I invite Rachel inside, and Chase leaves for the night, muttering something about missing his favorite show because he had to babysit a 16 year old. Personally, I think he enjoyed it. Good to know one of us did.
Rachel is Chase’s age, 17, but she acts a lot older. A lot of the time, I think of her more as an adult than someone nearly my own age. She sits down straight, and though she’s still struggling to catch her breath, her pride doesn’t seem to have wavered. When she can finally speak, she tells me that what she’s about to say will change my life; I need to be strong and listen, and above all, don’t be a skeptic. I can tell that what she’s about to tell me is important, and it worries me.
“Jamie, you’re no normal person. Just listen,” she says, holding up a hand when I try to say something. “When someone…young…dies, the Keepers of Aideen… Oh, you don’t know who they are. Well, basically, they watch over this island. Keep it safe. Anyway, when someone young dies on this island, a lot of times they’ll be given another chance – a chance to save someone else from the fate which they themselves endured. And…more often than not, that person will lose their memory, and be dropped into a time zone they are not familiar with.”
I stare blankly at her. “So you’re implying that I’m one of those people?”
She leans forward, her eyes sparkling. “Jamie, do you remember anything? A date of the month, someone’s face…maybe a television set? Anything?”
I pause. There is one date that has been popping randomly into my head since I woke up in the hospital: March 20, 2015. I tell her this, and ask what significance it has. She turns pale.
“Jamie…2015…that’s this year. It’s March 6 today. Do you know what this means?”
I tell her I don’t, and she explains slowly – and expects me to believe, apparently – that March 20 is the day I died, and that this is unusual. I ask her why.
“Look. When a young person dies and is accepted into the Keepers temporarily to save this person they’re meant to save, they’re usually dropped back onto the island anywhere from twenty to thirty years after they died, and never before.” She pauses dramatically, and my suspicion of her not being right in the head grows. She continues: “Why, you may ask? It’s all about time, like in those science fiction movies, when there’s a time machine and all that. Well, that’s all true. If you’re going to die in two weeks, then you’re still alive right now.”
“As far as I can see,” I say, showing her my hands.
She shakes her head. “I mean somewhere else. The you sitting here on the couch…this is the you after death. The you before death is still out there somewhere. You’re in two places at once.”
I stand up, startled. This is all fake, a prank to scare me. “Rachel, I think you should stay here awhile. At least until Ms. A gets back.”
“No, listen!” She grabs my hand, forcing me to sit back down. “Have you been seeing visions?”
The bathtub incident. Dreams. Yes, I have been seeing visions, and all of the same thing. But that has nothing to do with this. Does it? All the things Rachel is telling me…they’re not true. She’s crazy. Despite knowing this, I can’t stop myself from nodding slowly. Rachel looks even more convinced.
“Those visions…you’re seeing through the eyes of the person you need to help. A lot of times it’ll be an accident you’ll see, but that accident hasn’t happened yet. That’s the accident you have to save that person from. You need to gather clues from each vision – usually there’ll be a major landmark or something nearby. Just pay close attention next time you see a vision.” She stops for breath. “Now, this is where it gets complicated. You’re not dead, but you’re going to die. When the living you dies, the dead you will perish as well. This is a problem for two reasons. The first and more simple reason is that if the person you’re meant to save dies after the living you dies, you’ll already be gone. The more complicated of the two reasons is this: if the living you dies before you’ve saved the person, you’ll just keep coming back to this, over and over. See, when the living you dies, you will come back as a Guardian again, and the living you will live again. And then you will die again, and come back again. And so on and so forth. You need to save this person before the living you dies on March 20, or you’ll never rest in peace.”
I can hardly breathe. What she’s telling me makes sense, and that’s what scares me. Then I remember something I should probably tell her.
“Rachel…in one of my visions…March 20. A calendar. That date hasn’t only been in my head, I’ve seen it in visions, too,” I explain. “Does that mean the person I have to save is going to die on the same day as me?”
“It could,” Rachel says quietly, pondering. She looks like she’s been through this a million times.
I can’t help but ask: “You look like you’re used to this. How do you know all of this stuff?”
“Because I’m like you, only I serve in a different way. I died young as well, and I had been…doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. Drugs, stealing, all that stuff. Well, for me, when I died, just being a Guardian like you wasn’t enough. So, I don’t get to rest until I’ve helped ten people like you. You’re my second.”
When she’s done speaking, Rachel stands up and walks to the door. I stop her, insisting she stay until Miss Ashton returns in a short while, but she refuses, telling me she knows I think she’s bonkers, but that I’ll believe her soon enough. The last thing she says to me before disappearing into the inky blackness of night is “Pay close attention to those visions”.
I stare out the door. If what she is saying is true, then I have no life here on Jorvik after all. I’m dead. Going to die. Whatever. And if I save this person, I will “rest in peace”, which I’m guessing means I’ll die and stay dead. But if I don’t save this person…the “living me” will die and so will I, and I’ll be trapped in this time zone, going through this exact moment for the rest of eternity.
Being dead sounds better.