PG-13 for suggestive themes.
Somehow, he was walking down an empty road that would normally be full of traffic, had it been any other hour. He judged from the sightings of the local liquor store and gas station that he was about a half-mile from home. The crisp evening air was completely still; no wind blew through the small town to which he was so familiar with. It almost seemed unrealistic how quiet everything was, because if it hadn’t been for the sound of his own beating heart, he wouldn’t have heard anything at all.
It had been hours since the sun was last seen in the sky; the point in the night when everyone with normal sleeping habits would have long been asleep, as every home he passed during his journey had no sign or hint that a light was left on. Any other person would be unsettled by the fact that they were walking casually down the town’s busiest road at such a late hour, but he simply put off the idea that what he was doing was somewhat strange, and continued to head where instinct was telling him to go.
The remaining time that the young man spent traveling down the empty road took the good part of an hour. His hollow footsteps echoed into the dull night around him as he turned into the familiar driveway he recognized at once; a tidy driveway, of course. The very driveway owned by the Mayor of the city.
The home itself could easily be interpreted as one of great wealth. A ridiculous and over-sized water fountain was placed in the very center of the front yard. The glossy porcelain reflected the moonlight that shone through the clear night as the boy carefully walked passed. Water trickled from the arrow in the knock of a glass bow that the statue held pointed at the air, and in an arch similar to a running water fountain, the liquid streamed in to the clear pool of water below.
A stone pathway that led from the driveway to front door was hidden beneath the shadows of the darkness. He would most certainly have lost his footing if he hadn’t walked the same path so many times before. The moment he came to the front of the home, he reached blindly to the top of the door frame to retrieve a key he knew would be there, pushed it into the keyhole of the brass doorknob and quietly slipped inside.
This house, his house, was completely invisible to his eyes as they attempted to adjust to the light. But he did not wait for them, and instead traveled to the right and then to the left through darkness until he reached a door he could not see, pushed it open to a room he knew was there, and then collapse onto a bed he could only feel.
The next morning came swiftly, something that would make sense due to the fact he had only just returned a few hours before dawn. Sometime during the night, a tiny clawed creature found its way onto his bed. Her navy blue fur and pointed ears made her appear somewhat cat-like, but the largely clawed hands and feet gave her half the appearance of a wolverine. A tiny ruby rested comfortably between her eyes, and the boy stroked his Sneasel softly as he sat up in his bed.
Something felt different about today. Not in the sense that he expected things to happen, but that he as a person felt different. He felt like he had never slept before, and that he would never need to, as though sleep were just a pastime to end boredom. His stomach did not protest to any lack of food, and strangely, he couldn’t remember what it felt like to be hungry, or even thirsty for that matter.
He shrugged off his thoughts, deciding he was just coming down with some kind of virus, and left his room. His nocturnal Pokémon awoke groggily at the sudden movement and quietly followed behind his heels. The two quickly began to hear a pair of voices rise in volume the closer they approached the front room.
“And who’s fault is that, Tom?!” a woman’s voice stung through the near empty room. “I am not the one who extended his curfew to his every whim, and I also did not raise his allowance. What did you think he needed it for? It wasn’t cookies or candy, and part of me says that you knew exactly what it was for!”
“Do not go pinning this on me! He is just as much your son, as mine.” This tone was much deeper, though just as fierce as the higher pitched voice of the woman who had just spoken. The man sat in a leather chair with a newspaper hiding his face as he spoke to the woman beside him, though not giving her the courtesy to look away from the black and white print.
“Yes, he is our son, which means both of us have the duties of parenthood. I am finished being in charge of all the punishment while you constantly contradict me and allow him to do as he pleases.”
“So be it, Susan. I will speak to him when he gets home,” the man said as he turned the page in front of him.
“How can you be so calm about this?! Cyrus did not come home last night! A Thursday night! He could be anywhere right now. He could be passed out at another godforsaken party of his like last month and we would have a tiny clue about it!” The infuriated woman glared at her husband sitting so nonchalantly in his chair. He face was red with rage, but the man gave her little notice as he calmly continued reading.
