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Thriller Teens & Young Adult

The doctors identified him as Moses Ferraz, but the name didn’t feel familiar no matter how many times he mouthed it to himself. He kept his head turned and his eyes shut, so the nurse wouldn’t see him mutter to himself— and so he wouldn’t see the boy in the window.

The boys reflected in the glass never matched the face in the little hand mirror at his bedside. They didn’t move when Moses did, or blink, even. It was the one with greasy hair and a jaw like a stone slab, the Watching Boy, that stared at him from across the room that afternoon.

Nurse Marco and his cart rattled their way into the room, and Moses turned his face to greet him with a smile.

“Are you sure you’re ready for a visitor?” He turned Moses’s arm over. The grey band around his bicep tightened, stimulating the muscle. “You don’t need to see someone right away. Not until you’ve regained your memory, at least.”

“I’m bored and my phone’s gone.” Don’t leave me alone with the other guy.

“I’ll see if I can grab a magazine for you.”

He lowered the magazine when the visitor came in and opened his mouth to greet him. The words got lodged in his throat, and his smile froze.

“Hey, Mo!” The visitor had a yellow party hat tied over his mouth like a Plague Doctor beak. “You’re finally awake. You look well!”

“H-Hey, man. How’s it going?” What the Hell are you wearing? Why do I know you?

The party-hat boy chattered without stopping to breathe, about how his cousin’s cop car got hit by a different cop car— and speaking of cars he dropped a screw in the hood of his own car and spent hours digging it out — and speaking of digging he accidentally caught a baby mole in a gopher trap— he put his face in his hands and begged God for forgiveness— and speaking of God he was scared of coming out to his Jewish parents as Christian— 

By the time the boy paused to catch his breath, Moses had read the magazine all the way through. Twice.

“You know,” gasped the boy, “I’m surprised. I figured you’d be asking about the others by now.”

“Er— yeah. How’re they doing?”

“I haven’t seen them since spring break started, but they were doing fine. I think you and Jaime would hit it off. Román’s as jerky as always. You know, there was this one time…”

The visiting hours bled into Moses’s next checkup. After the boy left, Moses turned to Nurse Marco. “Who was that?”

“His name is Elio Raya. Did you tell him about your amnesia?”

“Not yet. I have a plan. Could you close the curtains, please?”

Nurse Marco drew them shut and fastened the cloth string in a neat bow. “A plan, you say?”

“I’ll steer the conversation toward me. Then I’ll know everything about myself without even getting my memories back.”

The sound of tapping on glass woke him that night. The curtains were open, their edges fluttering as if they’d been moved. Moses stared back at the Watching Boy.

“Look,” he said, “I lost most of my memories in an accident. I don’t know who you are. Tell me what you want and leave me alone.”

“That’s easy enough,” the boy said, baring a gentle smile, “I want you dead.”

 “Then we have a problem.”

“We do.”

His eyes snapped open to see Elio hovering over him. He sat up, poking himself in the eye with Elio’s party-hat beak. 

No, he thought, rubbing his watering eye. He turned back to the window. No, wait. I’ve changed my mind. Come back.

“Hey, Mo.” 

“Yeah,” said Moses, rubbing his eye. Why do I know you?! “What’s up?”

“Gone.”

“Who’s gone?”

“All of them. All of my friends. I looked for Román at his house, but he’s not there. No one was there. And no one’s seen Jaime or Ismael for days—” He stopped, and blinked, and lowered his eyes.

“What?”

“I think— I don’t know why— but I think someone’s after my friends.”

Moses sighed. They totally dumped him. “What makes you say that?”

“It’s the only thing that makes sense!”

“Elio. C’mere.” Moses waved him closer, and Elio bent to his level. He pulled back his middle finger and flicked it at Elio’s forehead.

“Ow?! What was that for?!”

“You’re a special kind of delusional, aren’t you? That doesn’t make sense at all.”

“Why’re you acting like this?” Elio rubbed his forehead. “It’s like you don’t even care.”

“It’s like I’m actually using my brain. It’s spring break. They probably have lives outside of hanging out with you.”

“You’re acting really weird right now.”

“I’m not the one wearing a party hat over my mouth.”

“You know,” Elio said quietly, “being stuck in the hospital’s a good alibi.”

Moses scowled. “Are you kidding me?”

“You’re not worried about them at all. And you’re trying really hard to convince me it’s all in my head.”

“Fine, I killed them all and walked into traffic to avoid suspicion. Happy?”

“Look, I—”

“Get out.”

“But—”

“Do I need to say it again?” Moses clenched his fist. “Get out. You’re bothering me.”

Elio started to protest, then fell quiet. “Okay. Rest up.”

Once his retreating steps faded, Moses flopped onto his back and covered his face with his hands. Why did that bother me so much? Am I a jerk?

“You’re a liar.”

“What?” He sat up. “Who’s there?”

“You know what you did.”

The mirror. The voice came from the mirror. His own forlorn face gave him a baleful stare as he picked it up. 

The surface rippled. Reflected in the cold glass was a boy with spoiled-cream skin and hair hanging over his gaunt, angry eyes.

Their gazes locked.

Moses’s fingers tightened around the handle. “Who are you?”

“I’m back from the grave. Bastard.”

Moses placed the mirror back on the cabinet, face-down. “No.”

“Crawl away and die already,” the boy growled from the window. “Take the window exit. We won’t miss you.”

“You’re persistent.” Moses reached for the nurse call button. “I should see a psychiatrist about you.”

“You mean you don’t want to know?”

His thumb froze, hovering over the button. “Know what?”

“Why you killed us.”

He smashed his thumb onto the call button. “Stupid hallucination.”

Nurse Marco returned Moses’s smile as he walked in, laying a cell phone next to the mirror.

“I charged it for you.”

“Thanks!” Moses snatched it off the nightstand. “I don’t know how I’d survive without it.”

“So, what did you need?”

“Oh.” Moses jabbed a thumb at the window. “Curtains need closing.”

Nurse Marco’s smile slipped. “That’s it? That’s the emergency?”

“Curtains need closing.”

The nurse yanked them shut with a bit more force than necessary. “Kid, you better recover real quick.”

He left grumbling, pulling back his curly hair.

Moses pressed his thumb against the Home button. The fingerprint icon chirped in affirmation. The screen brightened, and he thumbed his way over to Contacts. Better call my parents, whoever they are. Why, of all people, is Elio the only one who visits?

There were only two contacts on the list. 

He dropped the phone onto the bedsheet. It slid over the blanket, clattering onto the floor with a crinkle of glass.

“What the f—?”

E— Elio Raya

Y— You, Román Dávila

“You know what you did.”

They were back— all of them at once. Moses swung his legs over the side of the bed. He took stiff, shaky steps toward the window, throwing the curtains open. “Román. Why does my fingerprint unlock your phone?”

His gaunt eyes narrowed to slits. “You know why.” 

“It was perfect,” he said. He smiled. “I remember now. It was perfect.”

“You’re a freak.”

“What would it take to make you disappear for good?” He pressed his fingers against the window. “Is there a place I can go where you won’t follow me?”

A cold hand shot from the glass and grabbed his wrist. “No.”

It yanked—

October 02, 2020 15:56

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