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 Shadowman Chapter VI

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Shea Ballard



Posts : 53
Join date : 2012-11-28

PostSubject: Shadowman Chapter VI   Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:04 am

Chapter VI: Consequences
Jade hated riding the bus. She had argued for a learner’s permit, but her mother refused. “You’re not mature enough to get behind the wheel of a car,” she had said.
“Mom, I’m 16 now,” Jade retorted. “I’m old enough.”
Her mom came back with, “You’re old enough, but you’re not mature enough. There’s a difference.”
She had continued by saying that anyone her age who ate Spaghettios and still liked to watch SpongeBob could not possibly be mature enough to drive. Jade replied that her diet and TV habits had no bearing whatsoever on her ability to drive a car. She lost the argument. Mom would not budge. And so Jade sat on the bus.
She sat near the back, arms tucked in close to her body, left hand gripping her iPod. Across from her, a man was having what looked to be an engaging conversation with his feet. Jade sat further back in her seat and brought her legs up to her chest. She looked down, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. She turned up the volume on her iPod in an attempt to distract herself with music.
Jade’s mind swirled with a million different thoughts. ‘This is my fault,’ she said to herself. ‘If only I hadn’t taken revenge,’ and ‘Why did Iblis help me do this?’ played in an endless loop in her brain. ‘What if…’ and ‘I could’ve…’ and ‘I should’ve, and ‘If only…’ thoughts crowded her consciousness. The guilt ate at her insides. Many times she felt on the verge of tears, but to cry on the bus would be mortifying so she held them back with great effort.
Finally, the bus reached Jade’s stop. Amber and Crystal met her in the lobby of the hospital. The three exchanged hugs.
Crystal wiped away fresh tears. “Damn, I thought I was done with that.”
“How is she?” asked Jade.
“She’s doing okay,” replied Amber. “She’s stable. Physically, at least.”
“Can I see her?”
“Yeah, we’ll all go up and see her soon.” Amber sighed. “We want you to have a cup of coffee with us, first.”
“Coffee? This is hardly the time…”
“It’s not for the coffee, Jade. “
“We want you to meet someone,” interjected Crystal. “We need to talk before…before we go up and see her.”

