Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Fourteen

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 14 (or, "In Case Of Emergency, Eat The Apple")

Yesterday’s Episode: After a close call, Carissa and Mac regroup at the Saint Arbucks.

    The next day, thankfully, everything started out normally. Carissa went to class, failed another pop quiz, and ate lunch with Mac and Isabel.
    “I still can’t believe I bombed it,” Carissa said. “I should have been more focused last night on the science portion of my homework instead of the math. It’s my own darn fault.”
    “It’s your own darn fault because you were on the phone last night when you should have been sleeping,” Isabel noted.
    “Yeah, but I was still doing something school related. Quit your complaining. Besides, I’ve had a headache all day. Probably wouldn’t have done well on the pop quiz even if I had studied.”
    “You need meds?”
    “I need a day off is what I need. But no, I’m okay. The headache isn’t that bad. Nothing greasy food can’t fix.”
    “You girls, we need to get down to business.” Mac sighed and pulled out his notebook. He flipped to the page that said, “Time Slips.” On it was a list of all of the time slips the three of them had experienced so far. “I’m still curious how we were saved from death yesterday,” he said. “Nothing like that has happened in any of the other time slips.”
    “It was almost like we were given a second chance on purpose,” Carissa said. “Like we aren’t supposed to die yet.”
    “Correction -- you aren’t supposed to die yet. You’re still supposed to figure out whatever this puzzle is. And to be honest, we haven’t been making much headway. We know to stay away from the Saint Arbucks on 72nd Street, and we know that things with apples on them may be a clue, from what that creepy lady was showing us. Plus, it’s possible this still missing Gutenberg Bible has something to do with it. Other than that, we’re on an uncertain deadline. We don’t even know when this fated day is.”
    “Not like it’s listed as a holiday,” Carissa said. “That lady needs to give me more clues.”
    “We have plenty of clues, remember?” Isabel said. “Like the list I made. Totally valid.”
    Carissa glared at her spirit sister. “Are you serious?”
    “What are you talking about?” Isabel asked, chewing on a fry. “It’s a totally valid list. I mean, seriously, we still don’t know about Tupac.”
    “You put Selena on that list as well,” Carissa said with another eye roll. “Seriously, you need to give that thing a rest.”
    “Dios mio,” Mac muttered.
    Carissa and Isabel looked at him, then both laughed. Apparently he had been around them long enough that he was starting to pick up their language. It was enough that their other friends had taken notice, what with the way they were hogging the table all to themselves and talking secretly. While Carissa and Isabel’s friend groups weren’t extensive, Carissa was secretly hoping for a long term time slip for them after this entire business was done, so her friends other than Mac and Isabel would forget any of this was happening. Thankfully, with some of the slips went some of the days they went ignored, replaced in their memories with fun times, regular table packed lunches without Mac, and even one time an after school shopping trip where Isabel blew all of her (nonexistent) money again. These were events that had never happened, but were in these people’s minds to take place of where the time slips were.
    Carissa shook her head again. “We do need more information. The next time I get a chance, I’m gonna find that old lady and ask her exactly what she means by these clues. If I don’t see her in a couple of days, I’ll even risk Saint Arbucks again if it means I’ll get some --”
    She never got to finish her sentence -- it was drowned out by the fire alarm. Mac stood up from his seat. “Seriously?” he asked.
    “Five bucks everybody forgets this,” Isabel said as she got up from her seat. “Man, and I was having a good lunch, too. Maybe I’ll leave it here and finish it after this drill.”
    Carissa paused. “Wait -- did anybody here know anything about a drill today? They usually announce those in homeroom, don’t they?”
    “Thought so, but they didn’t say anything,” Isabel said. “Why?”
    Carissa grabbed her bag. “Maybe this isn’t a drill.”
    They walked out of the cafeteria, all three of them. When they went out into the hallway, Carissa noticed that the hallway did have a strange smell to it, like one of the chemistry students had messed up an experiment again or something. She hoped that was all it was and went to file out of the school with her friends, just like every emergency drill her classes had done before.
    Their hallway was supposed to lead them straight to the lobby, which would dump them on Broadway without any problems. Except nobody anticipated the hallway being blocked.
