December 31, 2022
“Hey mom, I’m going with Kayla to the park for a couple hours”,Jason yelled from his room as he got his guitar packed in its case. “Text Nathan and tell him that to meet me there with his keyboard.”
“Okay, be safe and stay out of trouble, I don’t want another call from the police saying you we’re trespassing again!” his mom replied, showing some of her rare humor she once had before he was born. She knew he was born a trouble maker.
Jason had his equipment packed and was heading out the door when his mom called for him, “Don’t stay out too late, I’ll call you at eight to come home.”
“Okay mom, keep dinner warm for me and make sure dad doesn’t try sneaking off with my rifle again,” he said laughing and walking out the door.
He put the strap ofhis guitar case over my shoulder, hopped on his bicycle and rode off towards the park. It felt nice to have the wind running through his long, dark hair that Kayla loves to stroke because of its natural softness. Jason rode past the old discount store his brother used to work at before he started high school; he always got things for free when he went there as long as Jason limited it to two items. He has so many memories living in Santa Fe, mainly because his mom wants to move down to Houston, Texas. His mom said Kayla could come with as long as it was okay with her parents, he doubted they would, but then again he could’ve been wrong. Jason had been dating Kayla for three years because both of their dads are team mates in a Marine Spec Ops team and decided to introduce them. Some would say love at first sight; he would’ve said something that would last forever. Aside from her, he’s made so many friends since moving here from California.
He was just a couple blocks from the park when he saw multiple helicopters tearing through the sky, nothing new, maybe just training more pilots. Jason could fly a helicopter any day thanks to his granddad teaching him to fly; he had crashed his first time flying. He pulled up to the curb and put his bike in the back of his brother’s truck, seemed a little off he was here before me but it shouldn’t matter. As he was walking over to where they all usually met, he started pondering my thoughts. They should be here about now. Jason sat down on the bench and waited. It’s when he started pulling out his guitar is when they jumped out from behind the bush tackling him to the ground.
“I got you that time little bro!” he said helping Jason up while laughing just as annoying as a hyena. He’d managed to get Kayla giggling too. “Next time I’m going to make you pee yourself, just watch.” He always had ways of scaring the living crap out of him, made it even worse in front of Kayla.
“You’re just messed up, you know that? Ha maybe dad can teach you to be a marine,” he said chuckling.
“Maybe, I’m sneaky enough to be one,” he said, winking towards Kayla.
“Yeah, we’ll see in the next paintball tournament. I’ve been practicing with my rifle a lot more than I used to, you wouldn’t stand a chance.”
They all laugh a little bit more before jamming out like they originally came to do in the first place, rehearsing the song Jason had written a few days before: United Again. Good thing the town was pretty fond of their music; otherwise they wouldn’t let them play in the park like they usually do. After our rehearsal, Nathan left and took Jason’s guitar home with him, leaving Kayla and Jason alone to enjoy the rest of the evening. It was starting to get cold though, like that was going to stop them.
After about 7:30, Jason had expected his mom to call but no one did. 10 o’clock rolled around and had them walking home to see what was going on, keep close for warmth. Good idea about this time of night and weather. A really nice night for a walk with someone you love, bright full moon, crisp cool air, the warmth of the person beside you, and the quiet peacefulness the night had to offer.
“I don’t think anything could ruin this night,” he said before kissing her. She had smiled and kissed him back lovingly, and then they started walking again. Time spent with her always made Jason’s day every time he was with her.
As good as this night has gone; Jason didn’t want his mom worrying about him. She’s probably just going to ground me again like last time, Jason thought. As if that will do anything to a kid who has resources, she can try and will fail in the process. Even with her old police training, she will never be able to take him out on the paintball field. Thanks to his dad, Jason became one of the best paintball players in New Mexico and California. Crucial training and years of blood, sweat, and tears, literally. He always said that Jason could take on even one of the best trained Special Operations teams; his father always made him feel like could take on an entire army by himself and win. Every time they went hunting, Jason always took down the first buck either of them saw. Jason’s dad always got him the stuff he needed when Jason was grounded; he’s one of Jason’s best resources. And every other weekend, Kayla and Jason would go paragliding in the canyons around us, even when he was grounded.
They walked home, hand in hand, nothing to worry about, enjoying the cool breeze. They’ve never really had to wear a heavy coat here, but his mom doesn’t like the weather here anyways. That’s one of the reasons she wants to move to Texas. It’s usually always warm in Houston, to what she thinks. If it were Jason’s choice, he would’ve preferred to go to Corpus Christi. It’s really pretty there and fairly warm. Jason didn’t want to go because he doesn’t want to leave Kayla behind; he wants to stay here with her. He hasn’t told her that his mom he doesn’t want to move yet. Kayla is the girl that he wouldn’t give up at all for anyone or anything in the world. She’s practically his life in New Mexico, tú eres mi vida, corazón y alma, I always tell her when we are together. No one is going to take her from me and she knows that. He love how every couple weekends, Kayla gets to come spend the night with him at his grandfather’s house, she loves laying on the hamock, bathed in the warm light of the sun. It always makes his weekend better than a dream. He always wished it would last forever, but school comes to end it.
The two were a few blocks from Jason’s house when the things started to feel wrong; their neighborhood is never this quiet. You could hear the crickets chirping from blocks away in the cool night. There’s always a guy down the street who is blasting his guitar amp around the time of night too, but there’s nothing. Jason knew Kayla could feel it too, something was definitely wrong. The question is: what happened? Jason’s hand was already reaching for his pocket knife just in case something went completely wrong. Things aren’t going to be pretty, but where is everyone? They couldn’t have just vanished into thin air, Jason thought to himself
They were walking into Jason’s living room and the coffee table had been flipped over and all of his family stuff was everywhere. Pulling his pocket knife out in an instant, he was ready for a fight. My house is a wreck, no one is here. Something had definitely happened. The year of 2022 isn’t going to be a good thing for anyone in the United States. Both Jason and Kayla could see that the odds aren’t exactly in their favor just like Katniss knew in the Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins.