Well, here it is I hope you guys like it!:
Cloud Runner: Chapters 1 & 2
I'm pleased to announce that I'm finished with chapters 1 and 2!
I realise that there are grammatical errors and I'm in the process of correcting them (don't worry this is a plot centred version of the file and I have a very neat and tidy version on my computer, but unfortunately the two copies are not exactly the same and it would require a good amount of editing to make it transition able, please forgive the disorganised action on my part)
Chapter 1: Happy Birthday my Foot
Ever had a dream? Ever had a dream that you desperately wish was reality? I'm just going to assume the answer is yes to both questions. For many people that dream would be some-thing like being able to get the girl they've always lusted after, ruling the world, living a dream life, getting their god-awful book published, or any other variety of grey. For me, it's something a lot more simplistic.
I really wanted to walk... which was exactly what I was doing in my break from reality.
No, in fact, in my dream, I was doing more than that. I was cloud running; bounding and leaping from cloud to cloud fashioned from the unreal. Crystalline splendour, leap for leap, jump for jump, there wasn't a single moment where a permanent grin wasn't plastered on my face.
It was my endless playground. At one moment I plummeted for thousands of feet, only to be netted by a wisp of stratus and hit it running, at another, I bounded an impossible height and tunnelled through an impossibly huge nimbus and at break-neck pace. I felt free.
No longer was I confined by the restraints of flesh, no longer was I deterred by petty human imagination, no longer was I hindered by my own mortality. I was completely and utterly free.
Call me a liar if I told you I didn't want to burn my alarm clock when it woke me with its high pitched squawks.
My eyes opened, filled with murder and probably blood-shot and the familiar, dark-grey roof greeted me, the wooden fan spiralling in mockery. I really, really wanted to burn that stupid alarm-clock.
I crawled out of my relatively comfortable bed and reached for my cane, a simple affair painted jet black.
Upon slumping into the world of the living and caffeinated, my inner-Neanderthal began drumming his hands on his chest and demanded I observe the familiar surroundings; to satisfy some nigh-instinctual need to watch, to listen, and to learn.
I guess I’m right up there with Big Foot, huh?
Putting the Neanderthal beside, the first thing that always came to mind was that I was surrounded by books, a lot of books. Some piled high in spires that almost reached the ceiling of my room. Others flopped into dishevelled stacks. Other's almost neatly stacked into one of the many books cases that circled my bed.
Secondly, it was dark. A simple lamp sat on a desk to the upper left hand of the room, there was a window at one point, but a book-shelf had dominated the wall where it was.
The floor was a simple spruce, polished to the point of shining. In front of me, there was a bureau that housed a stereo system, all obsidian glean and subtle curves. To the right of the counter was a closet that was home to a hundred different variations of black.
I sighed; it was all getting a bit too familiar.
Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I slumped through the maze when an annoyingly familiar voice sang,
"Good morning birthday boy."
I looked at the origin of the voice. It was a girl, probably sixteen, sitting cross-legged on one of the spires of books in a black and white school uniform, skirt and all. She had pale skin, brown eyes, which were pronounced by glasses, and brown hair that was kept in a tight pony tail. Her figure was a very… developed one. I would be either an idiot or a liar if I told you she wasn't beautiful.
"Shut up," I drawled, while pointing my cane at her, calming my urges. "You aren't real, and I’m pretty sure one’s delusion only gets worse if one succumbs to it."
She cocked her head to one-side, like a dog hearing a new sound. "You kind of have been Chris… for the past 12 years actually. However, besides that I've told you five-hundred and six times already, and yes I did count, that I'm not imaginary, I'm your Guardian, and second, even if I was imaginary, it's your sixteenth birthday, indulge in your perceived insanity a little,” she teased with her face creeping into a smirk towards the end.
Jaw clenched, I swung my cane at the spire she was sitting on, toppling it over.
She mocked something that sounded like laughter. When I looked, she was still sitting like she had been, on thin air.
"Go away, you can come back after I finish breakfast," I pleaded in monotone.
"As you wish," she said acceptingly. Then she vanished. And no, I’m not talking about the “gone in a puff of smoke” vanishing, I’m talking about the “gone, was-there-a-moment-ago-but-isn’t-anymore,” vanishing.
“It just gets better and better,” I laughed, a little hysterically.
The luring aroma of coffee drifted into my room calming my unrest somewhat, the sounds of the morning chaos hummed into my ears, and the pulse of New York echoed, enthralling my thoughts.