“As I said,” came his reply, “I will speak to him when he gets home.”
“I think you need to stop putting your job before your family, Tom. Unless it is the only thing you are interested in keeping.” Her comment seemed to poke the man’s heart like a needle as he folded the paper and bowed his head the moment he wife angrily left the room.
Cyrus breathed heavily behind the hallway wall that hid him from view. His parents apparently did not know he had returned last night. What happened last night? Why couldn’t he remember? He wanted to burst into the room and say he was there, but something held him in his place.
Instead, he sneaked back to his room to change his clothes and fetch his bag before quietly sneaking out the back door and heading to school, the clawed weasel following behind him as she always did.
It was only a few blocks’ walk before he was trudging up the concrete steps to his least favorite building on the planet. It was an ugly place to him, very bland, and the sole decoration in front of it was a tall rusty pole with an American flag beating through the wind at the top.
Pubescent teens bumped his shoulders as they passed him through the large double doors into the main hallway, where the mass of them seemed to grow in such a confined space. Cyrus had always pictured that public schools were places that the government used to herd kids like cattle.
He maneuvered his way through gaps in the crowded hallway, getting a strong whiff of body over as he went, until a young girl with ginger hair came into his view. She struggled for a bit to remove a heavy book from her overstuffed book bag, and finally succeeding, she stuffed it inside of the locker she stood in front of. Cyrus had always seen her as being one of those nerds that hid their habits from everyone else, because she was practically a straight A student, though her out of school actions begged to differ.
Her bright red hair was pulled back neatly into a ponytail, revealing a smooth face full of freckles. But, unlike most, she could pull it off very well, and anyone with normal eyesight would find beauty when they looked at her.
“Hey, Morgan,” Cyrus said to her once he reached her side. The young girl simply continued to pull things from her bag to her locker, not acknowledging his presence. “Listen….if this is about last night, I- I don’t really know what happened. I can’t remember anything, and I don’t know why.”
She slammed her locker shut, as the metal-on-metal noise echoed through the emptying hallway. And slinging her, still absurdly heavy, backpack over her shoulder, she nearly walked right through him to the sound of the final bell.
“Morgan!” he called after her, but a few moments later she turned the corner and he could not see her any longer.
Confused, he headed in the opposite direction to his first class, wondering what could have possibly happened.
A boring day it was, as all the others were. He skipped lunch when the time came because his stomach still refused to eat, and sat through each class hour while each teacher lectured a half sleeping class. The bell that he liked hearing finally rang, sending his mind back to consciousness, and jumping from his desk, he strode to the door in hopes of catching Morgan again before she left.
He found her on the large sidewalk outside of the school property deep in conversation with a group of girl. Her broad smile widened to reveal a set of oversized teeth as she giggled and something one of them had said. Their conversation reached his ears as he stepped to her side, though, none of them gave notice that he was there.
“You supplying the party tonight, Morgan?” an obnoxiously skinny blonde girl asked.
“No,” she replied, “Supposedly, Cyrus was going to again. He said he conned his dad into raising his allowance, but I haven’t heard from him today… Anyways, I need to get going. I’ll see you girls tonight then?” A few nods of agreement, and the group split up to go their separate ways.
Cyrus didn’t bother to follow her this time. Why is everyone ignoring me? What does she mean by saying she hasn’t heard from me?
His thoughts disturbed him, and he found it increasingly difficult to push them off this time.
His mind wandered throughout the ten or so minute walk it took him to get home. His heart raced at this supposed ‘talk’ he was going to have with his father, and part of him wanted to turn and run in the opposite direction. Best to just get it over with…
His found his mother doing the dishes in the kitchen sink once he entered their home. He walked cautiously to her side, struggling for words as he stared at her face which was focused intensely on scrubbing grime from one of their plates.
“M-mom?” he croaked, but no sooner had the word left his lips did the phone ring from the front room.
