Authors: Nelou Keramati
The Fray Theory - Resonance
© by Nelou
© 2016 by Nelou Keramati
is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents contained
within are either the products of the author’s imagination, or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is
coincidental and not intended by the author.
on August 31, 2016 by Finch Hill
© 2016 by Nelou Keramati
of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without the express
written permission of the author, except in the case of quotations embodied in
critical articles and reviews.
To our collective consciousness.
words as my instruments, time and time again I fail to compose a melody worthy
of my loved ones.
My incredible mom and dad,
I love you more than words could ever express. Thank you for keeping the world
big for me. And my lovely friends, Penny and Salma, without your relentless
love and support, this novel would’ve remained an obscure idea at best and a
faded memory at worst. I am beyond grateful that the thread of my life crossed
paths with yours.
devoid of logic. They neither begin, nor end. In dreams, we do not question
reality. We bend the laws of physics, and defy gravity. And I know it’s hard to
believe, but you are not dreaming.”
OPENS HER EYES TO A BLEAK SKY. To a canopy of dark clouds with slender silver
linings. They are so ripe with rain that their weight is dragging them down
through the atmosphere.
The sky is falling
Neve’s focus trickles back
down to earth. Down to where she finds herself enveloped by vibrant colors and
as though she is the subject of a living painting.
But whether this painting is of a miracle or a massacre, she is yet to know.
Her body heat is slowly
seeping into the ground.
She tries to rise, but
even the smallest movement feels like a huge undertaking. Not only does her
body feel heavier than a boulder, she can barely feel her limbs.
Am I dying
With that thought, her
flickering eyelids fall shut, sweeping the world away, and all that remains is
a rippling echo:
I know it’s hard
to believe, but you are not dreaming,’
she hears in her mind over and over
again. She hears it in her own voice, but those are not her words.
And then, a warm gust of
wind trounces the mild scent of freshly-cut grass, bringing with it the stench
of something synthetic.
When Neve opens
her eyes, she detects
lights of a police vehicle oscillating between pink and
blue on a nearby building. And with a short burst of static, she becomes aware
of radio dialogue in the distance.
Voices of strangers are
emerging from obscurity, but they’re far too dissonant to make sense of. If the
occasional gasp is any indication, however, what’s happened here was no
The distant wailing of an
ambulance disrupts her thoughts, and with
what little energy she can muster, she turns her head towards her
Instead, her focus closes
in on a horribly mangled SUV with its snout completely caved in.
Neve stares at the locus
of damage, incapable of making sense of what she sees. It looks like the front
of the car is wrapped around an invisible column.
Is she imagining
And confusion paves the
way for panic.
Clicks of doors and hurried
footsteps drown out the growl of the idling ambulance. And right on cue, a middle-aged
paramedic emerges from behind the decimated vehicle.
At the sight of Neve, his
speed begins to dwindle. And then he’s simply standing there, suspended in as
much disbelief as the spectators behind him.
Snapping out of his
stupor, he quickly bridges the gap. But even once he has kneeled by Neve’s
side, he does not engage her.
As his bewildered gaze
soars over her body, Neve tries her best to read him. But the deeper the crease
between his brows become, the more terrified she is to ask him what he sees.
Is the damage to her body
that catastrophic? Is that why she can barely feel a thing?
Summoning the courage, “how
bad?” she manages to ask with a tattered voice.
“You’re, um—I don’t see
any blood,” he says as his eyes dart about Neve’s frail frame. He keeps
blinking as though expecting what’s before him to change.
To make sense.
“Do you remember what
happened?” he carefully pulls a lock of Neve’s black hair from her face.
“N-no,” she stammers,
“Okay, it’s okay. We’ve got
The corners of his eyes
wrinkle as he attempts a comforting smile, and Neve feels a rush of warmth in
her right hand.
He must be holding it.
the way for his team, the paramedic rushes to the driver’s side of the
He peers in with
anticipation of horror. Of blood and broken bones. Of lives lost and those
hanging by a thread. But instead, he finds nothing.
Through the windshield’s
frame, he looks further up the street to where the driver would have been
thrown upon impact. But once again he finds himself at a complete loss.
He returns his focus back
to the vehicle, searching the cavities for survivors. But not only does he fail
to uncover even the smallest speck of blood, he realizes there are no keys in
With a frown tainting his
he backs away from
the vehicle and stares at the wreck in its entirety. It’s like looking at an
empty can of pop that’s been crushed against a pole.
The hood is crinkled, and
the front bumper and engine have been pushed back into the front seats. But the
question is, upon impact with
The paramedic’s eyes are
drawn to the unscathed crash victim as she’s placed onto the stretcher.
She is rather small, and probably
weighs no more than a hundred and twenty pounds. There’s no way a girl her size
could withstand a collision like this and live to tell the tale.
Things aren’t adding up.
“How’s she doing?” a police
“Well, she’s got no
visible injuries,” the paramedic licks his lips and glances at his team. “There’s
always a chance of internal bleeding, though. So we won’t know for sure till we
get her back to the hospital,” he delivers his usual spiel, but given the
circumstances at hand, it feels especially contrived.
In truth, he has no idea
to think. And time is fast running out if he is to quench his curiosity. “So
what exactly happened here?” he looks to the officer who puffs his cheeks as he
“Honestly, never seen
anything like it,” he glances over his shoulder at the SUV. “Got a whole bunch
of witnesses swearing they saw the car crash into her.” He squeezes out a
chuckle. “I mean, I keep thinking it’s a prank or something..? But the skid
marks, and the scraped pavement—” he points out the trail of damage behind the
mangled SUV. “I honestly don’t know what to tell ya.”
