Shane felt the moment in waves of slow motion, as if time itself ceased ticking. His ears were still ringing from the explosion.
He had been led down the stairs to the outside of his home where his street was lined with firetrucks, police cars and ambulances.
He looked around, frozen in his tracks. Policemen were asking him questions of names, birthdays, and other pieces of information that didn’t belong to him anymore.
Glancing into his home, he saw the firefighters carrying his parents’ bodies on stretchers down the stairs, white blankets outlining their figures.
She’s going to be so happy, his mother said to him yesterday when he showed her the ring for the third time.
Dad doesn’t care. He thinks we’re too young, Shane said hanging his head low.
Don’t worry about what he thinks, she said laughing. We had you when we were your age.
Shane promised he would always take care of Jasmine.
The gold caldera diamond ring was tucked safely in the front pocket of his torn jeans. His feet moved in time with her heartbeat.
Jasmine. Please still be alive.
Shane sprinted across the yard towards her home, one block down. His black Converse sneakers pounded the jagged pavement as he moved through the obstacles of his neighbors who were crowding behind fallen trees and burning gardens.
Please be okay…
Sweat dripped from his brow as he reached the side gate of her house. The gate had been completely blown off and was barely hanging on its hinge. He stumbled over the gate and shoved over the back door of the house. Massive holes had ripped through the building. Her home had been hit harder than his.
“Jasmine!” He called for her, shoving fallen wooden beams aside. He paused a moment to listen, and steady his breath. A stirring came from the kitchen behind him.
“Jasmine? Can you hear me?”
“Shane,” she cried.
“I’m here,” he called. “I’m coming!”
He clumsily fell over a dining room chair before glancing into the wreckage of the kitchen. Shane heard more scraping and shifting noises, like fingernails scratching across a chalkboard. Finding her buried beneath a pile of steel pots, glass and debris felt like a blend of relief and agony. She was digging through the kitchen floor, trying to pull herself out. He quickly tore through the barrier.
“Are you hurt?” He asked.
“I – don’t – know,” Jasmine coughed.
Her sapphire eyes smudged with eyeliner and mascara squinted in pain. Shane gently took hold of her thin bruised arms and stole her from the heap.
“I got you,” he said, scooping her up into his arms. “Let’s get you out of here.”
“I can’t -” she winced.
“Yes, you can,” he persisted.
“No, no,” Jasmine said shaking her head. “It’s just – my magic. Something has happened, I can feel it…it’s…. Growing…”
Jasmine clutched onto her belly as a loud cry escaped her mouth. The sharp pain pierced her internal organs, zipping through her veins. Her finger tips, numb and icy.
“Jaz?” he frowned.
He watched as her skin turned from pale grey to a gleaming tan. The dust from the blast washed from her face, and the creases of her forehead melted away. She felt the tugging paradox of excruciating pain and warm rush of life coursing in and out of every capillary.
“Your skin… it’s glowing,” he said.
Before he could move, screeching sirens, gunfire and screams outside the house beckoned his attention.
“Get down! Down on the ground!” shouted Captain Tackler. “Everybody move out of the way!”
Shane frowned, hating himself for even considering stripping her of her memories. Of him. But he would keep her safe.
“I’ll find you,” he whispered. “I promise.”
He kissed her softly on the forehead, a tear falling down his face. She stared into his wet eyes knowing well what he was about to do, too paralyzed to object.
He held her gaze as steady and strong as he could, unlocking every ounce of energy he possessed. He latched onto her recollections like a leech, draining every ounce of each scene playing out before him like a movie.
He felt her mother’s hands hold hers as they walked across the street to school. He heard her shoes slap the wet New England pavement. He breathed in her mother’s perfume and fought to hold onto it. She was resisting in silence, but he was stronger.
The senses filled his mind. They flooded his cerebral cortex and rested there, like a stolen and engraved snapshot.
Jasmine’s glow pulsed light a dying light bulb. Her eyelids dropped and her arms fell limp in exhaustion. Shane felt the familiar buzzing sensation and vibration of voices, emotions, and visions below the surface of his mind.
Before he could escape, two gloved hands grasped onto his arms and secured them behind his back.
“You’re under the command of GOFA as suspect of withholding classified information,” ordered a masked Control.
“What? Take your hands off me!” he resisted. “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I’m a registered citizen! You can’t do this!”
“Sir, which section does he belong?” asked the masked Control. “Hold still, you.”
“Get him out of here,” Tackler barked. “Put him in with the Laborers.”
Shane wiggled and thrashed trying to break free. Another Control pressed an electric taser against Shane’s ribs. He howled and shook until his knees buckled. The squad dragged him by his limbs to the van.