Everyone knew Cassie. She was a friendly child, sure, but I think the neighborhood knew her because she knew us.She was the reason our block felt like a family.
“Girl’s got second sight,” Alletta Johnson would proclaim from her window perch.
I’ve never believed in such things, but I’ll admit Cassie had a gift. To her, Alletta Johnson was “Miss Grandma,” while the girl who drove the ice cream truck was “Miss Dog Doctor.” Our mailman was “Mister Painter.” She played hopscotch and jump-rope with kids she’d dubbed “Singer,” “Teacher,” and “Fireman.”
I asked her about all the nicknames once, and from what I could understand they came from how she saw people—as potential. She didn’t exactly see our futures, she just saw us at our ideal.
“Everybody glows, Mister Writer,” she told me. “Everybody’s good.”
I’d never told anyone I wanted to write. It was a secret dream, not one I’d let myself take seriously. Yet somehow, she saw it in me. That’s how she saw all of us.
One afternoon I was cooling off on my front stoop when she skipped down the sidewalk with a stranger at her side. She had obviously enchanted him, just like everyone else. We smiled and waved, and as they passed I asked, “Who’s your friend, Cassie?”
She paused, tilting her head in confusion before exclaiming, “Oh! You’re being writery, Mister Writer!”
I should’ve paid more attention as she laughed and twirled off down the street, followed by the stranger. I should’ve realized.
Cassie always saw the good in people.
Cassie could only see the good in people.
But not everybody is good.
Everyone loves the first day of school, right? New year, new classes, new friends. It’s a day full of potential and hope, before all the dreary depressions of reality show up to ruin all the fun.
I like the first day of school for a different reason, though. You see, I have a sort of power. When I look at people, I can…sense a sort of aura around them. A colored outline based on how long that person has to live. Most everyone I meet around my age is surrounded by a solid green hue, which means they have plenty of time left.
A fair amount of them have a yellow-orangish tinge to their auras, which tends to mean a car crash or some other tragedy. Anything that takes people “before their time” as they say.
The real fun is when the auras venture into the red end of the spectrum, though. Every now and again I’ll see someone who’s basically a walking stoplight. Those are the ones who get murdered or kill themselves. It’s such a rush to see them and know their time is numbered.
With that in mind, I always get to class very early so I can scout out my classmates’ fates. The first kid who walked in was basically radiating red. I chuckled to myself. Too damn bad, bro. But as people kept walking in, they all had the same intense glow. I finally caught a glimpse of my rose-tinted reflection in the window, but I was too stunned to move. Our professor stepped in and locked the door, his aura a sickening shade of green.
People started falling from the sky by the close of the decade. They were never clothed, always naked, always a petrifying grin on their faces.
It had been just a few at first, but then hundreds and thousands would fall at a time, destroying cars, homes, blocking off highways.
Strange discoveries were made upon research; they were human, but lacked any blood, intestines, even a heart. No one could explain the hideous grins they had, or even where they came from.
It was a woman in Costa Rica who made the latest and most disturbing discovery. She recognized one of the fallen bodies as a long dead relative, one who died back when she had been a teenager. Then more and more identifications were made.
Soon people were picking out their long dead loved ones amongst the video feeds, cadaver piles, and crematoriums. No one could explain why they were coming back, falling from the sky.
Even more distressing, after disposing of the bodies, it wouldn’t be long until that same body came plummeting from the sky again. You could not get rid of them, no matter what. People were getting killed by the higher volume of falling bodies, and soon after burial, they too, began to fall.
My mother was killed when a body landed on her car, crushing her. The next week, the news reported on a body that had gotten lodged in an airplane windshield. I saw my mother’s grinning face, the happiest I had ever seen her.
They say when hell is full; the dead shall walk the earth. What about heaven?
In all of the time that I’ve lived alone in this house, I swear I’ve closed more doors than I’ve opened.
I pointed the gun at the sick bastard who killed my wife. He sobbed as he feared for what was to come. I pulled the trigger.
If only he spoke and tried to reason with me then maybe he could’ve lived. But that was obviously not going to happen. After all, he was born just a few minutes ago.