I jumped into my bed, exhausted from my late-night babysitting job. It was past midnight, and I was looking forward to sleeping since I had to get up for work in about eight hours. Normally, I would have pulled my big, fluffy down comforter up to my chin right away, but my body felt as if it were on fire with fever. A bad cold had hit me, just as it always does during the mid-spring season. I could hardly breathe, and my head was pounding. I tossed and turned until I finally fell asleep about an hour later. Little did I know how much sleep I was not going to get.
Shortly after I had fallen asleep, my phone rang. I have my own phone line, and I was used to people calling late at night. I assumed it was probably my then-boyfriend calling to check up on me, but when I got to the phone, I did not recognize the name or the phone number on the caller I.D. Still hazy from sleeping, I answered, but it took me a minute to discern the voice on the other line. It was my friend Nick, who is a few years older than me. It was not unusual for him to call when he was bored in the middle of the night, for he was rather irresponsible. But he told me he was scared, that he was in danger because "the Chicago people" had found him. I did not understand at first. Then I remembered that he used to live in Chicago and had been somewhat involved in a gang there. I heard people in the background, and I knew by the way he was talking that he was intoxicated. He said he was at a party in the subdivision where he lived. The gang had gone to his house looking for him, but then saw his car parked at the party, so they stopped there. Nick was hiding in the house, and I could sense the fear in his voice. My stomach tightened, and I was so afraid for him. Then all of a sudden he said he had to go and hung up the phone.
It was like his fear traveled through the phone line and took me over. I wanted it to be a dream. I tried to call him back, but I continuously got the annoying busy signal. I just sat on my bed in the dark, holding the phone, hoping he would call back.
He finally called back over an hour later, and by that time I was sick with fear. He said the guys ended up going through the party looking for him, so he crawled out the bathroom window and took off running back to his house. He said it wasn't safe to stay there, and he wanted me to meet him somewhere. I was worried about him driving, but he didn't want me to pick him up in case the guys were to follow. He told me to meet him at Wendy's as soon as possible and to call the police if he didn't show up.
With that in mind, I put on my tennis shoes, grabbed my keys, and left. I hoped my parents wouldn't wake up, and I thought of an excuse just in case. As I was closing the garage door behind me, my dad bolted out the door after me in an upset rage. Usually, this would scare me, but the only thing I cared about was getting to Nick. I told my dad that I was going to meet my cousin for an early morning run. Maybe I am a bad liar. He did not buy my story. He grabbed my keys and told me that I didn't need to drive if I was going to be running anyway. Instead of arguing, I whipped around and dashed off. I had to get to my friend, no matter what.
The distance from my house to Wendy's is quite far, especially for an out-of-shape sick person who decided to run there in the cold, early hours of the morning. I ran as fast as I could, and about halfway there, I began wheezing due to the congestion in my lungs. I had to stop, as much as I didn't want to, because of this. I looked up, and I was so dizzy the trees looked as if they were swirling. It was as if the environment around me was going to swallow me. I knew I had to push past this and keep going.
It seemed as if hours had gone by since I began running. The sun began to peek out. I then realized how nauseated I was and remembered that I had not eaten anything the previous day. My entire body was shaking, and I was sweating but at the same time shivering from the cold air. When I got to the last stretch of road in my run, it really seemed like a dream. I felt like I was getting nowhere. That was the longest piece of road I have ever run.
When I finally got to Wendy's though, it was not with a sigh of relief. Instead my heart palpitations tripled. Nick and his car were nowhere in sight. I sat down on the cold pavement in the parking lot, waiting . . . and waiting. I was so nervous and worried, and really sick.
Just when I was about to give up hope of seeing my friend alive again, I saw his car go through the McDonald's parking lot across the street. He's alive, I thought. Then I realized all the trouble I went to, and I felt angry. I ran over to him, and he said that he thought we were supposed to meet at McDonald's, not at Wendy's. Then he just sat there eating his breakfast sandwich.
I could have yelled, but I was just so glad to see him. I told him he owed me big, and to stay out of trouble for a while.
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