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Scarlet woke with a start, her head screaming as thousands of images poured through her mind, that face; again and again, it haunted her; soaking through her very blood, drenching her mind with the image; she couldn't escape.

She sat there for a moment willing the image to leave. When she had balanced her thoughts, she turned to look at the alarm clock; 4:27, Same as it had been every morning for the past three weeks.

Three weeks since she turned sixteen.
Three weeks since the dreams started.
Three weeks since she started to remember.

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I woke for the second time that morning, determined to forget what had happened only hours before. I slipped out of bed quickly and went to get dressed, I was still pulling my shirt on as I headed through the door.

I walked down the steps to the  kitchen and  I almost toppled over at the sight of my mother up and cooking. 

That was definitely a first.

My mom had smooth honey toned skin, and warm emerald flecked greenish-brown eyes that could soothe a dying man in his last moments. She almost never got up before nine unless something serious was happening;

"What are you doing up this early?" 
I ask curiously, 

Her face doesn't change, she looks a bit dazed and it takes her a minute to actually acknowledge that I said something.

Here eyes flick to mine for moment, I raise my eyebrows and turn my hands out in inquiry 

"Im sorry dear, did you ask me something?"

"Never mind, it wasn't important" 

"Dear?" she ask absentmindedly.


"Would you mind staying here alone for a while? I have to take care of something. It will only take a few minutes."

She still wasn't looking directly at me, rather moving around the eggs around in the pan, they were burning but she didn't seem to notice.

"Why, where are you going?"

"I... "


A moment passed

"Have to go to the store." She exclaimed suddenly, she nodded and set her face as if assuring herself that yes, she was simply going to pick up groceries.

I know her better than to believe her, something was very wrong

I reply knowing full well I had no intentions of staying. I needed to follow her.
"See you in a few minutes," she turned and walked out the door .

she left her purse, and she left the stove on. I walked over and turned it off, I grabbed the pan and turned to dump the ruined eggs into the bin.

I sat down.

I looked at the clock, 5 minutes.

7 minutes.

12 minutes.

15 minutes.

When I couldn't wait any longer I dashed out the door, forgetting to close it in my hurry.

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I pedaled through the streets, of our small town just off the coast of Florida, or what used to be Florida. Now it was nothing more than some run down pubs, and a few scattered houses. I made it to "Greg's Groceries" in almost no time, it took me a total of about two seconds to gather that my mom wasn't there, I'd figured as much. 

I looked down at my watch 7:57. I wheeled my bike slowly back down the path, looking in every dusty window for a trace of my mom.

 Where was she going?

 By the time I got to my street I started bolting for my house.

 8:25 she could, should be home by now; and I was gonna be in a hell of allot of trouble when she got back,  I silently grimaced at the thought, My mom becomes a different person when she's angry.

On that note I hopped on my bike and pedaled down my road.

Thats when I saw it. The smoke.

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