I lived in an area a stone throw’s away from Central Park, which definitely had its perks. The morning bustle of New York was unique. The surge of cars were beginning to trickle into an unorganized mess, their engines thrummed, musical trash blaring from the speakers that shook the very foundation of buildings, shouts from sleep deprived commuters throbbed, horns shouted and the mechanization began to stir. The smell of gas, diesel, and cheap coffee mixed in with the gentle aroma in my house, giving it a certain gusto that I enjoyed. New York was waking up.
Reality has its moments sometimes.
I drummed the beat of my life with my jet black curse.
“Thump... thump... thump!” it echoed. The sound sets those around me on edge more often than not, but to me it’s... I don’t know, satisfying to let the simple symphony escape into the world. The sound travels deep into my surroundings, it jostles it, exerts authority over it. It lends itself to a crude metaphor of an individual using the resources at hand to better himself.
In fact that’s why the restless city connects to me on a nigh spiritual level; it’s one of the few places in the world where innovation is the basis on which life exists. There’s always a chance to dosomething.
“Chris!” called my mother, shattering my day-dream, “It’s time for breakfast!”
“Be down in a second!” I replied.
As I spoke, I began to go through the ceremony of morning affairs.
I broiled myself in the shower for a few minutes, slapped on my clothes unceremoniously, attacked my golden forest of hair with water and a comb, cheeked a bottle of anti-septic, throat destroying goodness that is mouth-wash, and then headed down-stairs.
I was greeted by my mother half-way down the straight spire, "There's the birthday-giant!" she shouted, her playfulness saturating her voice. She waited for me to reach the crook in the stairs then semi-guided me down the last three steps.
"Morning mum'," I greeted in reply.
Possessing brown eyes, brown hair, tan skin, and being relatively tall, five feet and change, my mother really never stood out in the crowd, but you couldn't exactly miss her either. Her posture suggested that of a relaxed persona but with a subtly strong frame that spoke volumes of her personality. She wore a simply grey night robe; complete with Whinny the Pooh shoes.
"How'd you sleep?" we asked each-other at the same time. We then both smiled the shark-like, yet some-how warm, grin we both shared.
We didn’t have to speak the answer.
"Hey, Chris, happy birthday!" shouted my father in his deep, sophisticated voice, that never really quite gave the impression of his English origins from the dining table.
The table was lined with a breakfast fit for kings whom usually die fat and happy with a heart-attack. He then got up, cane in hand, his being carved from a thick, wooden branch. We met each-other half way to the dinner table and hugged, patting each other on the back and wishing each other a good morning.
He was a tall man, almost as tall as me, in-fact. He had wrinkled features and a receding hairline, but that didn't necessarily detract from his youthful-personality. His back was erect, displaying a confidence unrivalled, and his overall figure boasted a content flourish. His light blue shirt, dark fatigue pants and un-tightened neck-tie that gave a further impression of a relaxed authority.
All three of us headed to the table together to be crowned the family of the year
I loved my parents, jokes aside.
They were two of the few people in the world that I considered, well, people. They were never really unfair. They hardly argued over trivial things, though believe you-me I have heard them arguing and have argued with them (which usually ends up with me feeling like a jerk, right most of the time, but a jerk), and overall, were just good parents. I considered myself lucky to have them.
I looked around the open area, sating the Neanderthal in me once again. The dining table was off centre to it all. The stair-case floated at the entry-way to the house. Thick stairs sandwiched between two walls that divided the rest of the floor. To my right, the living room gathered into a nook. Some comfortable white couches were scattered here and there, the elegant coffee table sat in the middle of them all, against the wall, a massive bookshelf loomed instead of a television. In-front of me, the old fashioned kitchen slept at the top left side of the floor, brick oven and all. At my flank, thick glass doors lined the wall, opening up to a very Zen looking garden. Brown mahogany encompassed it all.
The house just had an aura of sanctuary and warmth encompassed in steel, wood and glass, while boasting a simplistic beauty. Disregarding hell or high water, I always felt calm and just simply safe here. I had to thank my parents for that.
I took of sip of coffee.
“Ah… perfect,” I said to myself, while indirectly boasting my dad’s ego.
The morning sun drifted into a room, bringing a warm peace and a uselessly optimistic thought that, just maybe, it was actually go to stay that way.
We began the idle chit-chat associated with meals and started attacking the food laid out in front of us.
Continuing on the notion of optimism, I began piling my plate high with bacon, eggs and pancakes and a lot of other deadly foods I usually wasn't allowed to eat, savouring the smells.
I took a bite. Delicious, it was simply delicious
"So, Chris," started my father, trying to hide a self-pleased smile, but it still showed in his eyes, "how's the leg been? I've noticed you've been skipping your meds lately," he said, eyes peering down his nose.
I looked up, surprised at the observation; then again, I realized I shouldn’t be. "Tis' been fine, pop," I said after mimicking him, "there haven't been any spasms lately; less pain is always a good thing."