    Carissa looked around herself at other students much like her, trapped on the first floor up against what honestly looked like a huge wall of flames. She wasn’t sure where it had come from, except that it was blocking the hallway -- and she really hoped this moment was lost to a time slip, sooner rather than later. She took a deep breath. “Anyone up for the roof?”
    “Good idea,” Mac said, whipping out the key that he still had. He raised his voice. “Everyone, I know how to get out of this building from the roof. You know how they always said in the drills to go to the roof if the regular entrances were blocked? From here, the front door is our only exit, and it’s not accessible. There’s no exit in the cafeteria, which means we have to move up. If no helicopters come, then I can get us down. I promise. Now, who’s with me?”
    The crowd was silent until Isabel spoke up. “¿Qué hacen? ¡Vámonos!”
    That got people moving. Everybody formed a line behind Mac, with Isabel going in the middle and Carissa taking up the rear, duffel still on shoulders. She saw Peter in the line, which answered another one of her questions; turned out he had also made it out fine after yesterday’s close call with the taxi. She made sure the line moved smoothly as it went all the way up, from the first floor to the fourth and onto the roof itself. “Everybody okay up there?” she asked.
    She didn’t remember the next bit. Something like a stabbing pain in her head caused her to sit down on the stairs leading up to the roof. Carissa held her head in her hands. Not now, not now...what was causing this?
    “Carissa?” That was Mac’s voice. She heard footsteps coming straight toward her, and then she felt Mac’s hands on her shoulders. “What’s wrong?”
    She shook her head. “I don’t know. Something’s wrong.”
    “Is it your headache? I remember that you mentioned you had one.”
    “I don’t think so --” Carissa winced again as her head pounded. She leaned her head on Mac’s shoulder. “It just hurts. A lot. I don’t think I can walk.”
    “Let’s get you upstairs,” Mac said as he knelt by her side. “You’ll have to drop the duffel, though. Can you deal?”
    “Eh, I already lost it once to a chai.” Carissa dropped her duffel and held onto Mac’s shoulders. Every time she moved, there was another flash of pain through her brain. “I don’t know how this could have suddenly come on. I was fine a few minutes ago.”
    “The only thing I can think of that would be causing this may be...” Mac shook his head. “No, that can’t be right.”
    “What is it?”
    “Maybe yesterday’s close call wasn’t so close. Maybe we still got hit, but we don’t remember it. And just now, you’re starting to feel the effects of it. If that’s so, then we need to get you on the roof as soon as possible.”
    “Why?” Carissa had to shut her eyes, the pain making it too hard to see now.
    “Because if you have a concussion, then you have to go to the emergency room right now. I’m not losing my partner to a crash that never happened.”
    It didn’t really, but for Carissa, it felt like time actually stopped as Mac said those words. “I’m your partner?”
    A pause. “Well...yeah. You’re the only thing making sense to me in this world where everything can change in the drop of a pin. No offense, but a lot has been changing these days. I need you as my constant, Carissa.” And Mac picked her up, but he held her too close for the act to be simple.
    Carissa tried to think straight. “What do you mean?”
    She was interrupted by the sounds of something crashing. She tried to open her eyes but found she couldn’t. “What was that?”
    “You...don’t want to know,” Mac said, and the tone of his voice was not good. “We have to find another way out. The stairwell’s been blocked.”
    She tried not to panic. This was their current reality, but there had to be another way. “Are there any other exits?” Mac’s silence told her exactly what she needed to know. So now all they had to do was cause a time slip. But how? If Carissa was in charge of figuring these things out, then she should do a better job of keeping track.
    She gasped. “Mac, this is a stretch, but it might work. I need you to get me back down to the cafeteria.”
    “Just do it! My head still hurts!”
    Mac didn’t say another word, but Carissa felt herself being moved, and then her head was pushed right up against his chest as he ran. And man, did Mac run fast. She tried her best to focus on her breathing, but even that was hard now. There had to be too much smoke in the air.
    “Okay, we’re here,” Mac said as he barreled through a door and sat Carissa down on a table. “Now what?”
    “Find me an apple. Doesn’t matter which kind, just find me one!”
    Carissa fought through her headache and tried to open her eyes. She finally got them open just as Mac put an apple in her hands. Her eyes met his as she took a bite, praying that something would happen.
    With the crunch, the world around them stopped.

No comments:

Post a Comment