Shade was gone. He was gone too. As if he was gone into Mike's head. Was seeing through Mike's eyes. Was hearing through Mike's ears. And it was a strange, strange world.
"Happened sometime in the night."
"I heard it was at the stroke of midnight. She was possessed by the spirit of darkness."
"I'm sure you'd say that. You crazy goth. This isn't your vampire and werewolf comics."
"And you have a better explanation?"
"She jumped. That's all there is to it."
"She was so happy. So bright. What made her jump?"
"Its high. But not so high. Couldn't have been an immediate death. Think it was painful?"
"According to your own words, she fell from so high and didn't die immediately. What do you think?"
"It should be just how bad did she hurt."
"They found her when cleaning. So sad."
"Being who she is, how bad is it going to be?"
It was the question on everyone's mind, that no one could voice. And now that one had, everyone fell silent.
Mike knew everyone who spoke. But their names were under a haze, as were their faces and any distinguishing feature. They might all be faceless mannequins. What Mike was truly looking at, wasn't those around him. His eyes were rooted to ground where the blood pooled. The longer he stared, the further everything else fell away. As if the clock was turning back, the morning darkened. Wasn't long before it was night. And it wasn't just a pool of blood. A girl lay by it, spitting out the blood. Up above, near the end of the roof, stood a shadow looking down. A shadow that seemed to have pushed the girl. A shadow that seemed eerily familiar.
"Was that me?" Mike asked himself.
Several voices spoke at once, breaking him out of his head. Immediately he saw why. The principal was walking over with several teachers. He too ran.
Classes were cancelled for the day. What happened was something truly terrible. Unlike anything the school was equipped to handle readily.
In the evening, everyone gathered at the school auditorium. All the students and all the teachers and all else. The principal took the mike, calling what happened a terrible tragedy. A student had fallen, he said. And died. There was a long silence, paying respect to the departed friend. The teachers would all be available at any hour of the day for any student to reach out to. They would all help each other through the tragedy.
Mike wasn't going anywhere. He couldn't see why. Someone jumped off a building. He had barely spoken a few words with her. Why would he be affected?
That night, there weren't many who slept peacefully. Mike was one of the few. What started off as a dreamless sleep had him wake to an empty school in the embrace of night. His feet didn't ask for directions, walking him through the hallways of the acad building, taking him up to the terrace. And there, the darkness opened up enough to show the presence of someone else.
Tanya was standing on the parapet. Perfectly balanced like the narrow parapet was no different from the flat ground. Arms outstretched like she was performing a circus act. Smiling as if mesmerised by what her closed eyes showed. He wanted to warn her, get her off the parapet before she fell. As he reached out, his hand pushed her off instead of pulling her down. There wasn't a scream. Not the smallest sound until she crashed to the ground far below with a thud.
Mike woke stunned in his bed. It was almost dawn. The sky was changing from dark to dull bright. He was drenched and cold. Staring at his hand disbelievingly. He hadn't pushed her, he told himself. He was by the door. Much too far away. No, he repeatedly denied. He was innocent.
There were no classes today either. A break was necessary, the school doctor advised. Mike needed a walk. He needed quiet to clear his head. To convince himself that none of it was real. It was a tragic accident and he was reacting too harsh. He was walking almost all day, along the many trails of the academy. It was just a nightmare, and it was over.
But it wasn't. Late into his sleep, he had another nightmare. And the school woke to another tragedy.