“Dad!” I call throwing my bag to the ground. I can imagine him yelling at me to pick it up and take it to my room but I leave it there. “Dad! Mom! I’m home.”
I step into the kitchen opening the fridge and guzzling the milk straight from the jug just how my mother hates. Screwing back on the lid I return the carton to the door and close it. Dad is a professor at the local college and he sometime guest lectures at my school but he wasn't feeling well so he stayed home today. His car is in the yard next to mom’s new one. I know they are here.
“Mom!” I yell up the stairs. Their bedroom is downstairs but I yell up anyway. She will hear me and answer. Nothing happens. I wander down the hall to my parent’s room loosening the tie around my neck. Dad missed my presentation today but I bombed it so that’s okay. Now he can’t chew me out until he sees the grade. It gives me time to prepare a defense.
The door is open and the room is empty. I don’t go in. I’m not allowed. I hear something in my dad’s study and move down the hall toward the sound. The house is a Japanese style with sliding doors wooden floors and long hallways. Mom went to Japan several years ago for work. And she continues to go regularly. She loved the architecture so they built the house when she was pregnant with me. I am not actually sure what she does. Whenever I ask it just gets confusing so I don't. When I was little she promised to take me with her someday. I was so excited I asked my dad to buy me a Japanese language book. Mom even helped me practice for a while before I got bored.
I slide my fingers in between the wall and the door and force it open. The first thing I see is dad. He is sitting in his fancy spinning chair behind his desk. His back is to me and when I circle the desk I see mom. She is sprawled on the floor one leg bent awkwardly. There is a pool of blood around her seeping from a wound in her chest. The crimson liquid is spilling from her heart into her new blue silk shirt. She sputters, blood oozing down her chin and before I realize it I have moved to her side.
“Mom!” I scream pressing my hands to the seeping wound. She coughs and whines tossing her head back and forth. Her eyes are blank and I’m not sure she sees me.
“Dad,” I look up at him. He is leaning back on his in his chair one leg outstretched the other folded underneath fiddling with a revolver I didn't know he owned. I don't understand why he doesn't help her. His face is completely blank. It is so void of emotion it scares me. As I stare at him I think I glimpse something there. Relief?
“Dad” I shout trying to draw him out of his thoughts. He sometimes got like that. He would just stare straight ahead and it was hard to tell what he was thinking, if he was thinking. His hollow eyes turn to me and he smiles. “Dad, what happened? What did you do?”
“I saved us.” He says looking excited. “She was one of them.”
“One of who dad?” I ask. Mom makes a choking sound and I shake my head. “Dad, call nine one one. Hurry!”
Dads face suddenly flashes with furry. He climbs slowly from the chair looking down at me. “I can’t do that son. She is one of them and we can’t help her. All we can do is let her die.”
Tears flood my eyes despite my efforts to keep them at bay. My vision blurs. “What are you talking about?” I sob. I'm desperate to help her but I don't dare release the pressure on her chest. I can feel her slipping. “It’s mom, your wife. Hurry up and get help.”
He doesn’t move. I hear the sirens and relief courses through me. Dad, however, looks angry. He turns and storms from the room. I turn back to mom her dark hair flat against the wood floor. It looks like and auburn fan. She reaches up a hand and her fingers brush my cheek. They are wet with blood.
“I… lo-” She breaks off into a fit of coughing. A gun goes off down the hall and I flinch. Mom’s hand drops from my face. Her eyes are open but empty. I can almost see the life leave her.
“No, no, no, Mom!” I shriek shaking her. I hear dad shouting something but can’t tell what he is saying through the thundering in my ears. He grabs me from behind but I don't remember hearing him come back into the room. He drags me away from her.
“Mom!” I scream struggling against my father’s grip. “Dad let go! Mom needs me.”
His arm is around my chest and I try to pry him off but his grip is like iron. I always knew my father was strong. He was strong for me and mom. But now when the strength was keeping me from helping mom I resent it. I hate it, hate him. I am shocked when the thought comes into my mind. I love my father. I could never imagine hating him, but there it is. The hate is boiling up from inside me.
“Mister Jacobson!” A voice yells. It is a woman. “This is the police. We are coming in. Put your weapon down and your hands up.”
“No!” Dad shouts back waving the gun even though there is no one there to see him. “Stay out or I will shoot him.”
“Dad?” I shout. “Let go of me and do what they say, please.”
“No.” He hisses in my ear. “It is a trick. They are all the enemy. Just like her.”
He jabs the gun toward the study where mom lays unmoving. I realize her voice is already slipping away. What does she sound like? I need to get back to her before her image slips too.
“Dad, what is wrong with you?” I ask jerking free. He clings to one arm. And her smell, lilacs and vanilla. I will never smell that scent again
“You killed her!” I shriek. “You killed mom.”
My voice breaks and my vision blurs. He looks more insane than ever. I know that my father is gone. All that is left is a raving lunatic and murderer. I’ve lost both of them. The door bursts down and a moment later the hall swarms with police. They have vests on and are wearing blue uniforms. Dad shoves me away keeping a hand firmly planted around my wrist and aims his gun at them. A shot rings through the house. My ears ring as dad falls backwards his eyes wide. He drags me with him to the ground. I land on my knees and the gun falls next to me.
Dad reaches up, grabs the front of my shirt and pulls me toward him. His eyes are clear as blood puddles on his chest and drools from his light shirt flooding over his side to the wood floor.
“Remember who I used to be.” He whispers in my ear. I feel him pressing something round in my hand. “Use it always.” I scowl in confusion at his words. Then there are hands on my shoulders dragging me to my feet and down the hall away from my family. I struggle at first. I need to get back to mom but I know she is gone and there's nothing they can do. I am numb as they lead me out of the house to a waiting ambulance. The lights hurt my eyes as they flash. The EMT is talking to me but I don’t hear the words. He reaches up and snaps his fingers near my ear. I focus on him and sound rushes back to me. A siren is blaring and the streets are covered in policemen and my neighbors. They are staring and pointing. Lucy, the lady across the street, is staring at the house a hand covering her mouth.
“What’s your name?” the EMT asks me. He has a wide jaw and blue eyes framed with thick blond brows matching his hair.
“Austin.” I answer slowly. The sights, sounds, and noise are almost too much. There are too many eyes on me and I want to hide. I flinch away trying to make myself smaller.
“Okay Austin” The EMT continues. “I’m Jake. Are you hurt?”
I shake my head. “No.”
“Can you tell me what happened?”
Tears well in my eyes again, “he killed her.” I shudder. My hands are shaking and Jake reaches forward to grab them. I look down and see the black orb tucked away in my right hand. Jake flips my hand over and I see the small window of the magic eight ball. It was my father’s lucky ball. He used it all the time. He always said if you ask it something it will never lead you astray. Now his words make sense to me. I squeeze my hands tighter around the ball.
“It’s going to be okay, Austin.” The EMT says. He is attempting a smile at me but his eyes are sad. The tears overflow my lids running down my cheeks. I yank my hand away scowling at him. Both my parents are dead. How will anything ever be okay again?