Jade followed her friends to the hospital cafeteria where they each got a coffee. Amber and Crystal then lead her to a table where a fair-haired youth sat. He appeared to be in his early 20’s and Jade thought him to be attractive; nothing like her beloved Adam, of course, but still cute.
“Jade, this is Ryan,” Amber introduced, “Ruby’s brother.”
Ryan extended a hand. “Nice to meet you, Jade. Ruby speaks highly of you.”
Jade blushed slightly. She felt a pang of guilt deep in her gut. Ruby had been a true friend since Jade had first met her. To throw that all away over a boy seemed reprehensible to her now.
“Please, have a seat,” said Ryan.
The three girls sat across from Ryan at a circular table.
“Ryan and Ruby?” Jade asked, almost to herself.
“What can I say, my parents are weird.”
“Ryan, can you tell Jade what happened?” asked Amber, getting right to the point.
“Sure,” he replied. “I came home from school.”
“He goes to ASU,” interrupted Crystal.
“Yeah,” he continued. “I came home and the house seemed empty. Then I heard the shower running. I thought Ruby must be in there, but then when I walked by the bathroom I saw the door was ajar.”
“That’s weird,” said Jade.
“Yeah, you’re telling me,” replied Ryan. “Teenage girls are very modest creatures, particularly insistent on their privacy. For Ruby not to have the bathroom door shut and locked is highly unusual. And it seemed an odd time for her to take a shower. Usually, she takes them in the morning.”
“I take mine at night,” said Jade.
“So anyway,” he continued, “I knocked on the door and shouted her name. No response. I thought maybe she couldn’t hear me with the water running, so I poked my head in and called for her again. Nothing. My next thought was that she started the shower and had gone off to some other room in the house. But that didn’t make any sense. Something felt not right.”
“What do you mean?” asked Jade.
“Call it intuition. Call it a sixth sense. Call it whatever you want. Something just felt wrong.”
“So what did you do?”
“I walked into the bathroom. I called for her again. I said, ‘Ruby, are you in there?’ No reply. Now I was starting to get scared. I grabbed the shower curtain and hesitated. The last thing a guy wants to do is walk in on his sister while she’s taking a shower.”
Jade nodded her agreement. She was an only child, but could imagine how embarrassing that would be if she did have a brother and that happened.
“So finally I pulled back the shower curtain, expecting to hear her scream and yell, ‘Ryan, what are you doing? I’m in the shower!’ I only wish that was what happened.”
Jade swallowed hard. She could feel the butterflies in her stomach again. They were fluttering about wildly as a shot of adrenaline coursed through her body. She waited with bated breath for what she knew was coming next. For his part, Ryan seemed to having trouble continuing. He swallowed, too, and seemed to be holding back tears.
“What I did see was Ruby lying lifeless in the tub, both writs cut open and razor blade in her hand.”
Jade felt like she had been punched in the stomach. She struggled to fight back her own tears. “What did you do?”
“I checked for a pulse. Amazingly, we had just learned in class how to check a pulse through the carotid. My major’s pre-med. Anyway, I felt a pulse. It was weak, but it was there. So I called 911.”
Jade had her face in her hands. She couldn’t look at Ryan right now. It was all too much.
“The doctor in the ER told me that she had probably just done it. He thinks it was minutes, or even seconds before I walked in the door. He said that I found her at just the right time. If it was much later, she would have bleed out. It would have been too late.”
Jade was sobbing now. Amber and Crystal were crying, too, but not as hard. Jade looked up at Ryan and asked, “Do your parents know?”
“They’re out of town. I called them. They’re on their way here.”
“I’m so sorry.” Jade meant it personally. She felt responsible and was sorry that she and Iblis had done what they did.
“Thank you, Jade. I appreciate you being her for Ruby.
Jade lost it again. She laid her down on the table and sobbed some more. Amber and Crystal went to comfort her. Ryan looked like he was about cry, too.
“Excuse me a second,” he said, then got up and left the table.
After Jade had regained her composure somewhat, Amber said, “There’s something else, Jade.”
“What?” Jade asked.
“They think Ruby’s crazy.”
“Crazy?”
“Mentally ill,” interjected Crystal. “We don’t say ‘crazy’ anymore. That’s politically incorrect.”
“Whatever,” replied Amber. “Jade, Ruby says she doesn’t remember having taken her clothes off. According to her, she went to the bathroom, washed her hands, checked her face out in the mirror, and then left. She claims that when she was in the bathroom her clothes were on and when she came out they were gone.”
Jade stared blankly back at Amber. That was, of course, exactly what happened. It was what she and Iblis had planned, but she couldn’t say that. She knew if she confessed everything they would never believe her. Her friends would think she was as crazy as they believed Ruby to be and she would get locked up, too.
“I know what you’re thinking, Jade,” said Crystal. “It’s a crazy story. I mean…not crazy. It’s…it’s very strange what she said. It can’t happen. It’s impossible.”
“But there is an explanation,” added Amber.
“There is?” asked Jade.
“They think she has a dissociative disorder,” continued Crystal.
“What’s that?”
“It’s like sleepwalking. They think she went into the bathroom, took off her clothes, which, by the way, were found neatly stacked in a pile in one of the stalls, and then, they say, she just walked naked out of the bathroom.”
Jade had never heard of such a thing. It felt like they were reaching for a plausible explanation. “But how…?”
“Like I said,” continued Crystal,” it’s like sleepwalking. Sorta. She kinda blacked out while she was taking off her clothes. She might have been having a dream that everything was normal, that she did just go pee and nothing else. But then when she left the bathroom and got out into the hall she ‘woke up’ and didn’t remember what she did. To her, having her clothes on and then being naked occurred instantaneously. They call it ‘missing time.’ Ruby missed those few minutes it took for her to strip naked and then walk out into the hall. It happens a lot in alien abduction cases. I read this one book…”
“Alright,” Amber cut her off. “I think she’s heard enough. We don’t need to go all Fringe on her. The point is Ruby is very sick.”
Jade was about to say something when Ryan returned. “Ready to go see her,” he asked.

