"Do we get a plus one?" she demanded. Fire, crumbling buildings, storms. She didn't see them. They were only in her head.

But she didn't make it in time. She tried. She knew exactly what it was when it started. She didn't know how she knew, but she knew.

She had grabbed her keys and bolted out of her house. Her car screeched out of her driveway. Towards the school.

Shane's school.

She didn't make it. What was happening there now? She didn't want to think about it. The traffic. She blamed the traffic. If it weren't for the traffic, she might have made it. It was too late. She wasn't even in her car anymore.

If she was ever going to have an out-of-body experience, this was it. There was no fire, no explosions, no storms like she had imagined. Just roads covered with traffic below her. And the details were fading. Where she used to easily be able to make out bridges and buildings, they were now fading.

She could no longer remember how to get to the school. What was happening to Shane? She didn't really want to know, but she had to ask. She was afraid memories of him would fade too. Everything was dissolving, blurring out. She could no longer remember the floor plan of the school.

"If I got there now, I wouldn't even be able to find him," the thought screamed in her head. "Do we get a plus one?" she demanded again.

"Yes, you may if you want," the voice reassured her in the gentlest of tones.

That did not stop her heart from wanting to explode in her chest.

"I want Shane!" she shouted. "I want Shane!"

She could feel tears burning like acid on her cheeks. "What is happening to him?" she shouted at the voice.

"He will be okay," the voice said calmly. "He will be okay."

She wanted to believe it but couldn't.

A hand reached down towards him. He wasn't sure if he could even call it down.

He had lost all sense of direction. He didn't recognize the hand, but for some reason he knew it was his mother's.

"You will be okay," a voice said.

He couldn't tell where it came from. Maybe from all around him. He didn't recognize the voice either, but for similar reasons also thought it was his mom's.

Maybe she had sent someone to pick him up. Was this a new babysitter? It was hard to think straight. He didn't know where he was anymore, but he knew enough to reach for the hand.

The grip was unfamiliar but he could feel his mom behind it. Its warmth flowed into him and reminded him of his body. He was being pieced together. Everything else had dissolved into the fog, but he was now being reconstructed out of it, lifted out.

He looked up. Someone was smiling down at him. It wasn't his mom, but the sun was so bright he couldn't make out the person's face. Slowly they rose into the air out of the murky grayness, then started accelerating.

In an instant they were shooting into the sky. Towards the sun. Shane wasn't so sure it was going to be a good idea if they actually flew into it, but his mother was reassuring him, even though she wasn't there.

The sun exploded in front of the two of them, larger than he had ever seen it before. All his senses began firing, yet he felt no pain. Everything went white.

"Did I save him?" she demanded. "Did I save Shane?"

"Yes, he's okay," came the reply. "Everything's going to be fine."

"I want to see him!" She wasn't convinced. "Take me to him!"

It's my fault. It's all my fault. I didn't make it. I didn't make it in time. She couldn't stop thinking about letting Shane down, letting herself down.

"He will be here soon," the voice said. "You need to rest now."

"I don't believe you!" she shouted. "Show me he's alive!"

She didn't want to use the word alive but it slipped out. It made her think about his death. And not just his death, but the deaths of everyone she had known.

"I want proof!" She wanted to pound her fist against something but wasn't sure where her body was.

"Relax," said the voice, "remember the people in your life. Repeat their names, imagine their faces, picture their personalities."

She was on a field. A grassy field.

There was dim ambient light. She closed her eyes but was still able to see the field. A figure emerged, bathed in light.

"Mom?" it asked. "Mom!" it shouted.

She ran towards it. Or it ran towards her, she wasn't sure. Other figures began to emerge too. Her husband had appeared, walking much more slowly than Shane.

"Is it you?" she asked. "Is it really you? I thought I had to sacrifice you."

"No," the voice said from no apparent direction, "this is not my world Mrs. Edwards, this is yours."

She looked around again. They were all people she knew, people she loved.

"Is this the end?" she asked. "Has my world ended?"

"No," the voice said again. "That was only the introduction."

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