"Duh," scoffed my mom, still true to her playfulness, a smile gracing her face.
A dull thump resounded from the door.
My mom was the first to react, still smiling at her own wit. Being the only person with functioning legs in the house, I guess it came naturally.
"That's the paper, let's see if the world is still killing itself, shall we?" cheeringly grumped my mother as she went towards the door.
My dad seized the opportunity to run through the ceremonial drabs of birthdays
He took a gulp of black, un-sugared life, then turned to me and said, "Chris, I know you're not really a big believer in luck, but..." he stopped talking for a few seconds, considering his words, "just take this, it'll serve you well," he finally said, with what I swore was resentment as an undertone.
He reached into his pocket and fished out a necklace, at the end of which was a perfectly symmetrical crystalline infinity symbol attached to cheap nylon.
I was genuinely, and happily, surprised by it, I wasn't big on jewellery, but it was rare to get anything but books as gifts. This was, oddly, a breath of fresh air.
I thanked my dad and slipped the chain over my head, it caught the morning sun and fashioned a kaleidoscope effect on the room making everything take on a cheery hue, except for my dad, his eyes were engulfed by shadows, his wrinkles became bolder and overall, it made him look distant… and old.
My mother came back with a paper which read, "Political Brawl Erupts In Millennium Square” smiling at the lights that dazzled the room.
"Well," said my mother, "we haven't blown ourselves up yet, that's always a good thing."
"Duh," I parried, a smile slipping onto my face, which I promptly hid by bringing the cup to my lips. The
"Look" is evil; let no one tell you otherwise. I was surprised that my mom's glare hadn't burned a hole in the coffee cup.
We calmly picked at the feast my father concocted; having a chef for a dad always had its perks.
Mom started reading the paper as we ate. Two minutes later she nearly choked on a mouth full of egg.
My dad and I looked up.
“Well,” started my mother, “apparently Senator Marchoruvk just put the metaphorical nail in the coffin.”
My dad and I looked at each-other with our eye-brows raised then back at mom.
“According to this, a local idiot brought up a sexual affair that Warner had with a fifteen year-old when he himself was only sixteen, during the conference,” read my mother. “Naturally, the girl’s parents pressed charges, despite the fact that it was consensual,” explained mother. “Warner apparently buried that little affair so deep that it hasn’t come up until now.”
She paused for a second or two, scanning the article some more. “In response, Warner dismissed it when the reporter asked him about it, by his reasoning, since it happened when he was a minor, it legally never happened.”
“Okay, so he gets even less votes now,” I replied flatly, “how’d that make front page? I was expecting something about how a certain celebrity got breast implants.”
“Too right, son” jabbed my father.
“It gets better,” she said. “The same idiot asked Marchoruvk what he thought of the matter, he said, and
I’m quoting here, ‘Well, it doesn’t lessen my views on my rival, and I hope it doesn’t change anyone else’s perspective. Honestly people, he’s only human, I’m sure many here are guilty of sexual relations during their teenage years, and a few of us probably have the same charges and then some under our proverbial belts. I will not result to juvenile tactics to win this election, especially not by using the trivially small affairs of my colleague, here, Mr. Warner, as ammunition.”
“Warner over-reacts epically to Marchoruvk’s response and flashes the world via global television,” finished my mother, “obviously he had conflicting views on the size of the “affair”. Says here that after he flashed the world, he assaulted Marchoruvk, hence his arrest, hence his dropping out. The slime isn’t even pressing charges, making him look like a saint.”
“Did you just call him ‘slime’?” I asked.
The “Look” reared its ugly head again and I resumed my position behind the coffee-cup.
Mulling over my mother’s news, I tried to put the puzzle of what was said together, but my dad was quicker on the up-take.
“So, that means, as for now, Marchoruvk is all but running un-apposed or at-least the next best thing, the other idiot who’s running isn’t going to get any votes, meaning that we have our new president of the United States right in front of us.”
“Especially considering elections are in three weeks,” I added.
He grunted, still facing my mother. We all sat in silence for awhile, mulling it over.
“My gut tells me that he’s no good,” grudged my father.
“You said that about having a kid, too,” pointed out my mother.
“Ha-ha,” I drawled.
“Don’t worry about it, Chris,” laughed my father, “you’re a jackass, but you’re our jackass.”
I looked up at the ceiling, feigning surrender.
We resumed eating and all remained silent for awhile, a silent anticipation was buzzing under the surface of it all.
All of us were just about finished breakfast, still in silence, when I swore I heard something that sounded like children laughing, but painfully so.
My parents hadn't seemed to take any notice of it.
The white noise seemed to come from the garden. Both curious and worried I turned in my seat to face it.
Nothing, nor no-one, was to be seen.
I saw my psycho-trip snap into reality next to me, leaning against one of the glass doors.
"They're early," my imagination said, almost to herself while she peered sidelong out the glass.
I ignored her and scanned the garden, the familiar hues of deep red, rich purple and piercing pink congealed into a beautiful scene. Day light was just barely peering over the wall parallel to our home, and projected white beams of light, some of which landed on suspended prisms that bathed the entire garden in colours.
"Chris, what's wrong?" asked my father.
I turned back towards the food. "It's nothing,” I blunted.
Irony must have heard me then decided to poke fun at me.
"So much for the day going well," yawned my insanity.
I looked at her, confused. She then lazily pointed at my leg. I traced her gaze to see my almost useless leg shaking in a spasm. The pain only seemed to register after I saw it.
"Ack!" I shouted, shoving myself away from the table.
My knee buckled as I stood up, and I fell side-ways then lay sprawled on the floor; the leg seizing, rolling and twitching in an endless knot of insufferable ache.
I heard something that must've been someone shouting my name, meaning my parents recovered from the gob-smack.
The world grew dark as I closed my eyes in an attempt to ignore the agony.
A spear of pain ran up my leg, snaked around my spine and dug its claws into my head, obliterating the chance, irony gleaming in my face.
I shouted something guttural as the beast clawed at my mind, my brawl with the beast was coming to an end.
I started yelling and lolling gibberish as venting for the torture.
Finding none, I sat there in my own personal hell for a subjective eternity.
“Funny,” I remember thinking during it all, “death doesn’t seem like that bad of an option right now.”
The shadows began to whisper soft lies as I reached my limit, offering refuge and I ran to them with open arms.
My once pounding heart began to flicker out, giving up, giving in... It was dying, it was growing cold.
I heard somebody gasp my name as I reached for the shadow’s promises, their worry scratched at my self-pity.
A fire of will, answering the plea, was born somewhere inside as I felt tears fall on my face.
The beast was scared of it, it was afraid of the blazing heat burned throughout my body.
Now lashing out in defiance of my affliction with a renewed will, with a renewed need to escape back into bitter reality, tearing my way away from the shadows, from the hurt, using my self-pity and rage to drive it home, all I got was a dry heave.
Tears of anguish and frustration filled my eyes, both fuelling and extinguishing the flame of will.
The shadows whispered soft lies to my heart still, enticing me to come back. Their prey was so very close.
A strong grip clenched my shoulder, the confidence and strength only rivalled by an ancient oak flowed into me pulled me from the shadows and with it, a subtle, warm touch, infusing hope and a smooth grace touched my face, revealing the truth.
My eyes opened on their own accord and saw a blurred world. Three indistinct figures loomed: Mom, Dad, and the girl.
Tears still streamed my face and I mouthed a plea of mercy.
In the blurs I saw as hopeless frowns creased faces.
Though as if answering my plea, a shimmer of white light entered the blurs... It came again, this time brighter... Then again, and I finally realised they were surrounding the girl.
As the lights flickered more, she became more pronounced and eventually captured my attention entirely.
The blurs fled from her. She had a pondering look on her face, as if she was contemplating what pain must really feel like.
The girl bent down, somewhat hurriedly and placed her hand on to my foot. Words that I didn’t recognize spilled from her mouth.
Her eyes flickered out of focus then began to shine a blinding white and azure flames licked off the sides of them, the rest of her face was set in cold focus, giving the image of soft wrath, something immensely powerful yet peaceful, patient and calm.
White sigils began to dance down from her face, beginning at her eyes, seemingly born from the heatless flames, they ran across her hand and crossed over to my foot and diffused throughout my leg.
She got closer. “This, Chris,” she whispered, “is a taste of true reality.”
The lights evaporated from the world and with it, the pain in my leg began to recede, steadily at first but quickly began to dissipate more rapidly.
And, after awhile it was gone.
Gasping breathes of bliss filled the room for a few moments after and I felt my body relax.
The sheer sensation of relief robbed me of consciousness. I began to feel like I was plummeting into bliss, into a blinding light of splendour.
Instead, I fell into a dream, now that I look back, I realise it was a catalytic night-mare.
Opening my eyes I found that I was once again amongst the clouds, once again was I freed from the chains of my human nature, but this time the girl was there, though she looked skinnier than usual, and was dressed in a white tunic and sandals.
Clouds drifted for awhile.
“What are you?” I asked finally.
“I’m your Guardian,” she said simply.
“What am I?” I questioned.
“You know exactly what you are Chris,” said my guardian.
