. Where, where, where... I got it! I had remembered from my many days of watching the scenery from through the bus window where it was that he lived. I step on the gas, turn left, then right, and after many turns and an uncountable number of laws broken, I’m at his house.
I see him standing in his driveway, shifting his weight between his left and right feet, nervously waiting for something. I run up to him and practically fling myself into his arms, not caring about the embarrassment at this point. Where once clogged with adrenaline, my eyes begin shedding the faucet of overflowing tears; the events of the afternoon seeming to come out all at once in the form of salty droplets of sorrow, fear, and helplessness. My head, now soaked from the rain, was still on his shoulder as I cried, "I don’t know what to do Nash.”
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
“I know, at first I couldn’t remember where you lived...”
The temperature seemed to drop. I took a step back and wiped the assortment of liquids from my face. When I looked up, I saw two emotionless, red eyes staring back at me.
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