When the world started changing, everyone remembered the rain.
Although it is usually best to tell a story from beginning till end in order to not miss out on any important details, such a feat would be impossible when this story is concerned, mainly because if you are to start at the beginning of something, you need some sort of milestone to mark that event in the form of a time, a setting, an event, an object or a person.
The problem is that there were neither time, settings, events, objects or people at the beginning of this story. There was no nature, no science, no planets or universe; not even actual matter. One could almost say that this story began at the dawn of Everything.
That is not to say there wasn't anything before it though, because there certainly was an existence. This entity, however, is so amazing and complicated that quite frankly; it would take longer to explain it than this entire story. And do not doubt for a moment: this is going to be a very, very long story.
The question is (and I would like anyone who reads this to pause for a moment, take a really good look at the above mentioned question, and think carefully about how you would answer it): How do you initiate a story which began when nothing comprehensible existed?
The answer is much simpler than you might think: You Don't.
Instead, you throw yourself straight into the plot: somewhere about the time when the incomprehensible has become understandable, and an unfamiliar existence has turned into something we can actually accept as part of our reality.
A date, for example.
June the 12th.
Or a setting.
Large, dimly lit room with huge, wooden book-shelves which reach all the way from the floor to the roof, and create labyrinth-like aisles.
Or a person.
Thus, we have our introduction. It is nowhere near the beginning, but at least it's an acceptable milestone; one we can fairly easily picture in our heads, and which allows us to stumble straight into the plot without too much confusion.
Because on June the 12th, at about half passed seven in the evening, something extraordinary – which would come to change the course of history forever – happened all over the world and Kyra, in her large, dimly lit room, was only one of many who witnessed it.
She was re-arranging a shelf; standing on a tall ladder with her arms full of books, when one of her three dogs interrupted her. Kyra just barely managed to look down at the large black beast where it sat at the foot of the bookcase, probably two and a half metres below her, whining piteously and wagging its bushy tail back and forth. It was the size of a small pony, very wolf-like and threatening, but the dark-blue eyes that gazed up at her from the floor were soft and kind.
Kyra smiled at it.
"What is it, Tolken?" She asked gently at the same time as she tried to shift the book-pile over from one thin arm to the other.
The dog, obviously named Tolken, simply gave the ladder a pat (Kyra had to hold on a little tighter as the whole thing vibrated), while his whining intensified.
"Alright, alright," she laughed, managing to push the whole stack into an empty space on the shelf so that her hands would be free while she climbed down. "But if this is just because Tina has stolen Mr Sqeaky again, I will put you in the corner."
The dog didn't seem to listen to the mock threat. He had perked up as soon as she started climbing down, and trotted off across the parquet-floor between the bookshelves. Kyra sighed and followed, trying to straighten her orange turtleneck as she went.
What with its narrow passages and countless, identical bookcases, the place was like a maze, but Kyra would have been able to find her way around it even if she was bound, blindfolded and drugged senseless. She didn't need Tolken's guidance, but within a few minutes, he had led his owner to the entrance, where he promptly sat down and started whining again. Tina and Bert, Tolken's two siblings, who were just as large and dark as him, were sitting on either side of the door, staring out the window with blank looks in their faces. Tina was sitting with Tolken's favourite toy Mr Sqeaky in front of her; she'd probably been hiding it (again) when the strange happenings outside caught her attention.
The room had large windows which covered almost an entire wall, and through them Kyra got a glimpse of what had her beloved pets in such a state of stillness. For a moment she froze, her eyes widened, and then a frown claimed her face.
"Oh my," she whispered softly and walked over the door with almost cautious steps. The little bell above the entrance tinkled merrily as she pulled it open, and Tolken, Tina and Bert followed her outside with identical whines and lowered tails.
The medieval, cobble-stone covered street was filled with people from different nationalities. Probably tourists, most of them, and Kyra who had lived in this area for quite some time and was used to the environment, wouldn't have paid them any attention even if an incredible scene wasn't playing out before her eyes.
Everything was still and silent; all the visitors were standing in place with their faces raised towards the sky, too stunned to utter any form of sound. Since this was considered a pedestrian street – and a habitually crowded one, at that – it was very rare for motor-vehicles and even regular bicycles to pass through it, but there was always a murmur of car-engines and honking horns in the background; it was, after all, a large city, and the traffic could be very thick at times.
But there were no city-sounds in the air today. There was no buzz from millions of voices, no footsteps against stone and asphalt, no roaring machinery or deafening construction work. The whole city was silent; as if someone had taken a remote control and pressed 'Stop', making everything come to a halt.