“Why?” I asked quietly, “why am I cursed to live this life? Why do I have to suffer?”
“Because, Chris, that’s simply how it turned out, I don’t know the reason why it happened, or how, but it did.”
“I never wanted any of it,” I finished.
“None of us did,” she mouthed, but my mother’s warm voice, coupled with my dad’s confident basso came instead of my guardian’s honey tipped slurs.
Thunder crackled in the distance and I began to fall from the clouds, their wispy hands were out-stretched, but I didn’t reach for them, happiness meant nothing to me anymore. My perception of reality was now gone… but I couldn’t admit that.
Not even to myself.
I hit the ground, and was thrown back into the shattering glass that is the world.
I awoke to meet the same sight I left.
My imagination got up, her azure eyes fading back to their original brown hue, and smiling a self-pleased smile. I gasped something that was intended to be, "Thank you."
Still looking pleased with herself, she snapped out of reality again.
The blurs started to focus themselves into something conceivable and I saw my parents staring down at me. My mom was crying.
Perfect, I thought to myself.
Vision drifted to my dad. He just looked... calm.
I stood up, relying more on my cane than my parents whom were halfway supporting me.
We all just floated around the table for a few minutes.
My mom tried to start a conversation a few times, but she mumbled half-words and ultimately became silent.
My hand drifted to my leg... I couldn’t feel my palm’s weight.
Deeper into the rabbit hole I go, I thought grimly.
Growing tired of the silence, which was only filled by my gasps, I walked off and headed for the stairs, muttering something that only remotely sounded like gratitude.
I shuffled up the stairs as best I could; my leg stubbornly cooperated, but it was stiff... and cold.
My mom and dad were shuffling with the plates and cutlery, their anxious acceptance all but drifted in the air.
Now slumping to my room, I yanked at the wooden door to find myself amidst the familiar chaos.
The guardian was sitting on the pile of books that were the after-math of the spire I knocked down.
She was still smiling to herself.
We looked at each-other for a few minutes. For some reason, she looked predatory.
“Thump. Thump. Thump!”
“It’s a shame really,” I said, “I was beginning to think that this day would turn out to be a good one.”
Chapter 2: My Guardian
I walked into the room, winding my way through the maze. The persistent and determined ticking of my alarm clock and the irregular beat of my cane were the only things that consumed the silence.
“So, Chris—“Ah, ah, ah,” I interrupted, “my imagination doesn’t talk until I talked to it.”
I ignored her and turned on my stereo and, sweet, smooth classical music filled the room.
“That’s better, isn’t it?” talking to my-self rather than my irrational incarnate.
I slumped to my bed and began nursing my leg, trying to rub the feeling back into it.
“You can’t deny my existence forever, Chris,” said my insanity, annoyance obvious in her voice.
Denial, thou name is Chris
“I have for the past twelve years, and will gladly do it for another three or four decades until I finally break down into a nervous twitch and start destroying my body by any variety of methods, either way, all you’ll be is my imaginary friend who I talk to when no one else is around,” I said with finality.
She scrunched up her nose in protest, and then she began to say, “So you’re just going to ignore that little rite I pulled off?”
“Most definitely, thanks for that by-the-way,” I stated matter-of-factly, “I mean, I know it was just my mind interpreting relief in a way it has no reason to, but hey, it was nice to have a light show as a birthday gift.”
“How did I end up with you?” she asked, desperation all but flowing out her mouth.
“The better question is how I ended up with you,” I snapped, “and the answer to this million dollar question is that I pissed off some omni-present idiot with too much time and an unfair amount of power, and now it’s exercising its ability to make my life miserable.”
“Are you really that self-absorbed?” she asked, voice incredulous.
“Oh, most definitely,” I laughed.
“Well, actually, come to think of it, you need a name don’t you?” I asked, as if it was a perfectly normal question.
“It’s Anne,” the girl said, her voice had a degree of remorse in it.
“Anne?” Eh, it’s a bit too Victorian for my tastes, but hey, you seem fond of it, so why not?” I mused, while searching for my cane, at a point in the conversation I had decided that walking would help nurse the leg. “Ah, there it is.”
I began circling the room. “You’re in denial,” observed Anne, tracing me with a worried gaze that didn’t quite show on her face.
My patience was wearing thin below the calm, cool and perfectly insane surface.
“Really, Anne I hadn’t noticed,” I laughed again, “The truth is, I’m ignoring the big, shattering glass vase that is my sanity that’s on the floor, and damn it, I’m going to enjoy walking over the pieces bare-footed,” my voice cracked under the frustration towards the end of the tirade.
The music was cresting into a frenzied basso with trumpets blaring in the back-ground, the violins labouring in their own wake; the fire of war was consuming the innocent.
