I woke slowly, blinking groggy eyes to clear the haze that hovered across my vision. “Hey, you okay man?” A voice drifted in from the edge of consciousness and I shifted my head towards the sound.
“Hey. Hey. You awake there?” The words were becoming clearer, as was my vision. The wash of colors coalesced into the familiar form of Joey, my friend.
I opened my mouth to speak, but was only able to manage a short groan.
Joey sat back in the chair he had pulled up next to the bed with a relieved expression on his face. “Oh good, you are alive. Was starting to worry that’d the team’d lose its star player, you know?”
With a grunt, I sat up rubbing my eyes. I had dreamt something while I was out. Which was odd, since I normally didn’t dream. Or at least I don’t remember them. Still, the dream, it seemed important… Something about doing something.
“…you won’t be able to stay on the team anyways.” Joey was still talking and seemed a bit disheartened by something.. I moved to touch my head, and my eyes widened in surprise at the gauze bandage wrapped around it. Almost instantly, as if provoked by my attention, a searing headache ripped through my skull causing me to wince and at the same time, dispelled the last vestiges of the dream.
“Wait.” I rubbed my temples in attempt to ease the pain. But, not only that, there had been something that Joey had said that sounded incredibly important. “Repeat that last part?”
“You can’t stay on the team anymore?”
“No. Yes, I mean, before that. Why?”
Joey sighed, rubbing the back of his head and refused to meet my gaze. “Well, you know, you’re a Chosen One now. You’ve gotta go to that place.” The emphasis on that was clear. He meant that place. The Magic Nations.
“Christ…” The word slipped out before I could self-censor myself. My hands dropped into my lap and I stared vacantly at them for a moment, trying to absorb the impact of the words. My life was no longer going to be my own.
Curses bubbled upon my lips as my hands knotted into fists and I felt an overwhelming need to hit something. “Are. You. Kidding?!” I punctuated each word by slamming my fist into the bed. My life! My friends, my parents, my job, my team, my home, my plans, my life! Claire. Joey was shying away from me in his chair, so I turned away, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed and setting them on the ground on the other side.
A few moments passed while I composed myself. “Was I the only one?” I whispered, using the motions of rubbing my head to mask my wiping away of the tears on my face.
“I-“ Joey started, but was interrupted by the doors being banged open. Both of us leapt to our feet at the noise. An action I immediately regretted as a wave of nausea washed over me, and I stumbled, steadying myself against the bed. It was Claire, being carried in by Emma and the school nurse.
The school nurse eyed me, one eyebrow arched as she laid Claire out on one of the other beds in the infirmary. “Glad to see you up and about. Means she should be waking up soon too.”
“What happened?” The words caught in my throat as I noticed a similar set of bandages wrapped around Claire’s forehead.
She’s been chosen!” Emma screeched, holding tight to Claire’s unconscious hand. My heart skipped a beat. Maybe this wouldn’t be too bad. I had known Claire for what felt like my whole life. We had been close all through elementary school, and it’d only been in the last couple of years when we’d started drifting apart. We still talked every once in a while, but as a rule, she’d just stop being interested in hanging out with me. But at the very least, I wasn’t alone.
Joey gave me a nervous look. “Look, I gotta get back to class, alright?” I nodded at him mutely as I sank back down into a sitting position on the edge of the bed.
“Give me a call later yea?” I responded with a thumbs up before crossing my arms, eyes locked on Claire and Emma on the other bed. What was I going to tell my parents? What was I going to do? What happened next? I couldn’t say what was on my mind anymore, the thoughts all jumbled together, creating an impenetrable white noise inside my head. I sighed. This sucked.