To Save a Life - Epilogue: Some, more than others

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Zach wakes up slowly; a dark fog clings to his mind as he struggles to regain conciousness. There is a memory of a bad dream somewhere in his mind, but he cannot seem to collect his thoughts enough to remember it. Kaylah is there - she is sitting in a small blue plastic chair, fast asleep. Zach guesses that it is either early morning or late envening from the dull light that slips betweeen the closed blinds to his left. There is a pungent smell of medicine, disinfectant; a beeping noise confirms that he is in a hospital. The bed is comfortable, warm. Zach hoarsely says, "Kaylah..."

Kaylah is awake and standing fast enough to make Zach's brain hurt. She is leaning over his bed and giving him a huge hug. She has been crying. "Zach!" She half-shouts, half-whispers, "You're awake!" She regains her compsture, and Zach regains his breath. "I'm so angry with you, but - "

"Angry?" says Zach, curious.

"Yes, dammit!" she swears. "I wanted to help you! And Ben!" She pauses here, and her face dims. "Zach, he's -". "He's dead."

Zach almost starts crying again as that bad dream is reality once again. "I know." He says simply; he remembers the look on Ben's face as he - Zach - killed him. Zach remembers Ben's last words, and grabs Kaylah's sleeve "He sacrificed himself for the world! He sacrificed himself for me and you! He said he wanted to be a hero." Zach turns inward. Keylah seems suddnely taken aback. Zach continues, and begins to cry. "God... I was enthusiastic at first. I wanted to learn magic! I was going to save the world!" A pause. "But now Ben is gone. I hate it...I hate what I had to do. And Alton! Alton is dead! He sacrificed himself! If I hadn't... they would still..." Zach brings up his hands to cover his face, but Kaylah intercepts them, and grabs on to his bandaged fingers.

"It's not your fault. Maser did this." She reassures him, bringing Zach's hand back down to his side. She leans closer, hugs him again. "You're safe now. It's all over." Kaylah walks over and opens the blinds to a sunrise over the Colorado plains. Streaks of yellow light dither across the ceiling and speckle the wall. "The funeral is tomorrow." She says, still looking out the window. "I was hoping you would be awake for it."

"I feel tired, and old." Says Zach, from the chrome and linen hospital bed. "Very old."

Kaylah turns back around and walks over to the bed. "The doctors did a bone scan. You did break a few things, but the scan can also show a person's age.'re six years older than you should be." She sits down, and puts her warm hand on the back of his. "Nobody can figure it out, and, of course, I don't tell them anything. Nobody remembers the attacks. All we know is that the bus station was destroyed, and that you and Ben were found in there. They're still trying to figure it out."

"Six years. I'm... I'm twenty one. I'm...old."

Kaylah smiles wryly. "Looks like we all gave a bit of our life to end Maser's. Some more than others. I'm lucky you were able to slow my fall, or -"

Zach interrupts, "Yeah. Some more than others."

A pause allows the sound of talking, laughing, and a rolling hospital bed to pass outside the door. Inside, a few motes of dust hover through the still golden beams shot through the window. Zach and Kaylah are both thinking.

Kaylah breaks the silence. "You need to get some rest. I'm going to go get some food and tell your parents that you're up." She turns on the ball of her foot and walks out of the room.

Zach tries to turn on his side and gives up for the pain. He lays there, staring into the stippled ceiling tiles until he lapses back into dreams.

The day is bright and sunny. Ben's funeral is beautiful. They sit and listen as a preacher says some words. Ben's casket is lowered into the ground. There is silence. Everyone looks at the coffin. Zach and Keylah see Ben, the time they spent together, the pizza, the happiness. But Maser is still there. Maser took his life.

Zach and Keylah leave the funeral in tears. Nobody knows about Ben's sacrifice except for them. But they agree - if there's a way to go, saving the world is as good as it gets.

Final Words, from the Author
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