All the drivers had turned off their cars where they stood and just stepped out of them, all workers who were trapped inside offices or stores had abandoned their jobs, and in the streets people interrupted themselves in the middle of conversations on their cell-phones. The drivers, the employees, the cell phone-users, along with every other habitant of the city – no! The country – had forgotten their occupations completely in order to crane their necks back to stare in awe at the sky.
The local time was 19.44 AM and the sun was hanging low in the clear blue sky. In Moscow dark grey clouds covered the city, in Nigeria a pressing heat had people wishing for shade as the sun glared, and in New York a complete downpour had the inhabitants searching for cover. It didn't matter; the weather, the time, the place… it wasn't important. Everywhere, absolutely everywhere in the world, people were looking at the same thing:
Well… "Rain" might not be the best term for what had all of them in such a state of awe. It did not fall so much as it floated towards the ground, and its drops were not made of water or any other matter one would expect to fall from the sky. Still, no one could come up with a better name for it, and thus, the word "rain" would have to suffice.
It was a bit as if someone had taken all the stars off of a clear night-sky and dropped them over the world; allowing them to fall towards the ground with a fluttering kind of grace. But instead of sparkling white or golden, these stars seemed to change colour every other second. Looking at them was like looking at an ever-changing spectrum; every shade of every colour which has ever existed seemed to be in those small tinkling spheres.
Tiny, colourful and completely, unbelievably beautiful, they fell in millions –billions!-, even if the sky was a clear blue without a cloud in sight or the air was already wet from real raindrops. Instead of falling straight down at a high speed and hitting the ground with a splat, these drops fell slowly, like feathers… or maybe light snow, as if wanting to take their time. They almost seemed to have a mind of their own; while some held a straight line towards the ground, others zoomed around like eager puppies; dancing in spirals together and chasing each other in the air.
Upon finally reaching ground, they didn't create small puddles, but simply… melted into whatever they happened to touch. Into the pavement, grass, concrete, trees… even the skin and clothes of the many, many people who were witnessing it all. Not leaving a single trace behind; no wetness, no warmth or cold, nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Only it wasn't "nothing". Those who saw it could never claim that it was nothing. It was just too unusual… too big… too beautiful to ever be nothing. And even though it didn't leave any traces behind… it touched something within them. Everyone felt the strange swelling in their hearts, like when you're feeling extremely happy or sad and you think you are going to burst from it all.
Everybody understood – subconsciously – that things were changing, forever.
Kyra watched in awe as the magical gems trickled down all around her, but there was something else in her gaze as well. She didn't gape, like many others did; she mostly just… observed it, fascination and even a hint of fear dancing in her eyes.
Three steps and she had left the safety of the doorway behind. Tina, Tolken and Bert stayed right in the opening, whether from uncertainty or just plain obedience not clear. There was no roof above her head now; nothing to protect her from the small drops of unknown… something which fell all around her.
Kyra didn't mind, though; she turned her face towards the sky and did what no one else would even think about doing at the moment; she closed her eyes. She took a few deep breaths and stretched out her hands as if to catch the shining drops.
"So this is what Omnia looks like," she murmured, and if the small group of Japanese tourists standing close by heard her, they sure didn't seem to care. "It's beautiful…. Thank you for letting me be a part of this. I just hope we're ready for it." A light laugh escaped her at the last part, and she opened her eyes again, smiling up at the heavens sadly. "Stupid," she admonished herself. "We can never be ready, can we?"
The drops danced around her. They caressed her hair, skin and clothes almost playfully; circled around her arms and outstretched hands before gathering in her palms, where they took on different colourful little shapes: hearts… moons… smileys…. Kyra laughed again, a little louder and more sincere this time, but no one around her seemed to notice.
In the doorway, Tina, Tolken and Bert watched their owner with somewhat sad eyes.
The air in the London-nightclub vibrated in time with the heavy base of typical techno-music. The dance-floor almost gave way beneath the weight of countless jumping, grinding, spinning teenage bodies, while the three bartenders in the bar ran back and forth behind the disk, trying desperately to deliver all the orders and not forget to charge the guests accordingly. It wasn't easy; even without the large crowd, it would be hard to keep track on all the orders thanks to the flashing lights, dim illumination and loud music. When one inhaled they got more smoke and carbon in their lungs than actual oxygen, but most guests didn't care; they were too high on adrenalin and other, less appropriate things, to notice.
Most of them would probably wake up with nausea and a throbbing head-ache the next morning, but no-one seemed to care. They had all come to this club with a single goal in mind, consequences be damned:
To party themselves silly.
