I don’t know if our presence had distracted them, or if they were somehow just reckless machines that had ridiculous death wishes, but before Jacoby or I could move a muscle, they had leapt right into traffic.
I screamed as I heard car tires screech. The sound made upon impact made me cringe.
“Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.” I pressed my hands to my mouth as I watched one of the men roll off the windshield and hit the ground. He lay there unmoving.
I reached out beside me and came into contact with Jacoby’s arm. I grabbed his elbow and squeezed as hard as I could. Slowly, I looked up at his face.
His mouth was hanging open, and for once, his flowers were gone, not a leaf in sight. He swore quietly.
“Oh my gosh,” I said, shuffling a step backwards from the accident. The other Guider stood there limply, staring down at his companion. They were human enough for an accident to stall them, that I now knew. The owner of the car that had hit him rushed out of his car, staring for a moment in shock at the body.
“Isn’t he going to do anything?” I asked hoarsely. “We should call. We should call 911 or something. We…We were the ones that made him—”
I turned and stared at him. “No?”
“No.” He shook his head to emphasis his point. “If we dial 911, we’ll be called in to witness, we’ll be questioned by the police. It’ll slow everything down.” There was a steely glint in his eyes. This was the Jacoby that had grabbed me at the dinner party and given me orders without explanations.
“I’m calling.” I made a move to take my cell phone out, and was shocked when Jacoby’s hand shot out and wrapped around my wrist.
“No. You don’t even understand the circumstances,” he snapped.
I didn’t give him a chance to continue. “I do. But I’m not going to let someone die because of me.”
“Do you know what would’ve happened if they’d caught us?” Jacoby whispered, keeping a steady hold on me as the bus stopped in front of us. “You have no idea what the stakes are. You have no idea what’ll happen to us.” He flashed his bus pass and pulled me along after him to a seat in the back.
“Jacoby, they’re human, too.” I knew the stakes had to be high, but I didn’t believe for a second that they’d volunteered to be turned into that, and I told Jacoby so.
He forced me to sit in a vacant seat, and I sat waiting for his response. There was a malicious fire dancing in his eyes. I’d never seen him angrier.
“Listen,” he said, gripping the yellow pole next to the seat and leaning down. “I’d love to be a good person and call the ambulance for them. And I would, if I wasn’t in this position. It’s called self-preservation. We go on thinking that it’s a bad thing to have, and yeah, it’s selfish, but that’s what you say when you’re sitting at home or in class and the biggest risk you’re facing is tripping down the stairs or banging your knee against a table.” He looked away from me, out the window, and wet his lips. “Self-preservation doesn’t exist for nothing, Jasslyn. Now’s as good a time as ever to put it to use.”
My heart sped. Much to my embarrassment, my throat closed up. “Fine. I won’t call,” I said, feeling like a little kid after getting yelled at for the first time. “I won’t call.”
He stared at me for a moment, and when he spoke again, it was with a softened tone and relaxed posture.
“I don’t like it any more than you do,” he whispered, taking the seat next to me. “But we’re not running for no reason.” He glanced at me, not meeting my gaze, like he was ashamed for snapping at me. “We won’t be safe unless we go. If we don’t, I just know something bad’s going to happen.”
I shook my head. “I guess someone else called the ambulance,” I said in a small voice.
“Yeah,” he replied with a nod. “He’ll be fine.”
I had a feeling that despite his talk about self-preservation, he was just as shaken as I was.
“Tell me more about running away?” I asked, swaying a little as the bus hit a freshly paved road.
“I will,” he said. “Just…” He struggled for words, face blank. Slowly, the floor of the bus cracked open just a little. Four small mounds of dirt pushed their way up through the metal, and from that, four feathery-white flowers appeared. “I’m scared you won’t come with me if I tell you.”
It wasn’t the best thing to say.
“Then how can I? How can I go with you when I have no idea what you’re asking me to do? What it requires?” I shook my head. We lurched to a stop, and from a glance outside, I knew we were a stop away from our school. “I won’t say no,” I promised. “I still believe you. I still trust you,” I whispered, perhaps too quietly for him to hear judging by the flowers that had grown and multiplied at his feet. I cleared my throat, making sure he heard this. “I need to think. What you’re asking of me is huge, and I’d appreciate it if you gave me some time.”
He stared at me unblinkingly even as the bus lurched to a stop across from our school. A wailing ambulance zipped past us in the opposite direction as we hopped off.
“Okay?” I asked, pausing with one foot on the crosswalk. “Okay, Jacoby?”
He nodded, looking down at his feet. A new plant had grown in super speed, a dark green set of vines that inched towards me.
I turned from him and walked away, jumping slightly when I felt a light brush against my ankles. I glanced down as I went, and saw the curled tips of the plant graze my calves. I shook my head.
I need to think.
(**A/N: Sorry guys, it's a short chapter :P At least it's not a cliffhanger, right?)
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Jasslyn Brookside has always harboured a curiosity for her childhood friend. She can't be blamed: Jacoby Harold is constantly trailed by flowers and plants, the occasional balloon or firework. He isn't the only one. From the day Jasslyn could form t...