His mother, seeming shocked by the sudden burst of noise, reflexively dropped the plate from her hands and scurried from the room. Her face, for some reason, looked fearful as she nearly ran to the phone. Cyrus followed behind her to see her hand shake as picked up the cordless phone and place it to her ear.
“Hello?” she squeaked. A silence filled the room, for a moment, as it was safe to assume that someone was speaking on the other end of the telephone line. “Yes, this is her.” Another silence…
More awkward moments passed, but something changed in the atmosphere of the call. His mother’s eyes widened and both of her hands shook and twitched as she raised the other trembling one to her mouth.
“Ar-are you sure?” her voice rasped, a sound that only came from someone trying to hold back tears. “Th-that can’t be him, it must be someone else. It’s someone else.” More rasping before her eyes glazed over and liquid began pouring down her cheeks. “Nooo! It’s someone else!” she sobbed, and dropping to her knees, the phone fell from her hand and landed face up on the floor. And just before the person on the other side of the line hung up, Cyrus heard them faintly say, “I’m sorry…”
His mother buried her face in her hands, sobbing more sickeningly than he had ever seen her cry before. Her shoulders shook as she screamed in sorrow, a sight that anyone would hate to see.
Only seconds passed before the front door swung open and his father trudged into the room. His face was red with shock, his eyes wide as they scanned the area in search of her.
“Susan…” he said, approaching her. He reached down to lift her up and pull her to his chest where she continued to cry.
“Oh Tom! He’s dead-he’s dead….our son is dead,” she heaved in sadness, hiccuping into his shirt.
Cyrus stared at them, he wasn’t dead, he was right here! Couldn’t they see him? Watery tears fell from his father’s eyes; the first time he had ever seen him show any emotion at all.
It was dream, some twisted dream
, he decided. He didn’t know what to do… He’d just go outside and wait to wake up; he couldn’t stay in here. He ran to the front door, ripped it open and ran. He kept running and running long after his lungs cramped for air and a stitch in his side seared with pain from the muscle movement. The boy didn’t stop until long after it started to rain.
The water soaked through his clothes, suctioning them to his skin. The raid poured from the sky, pricking him like needles as he attempted to walk through the harsh wind. His body was exhausted, and he sighed slightly in relief when a park bench came into view.
The closer he got, the more of the figure sitting on it as well became visible. An elderly man in a black poncho and sunglasses sat calmly on the far side of it. Why on earth would someone want to sit out in the rain? he thought, as he placed himself next to the man, in effort to catch his breath.
“Strange day for walk, might you say, eh?” the man croaked, looking out into the street.
Cyrus lifted his head in surprise, and looked wide-eyed at the man next to him. “Y-you can see me?”
“Oh,” he chuckled, “I can see all of you.”
“All of who?” the young man voiced, extremely disturbed.
“All of you
,” he said as though it were quite obvious. “The ones who were left behind.”
“What are you talking about?” Cyrus asked. And for some reason, this conversation didn’t seem as odd to him as it should have been.
“You’re dead, boy. You don’t think it’s strange that you’re walking around like a person when no one can see you?” He gripped a hooked cane that he clutched in his left hand, twirling it around with some kind of boredom. “Actually, I take that back. Your Pokémon can see you, if you didn’t know that already.”
Cyrus looked to his pants’ pocket where he kept Sneasel’s Poké Ball. She could see him, couldn’t she?
“This is not what is meant to happen after death,” the old man spoke again through the soft pounding of the rain. “You just haven’t moved on yet.”
The teenager’s mind wandered at this revelation. Everything was happening so fast; he had no time to adjust. How did he even die in the first place?
“Why was I left behind?” The question finally emerged from his mouth.
“Well,” the dark coated man stood up at this point, limping slightly on his right leg before looking in the general direction of the boy who remained seated on the park bench. “That’s something you’ll have to figure out on your own, isn’t it?” And at that, he turned slowly, tapping his cane out in front of him, as any typical blind man would when they attempted to walk away.