Well… to be fair, there was one person who lacked this goal. He didn't have a goal at all with this particularly night, other than surviving it. He actually found the entire event to be quite pointless, and would rather have spent his evening somewhere else; maybe at home, with a good book, or in a lab somewhere, conducting some form of experiment.
Nevertheless, he was there, and he had only himself to blame for that.
He was sitting at a table in the corner, quiet and alone; just as he liked it. Much like the rest of the guests, he looked to be around seventeen, but his pitch-black eyes and stony expression revealed wisdom beyond his years.
His skin was exotically tanned, even if one couldn't see it in the lighting of the nightclub, and his body was unusually well-defined and broad-shouldered for one so young. He had shaven his head almost completely, leaving nothing but a low, black pony-tail in the neck which trailed down over one shoulder and made him look even more exotic: even a little dangerous.
He sat in the dark, with a glass of water in front of him, just watching as people stumbled passed his table drunkenly, laughing and talking as if they didn't have a single trouble in the world. His gaze was mildly interested; the kind of look one can expect a bored student to give his teacher during an exceedingly tedious lecture.
Suddenly someone plopped down beside him at the table, and dark eyes moved from the crowd to study the new addition, who was holding a drink in each hand and had a smirk plastered on his face.
It was another young man, slimmer, with much paler skin but just as dark hair. His was not shaven off though. Instead, it hung down over his forehead and eyes in a way which was both unkempt and attractive at the same time. Behind thin, square glasses, dark-brown eyes appeared to be almost as black as his companion's in the dim light.
"So I'm sitting at the bar, enjoying a cold drink and the company of some pleasant young ladies, when suddenly I glance at the table in the corner, and what do I see?" The newcomer asked conversationally, and the bald young man raised an eyebrow. "I'll tell you what I see; one of my best mates sitting alone, obviously not having a good time, with a glass of lukewarm water (which someone has probably spit in) standing in front of him and no interesting birds for miles. It is a pitiful sight indeed." He leaned back in his seat; the image of calmness and arrogance.
"Ever kind and considerate, I take the time and effort to ask myself: 'Jean, old chap, what can I do to make this night the golden time it should be for my estranged and slightly pathetic friend Syxdien Montinique?'. And as always, the answer comes so swiftly to my brilliant mind that it's almost ridiculous. It all has a very simple solution; a three step method, in fact. And do you know what the first step is?"
At the same time as he asked the question, he put one of the drinks down firmly in front of his friend and grinned widely.
"Get completely drunk, of course!"
The lonely one, now dubbed Syxdien, gave his much more charismatic friend a long, blank look.
"Is that your solution to everything?"
The newcomer, Jean, laughed and shook his head.
"Oh no no, certainly not. However, it will help in my plan to match you up with some equally wasted (but still attractive, of course) chick who can then proceed to remove that pesky virginity of yours. I call it 'Operation: Kill Syxdien's Chastity'."
"Your concern for my sex-life is very disturbing," Syxdien said evenly.
"Well, not really," Jean answered casually. "I have been under the impression that you need to get some since before I knew what 'getting some' means. Complete disregard for a private-life comes with being friends since first class, mate."
"Sadly, I do believe you…" Syxdien eyed the beer Jean had been kind enough to get him, despite knowing full well that he never drank. "By the way; I was having quite a decent time until you showed up. This is an opportunity to study the human behaviour in one of its most natural surroundings; I am trying to figure out which ones of these people will come to develop perverse habits in future years. Did you know that over forty percent of the adult population in industrial countries has some form of psychotic behaviour that would, if discovered, most certainly earn them a place in a mental asylum?"
"No, I didn't. But as usual, Mr Montinique's fascination with all things freaky leaves me breathless," Jean said sarcastically. "I find myself wondering how one so smooth-talking has managed to remain single for so long. The women should be swarming you."
"I believe females simply don't understand most of the things I say," Syxdien shrugged indifferently. "It is their own stupidity which keeps them from claiming such a fine specimen."
"It certainly can't be because of your swelling ego, or the fact that you talk them half to death, can it?" Jean grinned.
"Listen to you two!" Jean's date, Isabella, laughed as she invited herself into her boyfriends lap and eyed the two of them. Three of their other friends followed close behind her. "Who the hell talks like that?"
"Language, young lady," Jean scolded playfully and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Swearing is so unbecoming a girl of your standards."
"To hell with becoming!" She hollered and high-fived her best friend Doria, who had seated herself next to Jean. "I graduated at the top of my class! I have earned a few swear-words!"
"And we've all earned to drink ourselves piss-drunk!" Viktor, a tall brunette boy who had sat down beside Syxdien added as he eyed his seat-comrade's half-full glass of water, and the untouched beer beside it. "That concerns you as well, Syx."
