Her parents had finally calmed down, but her brother had never recovered from the weekend’s incident. Nobody said what had provoked such a sudden panic attack, yet things had gone back to the usual routine. Or they more or less had. Nadia’s parents had insisted on staying at home for the weekend, and had not taken her brother to hospital until Sunday evening.
On Monday, Nadia was supposed to go back to school. Her neighbourhood looked almost the same as usual, though slightly dishevelled. It was as if everyone in that whole area had aged a little bit more than they should have during that weekend. One of the first symptoms of this sudden transformation was the couple who lived opposite of Nadia’s family. They were, as usual, each getting into their car, getting ready to drive out to their respective jobs. Yet, this time, the wife seemed careless in her driving, as she almost ran over the tiny dog of Mr Johnson, the widower who lived at the end of the street.
Nadia had been a little startled to see the little dog almost get killed, but understood that tiredness could be the cause of such behaviour. Her parents had also been a bit careless in the morning, and she thought that it was understandable that not everyone had good days. It was probably the same thing with the old woman who usually went to mass and to do some grocery shopping around that time of the day, who, as Nadia saw when she passed next to her kitchen window, had stayed home that morning.
But Nadia had an ominous feeling when she crossed to the other side of Finley Avenue. The people there looked similar to everyone in her nieghbourhood, as they always had, but Nadia couldn’t shake the feeling that something was different about them. The ones who noticed her, stopped to stare at her. Their eyes opened wider than Nadia thought was normal, they stood there, unblinking, as if they were processing something.
When she got to the bus stop, she looked around: while the people she had left behind were not looking at her anymore, they all seemed to face the ones on the other side of Finley Avenue. When she looked at the side of the street she had come from, she noticed similar behaviour. What was going on? Before she could receive an answer, the bus arrived. Before anyone could get onto the bus, the driver got off, inspected everyone, and then pointed at Nadia.
“You can get on” he then looked at the others. “I’m afraid the rest of you will have to wait for the next bus”.
Nadia followed the bus driver into the bus, and when the door closed behind her, she took the courage to ask him. “Why did you only let me onto the bus?”
“Because you’re not like them. You are like me. We’re different. We’ve been awakened, you and I” the driver responded, as he carefully drove through the street.
The answer had confused her even more. “What? Awakened? I don’t understand”.
“When the president was assassinated, it all clicked back into place. Some of us have awakened. Like you and me. There are a few others out there” he continued in his frenzy.
“The president was assassinated?”
She received no response. They had reached an intersection, and the bus stopped. Groups of people had gathered on every side, and they were looking at each other. Nadia was more and more confused at everyone’s attitude, and wished this was all just a bad dream. When the light became green, the bus driver started the engine again, and slowly continued his way.
“We need to act in a way that they will find predictable…” he mumbled, trying to look normal.
As the bus passed, Nadia was startled by a loud bang. Someone had hit the bus on the side. She saw the people running against each other, against the bus, and attacking the people from other groups. As they left that horrible scene behind, she tried to keeping looking forward.
“Why… What’s going on?” she asked, more to herself than to the bus driver.
“I don’t know. But there are factions out there. There’s something in their minds. You need to keep acting normally to hide from them” he stopped the bus and opened the door. “Your stop. You need to go to school”.
“Wait! What made you think I was different? Why did you pick me up?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, I just knew. Anyway, you need to get off now. And remember, act normal and predictable. They won’t notice you if you do that”.
Nadia was left with more questions than answers.