“Can I help you?” said a voice from an intercom.
“We’re here to see Ruby Anderson,” said Ryan.
“One moment.”
A few seconds later a middle-aged nurse opened the door. She spoke with an English accent.
“Do you have a visitor’s pass?”
Ryan handed her a slip of paper.
The nurse examined it. “Very good,” she replied. “Please place any cell phones, pagers, purses, pocket knives, or other contraband into one of these lockers.” She handed them a few tokens.
The girls placed all their belongings in a locker.
“I have to wand you, now,” the nurse said.
“Wand us?” asked Jade.
“A metal detector,” replied Ryan. “To make sure you don’t have any weapons on you.”
The four submitted to the search and, once cleared, the nurse said, “I can only take three of you back at a time.”
“You girls go ahead,” said Ryan. “I’ll take the next one.”
The three said their thanks to Ryan and were lead into a visiting room, which was small and simple. It had only a table and few chairs. Ruby was already seated at the table waiting for them.
The shock of seeing her friend in her present state was almost overwhelming for Jade. She audibly gasped, then felt embarrassed for doing so. Ruby was dressed in a hospital gown. Her hair was tangled and unkempt, she wore no makeup, bandages covered both of her wrists, and she looked as though she hadn’t slept in days. She was almost unrecognizable.
Ruby’s affect brightened as soon as she saw her friends. She stood up and spread her arms out, inviting them to hug her. Jade felt weird as she hugged Ruby. It was as if she was hugging some stranger who just happened to resemble her friend.
The girls sat down at the table, Ruby on one side and Jade, Amber, and Crystal on the other. Jade couldn’t help but stare at Ruby, not able to get over her bizarre appearance. Ruby also seemed to be staring at Jade. After a few seconds, Ruby said, “Thanks for coming, Jade.”
“You’re welcome,” was all she could think to say in reply.
An uncomfortable silence lingered in the room for what felt like forever. After about only a minute, Amber said, “How have you been?”
“Better,” Ruby said. “After I got my wrists sewn and bandaged up,” she lifted her arms to prominently display the gauze that wound around each wrist, “I got sent here. They’ve started me up on some medication, and I’ve been going to the groups.”
“That’s good,” said Amber.
“Oh, and they’re gonna set me up with a therapist,” added Ruby. “But that hasn’t happened, yet.”
Another few moments of silence passed, and then Jade said, “Ruby, I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” replied Ruby.
Jade wanted to scream, ‘Yes, it is my fault!’ and confess everything, but she knew she couldn’t. No one would ever believe her. In fact, Jade wasn’t even sure she believed it. She wondered if she had dreamed Iblis up, but then if Iblis wasn’t real then how could she have carried out her plot against Ruby? It was enough to give her a headache just thinking about it.
“Ruby, why…?”began Jade. “I mean…you’re always so perky all the time. I never thought…”
“It’s a traumatic thing she’s been through, Jade,” said Crystal. “I’d be mortified if I was naked in front of the school, too.”
“Yeah, but that’s hardly the worst that could…”began Amber.
Ruby cut her off. “It wasn’t being naked that most disturbed me, though that was pretty embarrassing.”
“It wasn’t?” asked Jade, confused. That was the entire essence of her plan. It was the worst thing she could think of to do to Ruby.
“No,” said Ruby. “It was not remembering having taken my clothes off. It was losing that time. It was losing my mind that made me want to kill myself.”
Jade had never thought of that. She never really considered the consequences of what her revenge would do to Ruby psychologically. Her feelings of guilt were increasing exponentially. Jade sat in silence, unable to speak.
“I never told you about Uncle Louie, did I?” asked Ruby. She was speaking directly to Jade.
“Who?”
“My Uncle Louie has schizophrenia. He was institutionalized for most of his adult life. It’s only been about ten years that he’s been out of the hospital.”
“I had no idea,” said Jade. “What happened?”
“He had his first psychotic break when he was a little older than me. He was a freshman in college. That’s the typical age that schizophrenia usually begins, late teens to early twenties. It was during the Cold War and he believed the Soviets were controlling his mind. He thought they were inserting thoughts into his head and telling him to do treasonous things. He tried to drill a hole in his head. His roommate walked in just before he did it.”
Jade was tearing up again as Ruby told her story. Had she only know about this before she would not have asked Iblis to take revenge for her.
“So when I thought I was losing my mind…”continued Ruby. Now she was getting chocked up. Her voice broke as she went on with her story. “…I couldn’t handle it. I freaked out. I didn’t want to end up like Uncle Louie. I can’t have that be me. How will I handle law school if I don’t have a grip on reality? And if I decide to enter politics later, who will wanna vote for the crazy person?” Tears streamed down Ruby’s cheeks. “That’s why I tried to kill myself.”
“What happened to your uncle?” asked Jade.
“Oh, he’s great now,” Ruby said with a smile. “He’s on all the right meds and he’s not in the hospital. And he just got married last year.” Ruby’s smile vanished. She now looked somber again. “Imagine having to wait until you’re 56 to get married, cause you’ve been sick all your life.” There was another moment of uncomfortable silence. Then Ruby said, “I can’t have that be me.”
“Ruby?” asked Crystal.
“Yeah?” Ruby said, looking up.
“You have an uncle named Louie Anderson?”
Ruby laughed. “No. He’s my mom’s brother. Different last name.”
Amber and Jade laughed, too. ‘Leave it to Crystal to lighten things up,’ thought Jade.
As if reading her thoughts, Ruby said, “Thanks, Crystal. You always did know how to cheer me up.”
Jade stopped smiling. Comic relief aside, this was very serious.