"I rather not," he answered emotionlessly. "Do any of you know what those drinks consist of?"
"Don't want to know, just want to get under the table!" Bill, a third friend said dramatically and raised his glass for the others to clink against in a toast. Something all except Syxdien did with outmost enthusiasm.
"Come now, Syxdien," Doria tried to wheedle, taking a few gulps of her own drink. "If it's loosing brain-cells you're worried about, then you really shouldn't. A little alcohol certainly isn't going to take away your chances of working for NASA or something equally intellectual."
"Yeah!" Isabella agreed, obviously more than a little drunk. "Everybody knows you're a bloody genius! If anything, you need to loose some brain cells, in order to stay healthy!"
"That really isn't how it works," Syxdien tried to argue, but Bill immediately slapped his hands over his ears and interrupted loudly:
"He's going into another science-rant! Take cover!"
Everybody laughed except Syxdien, who rolled his eyes, and Jean, who just smirked.
"People, people, settle down and leave our little Einstein alone!" He defended his friend even as he nuzzled his girlfriend's arm and she bent down to give him a peck on the cheek. "You are all just jealous because Syx is the only one here who's got a bright future ahead of him."
"Wow, talk about pessimistic," a third girl stated as she too sat down by their table, next to Bill. She had only heard the last part of what Jean said. "I thought the depression would wait at least until tomorrow, when we are all hung over and worshipping the toilet-seat, silently wondering what the hell we're going to do with ourselves now that school's over and nobody is telling us what to do anymore."
"Helen, darling, you know I'm the least pessimistic person there is," Jean argued, still smirking. "I'm merely remarking upon how inferior we all feel next to our dear Syxdien here, who can make finals seem like reading a picture book." He winked at Syxdien, who just rolled his eyes again in answer.
"I love it when you talk like that," Isabella purred into Jean's neck. "Makes you sound so clever."
"Can't we talk about something else?" Helen suggested. "Maybe how absolutely splendid it was of Gabrielle's father to lend her this club for our graduation-party?"
They all took the bait, and the discussion ventured off into other matters after that. Gabrielle was a well-liked classmate of the group; one whose father was very rich and not afraid to spend money on his daughter. As a result of this, all the graduates in her school had been invited to one of her family's clubs for the night, resulting in a larger and greater party than any of them had ever imagined. Gabrielle herself was somewhere in the crowd, playing the hostess dutifully.
Soon, the bigger part of their gang grew tired of sitting still and trying to shout down the music, so Doria, Helen and Isabella tried to pull Viktor, Bill and Jean out onto the dance-floor. Isabella had some trouble with Jean, who revealed that he'd rather stay where he was for the time being. It took a bit of persuasion, but eventually Isabella accepted this and waltzed over to another young man who was more than happy to dance with her pretty self.
"Are you growing tired of her already?" Syxdien remarked coolly as soon as the girl was out of earshot. Jean chuckled softly.
"Not really," he shrugged. "I just can't imagine myself settling down with her, you know?"
Truth to be told, Syxdien couldn't imagine Jean ever settling down with any girl, but he nodded none the less, and let his eyes slide over to their friends dancing (more like jump-squirming) in the middle of the crowd, constantly grinding against or accidentally hitting someone with every move they made. Why they felt the need to do that was beyond him. It all seemed so unnecessary.
"So what are you thinking about doing now that school is over?" Jean asked after a moment of silence.
"Honestly?" Syxdien leaned back and took a sip of his water. The beer Jean had brought him stood untouched on the table still. "I do not know. There is not really anything that particularly interests me… not enough to pursue a career in, at least."
"Yeah," Jean agreed thoughtfully. "But we're still young; it will probably come to us, sooner or later."
"Our future might walk through the door this very instant," Syxdien answered with a barely visible smile, repeating the words one of their most popular teachers had told them on the ceremony earlier that day.
Jean laughed and raised his beer, and this time Syxdien toasted with him, although very unenthusiastically and with another roll of his eyes.
About half an hour passed before anything remotely interesting happened. The gang returned to the table shortly, only to leave again to get more drinks, and then Jean finally joined his other friends on the dance-floor. Only Syxdien remained seated, and no one objected; they all knew he danced about as much as he drank alcohol.
Jean and Isabella had only been swaying together in time to the beat for a few minutes when the music was suddenly cut off. The dancers stopped moving to look around in confusion and irritation. Within a few seconds, everyone turned their eyes to the raised podium of the DJ, who had taken a step back in order to let one of the guests take the mike. It was a boy Jean vaguely remembered from his chemistry-class, named Robin Anderson.
