Freya Campbell / @spdrcstl

Calm Futures

Endless Summer

Cody swings his legs back and forth, building up enough momentum to jump to the next tree branch.
“Watch out, Cody! You’ll fall!”
He turns his head to face the ground and grins.
“Don’t worry, I’m alri--
 
The alarm goes off at 7AM. Cody groans and swings his arm out of bed to turn it off. The clock face shows MONDAY and he stares at it for a second. The letters blink in and out slowly, a tiny little click each time they light up.
 
“Morning, sleepyhead! How do you want your eggs?”
“Mornin’. Scrambled, please.”
Cody yawns and takes his place at the table. Dad has finished a mug of coffee already and is prodding the remains of his own eggs around the plate. Mum smiles at the two of them and busies herself at the hob. Dad looks over at Cody and shakes his head sadly.
“You read the news yet?”
Cody restrains himself, and says, no, I haven’t.
“Terrible stuff. Another bombing over in Baghdad. Foreign secretary’s calling for airstrikes or something. And there’s another rail strike for next week.”
He taps his phone screen a few times, before pushing it away and sighing.
“God knows how I’ll get to work on time next week on a strike. Andrew’ll be livid, but, what can I do?”
Cody grimaces and looks out the window.
“Wow, that’ll be awful. Good luck, Dad.”
 
The gang meet up outside Tesco as usual. As Cody walks up to the bench outside, they all turn to face him, and relief plays across everyone’s faces.
“Cody! You’re back!”
“I was so worried, like, I didn’t know if--“
“You fucking idiot, don’t go--“
He holds up a hand and laughs.
“Hey, guys, it’s fine, right? Every Monday like usual.”
The three of them look uncomfortable and glance at each other. Cody scratches the back of his head and shrugs.
“Look, I won’t do it again, alright? No more trees.”
Francesca squints at him and pokes her finger into his chest.
“You said that last time, with the bridge.”
“Yeah, but I really mean it this time.”
She doesn’t look relieved, but pouts and steps back again. Excitement over, Jake sits back down on the bench whilst Peter steps over and punches Cody in the shoulder, friendlily.
“Good to see you again, mate. Last few days got a bit dull.”
“Yeah, whatever did you do without me?”
Peter laughs and shrugs. “Same stuff we’ve done all summer.”
 
The four of them get some snacks from the shop and start walking to the park.
“So what did you get up to?”
Jake glances over whilst unwrapping a kitkat. He furrows his brow and thinks.
“We checked out a few more repeats. Broke some windows in the shack that we’ve gotta check later. Peter got his ears pierced.”
Cody looks over to Peter, who shows off his empty lobes, no hole in sight. The two of them laugh nervously.
“Fran went out of town with her sister on Thursday and they got stuck in traffic.”
Fran nods. “There was a crash on the M25 and like all the roads stopped. We were there for hours.”
“Are you gonna try again this Thursday?”
She nods back at Cody and sighs. “I know it’ll be the same but like... we have to check.”
Jake had swapped the kitkat for a notebook and is now leafing through it. The pages were dense with checklists and mindmaps, lines leading from one word to another, covered in exclamation marks.
“Still the only changers we’ve found are the birds, Peter’s nintendo, and that bike forum online.”
The four of them all go quiet for a minute in thought. They turn the corner into the park and walk down the path to the swingsets and other play equipment. Fran and Peter sit down on the swings whilst Jake rummages in his bag for more notes. Cody looks around before perching on the edge of a roundabout, the base wobbling underneath him.
“What time does it start raining?” he asks. Jake is engrossed in the notebook and doesn’t hear him. Peter answers without looking up from the ground.
“Three. Though it’s only light until half past or so.”
“We’ll want to go to the shack soon then.”
Fran sighs and kicks her feet in the dust. “The shack sucks, guys.”
Jake looks up. “We don’t have to hang around this time. Just check some windows and go.”
“But go where? I’m bored of everywhere. We’ve been to the shack, we’ve been to the park, we’ve been to Peter’s place to play games all day.”
Cody says, “We could go to the woods again,” and Fran just glares at him. He grins, but the group all go silent. Nothing Fran said was wrong, really.
 
WEDNESDAY
 
“Hey, Cody, something big.”
He mumbles and rubs his eyes, holding the phone away from his ear to check the time. It only reads 6.04AM.
“Ugh, Jake, it’s only six...”
“Someone else online noticed the summer.”
 