“What about the driver?” the
paramedic’s inquiry falls on deaf ears as the officer marches back into the crowd.
Towards a young man in a dark leather jacket weaving through the onlookers.
lone wolf detects the ensuing threat, and with his Husky blue eyes, sizes up
the officer marching up to him: middle-aged, balding, and quite thick around
the waist. Judging by his pompous grin and labored swagger, he must have been a
pretty big deal some thirty pounds ago. Definitely not the type who’d let you
off the hook with a warning.
The young man
tucks his blonde locks behind his ears, wincing as
a sharp pain shoots through his left shoulder. And with his chin lowered, he
takes a whiff of his damp shirt.
,” he curses
under his breath.
The smell of alcohol is
overwhelming, and it’s not something he would be able to explain. At least not without
raising more questions.
Should he make a run for
it? Is it worth the risk in his condition? Should he even be considering it
with his track-record?
Doesn’t matter. His small
window of opportunity has already come to a close.
“Don’t I know you..?” the officer
bridges the gap and stands fortified between the young man and his objective.
“You’re asking me if
And without warning, the
cop’s inquisitive squint broadens, brightening his expression.
“You’re that kid,” he says
with a self-satisfied grin, “Romer Anthony. I was the one who processed you a
few years back, remember?”
The ambulance is taking
“Is there something I can
help you with? Or are you just brushing up on your solo good cop/bad cop
With that remark, the
cop’s face darkens slightly, but he masks it as though it’s second nature. “Fancy
running into you here,” he grins from ear to ear, his tone loaded with subtext.
“You wouldn’t happen to know anything about this, would’ja?”
“Nope,” Romer crosses his
arms. “Just a regular, impartial bystander.”
“That right?” the officer
takes a half-step forward, standing far too close for comfort. “Then why the
hell are you so nervous?”
the racing ambulance, the paramedic ends a phone call with an anxious frown on
He glances down at Neve, then
turns away and whispers something to the EMT.
There’s something unnerving
about the secrecy of their exchange, but Neve’s mind is too foggy to figure out
what it is.
She doesn’t feel any pain,
but her stiff neck-brace is making it a big challenge to keep her head raised.
So she quits eavesdropping and relaxes back down.
Judging by the short
glance she took at her body, it doesn’t seem like she’s suffered any fatal injuries.
With luck, maybe the hospital will release her after a quick check up.
Then again, they will most
likely insist on keeping her until at least some of her memory returns.
Exhaling a weak sigh,
Neve’s gaze soars up to
lights. They run the length of the ceiling in pairs, sort of like a row of
headlights on a busy street at night.
Oh my God
Her heart skips a beat as
the horrible memory of the incident comes crashing back.
Color drains from her
Adrenaline floods her
What is she going to—
“What’s your name?” the
paramedic’s voice snaps her out of her downward spiral. His tone is friendlier
than before. Almost alarmingly so.
“I can’t remember,” Neve
She needs to get out of
here ASAP. The ambulance won’t be stopping for traffic lights, but it
have to slow down to take a turn. And when it does, she just might be able to
jump out and make a run for it.
And time is running out.
Neve raises her upper body
as high as she can to sneak a better look at the back doors.
Is there some sort of
locking mechanism? Can she just burst through?
“Lie down, please,” the
EMT presses down on her breastbone and forces her onto her back.
Wide-eyed, Neve stares up
at him as the twinge of his prodding seeps in deep.
treat a crash victim. She was right. These men aren’t who they seem.
“I don’t need to go to the
hospital,” she says, but neither acknowledges her. “Seriously, I’m okay.”
the doctor clears you,” the EMT says with his back to her. He then holds up a
syringe containing a faint blue serum.
Neve’s brows furrow. “I
don’t need that.”
“Don’t worry. It’s just
antibiotics,” the EMT flicks the tube twice, getting the air bubbles out.
“I said I don’t need it.”
“Just lie back and relax.
You’re in good hands,” the paramedic smiles, but there’s something in his eyes
that speaks another truth—a concoction of guilt and fear, which frankly shakes Neve
to the core.
Her heart is pounding in
her ears. Her breaths are shallower than a film of dust. Her anxiety is
flaring, and her entire body is atremble.
“Relax your arm, please,”
the EMT grabs a hold of Neve’s wrist, but she yanks it out of his grasp. “Okay,
I’m going to need you to cooperate now,” he warns with a steely voice, then makes
Neve swats the syringe out
of his hand and tries to rise, but the men swiftly pin her back down.
“LET ME GO!” she screams. “ROMER!
EMT throws a strap over Neve’s floundering frame. The paramedic grabs and
clasps it in, securing Neve’s midsection.
to Neve’s pleading, they work their way down her body, applying additional
reinforcements until she can’t lift a finger.
no no, please—help—” Neve gasps for air, but the sensation of drowning floods her
oxygen-mask descends upon her dry lips, and no compassion rains from the men’s vacant
Is this it
this how I’m going to die
shuts her eyes as the promise of unremitting peace seduces her resolve.
too tempting to surrender. To just let go, and sink into the depths of darkness.
I know it’s hard to
But you are not
The EMT grabs the syringe
off the floor and rises to his feet. But he drops it not a second later at the
sight of Neve’s eyes igniting to a ravishing shade of scarlet.