"Everyone needs to get outside right now!" He yelled into the microphone so loudly that the guests swore and pressed their hands to their ears in order to shut the sound out. "There's something you simply have to see!"
This, of course, sent the crowd into a buzz of loud murmurs.
"I can't explain it," Robin, (who, judging by the dim look in his eyes, had had quite a few already) continued. "Just go outside! I swear you don't want to miss it!"
"Is this some type of prank?" Isabella asked Jean, and he just shrugged, not knowing what to think. Before they could decide whether they would follow Robin's advice or not, Bill made the decision for them as he stumbled over with one arm slung around Helen's shoulders, and put the other one around Isabella.
"Come on!" He said excitedly. "A tiny little look won't hurt. Let's get Vik and Dor and go see!"
Within moments the whole gang was gathered and heading for the exit, but Jean lagged behind.
"You go ahead," he called to Isabella when she turned back to him with a question in her eyes. "I'll just fetch Syx." He figured that if the rest of them were going outside, Syxdien might as well come with.
The other dark-haired boy was sitting exactly where they had left him, and Jean waved him over as soon as they caught each others' eyes. Syxdien raised an eyebrow but got up and joined him anyway.
"Are we really going to fall for this?" Syxdien asked as his oldest friend led the way outside.
"You've got something better to do?" Jean shot back, and Syxdien didn't answer.
It took a few minutes to get outside; most people had been thoroughly intrigued by Robin's words, and the small entrance-hall of the club was full of curious graduates. Even so, Jean skilfully manoeuvred his way in the stream with Syxdien close behind, and soon they stepped into the street, where the cluster wasn't quite so tight.
The first thing Jean's brain registered was the cold, fresh air hitting his face, and he pulled in a lungful. Next was the silence; the roaring car-engines and other sounds he had expected to hear in a city like London were completely absent. Not even the people around him were speaking. All that remained was a strange, buzzing silence.
The third thing he registered was the rain.
The rain which wasn't really rain at all, but looked like an overload of shooting stars. The image would burn itself onto everyone's retinas so firmly that even the most forgetful of people would be able to recall exactly what it had looked and felt like, many, many years later. The rain which would come to mark the beginning of everything.
It's strange how one's mind works when you're watching something completely unbelievable. Jean found himself silently wondering if he had drunk too much, or if someone had put something in his glass when he wasn't looking. But then again, even if that had been true, it was very unlikely that everyone around him would have the exact same vision as him. Which they, judging by their faces, definitely were.
"Syxdien…" he rasped, not knowing why there was a huge lump in his throat. He swallowed thickly. "What the hell is this?"
And then Syxdien said something Jean or anyone else had never heard him say before:
"I don't know."
It was official, Jean decided as the sparks continued to flutter down, only to quietly melt into whatever they landed on as if they had always been a part of it; he was officially in the twilight-zone. Where pigs flew, money grew on trees, sparks fell from the sky and there was something that Syxdien didn't know.
"Maybe it is some kind of radioactive reaction…" Syxdien mumbled on his other side. He sounded almost sleepy. "Maybe it has something to do with chemicals… but what kind of chemicals create a reaction like this…?"
He took a step past Jean and stretched out his hands, watching intently as the sparks melted into him without a sound.
"It is not a liquid or gas or metal…" he continued just as hazily. "It is not electric or magnetic… I am not even sure it is actually matter."
"It's so beautiful," Isabella whispered and linked hands with Jean.
"It looks like something the angels sent," Doria agreed beside her.
"Could it be some form of joke?" Syxdien asked himself and gazed up at the sky with a frown. "Can it be a prank, created with fire-works or light or something similar?"
"Whatever it is, it's bloody brilliant," Bill said softly, as if he didn't want to break the spell.
"What if it-" Syxdien's muttering ended abruptly in some kind of mix between a gulp and a gasp. The strange sound made Jean and the others turn to look at him in surprise.
And then it began.
Only a light tremor along Syxdien's entire body at first; Jean saw it rise from his feet all the way to his head, and goose-flesh broke out over his friend's skin. The tremor then became a tremble, and a violent one at that. His breath started coming in short, almost pained gasps.
"Syx?" Jean asked, breaking contact with Isabella to walk over to him. Syxdien didn't answer. He remained with his back turned to them; shoulders so tense they almost looked like they would break apart, and his face raised towards the dark night-sky. Hands which had been clenched into shaking fists now dropped to his sides, and the trembling grew worse. "Are you okay?"
"Yes." His voice sounded… strange. Distracted and overwhelmed at the same time. "Of course."
