Save You

17.0K · Completed
Kaye Allen


Ian was eight when he started seeing the numbers.

RomanceTrue LoveTeenStudent

Part One - The Numbers

Ian was eight when he started seeing the numbers.

A set of random digits floated on top of his mother’s head; hazy but there, nonetheless. He couldn’t recall the exact numbers then or could he have understood the meaning of it. It simply appeared there one day, and the next days after that. He saw it on top of his father’s, then his brother’s... and soon, everyone he had ever encountered in the city had their own set of numbers hovering over their heads.

They appeared and re-appeared at random times and Ian had thought maybe they were like names, like identification numbers one would see on an employee’s ID or a Drivers’ License. It looked pretty harmless, just floating idly on top of everyone's heads every now and then.

But what baffled and worried him was when he told his older brother about the floating numbers, the latter merely gave him a queer look like he had just spoken in a different language. He even cried once out of frustration when his brother had laughed and teased him that he was too old for childish fairytales. It didn't take long before Ian figured out that his brother wasn’t just messing with him. He truly didn’t understand him...

Because he was the only one who could see the floating numbers.


Ian was twelve when he realized the numbers were always changing.

As the years passed, the numbers became more visible and pronounced compared to before when it just popped up at random times, completely random and uncontrollable. Now Ian saw them more often, knew that if he looked into their eyes, he could will the digits to show and that’s when he discovered that the numbers changed every passing second.


His next discovery was that it’s relative to Time. He saw the way his mother’s numbers changed, decreasing as the days passed but nothing really happened as it did. He saw the numbers hovering over his brother change, too. Even his neighbor, Mr. Soo, and his classmates at school.

And that's when he confirmed its relation to time. The only problem was he couldn’t figure out how it changes…or why.


Ian was fifteen when he began to fear the floating numbers.

He was walking home from school when he heard it: rapid footsteps against the concrete, followed by a man’s cry for help. He knew he should’ve just walked away that day—knew how these streets were not exactly safe, and how it’s always best to keep your head down while walking as to not grab anybody’s attention. Living in one of the country’s most dangerous districts wasn’t exactly the most ideal of places to call home. Children here were taught to keep walking and do it fast.

But Ian had no choice. When his father left them a few years ago, his mother lost it and he was forced into the world of adulthood before he could even start to enjoy his youth. His mother spent her days cooped up in her room, crying, drinking, and repeating the first two in between watching television dramas. Some nights she would drink herself silly and would let out a tantrum; throwing and breaking things. Ian would always be there to calm her down till she knocked out in a slumber he knew would only power her up enough to the same thing all over again the next day. He could only watch his mother with pitiful eyes as he tucked her into bed before cleaning up the shards of broken glass on the floor, wondering where the beautiful and strong woman he had come to know went.

His older his brother went overseas to earn a living. He was given the opportunity to earn more there and Ian understood why he took it, for it will allow him to support their little family better. But sometimes, Ian envied him. He knew his brother had his share of hardships but he wasn’t the one waking up to see his mother lose her sanity day by day. Ian had to grow up. And he did, a little too quickly.

Ian worked part-time jobs to help his family stay afloat, from an errand boy to working late nights at a 24-hour convenience store. Being a working student was difficult and it was a good thing that he was smart enough to get a scholarship or he would’ve dropped out a long time ago with how much tuition fees cost these days. As weird as it sounded, he actually liked school. He loved to learn and was determined to finish his studies and take up medicine to become a doctor just like he always dreamed of.


Ian’s head snapped up at the cry and he wasn't sure what came over him but he was already running before he could figure it out. He made a turn at the corner of the street and stopped dead in his tracks the moment his eyes set on the alley to his right.

A man in a gray coat was writhing in pain on the ground as another man stood before him with a gun. The latter kicked him on the side, causing Ian to wince. A side of him told him to intervene and save the poor man, but a more rational side of him told him to stay put and not mess with a man with a gun in his hand. The man on the floor cried in pain and Ian curled his fists, willing himself not to barge in.