Anne’s mouth was agape, expressing worry. Finally, she asked, “Why is it that mortals always choose to reside within ignorance?”
“It’s a very good question,” I said, I was on my fifth cycle around the room, “why don’t you go ask a stable one?” my annoyance was creeping into my voice now.
“Chris…please, listen to me, I’m your Guardian,” Anne said, obviously she wasn’t actually in my dream, she talked very slowly, as if she just realized how close I was to the edge. “I was charged by Septimus, the elder of the White Feather clan to guard you until you were recruited by the Order. Chris, there’s a metaphysical war that’s waging that you mortals have no idea about, thank God; it hasn’t spilled over into your realm yet. You’re our wild-card Chris, without you, it all gets FUBARed.”
I raised an eyebrow at the last word.
She sighed. “It means ’Fouled up beyond all repair,’ to put it mildly. Honestly, Chris, with all the reading you do, I would’ve thought you would’ve come across that somewhere.”
Understanding dawned on me, and then came the anger.
Raising my cane to her, I shouted, though the anger fizzled somewhat due to the delayed reaction, “Stop shoving this Guardian crap down my throat! I’m tired of you doing that, next time, I’m going to hit you.”
Her expression transitioned from worried to just plain scared.
Cold anger burning my throat and tongue, I shouted, “May it be God, Buddha, or any other all powerful spirit who enjoys messing with mortals, I’m sure they could get this “war” wrapped up in a sneeze. But as it relates to me, they can bite me…” I replayed what I just said in my head, “Wow, I am insane, aren’t I?”
She nodded, and wrapped her arms around herself, she was shivering and her breath bore steam.
“What the heck?” I breathed, steam chasing the words.
As I looked around, my room was coated in frost. The fan had flakes up snow drifting off of it as it spun; the floors took on an icy glow, veins of ice gathered in corners, cowering away from me and my staff had a glove of ice at the end of it.
I looked at the room in bewilderment. Chilling light was brought forth by the lamp on my desk which was frozen over.
“How the…” I started, but never finished.
“I told you Chris, there’s more to all of this than meets the eye,” Anne said.
I said nothing; I was too far lost in thought to bother with the trivial matters of the broken world.
The brief rumble of a bus engine came, obliterating the solace. It was labouring to propel the weight then the blare of the school bus’ horn came promptly after.
I limped through the maze, scurrying for the door, picked up my snow laden back-pack and jostled it to shake off the cold dust and made my way to the head of the stairs. Looking at my cane and seeing that it was still encased in the unnatural ice, I hit it against the floor with extra force, shattering the frost.
“With style,” I grumbled to myself.
I clomped down the stairs as quickly as I could, all but falling down.
Both my parents were standing at the open door, urging the bus driver to honour us by waiting and prolonging his minimal wage existence so that I could board the bus.
I hugged them both then limped for the bus
“Chris,” called my father and I was half way to the vehicle.
I looked back to see a tiny, blue capsule flying towards me, I caught it and swallowed it.
Ah, medication, I have missed thou.
“Just in case,” winked my father.
“Right, love ya’ both, and thanks dad!” I called, while waving good-bye.
A single drop of rain fell on my out-stretched hand and looking up, I saw as more fell to their death. Soon, the symphony of the storm filled the world.
“Get out of the rain, you dolt!” shouted my mom.
I obliged and ran for the bus, or at least ran as best I could, being a quasi-paraplegic and all.
“Morning,” I mumbled to no-one in particular as I read my surroundings again.
There was Mary, she wore a black T-shirt that said “It’s okay to look, just don’t touch,” written across the chest. Along with it, she wore way too tight jeans that showed off her curves. The costume gave her a very relaxed, care-not, “easy” look.
She mumbled something that sounded like a greeting, the ballad from the night before still gleamed in her eyes and her blonde hair was in an uncombed tuff.
In the seat behind Mary, there was Sean and Lisa. They were currently enjoying each-others lusty kiss.
Sean was a jock, the jersey and jeans along with tennis shoes proclaimed that much. Lisa was in a simple black blouse and jeans, her long brown hair fell gracefully around her face.
Lisa’s twin, Leanne was sitting the seat adjacent to them, dressed in an assembly similar to Lisa’s, but she filled it out a little better, she was looking out the window, trying to look unconcerned with what her sister was doing, guilt scratched at her features somewhat.
A little farther back was Mike. He wore simple clothes, but the effect was ruined by the volume of such: two black caps, three T-shirts, two different pairs of pants, each with different belts, mal-matched socks and two black trainers. He was currently tuned in to his music player. The barks were loud enough that I could hear it from where I was standing.