For some reason, Jean got the distinct impression that Syxdien wasn't actually talking to them. "Syx." He repeated, firmer. When he still didn't respond, Jean grabbed his shoulder and spun him around.
The contact seemed to trigger something. Syxdien's eyes, which had apparently been closed, flared open, and Jean almost took a step back at the sight.
Once pitch-black, they now flashed with all the colours of the sparks around him. Yellow, red, blue, green, black and back to red; they changed with each millisecond. What was even more disturbing was the lost, frightened and faraway expression. It was something Jean had never seen on his friend's face before.
"Who…?" Syxdien tried to say, voice shaking almost as badly as he himself, but before he had a chance to finish, a new look took his face in possession.
A look of pure and utter pain.
When his knees gave way beneath him and he crumbled to the ground in a heap, Jean stood stock still for a moment, completely overwhelmed. It wasn't until Syxdien cradled his head in his hands and violently pressed the heels of them against his temples that Jean snapped out of it.
"Syx!" He breathed, falling to his knees before his friend and grabbing his wrists to keep him from trying to crush his own skull. "What is it?"
His only answer was a loud, pained wail, and then the other boy ripped his hands out of Jean's grip to claw at his own chest instead.
"Jean!" Isabella called behind him, sounding confused and afraid.
"Call an ambulance; he seems to be having some kind of seizure!" Jean yelled at her over his shoulder, not sparing her a glance as he tried to keep Syxdien from ripping his own shirt open by once again grabbing his arms. "Snap out of it, Syx, and tell me what the bloody hell is going on!"
But the boy seemed to have lost his ability to speak. Over and over he ripped his hands out of Jean's grip and started clawing at his eyes, his face, his chest, his legs; any part of his own body that he could reach. But it wasn't until Viktor and Bill came to Jean's aid that it got really bad.
In an attempt to keep their distressed friend from hurting himself or Jean, the two of them grabbed one arm each and held fast. Syxdien didn't take this very well. Unable to cause any more damage with his hands, he started kicking wildly and uncontrolled. His chest was heaving with each pained breath now, and he threw his head back to scream again and again, consumed in some pain none of them could see the cause off.
Jean didn't know what to do. His own heart was beating violently, and his brow was wet with sweat. Things like this didn't happen! Syxdien was goddamned Syxdien! He was composed, stoic, eloquent and intelligent; not a screaming, thrashing mess of a person who had to be restrained in order to not harm himself.
"Syxdien!" Jean screamed and grabbed his friend's face in both hands, efficiently stopping it from swishing back and forth with a force that simply couldn't be good for his neck. "Syxdien, calm down! Look at me!" Flashing eyes opened wide to stare at him unseeingly. "It's me: Jean! You know me! You've always known me! You need to calm down and tell me what's hurting, so I can help you! Please, Syxdien! Where does it hurt?!"
"You… cannot help…" Syxdien rasped, and was it only Jean, or did his voice sound… different? It almost sounded like a mix between stone scraping against stone and the echo in a large cave. Unearthly, somehow. "Nobody… can… help…"
After that he broke down in more screams, words apparently too hard to string together in his obvious pain. Jean tried to coax more sentences out of him, but it was no use. A small crowd had gathered around them now, but the girls kept them at a distance, shaken but practical in the face of an emergency.
And all the while, the star-drops continued to flutter down around them like a peaceful, disturbing contrast to the scene.
It felt like an eternity before the ambulance showed up. Jean, Bill and Viktor tried to keep their friend in check, but it wasn't easy; he trashed around like a possessed animal, and every time they lost their grip on him, his hands immediately went to his body, leaving long, red marks of pain everywhere he could reach. A few times, he even managed to claw the skin open, and Jean shuddered as he watched red blood run down his face and throat.
When the ambulance finally stopped in the middle of the street and two medics; a man and a woman, jumped out, it was with mixed emotions of relief and worry that Jean watched them lift Syxdien onto a stretcher and strap his arms to the sides, keeping him in place much better than mere human hands would have been able to.
After that, everything became a bit hazy. Jean remembered insisting on coming along, and being let into the ambulance for his efforts. He remembered Viktor's faint but reassuring smile and a promise to take care of everything from there, and then he recalled watching from a small retractable seat as the medics worked frantically on his friend. He remembered injections switching hands with such speed and professionalism that he would have been impressed, had he not been so afraid.
The last thing he remembered was the sight of Syxdien in the hospital, bound, writhing and screaming in pain on the stretcher while the ambulance and hospital-staff pushed him through the doors to the ER. Then he slowly sunk down on a chair and hid his face in his hands, his whole body shaking. A nurse patted his back consolingly while she tried to convince him that his friend would be okay. Jean desperately tried to believe her.
