Nightide

Prolog

Zera's body shot three inches above her bed after her brother, Zariah, jumped on it to awaken her. "Heaven's sakes!" she laughed sitting up against her pillows.

"Come on, we have school today! Hurry, and get ready," his light brown eyes danced with excitement. He crawled off her bed and stood by the door looking expectantly at her.

"Oppa*, you are theonlyboy in the world who'd be excited for school," she said as she tossed a pillow. He caught it with a wink and faced the outside wall.

"Hurry and get dressed," he ordered in a stern tone she knew he had to force.

"Well maybe, I'll just take my time then." He looked over his shoulder and pouted. "Fine, just turn around," she giggled. He did so and she pulled away from the bed. She pulled on her uniform and pulled her thick russet hair into the necessary bun to complete her school uniform.

She made a long pause by her mirror to make sure everything was in order. Her brother stepped behind her. She stared at their likeness. His soft brown eyes matched her eyes, except hers were not holding excitement like his. Their facial structures were the same: small and a slight roundness to it. Even their hair was same russet color. The only real difference between them was their height because he stood an inch taller than her.

Oppa—Romanized Korean term for older brother. It is spoken by girls only. Is actually written: 오빠

She thought about the many times she'd been mistaken for her brother because she'd put her hair up and under a hat. How often would she be mistaken this year? "Come on," he prompted as he pulled at her wrist and forced her outside and down the hall. She laughed and pulled away once they reached his car.

He darted to his side and was in before she opened the door. She rolled her eyes at his eagerness and lifted the door handle, but before pulling it open she froze. Her purse. She'd forgotten it.

"Go ahead; I have to find my purse."

"Can't you just go the day without it?" he whined.

"No, I can't." she said but smiled. She waved then headed back inside. Her purse search began under her bed then traveled to her drawer, closet, bathroom, the downstairs' closet and bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, the couch, but she found nothing. Every room came up empty. Once she reached the verge of giving up, she remembered she'd left it in her brother's car the day before so she wouldn't forget it today.

She slapped her forehead and groaned. "Guess I will have to go a day without it."

Twenty minutes later, Zera made it over the hill's crest and faced the oncoming intersection. She stared in mortification at the sight she beheld and all the blood drained from her face. She knew that car in the center of the mess. She knew it inside and out. It was Zariah's car.

Her heart leaped into overtime as she sped down the hill to the intersection, ignoring the people trying to stop her. She ducked and dodged people's outstretched hands as she pushed her way to her brother's smashed car. One of the cops caught her arm and pulled her back. The short round old man held her by the arm, and his black hair was cropped short and hidden, for the most part, beneath a hat. She stared in fear at her brother's car as the workers began to cut the top off.

"Miss, you need to clear the area," the old cop stated formally. She shook her head for she could not get her mouth to cooperate.

"Miss, do you know him?" the cop asked as he released her.

"Oppa," she whimpered as the loud roaring intensified. When the sound ceased she watched the medics pull Zariah from the car. His body was coated in blood-his skin wasn't even visible- and a metal bar had stabbed through his left leg.

Two people lifted him onto a stretcher and carried him to the ambulance. She walked in a daze to the vehicle and looked in. "Hey, miss, back away," the paramedic warned and pushed her back with his palms to her shoulders, "You need to clear the area." Zera stood grasping the edge of the ambulance and staring with an empty shocked look at her brother's bloody body.

"It's her oppa; let her go to the hospital too," the cop said. She climbed into the back of the ambulance. She fought herself from touching her brother's bloody form.

A few minutes later the cop climbed in, too. "How're you holding up?" he asked but did not wait for a response. "I'm going to let you know what happened, okay?" he questioned and again he didn't wait for an answer: "Your oppa came into the intersection too fast, or his breaks went out, because when the light changed, he didn't stop. A truck was coming at the same time and pushed his car into the red car. You saw it. Then a car rear-ended him. You made it just minutes after the ambulance did. I'm glad you are here to be with your brother. The other people are being put on stretchers and in other ambulances. I hope he makes it out okay." With these words the cop climbed out of the vehicle and a female paramedic replaced him. She slammed the door shut.

"He'll be okay, miss," the woman assured. "We're not going to let him leave you." The woman touched Zera's hand and gave a comforting smile. "Let's get this thing moving!" she shouted to the people in the front seat.