Humans are such annoying creatures, I reflected.
My gaze drifted to John after I finished wallowed in my misanthropy. He was propped up in the back seat, sleeping.
He somehow escaped the big-picture, like he was sitting to the fore-ground to it all, observing it, just as I was. He wore a black shirt, fatigue brown shorts, and sneakers, nothing unusual; his familiar cross necklace gleamed.
“Well, at-least there’s one,” I mumbled.
I pointed my cane to each of them, listing off their faults. “Mary,” she looked up, “you have a condom stuck to your head.”
She promptly removed it, looking ashamed and shocked at herself.
“Lisa…” No answer. “Lisa!” She heard me that time and tore herself from Sean, her lips swollen with heat.
“Sean is cheating on you with your sister,” I told her bluntly.
Leanne looked at me incredulously and blurted, “How did you know?”
Sighing, I said, “I didn’t, but I suspected it, and you just proved me right.”
She covered her mouth; she just realized what she did. Leanne obviously didn’t have much in the way of brain-power; you just don’t run across many people who would fall for something like that.
“He’s lying!” shouted Sean.
“Irony,” I sang, as I thumped over to Mike, and waited until he looked up at me. I pantomimed removing the ear-plugs. He obliged.
“You’re going to destroy your eardrums,” I warned.
“Wha’!” he asked.
I suppose it was already too late, such a shame. I rubbed at my nose, staring at him in a way that suggested that he should do the same.
Once again, he obliged, and white, fine powder coloured his already pale-skin.
His face took on an expression similar to Mary’s, and then he looked outside, pretending that I never existed.
I gracelessly walked towards the back of the bus, feeling contempt satisfaction. John stirred and curled his legs closer to his body.
The argument between Sean and the Twins was still going strong. I briefly contemplated adding fuel to the fire, but decided against it.
Instead, I watched my house as we passed, it looked like one of those houses in the metropolitan area, but it was flattened and coloured brick brown instead of sub-urban white and joined on to three other sections that formed a square buildings complex. A space was left alone in the centre of the hollow square to make a patio meant to be shared between the four families, but over time, the three other families and mine agreed to turn it into a garden.
“So, pointing out the obvious does... what?” John said, paring up at me, waving his hand in a gesture that encompassed the monkeys at the front of the bus.
I put my legs up on the seat in-front of me.
“It lets me continue on the assumption that humanity is hopeless and that I am the soul example of goodness and common sense,” I said, doing the best British accent I could.
He raised an eye-brow.
“Truth be told, I do so in hope that maybe, just maybe, they’ll take a nice long look at themselves and realise that they can be better,” I supplied, with what I think was a forlorn expression. “Essentially, I’m trying to break down a brick wall with my head, and by God when it falls I’ll feel really accomplished.”
“The question is whether or not your ends justify your means,” he yawned philosophically, then he began to drift back to sleep.
“I hope so,” I whispered to no-one.
The pulse of New York was quickening my Neanderthal realised as I tuned the monkeys out. There were more blaring horns, more music mixed into a gargling mass, more machines hummed and buzzed, here and there people shouted or yelled. Naturally, the voices of thousands grouped into a faint echo that diffused throughout the city.
“Music to my ears,” I said and with that utterance, thoughts drifted to the frost in my room.
“That’s easy, you have the ability to manipulate water, in all shapes, forms and quantities,” said Anne, whom snapped in reality and was sitting next to my legs on the head of the seat.
“Stop doing that,” I furiously whispered.
John looked up, and glanced over to Anne square in her eyes, then promptly resumed his false slumber.
Cynicism, it’s a life saver
“The answer is yes,” stated Anne, reading my thoughts... or I suppose it’s technically our thoughts, but then... never-mind getting way too technical.
I dismissed her with the flick of the hand after the inward debacle then I thumped John on his head with my cane.
He stirred spastically then shouted, “What the heck is your problem!”
There was definitely out-rage in his voice, but it didn't portray any real threat.
I leaned in and whispered, “The fact that you know something about her.” I jerked a thumb at Anne.
His expression transitioned from surprise, realisation, then rationalising, after that came more realisation of what he was doing in the course of five seconds.
“I-I have no idea what you’re talking about,” stumbled John, caught off guard by his own reaction.
Grabbing the boy by his collar and threatening him with the jet-black murder weapon, I breathed, “Listen
John, I’ve been having a particularly rotten birthday today and its really going to cheer me up if I get the chance to throttle someone. Don’t give me the excuse.”
My eyes flickered to my hand as I was talking and I saw as the single rain-drop that fell on me earlier was still there.
The droplets quivered and grouped into an infinity symbol on my wrist. Once formed, they transitioned from crystalline clear, to dirt grey, to ink blank and attached itself to my skin. I had a gut feeling it was permanent.