But subconsciously, he already knew that that was the last he would ever see of his best friend.
David had been a paramedic for nine years now. In that time, he had worked with four different partners, been to eighteen major traffic-accidents, taken on seven dangerous drug-addicts, tended to numerous broken bones, critical injuries and suicide attempts, and been forced to handle serious allergic and epileptic reactions. Blood and gore was an everyday occurrence to him, and even though he did not in any way enjoy the terrible things he saw on the job, he knew that, in order to save lives, he had to deal with it. Even so, he'd half believed that by now, he had seen everything there was to see when it came to injuries and sicknesses.
But he had never seen anything like this before.
It wasn't that this case was any messier or more heartbreaking than some of the things he had experienced before in his job; the man they were rushing to the hospital right now was only bleeding from a few scrapes here and there, and although there was a very worried friend with them in the ambulance, he kept a low profile and let them do their job. He answered any questions they asked to the best of his ability, and stayed out of the way when they needed him to.
All in all, everything had gone smoothly; the man had been pretty easily retrieved, despite his fierce resistance, nobody else had been injured and at first glance, David had just assumed the patient had epilepsy or something like it.
Now he wasn't so sure anymore.
The boy was writhing and moaning on the stretcher, obviously in violent pain. The straps David had used started to get red and slippery from blood; he was pulling so hard on them. They didn't dare release him either, because as soon as he got the chance, the poor sod started literally clawing at his own chest and face, almost (and David shivered as he though it) as if he was trying to rip the very organs out of his own body.
His head was also trashing back and forth, and Sheila was trying to keep it still so that he wouldn't give himself whiplash, but it was proving to be a challenge. Back arching, chest heaving, the man was switching back and forth between heavy panting, pained screaming and broken moaning while his eyes darted wildly across their faces without actually seeing them. To anyone less experienced than David, this would have been a very frightening situation.
But that was just it.
David had seen this before. He'd seen people screaming and writhing in pain, and he'd seen seizures.
What he hadn't seen were cases where the patient was still doing it after three shots of morphine and laughing-gas. Neither he nor Sheila dared give him any more anaesthetics in fear of killing him, but it was as if the guy hadn't gotten any painkillers at all. They had been at it for twenty minutes, and nothing in the man's condition had changed.
That in and of itself was frightening enough, but it wasn't all. A few minutes ago David had discovered that the boy's eyes were actually changing colour; one moment they were black, and then they were suddenly green and blue and yellow and red and a bunch of other colours he'd seen on animals and in cartoons, but never on a man in real life.
Whatever kind of seizure this was, David was sure of one thing; this was something he and Sheila could not fix by themselves.
Which was why he was so relieved when they reached the hospital and could leave the boy's friend in the waiting-room while they continued to the second floor and the ER, where the doctors would be able to help.
"His name is Syxdien Montinique, a 17-year-old male from London," Sheila, David's partner, immediately informed the surgeons when they got to the operation-room. "Picked up at a club in town; a friend of his, Jean LeClair, told us they had apparently been celebrating their graduation when he just started getting these violent spasms and pain in his chest right in the middle of the street. He hasn't had any alcohol as far as his friend knows, and there aren't any allergies either. We've given him three doses of morphine, but it's not working."
"What do you mean, 'it's not working'?" One of the surgeons asked as she unbuttoned the last of the boy's shirt-buttons (he had managed to rip most of them off before he had been properly restrained). She started examining him for internal damage that might explain where the pain came from, and frowned when she felt nothing unusual beneath her experienced fingers. "He should be out like a light if you've given him that much!"
"He seems to be… immune or something," David stood up for his partner.
"We'll need to take blood samples and x-ray him," another surgeon decided as a nurse handed him a small injection. "Then we might find the reason for… for all this."
The tiny needle pierced the skin of the man's wrist, and without warning, he became very still and silent. David, Sheila, the surgeons and nurses paused at the abrupt end of the screaming, and looked down.
He wasn't moving anymore; not even breathing, but his eyes (still flashing rapidly) were fixed on the ceiling in an almost dead way. David exchanged a look with the female surgeon, suddenly afraid. Was the morphine finally kicking in? Had they killed him in their haste to ease his pain? What the hell was this?!
Sheila was the first to snap out of her stupor. Quickly, she leant over and pressed two fingers to his throat, feeling for a pulse. After a moment she opened her mouth:
And then the room, in lack of better words, exploded.
