With the astonishment being higher than the fear contained in my heart, I made my best effort to free myself from that arm that was grabbing me, but without being able to move it even an inch as my eyes became blurry due to the asphyxiation as well as the pain that my neck suffered, one that unconsciously led me to tears.
I was about to pass out, and unfortunately, I would do so with a lot of questions on my mind yet, or so I assumed until the man who was hanging me, the one I came to thought was my brother, after pulling me back to get enough momentum, released me, sending me flying.
The experience of my body being thrown through the air was unforgettable, for just as I experienced on many other occasions during this day, my brain, finding itself in a situation of extreme danger, began to work at full speed, urging me to move to fall into a position that would cause me the least amount of damage. However, even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I did not do it.
My body traveled high, at least two meters from the ground. I know because from there, I could see the four strangers down. So, after realizing that, I came to a conclusion that seemed reasonable to me.
‘Ah! This is a dream. I see, none of this is real’
That’s what I thought while qualifying such a feat of superhuman power as something unreal, as something that could only be seen in Hollywood movies or fairy tales. Therefore, as I watched the flashing sky, I stretched my arms out to my sides, unprotected, for I believed that this blow would be enough to wake me up.
I was wrong.
A groan of pain came out of my mouth just when I crashed against the windshield of a car, a very resistant one since, despite the heavy impact, it did not break completely, although it was about to do so after several cracks like spider webs spread on it.
The glass was not the only thing that was damaged, for I got hurt too. After all, no matter how much the car cushioned my fall, my back ended up very sore, as did the back of my head, from which blood began to ooze out, as well as my elbow, which was slightly cut by one of the small sharp shavings that came off.
”It can’t be. It can’t be…”
Because of this event, the wounds, which had previously recovered, returned, although they did so in a very different way. Still, none of that mattered to me, for all my attention was focused on convincing myself of the impossibility of the situation.
I remember losing consciousness for a few moments before regaining it when I heard several hurried footsteps approaching where I was. So, in a way, I ended up sleeping in a dream, but that can’t happen, so…
”So, this must be real. No, it is not”
I refuse to believe that there is anyone capable of lifting, with just one arm, a grown man weighing more than seventy kilos, to then throw him several meters away with little apparent difficulty.
The mere thought of it seemed to me laughable and absurd, something that could not happen in this world where humans have a clear boundary, one that, for some time, I reached out to touch.
Stunned, disturbed, but most of all confused, my thoughts were diverted in a direction very distant from what was troubling me earlier. However, such worries took a back seat when I heard the three men, who had just arrived at my side, speak.
”Ryan, are you okay?”
”Hey! Hey! Hey!”
”Breathe, idiot! Don’t die! I have yet to hit you”
”… Henry, Noah, Mark… guys… what are you doing here?”
I said as I raised my uninjured arm to support my aching head, because once I heard the voices of those who were part of the many friends I made during my childhood, and in turn, of the few I kept in these last years of adulthood, I decided to get up.
… or at least, that’s what I thought I would do, but my body did not allow me to do it so readily, as it urged me to stay lying down. I was tired and wanted to cry, but I couldn’t stay still, not in this situation.
With difficulty, I sat on the hood, about to place my feet on the ground to stand up, but my movements stopped when I heard new footsteps approaching.
”So, where the hell were you, motherfucker?”
I trembled, unable to answer him.
The words did not come out of my mouth, not just because I was afraid or had become accustomed to bowing to threats, but because I wanted to hear him speak. I wanted him to tell me why I was upset, even if it was impossible for me to ask him. Therefore, avoiding his gaze as I looked down, I waited.
A foolish action since, in the end, it had the opposite effect. That is, he became even more angry than before.
”… What’s wrong with you, asshole? You don’t plan to answer the question I asked you, huh?”
Grabbing me by the hair, he roughly lifted my head so my eyes could be level with his.
Without saying anything, we looked at each other.
I saw him. I watched each of his features in great detail, making it impossible to deny reality any longer. He was my brother, one that seemed very different from the last time we were together.
Then it hit me. Something strange was happening, something that, with my limited imagination, I could not understand. Much had changed, so much so that it was demonstrated not only by his physical appearance but also by the feelings that his gaze revealed.
Yes, there was evident anger under his scowl, but there was also a hint of sadness and pain. I wanted to speak to him more than ever, but I still couldn’t. Thus, it was he who finally broke the tense silence.
”Well… it doesn’t matter if you don’t want to talk. After all, I don’t need any explanation from you, you fucking coward”
Having said that, he released me, not before punching me on the cheek, one devoid of the power he had previously shown. After that, he took a few steps away from me to continue talking.
”… hey, it’s true that the old man explained everything that happened that day, but… even so… sigh!”
A heavy sigh cut his words short, and after looking at the sky for a few moments, he resumed his march to the front. However, even though he had already gone far away, I managed to hear, like a whisper at the level of my ears, the end of his sentence.
”Even so, we thought you would return to help us when it all went to hell”
With that said, his back turned so far away from me that it was impossible for me to see him anymore.
‘What happened during my absence? How did he become so strong? What does he mean by that day if all that happened a few hours ago? Why did he look so sad? Where are my mom and uncle? Why aren’t they with him?’
My mind short-circuited due to the worries that erupted one after another. They choked me more than he did me with his calloused hand. I needed answers. I was desperate for these and planned to get them no matter what. Even if I had to run after him, despite him beating me to a pulp afterward, or break into a random house to ask questions about everything to its residents.
So many drastic plans formed in my head, which, fortunately, were erased when I remembered that by my side were still those people who could help me.’
With a hoarse voice, as if I was about to get sick from the stress as well as the rain that so far has not stopped soaking me, I spoke.
I had so much I wanted to say, but, at the same time, I couldn’t find the right words since I also wanted to listen to them as soon as possible. So, I ended up choosing the simplest option.
”… What happened?”
Once I said that, for the first time, I turned my head to the direction where they were, only to see their faces that were illuminated thanks to the light of the incessant lightning. Faces that, as with my brother, looked more deteriorated than those etched in my memory.
‘Really, what happened?!’
Apparently, there was a long story I needed to hear.