That’s when it happened.

As the attacker pointed the gun towards the writhing man on the floor, the victim glanced to his right and accidentally locked eyes with him. Ian saw the numbers then…or rather a number.


His eyes widened the moment the trigger was pulled and the resounding sound of the bullet being released pierced his ears. It was so loud that he thought his ears would pop and his heart felt like it would jump out of his chest. The killer went running off the opposite direction like lightning before he could even blink.

The victim’s head lolled back, eyes wide and vacant as he bled on the ground, dampening the cold concrete floor with a scarlet color.

Ian was horrified. He couldn't stop staring at the number, which has changed the moment the gun was shot, hovering over the dead man like a blinding neon sign:


And just like that…it disappeared.


Ian was eighteen when he learned to live by the numbers.

He must’ve done something really bad in his past life to have given such a curse. That’s what he called his “ability,” now that he knew what the numbers truly meant. They were timers. A set of numbers meant to specify the exact number of days a person has left to live.

In simple words: a person’s death countdown. He had confirmed it a second time when his own mother died before his very eyes.

After the incident with the murderer in the alley way, Ian became more observant of the numbers that hovered over peoples’ heads. He noticed then how it wasn’t only peoples’ numbers he could see, but animals, as well. He observed there were fewer numbers with animals and actively change happened every single day, decreasing one number at a time. Unlike with humans, Ian only ever saw them change after a few weeks or months. That is if he ever saw the person again. Until the date was so close that it turned into two-digit numbers, only then would it actively change day by day.

His mother had been sick for a few months and Ian anticipated her death when he saw her numbers dwindling each day, until she barely had a month to live. Her death was sad but Ian couldn’t bring himself to cry at her funeral. Not when he already saw it coming; not when he already had time to prepare himself and let the fact gradually sink into his system.

But it didn't make the loss any less painful and the fact that he knew when it would happen made it even harder. Ian hated himself for it. He hated what he could see; hated the numbers that identified the people he saw. Because of his sight, he hated meeting new people or making friends, fearful that he would come across someone with only a handful of days to live. What then? How could you look someone in the eye knowing they were going to die next week? Or even tomorrow? Ian didn’t think he could handle that. He didn’t think he could deal with the burden of knowing how much time someone has left but unable to do anything about it. He couldn’t just watch…

So, he kept his head down low in school, he ate lunch outside alone and away from everyone; he detached himself from the world and wrapped himself up in caps and baggy hoodies to shield him from the taunting numbers.

It’s better this way, he always told himself. It's better to not know at all and live life with the mystery of the end. Life was short, Ian knew that. Everyone will die eventually. But he’d rather not see how much of that short time people had left. As long as he kept his head down low and kept everyone at a safe distance, he should be good.

“Settle down, everyone. Settle down.” The teacher called out but Ian ignored her and continued reading the book in his hand. It was a mystery novel he borrowed from the library yesterday and he hadn’t it put it down since he started reading it in the morning while having breakfast by the bleachers in the soccer field. He usually gets to school early, preferring the quietness it had to offer as the streets of his district was already bustling from six a.m. So, he opted to go to school even if he arrives a couple of hours earlier.

“We have a new student. Ms. Kim, would you kindly introduce yourself to the class?"

“Um. Hi. I’m Olivia Kim. But you can just call me Liv...”

Ian snapped up at the sound of the voice but immediately regretted it when his eyes met the source accidentally—their gazes locking instantly as if she had been looking straight at him all this time.

The numbers usually appeared right after he makes eye contact with someone. He had it tested and proven and that’s why he did his best not to look anyone in the eye as much as possible.

Or look at anybody, period.

But Ian’s look of fear slowly turned into one of curiosity when the girl currently speaking in front looked away and continued to address the whole class.

Huh. That’s weird… he thought as he continued to stare at her; eyes lifting slightly and wondering why there were no numbers hovering over her head.