It all happened so fast no one had a chance to even blink. At the same time as Syxdien arched clean off the stretcher in a perfect bow and gave the most unnaturally high-pitched, ear-splitting, glass-breaking scream ever, a surge of energy came out of nowhere and blasted every window on the floor clean away. Electric cables, light bulbs and fluorescent lamps flared and broke loose from the walls and ceiling as if containing thousands of more volt than they really did, and every machine on the floor, from the coffeemaker to the heart-monitors, burst into flames.
David, Sheila and all the other people in and outside the room were thrown backwards, hitting walls and tables and medical equipment with loud crashes which were all drowned in the scream from the patient. Glass and electrical sparks rained down on them, but they didn't feel it.
None of them were there anymore.
But it didn't stop there. Oh no, the surge continued out the broken windows, spread like an unstoppable tsunami and blasted all the other windows in the hospital as well. It hit the rest of London with a force which made all the street-lights within a three neighbourhood-radius explode; it blew every television and lit lamp, and hurled people walking down the streets backwards with its power. It stirred up dirt and leafs, leaving nothing untouched; even the animals were pulled along, no matter how desperately the pigeons tried to fly away and the cats and dogs tried to hide.
It took a total of four seconds for a quarter of London to be completely and utterly wrecked, and then the scream, which had travelled along with the energy-wave out into the city, just stopped and Syxdien fell back down onto the stretcher, as silent as before.
The contrasts were remarkable; complete chaos one moment… and absolute stillness the next.
A few sparks came from the destroyed electronics inside the hospital, a shredded curtain fluttered as a breeze swept through a now glassless window, shouts and thumps could be heard from the street outside and the stories under and above, but otherwise, an eerie silence had conquered; it had taken control of every sterile white wall, piece of plastic floor and lifeless human body which littered the whole department.
And in the middle of this, the cause of it all was lying morbidly peaceful on his mattress. No glass shards had touched Syxdien; no harm had come to him. He was still staring up at the ceiling emptily, his eyes were still flashing, and his whole body was trembling like a leaf, but his breathing had almost returned to normal. It was only a little heavy now, and for the first time since the pain had started almost an hour ago, he blinked.
Blinking seemed to wake him up from whatever world he'd been in, because he did it a few more times before promptly sitting up and letting his feet dangle over the edge of the stretcher. The straps restraining him snapped like twigs when he moved.
He sat like that for moment, just blinking, breathing and staring out into space. Then he slid off the uncomfortable little bed and stood on his own two legs. They didn't shake… not even a little.
Glass and debris crunched beneath his shoes as he slowly made his way out of the room and entered the corridor. He didn't spare a single glance at the men and women lying lifelessly on the floor around him; his gaze was calm now, still somewhat far away, but completely even and calculating. For a moment he debated to himself where the closest exit might be, then he turned to the left and walked off down the corridor towards the stairs; since its doors had been blasted off and fallen down the shaft, he was pretty sure the elevator wouldn't work.
Another breeze found its way through the corridor and ruffled a long, black pony-tail. He turned his head for a moment, looking out a shattered window at the dark sky outside, and the small star-like drops which were still fluttering towards the ground; peaceful, as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on. Then Syxdien stepped into the stairwell and was gone.
Jean left the building along with everyone else; calmly and methodically, like they had been told to do, but he couldn't help but feel as if he was walking in the middle of a nightmare. Nurses, doctors and civilians were scurrying around, trying desperately to get the patients out of the destroyed hospital, even though there weren't enough stretchers and ambulances to bring them to safety.
He wasn't hurt, but he'd felt the explosion and heard the news just like everyone else: there had been some kind of bomb in the ER. Although the walls were still standing, all the electronic equipment in the department was completely destroyed, and thus far, no survivors had been found. How the bomb had managed to kill people on only that particularly floor without actually blowing up the hospital or the city was a mystery, but Jean couldn't have cared less at the moment.
Syxdien had been in the ER. He was gone. Dead, along with countless of other brave men and women, who had only ever dedicated their lives to saving lives. Already, people were talking of terrorists.
Jean didn't think it was an act of terror. He didn't know why, but he just didn't believe it. Not with everything else that had happened tonight. He raised his face to the sky and watched as the rain kept falling serenely, suddenly feeling hateful towards it. Somehow, he felt like it was all connected; the sparks… Syxdien's strange seizure... the hospital… everything. But he didn't know why, and he didn't know how.
When the world started changing, everyone remembered the rain. Very few would remember the young, dark haired man in a smart suit, who remained standing outside the hospital with his face turned towards the sky for hours, until a nurse put a blanket around his shoulders, led him over to an ambulance and asked him who she should call.
Even fewer would remember the dark shadow of another youth slipping off down an abandoned road; away from the wreckage he had caused.