Impact Day, Volume 2: Dead Girls Don’t Cry
Part 1 – It Runs In The Family
Six Months Before Impact Day
I woke up with a splitting headache, completely disoriented. My throat felt parched, and every bone and muscle in my body ached. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what had happened, or how I’d ended up here.
Groaning, I forced myself upright, and took in my surroundings. A heavy pair of handcuffs around my wrists, and a chain connecting my ankles made that a little tricker than expected. That did not bode well.
Alright, Charlie. Time to take stock of your situation.
I was in a small room that seemed to be made entirely of plain concrete walls, with no windows. It smelled like a construction site, which was probably not the worst odour one could expect from a small concrete room.
I was perched on a raised steel slab that was bolted firmly into the wall. It was the only furniture in the room, assuming your definition of furniture was generous enough to consider it in the first place. A large crack ran down the wall beside me, the only sign of age in what otherwise appeared to be a recently constructed room.
There was a door in the opposite wall, also solid metal, with no openings and no handle. A security camera was perched in the top corner above the door. Evidently, I was in a prison cell of some kind. Fucking fantastic. What I was doing there still eluded me, and I doubted there was going to be a reassuring explanation.
Something is missing. My head was still throbbing, my thoughts were a mess, but I knew there was something that was supposed to be here. Something that wasn’t. Panic began to settle in. It was wrong.
Sadie was nowhere to be seen. That’s what was wrong. Sadie was always with me. She wasn’t now. That terrified me. It wasn’t as though anything could happen to her, but still…
No, she was fine. Of course she was fine. It was literally impossible for anything to have happened to her. Wasn’t it?
I slowed my breathing and closed my eyes, trying to calm my mind. She was out there somewhere, I just needed to…
There. I felt fear, almost on the verge of panic, mixed in with love and concern. That was Sadie, alright. She was fine. Relief flooded over me, relief that was very quickly dashed as the cold, hard bench I was sitting on reminded me of my present situation.
Outside the door, I heard footsteps echoing. I focussed on the sound, holding my breath when they stopped outside the room. Whoever it was, they were almost certainly here for me. Well, at least I’d probably learn something.
I pressed myself against the wall beside the door, hoping to get the drop on whoever opened it. Moving with my wrists and ankles cuffed was difficult, but nothing I couldn’t handle. In fact, I was kind of itching for a fight. That was good, because I was willing to bet whoever was on the other side of that door was not going to be friendly.
There was the tinny sound of someone clearing their throat, played through a speaker. A voice filled the room. I didn’t recognise it, but it spoke with a contemptuous familiarity that grated at my nerves.
“Miss Farrow? Would you move away from the door, please?”
So they knew who I was. That wasn’t good. They weren’t giving me any room to surprise them, either. I was at a disadvantage. Still, no sense in giving up just yet. There would be plenty of opportunities.
I walked over to the opposite wall and turned around, leaning against the wall. I adopted the most nonchalant pose possible, giving my bindings. The last thing I was going to give them was the satisfaction of seeing me subservient.
The door made a heavy clanking sound and swung open slowly. A middle-aged white man walked into the room, dressed in an expensive suit and wearing an openly curious expression. He was looking at me like some kind of exhibit at a zoo. Seeing his face, I was a little more certain how I’d ended up here, and it sent a chill down my spine.
“I’m glad you’re finally awake,” he said, speaking with the slightest trace of an accent I couldn’t quite place. “I’ve been waiting for the chance to speak to you. Please, would you follow me?”
I didn’t move as he gestured to the door. He didn’t seem at all surprised. Instead, he just pulled out a handgun, pointing it at my head. I didn’t even flinch.
Rolling my eyes, I decided it would be easier to just do what he wanted. For now, at least. Following him seemed slightly less painful than being shot, and it was the best chance I had at figuring out what was going on.
He led me out into the corridor, gun never pointed anywhere but my head. We walked, slowly, through more dull grey concrete and passed countless metal doors. The whole place felt lifeless and just a little suffocating, probably by design. No windows anywhere, and only a minimum of lighting.
I followed him into another room, slightly larger than my cell, with a table in the centre, and a chair on either side of it. He gestured for me to sit down, and I begrudgingly did so.
“Well, I have to admit, you’re not quite what I expected,” he said, sitting down opposite me. I noticed that he still held onto the gun, but at least it wasn’t pointed at me anymore. The table seemed to satisfy the same need, keeping me at a safe distance.
Did he realise he wasn’t safe, there? Did he know the gun wouldn’t stop me?
“You thought I’d be taller, didn’t you?” I asked. “I get that a lot.”
He smiled, though there was no humour in it. He reminded me a little of a shark. I wonder, if I knocked his teeth out, would they grow back?
“I’m glad you can still maintain your sense of humour. But no, I was referring to the fact that you’re, well, a teenage girl. A scrawny one, at that.”
Scrawny? Why you miserable, condescending-
His tone was dismissive, and I couldn’t help but to take it personally. He was surprised that someone like me could do what I did? That I was capable of challenging him? Fuck him.
“Now you know why everyone is scared of teenage girls,” I said, smirking. He didn’t seem amused at that. That was just fine. Neither was I.
“Indeed. Now, I do hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m afraid I’m going to need to see it for myself.”
My eyes flicked down to the pistol again, resigned to my fate. If it was going to happen, there was more painful ways. My heart thudded once, wanting to panic, but I forced myself to remain calm. My lack of visible fear seemed to be eating at him, which was a nice bonus.
