Re: Zane [Sensitive Content]

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the M E G A

Thank’s much, big K! Please let me know if I ever cross the line — I’ll do my best not to, but I hope you’ll serve justice if I lose sight of the goal ;)

I somehow managed to convince myself it was all a dream, and I was just about ready for my life to return to normal — until I heard the TV blaring downstairs and got up from my bed to investigate. There stood my mom in her bathrobe with a hand over her mouth, staring intently at the screen. I wiped the sleep dust from my eyes and announced my presence by saying, “Good morning, mom.”
Caught by surprise, she gasped and turned toward me, stepping away just enough so I could watch the morning news.

“… after consulting with all local and out of state railroad companies and carefully examining the wreckage itself, it has been determined that these cars were elaborately painted and constructed to be life-sized train models. What’s most interesting is the human-shaped indentation on the front engine, although no bodies have been recovered as of yet. There is still speculation as to who or what was driving the train forward, and whether or not this has all been one big, very dedicated prank. We hope to have more information about the mysterious crash later today, but until the debris has been cleared, we’re advising pedestrians to stay clear of the train tracks just to be safe. Back to you, Fred.”

My mother pulled me in close to her and put her hand on the back of my head, holding me tight and nestling my hair with her forehead. I could tell she was crying. I can always tell when she’s crying.
“Oh, that’s right over where you boys used to go and play all the time… I’m so glad you were nowhere near there when it happened. After what happened to Curtis, I don’t know if I could go through it all again…” She was sobbing so hard I thought I might begin crying just by association — and her merely mentioning Curtis made me want to give her a lecture about how nothing “happened” to him… but right now, that could wait.
My eyes kept returning to the scene on the television. The locomotive and its haul looked so strangely familiar, and I was about let it go when it finally clicked in my head. I finished consoling my mom and rushed to my brother’s room upstairs. Just past the door, as intact as the day it was set up close to seven years ago, stood the long-coveted miniature model train community, complete with flashing lights, tunnels, and automated controls for directing where and when each engine traveled. I carefully lifted one of the rows of cars and turned on the TV in my room. Sure enough, the trains depicted in the crash were identical to the string of toys in my hand. I woozily dropped the trains and sat down on my bed, trying to piece together all the details. I could still hear my mom sniffling from the other room as she got ready to leave for work.
“It’s getting late, Zane. You better have something to eat.”, she called.
I responded inaudibly then shook my head in an attempt to clear my head of all the confusion. I said “Yeah.” again so that she could hear me and pulled on some clothes. As I left the room, my foot knocked the set of trains to the side. I glanced back and forth from the toys and the blank TV screen for a short while longer.

Despite the recent trauma in my life, nothing like it happened again for quite some time, and I carried on as normally as I could. School was still boring, riding the bus was a chore, and my classmates were as dumb as ever. Katrina and I didn’t see each other as much, which was to be expected. The hurt didn’t seem so bad, though, especially since I was still worried about the other life-changing event that happened the same day. No matter how I looked at it, there was no way of denying I had some hand in putting the train right were it happened to be. But how or why did I do it? It wasn’t a conscious decision… and the fact that it perfectly resembled the model from my brother’s set meant that it must have somehow manifested from my subconscious. And how had I not been killed or even injured by the collision? The possibility of them being holograms or hallucinations was out of the question — other real people had touched and seen them, but only I remained doubtful of their real existence.
Like the reporter said… probably just some elaborate hoax…
A few weeks went by, and I had almost completely forgotten about the incident. Incrementally, I returned to my normal self. I talked to my family at dinner and watched movies with them on the couch; I was cheerier with my friends, and Katrina and I had even started to wave and say hello to each other again. I tried not to acknowledge her when Tyler was around for courtesy’s sake, but for the most part, the damage to my psyche had already started to mend itself. But as I had already learned, nothing in my life was ever as simple or easy as I was led to believe.

