Chapter Four – Joining the Dots
The next few days passed much the same as the Monday, beginning with a capsule tablet in Michelle's company before school, ending the same with persistent questioning from Claire in between. It wasn't until the Friday, the twenty-fifth, that Jason gave in to his friend's questioning. They were in a History lesson and it was their last lesson of the day when Claire brought it up again.
"So are you gonna tell me what's been bothering you? I can tell it's still on your mind." Claire asked, everyone else was chatting while they were working so their conversation would undoubtedly go unnoticed.
Still Jason replied with a simple, "Later."
Claire sighed in frustration, "Jason, it's the last day of the week and we can't meet up over the weekend so if you're gonna tell me, now would be the time." Claire told him. She smiled in satisfaction when the look of defeat crept into his eyes as he glared at his work.
"Fine." Jason said but he didn't know how to tell her, he'd never told anyone because he'd always been so sure they were mere coincidences. "You know all those incidences I've told you about at the care home, well anywhere for that matter?" He began with a simple nod in response from his friend though he didn't take his eyes from his work, "What would you say if I knew these things were going to happen?" but she didn't say anything, Jason looked up at her searchingly. She was confused, understandably. "I'd dreamt about them, before they happened I mean. No, no, don't interrupt." He commanded as she opened her mouth to speak but obediently shut it again. "Just here me out okay? You asked me to tell you so let me tell you. For a while I've been having these dreams, only minor ones but they're seem to real to just be dreams. I've been passing them off as coincidences when they seem to happen in real life the next day or something but the last one I just can't pass off because if it comes true then my ignorance could cost me my life." Oh the look she gave him, she didn't understand at all, "They're not just dreams, Claire, they can't be. The ones that come true, they wake me up and they're the ones my medication prevents, it happened again on Monday on the way home from school, I wasn't asleep yet I collapsed and saw the same thing I'd seen in my dream." he finished , wishing there was a way for her to understand. Maybe she did. Yes, he could see it in her eyes.
"Your 'dreams'," She began, using her fingers to form air quotes, "If you're having them when you're awake and they're not really dreams, maybe you're not really asleep. I mean, look at it this way, if you're waking up after each one maybe it's because you fell out of sleep for it to happen. It would explain why you were able to experience it whilst awake." she suggested. Jason stared at her, how did she understand so easily? Not even he got it but there seemed to be a definitive understanding etched in her eyes but suddenly she seemed wary of him, did she know something he didn't? "Are those what your medication stop you from experiencing?" She asked, interrupting his train of thought so he just nodded dumbly, "How would they do that? Do they just keep you asleep until your mind can't take it and wakes you up?"
"Must do, assuming of course that I'm not asleep when they usually happen. Adam calls them premonitions, well he used to." Jason agreed but how did she know all that?
"Yeah, your calm state during sleep would spur it and allow your mind to drift through time but I don't know how it occurred out of sleep." She continued, "Maybe there was a stimulus or-"
"The water." He muttered, "I'm sorry, how do you know all this?" he asked, confused by her knowledge.
She tensed slightly as she said, "Read it somewhere." she was lying, not fully but partly. With holding the truth is as much of a lie as any. The two friends fell into silence once he'd told her what he knew and she'd offered her knowledge. The fact that Claire hadn't reacted to what Jason had said in the way he'd expected made him uncomfortable but what Jason had told her made her the same.
Once the bell had gone Claire bid her friend farewell and rushed home, after all she only lived a few streets away from school. As she burst through the front door she checked her watch, her father was out again that evening and she had about half an hour until he got home from work. Claire took the stairs two at a time and grabbed a notebook from her room. Within minutes she was rifling once again through the hundreds of files in her father's study, surrounded by the dozens of her father's books she'd read about mutations, witchcraft and things referred to as super-naturals or tele-psychics. She'd never believed a single word of them until now but her father did and she wanted to know what her father knew. Finally she found the right file. There was no photographic picture, there never had been, only a sketch made from different sightings. He looked like an innocent child. Every other file had two stamps on it, one saying "ACTIVE" and another over the top saying "EXTERMINATED" but this one only had the first. Within the file were a number of recordings of sightings and major spikes from some kind of satellite but only major ones were recorded, there was an old address and a letter of apology about some kind of 'failed hit'. She'd read the copy of the letter her father had sent a thousand times but it was the last entry in the file and it was from six years ago, so what had happened to this kid? She asked herself that every time. She now found herself staring at the sketch of the young boy, such a familiar face. Jason Enders was the boys name, he had a younger brother and his parents had died those six years ago but their names weren't listed, only the boy.