“Sorry, I’m not that kind of girl.”
“I’ll give you the choice,” he said, ignoring my quip and pointing the gun at my chest. “Where would you like the first one?”
“In your head?”
He sneered. “You are truly insufferable, you know that?”
“I might feel worse about that if you weren’t threatening to shoot me,” I said dryly.
“So in the head, then?”
“Just get it over with,” I said.
“As you wish,” he replied, and pulled the trigger.
I didn’t hear the gunshot. There was the briefest of flashes before the bullet ripped through me, and then everything went black. I felt my body go limp and slump backwards, somehow managing to stay seated as all the life left my muscles.
Then, what felt like seconds later, my eyes fluttered open again, my headache considerably more pronounced than before. I had no idea how much time had passed, but I knew from experience it was longer than it felt.
He was still sitting opposite me, a marvelled look on his face. I hated having given him even the slightest bit of pleasure, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it. Coming back from the dead wasn’t something I ever chose to do. It just happened.
“Uuuugh, my head,” I complained. I couldn’t wait until I got the chance to kill him.
“Incredible,” he said.
I glowered at him. “So glad I impressed you. Can I go now?”
“Not until you’ve answered some questions,” he said. Right. Questions. Like I believed that.
“And then you’ll let me go?”
“No,” he said. “But I can make your stay here more comfortable. Or less. It’s up to you.”
I actually considered my options. Outright defiance would feel better, but would also probably end up being a lot more painful for me in the long run. I had a lot of time to kill, and if playing his game got me a more comfortable bed and fewer bullets in me, I could wait it out. I just had to be very careful about what I told him.
“Fine, fine. What do you want to know?”
“Huh. I was expecting more resistance,” he said.
“I’m only going to tell you because I know you won’t believe me.”
He leaned over the table towards me, and I had to fight the urge to punch him. Patience, Charlie. You’ll have your chance.
“I just shot you in the head, and the only thing you have to show for it is dried blood. You may consider me open minded,” he said.
“Whatever you say.”
“So, how did you discover this… power of yours?” he asked.
I hesitated, not sure if I should answer honestly or not. It didn’t really matter, but I really hated to talk about it. Still, it would make for a better story if I told the truth, and a better story would buy me more time.
“I tried to kill myself,” I said. The memory felt distant, almost like it had been someone else. So much had happened since then.
He scoffed, and my rage intensified.
“You? A middle class white girl in an expensive school? What could possibly have been so bad?” His condescension was expected, but it still pissed me off.
It bothered me that he knew so much about me, though. Even if I obfuscated major details, I was worried he’d be able to figure things out. Maybe not everything, but enough to put people at risk I really didn’t want in the line of fire.
I shrugged, playing up a nonchalance I didn’t really feel.
“The world was a mess. It’s still a mess, but back then, I couldn’t see a way to change it,” I told him. Not entirely true, but not a lie, either.
“What, and you felt like it was your responsibility to change the world?”
“Am I telling a story, or is this therapy?” I snapped, not wanting to tell him that the answer to that question was a resounding yes.
“Fine. You hated the world and wanted to leave it. Could it also have been, and I’m taking a wild guess here,” he added sarcastically, “heartbreak over some boy?”
Condescension aside, it was the first real emotional engagement he’d shown. A sign of weakness. I logged it away for future use.
“A girl, actually,” I said.
“Oh. Should have guessed,” he said insincerely, and I felt my lips curl into a snarl.
“My sister, you idiot.”
“Your sister broke your heart?”
“More than ten years ago,” I said.
“She died,” I told him. “So did my parents, but I’ve made peace with that.”
I could remember the accident so vividly, even now. The four of us in the car, stopped at a level crossing. A drunk driver behind us, colliding with our car, pushing us forward, into the path of the oncoming train. The horrifying, dizzying sensation of the car being thrown sideways.
The others had been killed instantly. The paramedics had told me they wouldn’t have experienced any pain. They also told me I was incredible lucky to be alive. There was no reason I shouldn’t have suffered the same fate. At the time, I hadn’t understood why I’d survived, but even then, I knew better than to feel lucky.
There was nothing lucky about it.
“You made peace with your parents’ deaths, but not your sister. How was that different?” he asked.
“Why do you care?”
“You never know which details will be relevant,” he said.
“So, your sister. You couldn’t move on. Why?”
“Because I can still see her,” I told him. “I can talk to her. I can feel her. And nobody else can.”
I remembered seeing her standing there, surrounded by the chaos of the car wreck, terrified and confused, and everybody was ignoring her. I’d tried to get her help, but nobody could see her, nobody believed me. To them, I was just a traumatised kid.
“You’re saying you can see ghosts?”
I muffled my laugh. Given what he’d already seen me do, it probably wasn’t that unreasonable an assumption, but thankfully, it was also inaccurate.
“Ghost. Singular, and I don’t even know if that’s what she is,” I said. “But for the sake of simplicity, yes. I can see my dead sister’s ghost.”
“You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?”
“Oh, you don’t know the half of it,” I said threateningly.
“Not yet. Why don’t you tell me about the time you tried to kill yourself?”
I sighed. It was going to be a long night. Or day. I actually had no idea what time it was, but I supposed it didn’t really matter.
I leant back in the chair, resting my feet on the table. He looked amused, and just a bit annoyed. It was a good start.
“If I must.”
Next Week: Don’t You Know What This Means?