Home > Forgetting You

Forgetting You
Author: L.A. Casey

PROLOGUE

ELLIOT

Fifteen days ago . . .

“Elliot? Elliot? Shit, shit, shit! It’s his voicemail!”

My world came to a standstill the moment I heard her sweet voice. For a split second, I allowed the familiarity of it to wash over me before reality slammed into me. I hadn’t heard that voice on the phone, or in person, in four very long years. The closest I’d got was when I watched old videos that she was in.

“Noah?”

The disbelief in my voice registered with me instantly. I could hear an overwhelming flood of shock and confusion the second I uttered those two little syllables. With my free hand, I lifted my fingers to the silver calla lily pendant that suddenly felt heavy against my chest.

“Help us,” she sobbed, the sound causing my heart to clench. “Oh God. Please, I don’t know what to do! Bailey, what’re we gonna do? It’s so dark, put the high beams on.”

My grip on my phone tightened and my breathing hitched. I reminded myself that the voicemail came from my sister’s phone. Noah was with my sister and I had no idea why. I suddenly felt like I was free-falling and no one was around to catch me. I was standing in the kitchen of the station, staring down at the rice I was cooking. I watched the water bubble through blurred eyes as my senses focused on the call.

“Oh God, oh God!” Noah sobbed. “Bailey, you’re going too fast!”

The line began to break up and I clutched my phone to my ear, hoping the call didn’t drop.

“Tulse Hill,” she whimpered. “Elliot, we’re on – Bailey, slow down!”

“I’m tryin’!” my sister’s panic-laced voice shouted. “I can’t stop, it’s black ice! We’re slidin’!”

“Elliot!” Noah screamed as the line broke up. “Elliot, help us. Tulse Hill . . . Please, please . . . going to kill . . . Bailey! Look out!”

I had never felt true bone-rattling fear until I heard my sister’s terror-filled scream as the line went dead. I blindly reached out and gripped on to the counter to keep my knees from buckling. For what seemed like an eternity, I didn’t move. I felt like I wasn’t in control of my body, like what I was experiencing wasn’t real. I swallowed. The haunting silence that filled the room was louder than Bailey’s scream. It was deafening. Laughter from the common room seemed to snap me back into reality. I pushed the pot of rice off the burner, switched the hob off, then ran into the room where my friends were gathered.

No one noticed my entrance.

“How long did the electric company say it’d be before they got the grid back up and running?” AJ, my best mate, asked Texas, our friend and co-worker. “It’s been years since the whole of bloody London has had no power. Especially not this long – it’s been what, four hours now? People must be going crazy without Wi-Fi for Facebook and Instagram.”

The tail end of a storm had blown London and a few neighbouring towns into a blackout. We were all on edge; no power meant no lights, and no lights on a winter night could lead to some pretty serious accidents.

Bad things happen in the dark. They always have.

“Fingers crossed it’ll all be back on soon,” Stitch, the watch manager, said optimistically. “We’re lucky this place has a built-in generator. Perks of being firemen, we always need power and we get it.”

AJ was about to reply when he caught sight of me. Whatever expression he saw on my face caused him to jump to his feet and hurry over. His hand went to my shoulder, clutching me as his worried eyes locked on mine.

“Irish? What’s wrong?”

I couldn’t form the words to explain myself, so I lifted my hand and pressed on the screen of my phone. I replayed the voicemail I’d received and put it on speaker for the room to hear. Everyone listened with pensive expressions on their faces.

“Noah and Bailey,” I rasped as the message ended. “Somethin’ is wrong with them, they’re at Tulse Hill. We hav’te go!”

I had barely finished speaking when the familiar sound of a siren echoed throughout the station. Everyone sprang into action; we all knew our positions for the current watch, having been briefed not long after we clocked in. We were well rehearsed, but today I couldn’t think straight. My brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

“Stitch!” I darted my gaze to his. “I can’t go. Me sister and Noah, something’s wrong. They need me!”

Just as I spoke, the automated, robotic voice that flowed through the speakers of the tannoy system sounded. Everyone went deathly silent as we listened for the nature of the call.

“CHARLIE ONE. ECHO ONE. RTC. PERSONS TRAPPED.”

RTC. A car accident. My heart stopped.

I moved before I even realised it. I was right behind Stitch as he ripped off the tip-out sheet from the ribbon printer. I was supposed to already be in my position in the engine. On today’s watch, I was BA1. Breathing apparatus one. I was the first one to go into a fire should there be one, but at that moment I couldn’t find the willpower to move. I stared at Stitch as he read the report. When he looked at me, I knew what he was going to say.

“The location is Tulse Hill.” I held my breath. “Isn’t it?”

He nodded. Once.

It was my sister and Noah; they had been in a car accident. They were the people who were trapped and in need of help. In need of my help.

“Fuck,” I snapped, as adrenaline – and fear – pumped through my veins. “Let’s fuckin’ go!”

We were in the engines and on our way to the scene with the sirens blaring before I could blink. I was a fucking wreck. My heart was pounding, my hands were slick with sweat, and my stomach churned so much I was certain I was going to vomit. I’d struggled getting my gear on even with a friend’s help.

“God, please,” I said out loud as I clasped my gloved hands together, closed my eyes and lowered my head. “Protect me sister and woman in me absence. Please. Please. Let them be okay. I ask this in your name. Amen.”

“Amen.” The word was echoed within the truck.

“We’re nearly there, Irish.” Texas roughly patted my shoulder. “Nearly there, brother.”

Every single second felt never-ending. The worst images invaded my mind, of horrifying RTC scenes I had been to before while on watch, and videos and images of others I had seen years ago during my training days. I silently pleaded with God that I wouldn’t find the two women who I loved more than life itself in a similar situation to the horrors I had witnessed.

“Fuck,” Tank said from the driver’s seat minutes later. “The car is on its side, it’s smashed right into the exterior of a building. Police are on scene, they’ll control the civilians. A crowd has gathered.”

“Jesus,” I breathed as the truck came to a halt and my sister’s car came into view. I jumped out of my side before I even realised it. “Bailey! Noah!”

“Damn it, Irish! Elliot! You can’t – Fuck!”

I could see the lick of small flames coming from the bonnet of the car. There was fuel pouring from the back end and it had yet to ignite. Its odour was overwhelming. I didn’t have long before things changed from dangerous to fatal, and I knew it. I wasn’t supposed to go near the car until the situation could be assessed by the watch manager. The risk was too high to my life, to my friends, but I didn’t care and I didn’t wait for my orders. I heard shouts all around me from people standing idle on the streets, some with their hands over their mouths while others recorded the scene on their phones.

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