She'd read every sheet a hundred times and practically knew the file off by heart so was surprised when a loose sheet fell to the floor. As she bent to pick it up the date caught her eye, it was from last Sunday. It was another recording sheet, just like the others. The satellite had picked up the reading at night and the spike pattern was the same as the others as well. She slipped the sheet back inside the file but not before making a note of the new information. That was when she spotted another recording sheet, from Monday afternoon. That didn't fit the pattern but it fitted something else. She glanced over her notes but was interrupted by her father's car pulling into the drive way. She forced the file back into the cabinet and just made it back to her bedroom before the front door opened. She hid the notebook back under her bed just as her father called up the stairs, "Claire, I'm home." but she didn't respond. She was quickly getting changed whilst trying to slot the floorboard back into place with her foot. "Claire?" He called again as his footsteps hit the stairs one at a time. She did up her jeans but her notebook was still visible, just as the floorboard finally fell in line with the others her bedroom door opened and her dad appeared.
"Hey, Dad." She greeted him with a false innocence and surprise. He simply smiled in response, "How was work?" she asked, trying her hardest to sound interested and create a conversation.
"Good, yeah it was good." He replied with another smile, conversation between the two of them had never been easy. "Um, I'll be downstairs if you need me." He said before turning and leaving. Claire sighed, she didn't need him, she never had. She needed her mum. After her mum had died Claire had taken charge of the house even at such a young age. She had cooked and cleaned whilst her father grieved before throwing himself into his work and evening meetings and slowly, Claire became a stranger in his house. His evening meetings had become a substitute for her mother's presence which was why she wanted to know so much about them. She hurried from her room to find her dad in the kitchen. He jumped when he saw her standing there and almost dropped his coffee.
"Dad, can I go with you this evening?" She asked. He stood staring at her for a few minutes in surprise before answering.
"No." He stated and turned his back on her but she was determined.
"Oh please, you've always said I could go when I get older and I turn sixteen next month anyway." She reasoned, stepping round to look at him. He was actually considering it. "Please, I feel like I hardly get to see you any more." Of course that had nothing to do with it. Jason, Adam and their care worker, Michelle were closer to family than he was and in truth she didn't mind it. Over the years he'd become a stranger to her too. She could see some of the resolution fade from his face but it soon returned clearer and sharper than before.
"No, that's no place for children." He stated and walked off but he'd angered Claire.
"I'm not a child!" She yelled at him, "I haven't been a child for near eight years now but you wouldn't know that, would you?" She cried, tears clouding her eyes in her anger. "No because you've been too busy to pay any attention to your daughter as she grew up!"
His hand swiped clean across her face leaving a bright red mark behind, "How dare you speak to me like that? Go to your room, now!" he ordered. She complied, running up the stairs and slamming her door.
She spent the rest of the afternoon reading and didn't even bother to say goodbye to her dad before he left. Dad, did that title suit him and what he was to her? She didn't think so, she'd never thought so.
She ran her finger along the small letters traced finely across the rough paper as she read. Her mother used to read to her when she was younger and she would follow the words with her finger. Even now as she smoothed her fingertips over the black ink, retelling her favourite story, she could almost hear her mother's voice in her ear again. She would do this whenever she was angry or upset with her father as it made her longing for her mother's company harsher on her mind and this book would be what kept her going in the past and in the years that followed. A tear came to her eye but she brushed it away quickly in frustration as she put the book down but instead pulled out her notebook and looked over her notes, she wanted her phone back but her father had taken it with him but no matter what she was determined to talk to Jason about this, after all she didn't believe in coincidences.
Jason was laying on his back with his head to the side staring at his brother's bed. Adam lay with his back to Jason facing a wall, he wasn't asleep but sulking. They'd had a rare argument fall in their usually close and unscratched relationship.
Jason had just finished packing when Adam had walked in. The elder had taken his time with his packing as he had very few belongings but it seemed to drag out the leaving period for Adam. Jason only had a couple of bags as he, "didn't own much because the orphanage doesn't feel like home."
"Adam hadn't liked that response and his anger fired up immediately, "Then what are you waiting for?" he'd yelled. "You might as well leave tonight I mean, there's nothing stopping you and you're so eager to get out of here anyway!" Adam's remarks had taken Jason by surprise and turned him defensive.
"Woah, what the hell, Ad? You can't honestly think I want to go can you?" Jason asked, why was Adam suddenly kicking off now?
"You can't blame me, can you? 'Cos you can't bloody well seem to wait and why should you? What's here that would make you want to stay?" Adam yelled, his annoyance really showing through.
"You, Ad! You want me to say it? The only reason I haven't fucked off yet is because of you! I don't want to leave you. You're my brother and to be frank," his voice had worked its way back to its normal volume, "if I could take you with me on Sunday then I really would. I mean, Do you think I haven't tried to stay?" Jason asked in disbelief.
