Unexpected Side Effects
Walking into the room, Clint and Chewy found Kent staring around as if in a foreign land.
“Why the hell do you have levers next to all your doors?” he asked, rubbing the shoulder his sling hung on.
Clint slipped over next to the closet to keep Kent at a maximum distance, and then he watched Chewy go over and drape himself on the bed. Clint couldn’t believe he was being so relaxed about this.
“It’s an old house,” Chewy said, nonchalantly. “The doors jam sometimes.”
Clint marveled at Chewy’s bravado. He came up with the lie so naturally. Inside, Clint wished they could say otherwise. He had built them after all to open the doors from the other side so that they didn’t get trapped in the room by the door bridges. But he could do little bragging about it without having to explain way too much more.
“Only you?” Chewy lazily drawled out from the bed.
“What do you mean?” Kent said, dropping his large eyebrows.
“Tom’s fine—no injuries?”
“Of course not! Why do you think I’m here?” Kent said, holding his one good arm out. “That lummox has no idea.”
With that, Clint forgot his anger, realizing something was going on here.
“You said this started about a week ago?” Clint glanced at Chewy who had lifted an eyebrow of interest.
“The major injuries…yes,” Kent replied.
Clint squinted. It was all beginning to make sense. “Yes? So you had problems even earlier?”
Kent shoved out his lips. He didn’t seem to trust either of them.
“Maybe,” he opened with before deciding it’d be okay. “Like three weeks ago.”
The test—that was it! It all started when Chewy had lost his power—well, not really lost it. Clint had to wish it away to save his best friend from expulsion for cheating, but he had a feeling it was somehow connected.
Clint began nodding causing Chewy to sit up in bed.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Don’t you see? That was when everything started going downhill for you too,” Clint said. “I think I understand what’s going on now.”
He smiled only to find the two other individuals in the room staring at him with questioning glares. He put up his hands to signal that he’d explain and moved into the middle of the room, feeling slightly braver.
“Kent wished to be better than you at everything. By doing that, his abilities became linked to yours. If you were the best, he was just a little better. But if you somehow ended up becoming the worst…” he trailed off, letting them connect the dots.
“Are you saying,” Kent growled, pointing a strict finger at Chewy, “that because he now sucks, I suck too.”
Chewy began giggling on his bed, drawing both of their attentions before he was able to squeak out his words.
“Close,” he said, wiping away some tears. “But not exactly. I suck so you suck just a little bit less than me.”
Chewy broke into a fit of giggles again, causing Kent to snap.
“Then what are you laughing at?”
Chewy swallowed hard to control himself. “Because it all makes sense now. Last week, right around when all your accidents started, I was informed that by this Wednesday I would be dead. And what’s only slightly worse than that?”
Clint’s face went flat with disbelief, but Chewy was right. What was one step better than dying—getting every bone broken? Being a walking calamity of accidents? If that were true, it seemed to say there was little either Clint or Chewy could do to stop the event on Wednesday from happening. And his anger began to rise thinking of Chewy’s overwhelming confidence.
Before he could finish this thought, a thump rang out behind him.
Clint spun around, seeing a large man dressed in a billowing, black robe as if wearing a cape, and a broad black hat. After the ghost had attacked them earlier that winter, Chewy showed Clint many pictures of Korean spirits and ancient gods. This man looked eerily familiar like an old time solider complete to the last detail, including the shiny sword glinting in his right hand.
In a second, Clint’s brain turned off, and he lunged for the door, slamming it shut. He heard his own voice yell out, “Chewy!” And then, he swung the door back open, revealing a long black corridor and dove in.
He hit the ground hard, staring down into a sea of black. For this reason, door bridges always freaked him out. It was like walking across an endless pit without falling. But he pushed all of this away, flipping over just in time to catch Chewy jumping on top of him.
Both screamed from the collision but quickly realized neither was injured. It was more so out of fear than pain. They scrambled to their knees and stared out the open door bridge at Kent who had turned white seeing both of them disappear right in front of a large Korean man.
The man stepped into the room, and Kent began throwing things aside—the desk chair, blankets and pillows—to get as far away as possible. His injuries, however, made it difficult, and he fell to the ground, slamming his already broken arm on the floor. The crack of the cast breaking made both Clint and Chewy cringe as they watched on.
Clint tried saying something but his voice didn’t seem to work. Luckily, Chewy’s did.
“Don’t worry. He should be okay. Remember it’s me they want.”
Clint nodded, but this didn’t seem to stop his heart from thrashing around inside. Then the man in the room shifted his head to the side, almost as if looking backward to where they were hidden. Clint knew the door bridge kept them out of sight, but it seemed like this specter wanted them to see something.
The man’s eyes narrowed, and then he lifted the sword above Kent who was frozen in fear. Clint wished Kent would’ve made some kind of sound—anything—then maybe the man would leave.
At that moment, the soldier twisted his arm and drove the blade of his sword right through Kent’s chest. Kent’s head uplifted for a second as if to meet the thrust, and his eyes bulged either in pain or disbelief before collapsing to the floor. A moan escaped his body as it stopped moving.
Retracting his blade, the solider held the sword up as if to admire it, holding it in clear sight for both of them to see. It had no blood, but Kent’s body still wasn’t moving. And the soldier turned toward them and walked out the door, leaving the room empty.
For the first few seconds, neither spoke, but just stared at Kent’s lifeless body before Clint was able to muster enough of his voice back.
Next to him, Chewy swallowed hard, his eyes focused on the body in front of them.
“I don’t know,” he said shaking his head. “I don’t know.”