Rachel from Michigan sent me this story:
It figures. A month after I get my license I wreck my brand new car! Not to mention my leg. Okay, so it’s ten years old—the car, not my leg—and it used to be my dad’s, but to me it’s new. Anyway, the car was back from the shop, but I still had two weeks to sit around the house by myself with my left leg in a cast, hobbling on crutches.
I was soooo bored! I never thought I’d say this but I really missed being in school. I mean, all my friends are there. There’s no one to IM during a boring weekday afternoon, so I’d just sit around and watch daytime TV. LAME!
Then one day the really weird thing happened. I was watching some dumb soap opera on a local channel when they broke into the show with a special news bulletin.
“This is a special report,” the announcer said urgently. “An explosion has ripped through Lansing High School.”
“Oh my God!” I shouted, grabbing the remote and raising the volume.“Two students and one teacher are confirmed dead, and dozens more are injured. The fire continues to rage out of control, as firefighters from four communities battle the blaze. It is believed that the explosion took place in the chemistry lab.”
I watched in horror as terrible images flashed across the screen. The school was a blazing inferno. Orange flames and thick black clouds of smoke poured from every window of the three story building.
“The chem lab!” I cried, looking over at the clock. I realized with horror that if I’d been in school that day, I would have been in chem. class at that exact moment.
Robin! My best friend and lab partner Robin Richards was in that class room!
I snatched up my crutches and hobbled across the living room. Where did I leave my cell phone! Got to call Robin! Oh my God, how can this happen? Where’s the damn phone?
I looked over at the kitchen table. Right where I had left it. A couple more crutch hops and I was there. I hit Robin’s cell number on speed dial. Come on, come on, why do they call this stupid thing speed dial!
Pick up, pick up, pick—
“Hey, it’s Robin. Tell me something exciting. Call ya back. Bye!”
“Robin, I heard about the explosion,” I practically screamed into the phone. “Tell me you’re all right. Please tell me you’re all right!”
I clicked off and stared down at the phone. Like that was gonna make Robin call me back. I had to do something. I couldn’t just sit around here while my school burned down. Looking back, maybe it was crazy idea. Maybe I should have called the school. But I wasn’t thinking straight. All I could think about were those poor kids in my chem class.
All I could think about was Robin.
I grabbed my car keys and hobbled out the front door. I sat behind the wheel of my car with my crutches in the seat beside me, and my left leg in its cast extended next to the brake. The doctor told me not to drive until the cast came off, but this was clearly an emergency situation.
As I turned the key and the car started a wave of fear rushed through me. This was the first time I had been in the car since the accident. My mind flashed back to the impact, the horrible crunching sound, the screeching brakes, my own voice screaming, the searing pain in my leg. It all rushed back to me, mixing with the terror and worry I now felt for Robin and everyone else in my school. I burst into tears. But I had to go. I slipped the car into reverse and backed out onto the street.
I’m only five minutes away, I thought, as I put the car into drive and stepped gently onto the gas pedal, my right hand shaking on the steering wheel, my left hand holding my left leg off to the side. I’ll make it.
With one hand on the wheel I started the trip to my school that I had made hundreds of times before. But somehow it all felt strange, as if I’d never driven on these roads. The houses and stores zipped past. I knew them all like I knew my own name. But today they looked different.
My brain began to argue with itself.
She’ll be all right. Everyone’ll be all right. How can she be all right? They said that the fire was raging out of control!
I forced myself to focus on driving.
As I approached the school I peered into the sky, expecting to see smoke.
The sky was clear.
I rolled down my window, listening for sirens.
Everything was quiet.
Is it all over already? Is the whole school gone?
I swung around the final bend to school and held my breath. I bit my lip. There it is!
There it is? All of it. Perfectly normal. No smoke. No flames. No nothing.
Was I losing my mind? Did I fall asleep and dream that TV report?
I pulled up to the curb right in front of the school building and left the car beside the “No Parking Anytime” sign. Struggling out, I reached back in for my crutches and made my way slowly into the building.
The rubber tips of my crutches squeaked against the linoleum floor and the bottom of my cast clunked hollowly as I rushed toward the chem lab.
They’re gonna think I’m nuts. They’re gonna say I fell asleep and dreamt this, or that I’m bored and this is some stupid prank, or—
I stopped short at the door to the lab and peered through the glass.
The lab was fine, but no one’s in the class? What is going on here?
I spun around on my cast leg and shrieked! I was face to face with Robin.
“Oh my God, you’re alive!” I cried, dropping my crutches and throwing my arms around her.
“Yah, Rache,” Robin replied, returning the hug before picking up my crutches. “I didn’t die, I still come to school even when you don’t. Which brings me to…what are you doing here?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I had this crazy dream, and—I better get home before my mom does. She’ll go nuts if she finds out I drove!”
“Come on,” Robin said. “I’ll help you to your car.”
“Weren’t you supposed to be in chem lab?” I asked as we reached the front door.
“Hello! Today’s Thursday, not Tuesday. Lab’s fourth period, not third,” Robin said.
She was right. It was Thursday. Since I’d been home, the boring days just blended into each other. Half the time I didn’t know what day it was.
“I was just getting to lab a couple of minutes early when I saw you and your four
legs.” Robin explained.
She helped me down the stairs and opened my car door for me.
The bell sounded.
“And now I’m late,” she said.
A thunderous blast exploded from the school. The ground shook and I fell against my car as glass, steel and brick rained down on the parking lot.
I screamed. Flames poured from the far end of the building where Robin and I had stood just five minutes earlier.
“Oh my god!” Robin cried.
The front door burst open and panicked, screaming kids poured from the school, followed by thick black smoke.
Robin and I huddled across the street, watching the terrible chaos. I searched the crowd for the other students in my chem. class. I spotted a few of them, but some were missing. I could have done more to save them if I’d only trusted whatever power had shown me this tragedy in advance.
Now kids were dead—kids I knew. I knew this wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might have saved some lives, somehow. That’s why I wrote to you, Jason. That’s why I need to figure out what happened to me. It had never happened before. And now I live in fear that it may happen again. And if it does, what will I do?