After a long day at school, I stepped off the bus and headed toward home. I hadn’t noticed anything too out of the ordinary, save for a van parked in the neighborhood that wasn’t usually there. Wanting only to get home and relax, I paid no mind to it, even after its engine revved up and the vehicle began plodding down the street in my direction. Before I knew it, the van had pulled out in front of me, with a pair of men in ski masks ready to open the back door and pull me inside. The hoodlums wasted no time in gagging me and tying my hands with rope, which I found most uncomfortable. I had no idea just how long they drove before stopping abruptly in the parking lot of our local supermall. Gunshots and sirens could now be heard outside the car, and now I really started to panic.
My dad was a cop.
Even the idea of my dad getting hurt because of me was enough to put me into shock. For that reason, I really struggled with everything I had to try and get away before a shootout occurred between the would-be kidnappers and a large detachment of the Sacramento police department. I could see enough of the showdown from the tinted windows of the van, but I was too far away to make out faces. Regardless, somehow I knew my dad would be there, and I couldn’t help think of how ironic or coincidental or fateful it was that he should be rescuing me after responding to the report of an anonymous teen seizure. The masked criminals had since left the van to hide behind it as a shield from the oncoming bullets — not all the officers present had been fully informed of the situation, so I was in danger on both sides of the battle. After a couple minutes of twisting and turning, my gag came loose, and I wriggled far enough out of the rope on my hands to crawl toward the back of the van. I had to freeze right where I was when I saw who sprang up from behind the door of a recently parked cop car; there stood my dad with his pistol aimed straight at the criminals behind the van, and mirroring my dad knelt one of the armed kidnappers, his finger already on the trigger of his own high powered handgun. As futile as it seemed to yell a warning, I screamed at the top of my lungs for my dear old dad to look out, although it wasn’t my voice that saved him.
The milliseconds in which my dad and the criminal exchanged bullet seemed to go by slower than minutes, and what transpired brought shivers to my spine. I had seen plenty of videos on the internet about real battles in war, and I played enough violent video games to become desensitized to real life blood and gore, but what made me sick was the recurrence of strangeness which simply would not leave me alone. As the criminal’s bullet sped toward my father, I watched it begin to lose its metallic luster and silvery shine, transforming into no more than a spitwad of harmless water that gently splashed onto my dad’s cheek. With a tortured smile, I watched as he startlingly wiped his face and examined the clear liquid; once he had ensured it wasn’t blood and his overall health was intact, he fired several more shots in succession at the kidnappers. With the threat largely taken care of, it was up to my dad to check on the abducted child — and what a shock he got when it was my face he strained to identify.

Four men with extensive criminal backgrounds were admitted to the hospital for multiple gunshot wounds, and I was questioned at the police station for hours before my dad I returned home. In the car, I replayed the scene in my head a million times, each time coming to the conclusion that these strange events could not be ignored any longer. I thought about saying something about it to him, but after both of us went through such trauma, I figured he wouldn’t believe me anyways. It remained my secret in the days to follow, although I couldn’t leave the notion alone. Twice now I’ve experienced greater forces at work, forces either under my control or directed through my own concentration. It wasn’t so difficult to explain how, while my emotions were jumbled, I so strongly envisioned death that its bringer manifested through a locomotive, but I came to my senses before it could carry out its original mission. Just as well, I could imagine my desire to keep my father safe must have, in one way or another, changed the properties of the bullet which should have ended his life.
So I stand here, in the middle of the wooded desert, staring, pondering into the distance, hoping for the assurance that these supernatural events aren’t just some random string of pranks being played by gods of yore, or some cosmic entity.

“That tree is on fire.”, I repeat in varying intensity, with my open hand stretched out toward my lifeless victim.
“That tree is on fire.”, I keep saying, promising myself this isn’t as stupid as it sounds. Because…
“That tree is on fire!”

The embers from the bonfire flicker in my eyes as I revel in my accomplishment. Soon enough, the tree is reduced to a burnt formation of ashen branches and black twigs. A real, genuine smile, the first in a long time, spreads across my face.
“Boy, if she could see me now…”