My mouth went agape.
“Chris, this isn’t the best place,” John whispered, there seemed to be more confidence in his voice now. He put his hands up in a gesture of surrender, more for anybody who might’ve been watching than me and as he did, his left sleeve fell to reveal a tattoo similar to the design of mine, though his was fashioned from burn marks in-stead of ink.
I met his eyes and he jerked his head, gesturing to the monkeys.
My hand unclenched.
“Whatever,” I muttered, then I rested my chin on my cane, mulling over the details.
“Well, I hate to say I told you so,” murmured Anne.
“Shut up,” I barked.
I leaned back and snatched at fleeting memories, delved deep into locked away thoughts, scanned the archives of my mind. I was... I wasn’t too sure what I was doing.
“Chris,” Anne called.
I looked at her squarely.
She extended her arm to me, turned her palm up-right and a tongue of azure flame appeared. “I can show you what’s really going on.”
My mouth moved in a retort without checking with the rest of me. The heat of anger was already burning my tongue but I reined it in by the horns before it could escape into the world.
The gears in my head were cranking and amongst the clock-work, a little voice somewhere was conspiring against me.
“If I do, I’ll never be able to go back,” I mumbled.
“Chris, I hold knowledge in my hand, more than he can offer” she said in outrage.
“Ignorance is bliss,” I lied with finality.
“But things have changed,” she remarked.
More than you really know, I thought to myself.
“Please, Chris, think it over,” she said as she withdrew the flame.
My face creased into a frown then an instinct shook my head in John’s direction. He was watching the exchange in earnest.
My mouth leapt at the unwanted opportunity, but there wasn’t any chance to interrogate. The bus screeched to a halt and the bus door opened with an annoying chime.
Cue Jaws’ music, I feigned.
The bus literally tilted to the side as a brute of a boy came into the bus. He had long black hair, a neck easily the size of my waist, bulging muscles, and a foul, angry disposition. He was dressed in a black sleeveless shirt and blue jeans, along with black sneakers, all of which were mildly wet with rain.
His gaze immediately snapped at my direction and he stalked over to me. John had scurried over to the other chairs before the Ape got fully in the bus.
Lorum Bruta hovered over me for a few seconds. The veins in his arms were rippling in contempt and his face contorted in incomprehensibility of the idea that someone had denied his unspoken law.
I was scared on an instinctual level.
In a voice way too deep to be fair, he said, “You’re in my seat.”
I sighed, with fear and impatience born from my aggravation at the world, but when in doubt, be a smartass.
The bus started to rev and lurched forward, Luke didn’t even sway. I glanced sidelong at the bus driver, wondering why he was intervening. It turned out he was tuned into musical trash.
That’s way too convenient.
“If only I gave a damn Luke, I would get up, but unfortunately, it isn’t one to give and besides my butt is already comfortable,” I mocked.
He smiled an evil grin.
“You know I really hate smart-asses,” he growled. It was more of a, “You know that already,” tone than a,
“Fill you in,” one.
I gulped. “But I’m too adorable to beat up.”
His face was stone-cold. “That’s pretty easy to fix. Try again,” he said. His tone portrayed more of a threat than words ever could.
“I’ll be your best friend in whole entire world,” I pleaded.
His hands clenched even-tighter, his jaw tightened and a vein bulged on his neck... then he laughed.
It was a deep laugh that came from his belly and rang into his throat as it escaped into the world. He leaned over and sat down on the chair.
“O-ha-ha-O-ha-Okay, I gotta’ give you that one. That ha-ha-ha... that was funny,” he breathed then resumed laughing, happiness flowing a-new.
He brought his hand up to his face, revealing an infinity tattoo forged into an ink chain that circled around his wrist.
“Like I said, I hate to say I told you so... but...” mulled Anne.
“And like I said, shut up,” I hissed.
“Chris,” said John, he glanced again at Anne, “I’ll explain after school, but it’s just not a good idea to get into it now.”
“Fine,” I heaved. I rested my head on my cane again, looking down-ward.
My teeth clenched. “It isn’t fair,” I mouthed.
All my frustration, all my anger, all my disbelief, all my hatred directed at the unfairness of the world, all my impatience solidified into a single tear.
As it fell, it crystallised into a bead of ice.
I looked at it in disbelief that quickly evaporated into loathsome understanding.
More beads fell.
New York’s pulse drained away from reality, and with it, everything else, my thoughts became my home. I ignored everything that had a heart-beat, everything that I could feel, and everything I thought was a reality.
That’s all fine and well, things are better when I’m alone, I thought with putrid rage.
I was tired of it all.