“Iblis? Iblis where are you? Get your shadowy ass over here!” yelled Jade. She was furious now. She had had time to go from sad and remorseful to pissed off and wanting to shift blame.
“I’m here, Jade. Why are you yelling?” Iblis appeared over in his usual corner in Jade’s bedroom.
“This plan of yours backfired badly! You made her think she’s going mad! You vanish her clothes like magic, and then make them appear all neat and folded up in the stall where she peed? I mean, what the fuck were you thinking?”
“Don’t yell at me,” replied Iblis as he floated over to where Jade was standing. “I only did what you asked, and at the time you thought the plan was brilliant.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know how you were gonna do it, and I didn’t know she had a crazy relative.”
“What did you want me to do? Appear before her and say, ‘Please may I have your clothes. It’s all part of an evil plan your friend Jade and I cooked up to take revenge against you for stealing her boyfriend. Won’t you cooperate?’ And I didn’t know she had a crazy relative, either.”
“You’re just trying to shift the blame, Iblis. You know this is your fault!”
“How so? As I recall I tried to talk to you out of it. I warned you there could be terrible consequences. I said my power was dangerous. Remember?”
“You didn’t tell me Ruby would try to kill herself.”
“I didn’t know. All I know is that bad things happen when people take revenge. It’s a very destructive act. Bad karma.”
“You could have said ‘no.’”
“Oh, so now I’m the bad guy for helping you. Fine, I’ll never do it again.”
“Good, ‘cause I don’t want your help ever again! Why don’t you just go back wherever the hell you came from?”
“I would love nothing better.” The shadowman turned to leave, but then looked back. “Jade, you had a bad dream, didn’t you?”
“What?”
“A prophetic one. Your filter’s broken.”
“My what?”
“Your mind is open now, Jade. Expect more to come. I told you there’d be a price.”
Jade’s temper flared up again. “Go to Hell!”
With that, Iblis vanished.

Jade was despondent the next day at school. She barely paid attention in any of her classes, and was even quiet around Amber and Crystal. But then after lunch, something amazing happened. Adam spoke to her. He had followed her out of psychology class.
“Jade?” Adam said.
“Huh?” Jade turned around, surprised to hear her name.
“Can I talk to you a minute?”
“Uh…sure.”
“I’ll see you later, okay?” Amber said, excusing herself.
When she had walked away, Adam asked, “You’re Ruby’s friend, right?”
“Uh, yeah,” she said. But she thought, ‘and with friends like me, who needs enemies?’
“How is she?”
“She’s okay. I mean, as good as can be expected.”
“I called her and she told me all about what happened, but they won’t let me visit her, yet.”
“Why not?”
“I’m not on the visitor’s list. Ruby’s trying to get me put on it. Her parents are being resistant, though, since we really only just started going out recently.”
“You were going out?”
“Well, we had one date so far, but we wanted to go out again.
Jade lowered her head. Her jealous feelings were returning. She was imagining the two on a date and it was making her feel sick.
“If you hear anything new about Ruby,” he continued, “could you please let me know?”
“Yeah, sure.”
“Thank you.” Adam turned to leave. Jade let him get a few steps away, then suddenly called out to him.
“Adam?”
“Yeah?”
“What…? I mean…why did you like Ruby?”
“She talked to me.”
“What? That’s it?”
“No one talks to me much here.”
“Why?”
“I think it has to do with this.” He lifted up his Star of David pendant that he wore around his neck. “I’m one of only a few Jews in this school. I think it keeps most people for talking to me. But then Ruby started to. It was nice to meet someone friendly. Ruby’s a really nice person.”
“Yes, she is.” Jade started to tear up. Adam misinterpreted what she was crying about.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “This must be really difficult for you.”
“It’s okay,” she said, wiping tears away.
“I’m glad to have met you, Jade. I should…get to class now. Bye.”
With that, he turned and walked away. Jade began to feel sick again. She began to realize that all this time it could have been her that was with Adam. If only she had had the courage to talk to him. It could’ve been her. It should’ve been her. Then he would never have been with Ruby, and she would never have taken revenge. And Ruby would not be in a mental hospital for a suicide attempt. The guilt came once again in a strong wave that ate away at her stomach. She felt sick. Quickly, Jade ran to the girls’ bathroom and vomited in the toilet.
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