It was just a normal day. Me and Cally were on our way home from school and as usual we were chatting. I had no idea what was in store for me.
"I think we got out pretty early, it's not too crowded yet." I said.
"You're right." Cally agreed. "Most of the crowd is behind us."
I looked back. There was a growing throng of schoolchildren following our lead. Amongst them was Amber. She was the kind of girl who was difficult to miss, for all the wrong reasons. I don't want to go into details, let's just say: we're not friends.
I looked away. Cally caught the nervous look on my face.
"What is it?"
"Nothing." I said far too quickly.
The last thing anyone needed was those two to lay eyes on one another. They had a history.
Once upon a time, long before I knew Cally they were good friends. They chatted together and even hung out but it didn't last long. Amber started to befriend the popular kids, she was certainly pretty enough to join them. At first Cally didn't mind; it was around this time that I became friends with her. However the more time Amber spent with the populars the more time she spent away from Cally. When they did meet they got into ferocious arguments over it. I got stuck in the middle. I'd never really known Amber so I stuck up for my friend. I think Amber blamed me for losing Cally because the next thing I knew she and the populars were seeking me out at break times. It was the insults that hurt the most. Cally was suspicious of my bruises and at first she questioned me about my parents. It was a complete accident when she walked in on the real source. Then all hell was let loose. The teachers had to drag them apart. After a visit to the head teacher whatever remained of their friendship was gone.
"Are you sure?" Cally asked narrowing her eyes.
She was not convinced. Before I could say anything she'd whipped her head round. I could tell from the glare frozen on her face that she'd spotted Amber. Unfortunately Amber had spotted her.
She slipped through the crowd of teenagers whilst we waited patiently at the crossing. I have to hand it to her, Amber was fast. Soon she was by my side.
"Hello four eyes." She whispered a little too loudly.
"I'll give you one warning: get away from my friend."
"Or I'll make you." Cally threatened venomously.
Amber was smiling. I ducked as a fist swung my way.
"Don't say I didn't warn you."
I tried to crawl away from Amber but she yanked me to my feet. Cally aimed another punch at Amber, narrowly missing me. It caught her off guard. Amber tripped and stumbled, pulling me along with her. Together we took a step forwards to steady ourselves – into the middle of the road.
I heard a scream and then a sickening thud to the left of me but I had no time to react, a second car was hurtling toward me. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as I heard the squeal of the panicked driver stepping on the break. I attempted to sidestep the oncoming vehicle but banged into the immobile car by my side. I gasped in pain as the car I'd been trying to avoid skidded to a halt beside me, grazing my back and knees. I was trapped, wedged between two cars. I yelled out in agony. The terrified driver on my right stepped out of his car.
"O-oh my god!" he stuttered. "I – I'm going to get you out of there."
He rushed round the back of his car and started to push it away. Realising what he was doing, Cally ran over to help. She was half the man's size but their combined efforts eventually set me free. I turned to face the car on my left and saw a sea of mobile phones dialling for an ambulance. For one crazy minute I thought I saw a brown creature whizz past the crowd. I quickly shook myself out of that thought. I was in shock. That was probably why I was crying.
The driver in the car lolled forwards, his unconscious head cushioned on an airbag. I started to stagger back towards the pavement. My badly scraped knees were dripping a trail of blood. Then I saw Amber.
She was curled up on the road, barely a meter away from the car. I could tell from one glance that her injuries were serious. I was glad that she was curled up, I only knew how serious it was from the pool of blood beneath her and the moaning noises she was making. She was lying on the worst of the wound. Carefully I crouched beside her, with considerable pain.
"Amber, can you hear me? I'm so sorry. It's going to be okay." I blabbered unsure of what else to say. I'd never liked her but nobody deserved this. "An ambulance will arrive soon, they'll fix you up."
I felt like I was just repeating lines out of a soap opera. I hoped that I sounded more reassuring than the actors on TV.
"Just leave me alone." Amber murmured faintly.
I was probably the last person she wanted to talk to. I tried to stand but it hurt my knees far too badly to be worth the effort. I crawled backwards using my hands whilst I kept my knees in the air. From this vantage point I could see Cally. The look on her face was indescribable. The shock and pain couldn't have been clearer. I looked about myself. I didn't care what or who I stared at so long as it wasn't Amber.
"Come on. Let's get those knees bandaged up." said a soothing voice behind me.
The stranger took me by the arms and pulled me up. He supported my weak back and helped me to an ambulance. As he sat me down I got my first proper look at the guy. He was as thin as the hair on his head which was saying something. There were a few faint wisps of grey in his beard and his face was haggard, yet when he smiled he looked ten years younger and ten times friendlier. He was strangely dressed for a paramedic. He wore no white overalls, simply a soggy green jumper and casual jeans.
"W-who are you?" I asked.
"A doctor amongst other things, now let's see to those knees."
"But what about Amber? I only got scraped, she got hit full on by a car!" I exclaimed.
"Help will come for her soon."
"More like death! Why is nobody treating her?"
I was almost shouting. Another person walked over from the end of the ambulance.
"We need to go now, we don't have time for this."
The person speaking was a young girl. I recognised her from school. A boy around my age followed the brunette into the vehicle.
"Oh now you want to go!" he complained. "You were the one who called us here in the first place!"
"With good reason. She survived a Schlepy encounter!"
"Who cares? It's going to join its fellow Schlepy now and you've made us late for our encounter!" the boy barked back.
I stared at the pair. Schlepy? I was being treated by a bunch of lunatics.
"She's been through a lot. She needs to rest. She – " the man paused and looked at me. "What is your name?"
"Aisha. What about Amber - " I began.
"She doesn't need you two arguing!" he interrupted. The two kids looked down guiltily. "Kevin start up the engine!" called the man.
There was a low rumbling sound as the ambulance came to life. As the man closed the doors I relaxed slightly as I caught sight of a proper paramedic by Amber's side.
As we set off the boy clambered into the front seat of the ambulance beside the driver and the girl opposite me buckled in the back. The strange man wrapped up my knees slowly as we drove along. I caught glimpses of trees through the window. We were heading through a forest.
"Who are you?" I asked the man.
"I'm Al and this is Jessie." He said pointing in the direction of the girl who'd already strapped in.
"Hi." she greeted.