The four of them meet at Jake’s house. It gets stormy on Wednesday, so everyone is glad to be inside as usual. Jake’s room gets steadily messier each week before being tidy on Monday again. Today it only has a couple of empty teacups and some clothes on the floor, two pairs of socks and a striped pair of boxers. Fran kicks these out the way with a mumble of disgust, before sitting on the edge of the bed.
“So. Good morning everyone. We’ve got a breakthrough.”
Peter, Fran and Cody all perch on the edge of the bed whilst Jake sits in his chair, swivelling back and forth, his laptop screen open on the desk. He turns to be out of the way, and opens up a forum on the screen. Everyone peers in.
“That’s the bike forum. Are you getting into it too?”
“Shush, Peter. It’s the only place online we’ve found that doesn’t repeat each week. I’ve just been... keeping tabs on it.”
“Jake, it’s not good to like, spend all day on the internet...”
Cody stands up and gets closer to the screen to read the entries whilst the other three bicker. After a few seconds he frowns.
“They’re saying a bunch of them in Yorkshire have noticed. Seven kids from a community college.”
Jake exclaims, “I - yes! Thank you, Cody.”
Cody glances up at Jake with a snicker.
“Are you BMXXX_93?”
“Sh- shut up! Forum names are tough.”
The four of them scroll through the thread, reading the notes. A few people called them wackos or lectured about underage drinking. The original posters elaborated on what they’d discovered and it read much the same as their own experience.
“The same weather. The same news. Everything the same condition come Monday.”
“They don’t mention anything about people dy-- um, falling off trees, and stuff.”
Cody snorts. “Maybe they’re too careful about it still. They might have only just noticed.”
“Yeah, we’re literally experts, right?”
Fran looks uncomfortable, and leans back on the bed. She glances at the clock on the wall.
“Guys... how long ago do you think we noticed?”
None of them can come up with an answer.
 
THURSDAY
 
The three of them pause the nintendo as a text comes through from Fran.
“She says traffic’s the same as last week. They’re stuck on the M25 again.”
“Sucks to be her. How long did she say it was before?”
“Like, four hours.”
Peter shakes his head and nods at the screen. “We good to go?”
“Hang on, just replying...”
Jake finishes texting and drops his phone on the sofa. The three of them resume the game, their characters jumping around fighting at speed. Cody grips the controller manically, reactions half instinct and half intentional. He was losing, still is losing, but not as badly as he used to.
Peter wins eventually, his character beating his chest in pride onscreen. The three of them analyse the score display at the end.
“You’re catching up, C. You’re only ten KOs out this time.”
“I haven’t had a lifetime of practice yet. How often do you play this?!”
“Only like, a few times a week.”
Cody sighs. “Can we play something else than Melee?”
Jake leans over to the shelf of games. “There’s a glitch in Mario I’m still trying to do.”
“I thought you finished that last week?”
“I finished the campaign, yeah.”
“What about Need for Speed?”
“Bored of it. We’ve got all the time attacks down already.”
“Medal of Honour? We could just do multiplayer.”
The three of them think for a minute.
“Eh, better than nothing.”
 
SUNDAY
 
Cody goes to see Fran after lunch. Her sister opens the door to him as usual.
“Cody! I haven’t seen you in ages. How’s your folks?”
“Yeah, they’re alright.”
“Cool, cool. Come on in, I’ll go get Fran for you.”
Cody takes his shoes off in the hall whilst Fran’s sister yells up the stairs.
“Fran! Guess what?! Cody’s here to see you!”
Fran’s head appears over the bannister and peers down.
“Hey, C.”
Cody mutters a goodbye to her sister and heads upstairs, following Fran to her room. He closes the door after the two of them and she sits down with a sigh.
“She says that every time.”
“I know. I’m used to it.”
Fran looks over at him, and he just shrugs, hands in pockets.
“Doesn’t it bother you?”
Cody frowns. “What do you mean?”
“Like, it doesn’t get to you? Like you’re experiencing one life and everyone else around you is just... things are different for them.”
“I try not to think about it.”
She pouts and rolls her eyes. Cody falters for a moment, but she pats the bed and he comes over, sitting down next to her. She leans her head on his shoulder.
“When did you come over last?”
“What do you mean? I was here last week. We made it a thing ages ago.”
She shakes her head and turns to face him.
“No. I mean, when did you come here in, y’know. The real world.”
Cody blows out a breath and stares at the ceiling. The pattern hadn’t been familiar once, but he can trace it with his eyes now, every ivy branch and flower known by heart. He could draw it out without reference with maybe 80% accuracy. He’d tried it before.
Fran speaks again, quieter.
“How long has it been...?”
Cody hushes her with a kiss, and she lets herself fall back onto the bed. The absent look in her eyes stays for the whole time, and afterwards, they both stare at the ceiling until their eyes close on their own.
 
MONDAY
 
The alarm goes off at 7AM. Cody groans and swings his arm out of bed to turn it off. The clock face shows MONDAY and he stares at it for a second. The letters blink in and out slowly, a tiny little click each time they light up.
 
“Morning, sleepyhead! How do you want your eggs?”
“Mornin’. Fried, please.”
Cody yawns and takes his place at the table. Dad has finished a mug of coffee already and is prodding the remains of his own eggs around the plate. Mum smiles at the two of them and busies herself at the hob. Dad looks over at Cody and shakes his head sadly.
“You read the news yet?”
Cody restrains himself, and says, no, I haven’t.
“Terrible stuff. Another bombing over in baghdad. Foreign secretary’s calling for airstrikes or something. And there’s another rail strike for next week.”
He taps his phone screen a few times, before pushing it away and sighing.
“God knows how I’ll get to work on time next week on a strike. Andrew’ll be livid, but, what can I do?”
Cody grimaces and looks out the window.
“I think you’ll be alright.”

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