-August 13, 1987- thirteen days remain-
I woke up the next morning around nine. Wiping the sleep from my eyes I dragged myself out of the bed.
It would have been a great night of sleep if it wasn’t for the nightmares. Except that this one had been different. This one had seemed so, so real. I could still see the white light behind my eyes.
I could barely remember it now. Most of It had faded away, just like every night. Maybe it was better that way.
I finger-brushed my hair, relishing how clean it felt. It was hard to believe it had only been three days. It had seemed like an eternity had passed since I’d left my house. And now here I was.
After running my hands through my hair once more, I pulled my hands away.
And let out a scream.
My forearm and wrist was drenched in blood. The gaping wound looked only hours old. A quick glance at my other hand confirmed that I had obviously scratched It in myself with my broken, sharpened nails.
Breathe, I reminded myself. Breathe. This wasn’t that big of a deal.
Then it slowly dawned on me that there was… something written in there. I squinted my eyes to make out the message.
13, 3, 17, 9.
That was what it read.
Great. I had a bunch of meaningless numbers to work with. 13, 3, 17, 9. What did that even mean?
Whatever. I could figure it out later. For now I needed a way to hide it before one of the Darkos saw it. The last thing I needed was one of them thinking I was clinically insane.
Maybe I was. After all, I had been on Ritalin for the last four years, thanks to my shrink. She was convinced I had ADD. Truthfully I just didn’t like to listen.
Anyway, I stepped out into the hall and glanced around before scurrying to the bathroom. Hopefully they had a lot of band-aids.
I was almost there, just around the corner So of course it figured that when I turned the corner I turned right into none other than Donnie Darko himself.
He put his hands on my waist to steady me, and, forgetting myself for a moment, I gasped a little.
Donnie looked down at me. A small smile crept onto his lips. “Don’t be scared,” he whispered.
I wanted to tell him that I wasn’t, that fear was the furthest thing from my mind (at least when it came to him) but I couldn’t find my voice. Instead I just shook my head.
Donnie moved his fingers gently up my sides until they were just below my bra. I tried to stay perfectly still, tried not to let him show how much his touch was affecting me.
In a split second, Donnie had jumped away as though I was a poisonous snake. “I’m sorry,” he blurted. “It’s just… I’m just… never mind.”
Swallowing hard, I hesitantly stepped towards him. “It’s okay,” I murmured.
But the moment was over, shattered fragments crashing to the ground around us. Donnie gave me a tiny half-smile and turned to walk away.
I took a chance. “uh… do you have a sweatshirt I could borrow?”
Donnie turned around and nodded. “Yeah. Follow Me.”
Donnie led me into his bedroom, and I stood nervously in the doorway as he went into his closet. I glanced around to take in the scenery of the small room. Scattered drawings hung around the walls.
“You draw?” I asked him when he came back out, holding a plain black sweatshirt. He shrugged a little as he handed it to me.
“A little,” he replied. The tone of his voice indicated that he didn’t want to keep this conversation up.
“Well, thanks, I guess,” I muttered, quickly shoving my arms into the sleeves. The soft material stung against the cuts. I’d have to remember to clean it out later. The last thing I needed was a massive infection. It was already going to be noticeable that I was wearing a hoodie in August.
Donnie didn’t reply or make any notion of moving. I sighed, turned, and left.
I found my way downstairs to the living room, where Elizabeth was sitting on the couch. The news was playing on the t.v. screen.
“What do you think?” Elizabeth asked me. “Bush or Dukakis?”
I frowned. Politics really weren’t my thing. “I dunno. Bush, I guess. Dukakis is just so…” I didn’t know how to finish that sentence.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Damn conservatives. I’ll be voting for Dukakis myself, if he makes it that far.” Cracking a grin, she added, “nice sweatshirt, by the way.”
I felt a blush rise to my cheeks. “Oh. Um. Yeah.”
Elizabeth laughed a little. “hey, it’s no big deal.” Then she lowered her voice immensely. “You like him, don’t you?”
I tried to act nonchalant. “I don’t even know him.”
Elizabeth waved the tiny matter away. “So? You still like him. You want him, Don’t you? Oh my God, Donnie’s got a secret admirer!”
“Shh!” I demanded. “You’re not gonna say anything, are you?”
Elizabeth’s smile was stunning, that of a regal, first-class liar. My mother had had one as well. “Of course not.” Not unless it had any personal gain for her. I knew how the world worked.
We turned our attention back to the television.
“…In more local news, an unexplainable fire broke out last night, completely destroying a house and everything in it.”
The screen changed to show images of the house they were talking about, and I felt my heart speed up. Although it was barely recognizable, I knew without a doubt it was the abandoned one from my dream the previous night. Scenes came rushing back to me as I stared at the t.v. the girl, her eerie voice, and the words she had spoke to me.
Thirteen days, three hours, seventeen minutes, and nine seconds.
That was when the world would end.
I was trembling now. I tried to get it under control. The reporter went on.
“Firefighters say that the house was abandoned and that no human remains were found. Police have not ruled out arson as the start of the fire. The arsonist would be facing fines of up to three thousand dollars and possibly some jail time. I’m Jessie baker, reporting live.”
Elizabeth reached for the remote and flipped the channel over to MTV. “Jesus,” she mumbled under her breath. “Why would somebody want to burn down an old house anyway?”
“Maybe there was a body in there,” I joked. “Maybe they were trying to kill someone.”
Elizabeth and I exchanged a glance and then burst out into laughter at how ridiculous it was.
Still, it was sort of creepy that the house I’d dreamt of the night before had burned to the ground. And what about the woman? What about her words? Was the end of the world truly just around the corner?
And what was I supposed to do about it? How could I stop it?
Well, I had thirteen days to figure it out