Adam sighed and turned his back, "Whatever, you wouldn't understand." he'd muttered as he walked away.
"Then help me to!" Jason cried, "Christ, Ad. I'm not a mind reader. Help me to understand." he'd demanded in frustration. Adam had always been an open book to him, an open mind so his sudden closure towards Jason made the elder uncomfortable.
"No, it … it would take too long. It doesn't matter anyway." Suddenly Adam's voice had become so small, "I shouldn't have said anything."
"Well you have, so Adam, for crying out loud please just tell me why my leaving is so hard for you." Jason begged.
"You never let anyone look after you. You insist on getting by on your own but you never let me do that, you always had to take care of me. Well now what? Huh?" Adam asked, his voice starting to get its strength back. "I've always had you and now I'll have nothing." He was right, Json hadn't understood. Jason longed for solitude so he had never understood Adam's fondness for company after all, with company came the opportunity of pain. Adam had seen Jason's confusion etched across his face before he had a chance to wipe it away. "Like I said, you wouldn't understand." With that Adam had climbed into bed and soon after Jason had followed suit.
Jason was still lying awake for hours later until finally he could stand it no more and climbed back out of the window then onto the roof, phone in hand. After such a low to the brothers' relationship Jason had turned to the only person he knew who felt as alone as he did sometimes, Claire, but not even she was answering. The oddly mild January night lulled Jason into a deep sleep on top the flat roof as he stared at the stars and let them take away his worries.
The next morning as the suns rays fell onto Jason's closed eyelids he awoke easily and sat up. He stayed there for a few moments as he took in the winter sunrise, calm and peaceful. He only had one night left, they'd be 'celebrating' his birthday on the Saturday in stead and on the Sunday he'd be leaving for the halfway house. He all ready had a job lined up for him to start on the Monday afternoon so he knew he'd get on fine but a hopeful thought crept into his mind from the stubborn part that was convinced everything was a coincidence. He wondered if maybe after he left the care home and his childhood worries behind then maybe his nightmares would leave too. Maybe not.
Within a few hours the brothers were laid out on the grass of the back garden in jeans, T-shirt and thin fleeces. Where the cold discomforted the others it was second nature to them. The boys were merely talking whilst they lay there, the previous night's dispute had been forgotten.
"Did you call Claire?" Adam asked but Jason just shrugged.
"Yeah but it was no use." He replied, the younger turning to look at Jason before he continued. "Didn't get a chance to talk to her, Theo answered but once I had told him it was me and that I wanted to talk to Claire about today he yelled down the line and hung up." He told Adam, Theo was Claire's Dad and Jason liked him as much as he liked his therapist.
"How did such a nice girl come from such a git?" Adam muttered.
"Hmm,"Adam sounded, he hadn't expected an answer.
"Her mother, Claire told me she was nice." Jason informed him.
"Like ours." The words slipped from Adam's lips before he could stop them and the two brothers tensed slightly. Jason glared at him momentarily before turning away, "I mean, our adoptive mother of course."
Pang! Another hit of guilt. The woman Adam spoke of was their mother, after their death Jason had lied to convince him otherwise and to save Adam the grief and mourning he'd feel for their parents. It was stupid because he knew he'd have to tell him the truth eventually but Jason liked seeing his brother happy and he'd been so young and so willing to trust his older brother and the sweet lies he offered. Jason's own actions were why he didn't trust that easily. "Yeah she was, wasn't she?" Jason agreed, he closed his eyes against the light, unaffected by the cold. The boys' bodies were adapted to the low temperatures as their mother, who Adam thought about a lot more than he cared to admit even though he thought she wasn't his real mother, had been Canadian through and through but that offered no explanation to Adam as he believed Jason's lies completely.
As he lay there with his eyes closed thinking about his past he started thinking about his own future but instead of seeing the back of his eyelids he saw a tree.
The tree shaded the patio that sat in the care home's garden. Michelle sat at a table reading on the smooth stone of the patio but in the tree behind her a little boy was climbing higher and higher until he was among the top branches. The boy looked down a giggled. "'Chelley," The boy called, "'Chelley look, I'm up here!" Michelle looked up and caught her breath.
"Jamie, get down from there!" She cried as she jumped to her feet but she was too late. Jamie's foot had all ready slipped and he soon met the stone cold patio with a dull thud.
Jason bolted upright and looked around, the patio had no blood on it and Michelle was still reading. He passed his hand over his face and breathed a sigh of relief, Thank God, it was only my imagination. he thought but then a young voice met his ears.
"'Chelley. 'Chelley look, I'm up here!"