So as I’ve said maybe, oh, a few posts back or some such, I’m going through a lot of my old disks. Recycling old ideas and making them new again. Well, I’ve stumbled across one disk with a specific file I thought long lost to the internet, buried in the deepest pits and bowels that no Wayback machine could ever find. Back in my days of amateur web design, when I was writing fanfiction far too gory and smutty for Fanfiction.net, and Archive of Our Own (AO3) had not even yet been a mere twinkle of an idea. I mention this because I wrote a LOT of fanfiction and couldn’t host it on fanfiction.net due to.. well…. getting banned for a while because my stuff violated site policy. Anyway… Livejournal was a thing at the time, and so was Xanga, but I didn’t want to clutter my blog, and I didn’t want to learn how to use Livejournal (I’d tried at the time and then gave up because at the time, it was far too complicated… says the woman who spent her teen years coding web pages for fun…). So I got a free Geocities, as well as Angelfire and an assortment of other freebie websites. And linked them all together using frames and other such nonsense. In the end though, I bought a domain from Geocities, right before it was bought by Yahoo! and set about creating a website for my fanfiction.
Then I decided to create subsites for other projects. One of which was a series of stories I wrote based on old roleplaying game storylines friends and I would play out in AOL chatrooms. This evolved into a full-on story series. My friends and a few others who read it demanded continuation after continuation. And so I kept writing. It evolved into the screencap posted here.
To break this down, so you can see the full scope of what this single HTML file contains (and yes, it is a SINGLE html file, and it’s freaking MASSIVE)…
The Original Series: 4 stories total.
- Lost World (prequel): Prologue + 9 chapters
- Battle Scarred : 12 chapters
- Missing Mile: 8 chapters
- Dances of Demons and Angels: 20 chapters + epilogue + alternate ending
Redux: 6 “Books”
- Death: 14 chapters + Interlude
- Memories: 7 chapters + Interlude
- Sex and Drugs: 9 chapters
- Pain: 5 chapters + Interlude + 4 Parts (of 1 chapter)
- Love and Hate: 5 chapters
- Life: 6 chapters + 4 Parts (of 1 chapter)
Holiday Specials: 1 story (Original series)
Side-Stories: Total of 5
Original Series: 1
Alternate Reality: 4
Grand Total Individual Texts
(Chapters plus Stand Alone Stories) = 115
All of this was written between 2003 and 2007. And includes a very expansive and bizarre world combining magic, science fiction, fantasy, reality, mild politics, and religion. And the thing is, I only truly recollect writing about 1/3 of it, due in part to that period of my life being one that was very turbulent. At that time I was severely withdrawn from others, suffering from near-crippling depression, and psychologically recovering from not one, but 2 near death experiences in mid-late 2003. So… it was a wild ride filled at various times with pain medication (which also during this time period I had developed an addiction to. Thankfully, now, I no longer abuse my medications thanks to a very strong support system and a rigid routine.), cold medicine, pure mental and physical exhaustion, and stress resulting in emotional and psychological break downs. It’s amazing I remember writing any of it at all to be quite honest.
So, I’ve been reading these stories, cringing at my own writing and how it used to be. I mean, given my reading comprehension, my writing skills at the time, it’s quite good. But compared to what level I am at now, my gods it’s atrocious! But the story is very compelling, and since I haven’t seen this file or these stories in nearly 10 years, I’m reading them with fresh eyes and a new perspective and wow. The plot, while a bit weak, is keeping me hooked and the character development and world building involved in this… Just freaking blows me away. I had a good solid world with a good solid cast of characters, but the plot is what ended up being the weakest part of it. Hence why with my old writings I’m reading through them and recycling the things I like, and reworking the things that I don’t.
It’s been a very… odd experience for me reading this old story. I’ll likely be posting about it again once I’ve gotten further into it. I’ve been reading it for the past 3 days at every opportunity, and I’ve only just scratched the surface of it.
He stood in his best suit. A cigarette hanging off his lips. Crimson colored hair pulled back into a tight tail. Glasses perched upon his now crooked nose. Broken one too many times. The strange, mystical healing ability it and the rest of his face once had now lost, the magic gone.
It was odd, really. Looking down at the old, weathered markers. He’d never been to any of the services. Couldn’t bear it. Couldn’t let anyone see him grieving. Not that anyone even could if he had attended.
Oh how he grieved. Each life lost, each connection broken. Sometimes reforged in new, strange ways he did not expect.
Humanity… so fragile. So strange.
A hand touched his shoulder. “It’s almost time.”
“Just a few moments more, Randy,” he said softly, then corrected himself. “Haniel.”
“Of course,” came the reply as the figure faded back into the shadows.
He took his glasses off and folded them, then tucked them inside his suit jacket’s inner pocket, then realized the futility of it. “Well boys,” he said, looking down the line. “This is goodbye. I didn’t expect it to go down this way.” He peeled the suit jacket off his shoulders, laying it across one headstone bearing the name Ryan. The last name, missing. Eroded away with an entire corner of the granite. “You were closer to me than my brothers and sisters Above could have ever been.”
Next, he unbuttoned the cuffs of his soft blue shirt. Then loosed the tie around his neck. It came off to show a scar at the juncture of his neck and chest. Jagged. Old. He took off his tie and tossed it onto the next marker. A large double headstone, usually reserved for married couples… or twins.
“Ezekiel. Elijah. In the end… you made me very proud. I’m sorry I didn’t stay. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help raise you. But what you two managed to do, not even the Almighty could have done. I’ll get you in, despite the suicide pact.” He had finished unbuttoning his shirt, draping it over the double marker before walking down the line to the next one.
Scars crisscrossed his back. His chest. His arms… two arms that were completely different from one another. One pale, deathly pale. The other, his own. The jagged scarring at the shoulder showed the haste in which the work was done. One mossy eye stared down at the next marker, the blue beside it showing far more expression. “Samuel…. My dear Sam.”
At this, he sighed. Kicking off his shoes and using his toes to take off his socks. “I did love you, you know.” A weak, sad smile. Ash falling off the cigarette on his lips. “Perhaps that’s why I did what I did… I was supposed to leave at 30 years. It’s all we get on Earth. Longer, and we risk becoming like our brothers and sisters. Risk tainting ourselves… losing ourselves to the sins of Earth. But it was too late for me. I had changed too much… I’d lost myself to worldly desires, and cut myself off from my purpose. But I did love you, as humans love. Because of that, I could not return. Not wholly. I remained here on Earth. Forced to endure the ages alone. Invisible to the naked eye… Except for you.” He turned his attention to the last marker. Much fresher than the others. The headstone crumbling. Much older than the others and made of green marble. A marble found only in one place in the world.
But the dirt was fresh dug. Only a few weeks old. “You saw me. You knew I was still here. Haunting. Waiting for the end of days when I would finally be allowed to depart this world. When I would either be called Home, or called Below. You knew then, didn’t you? All those years ago what I truly was, when I myself did not even know. You knew… And yet…” He looked down at his pale hand. No, His pale hand. His sword hand. Then, he put that hand to his throat. Tracing the scar there… there where the flesh became different. Pale contrasting with darker, tanned skin. A smile spread across the lips that weren’t his own. Strands of crimson fell into the face that was not his as they came loose in the wind. “Is this your redemption?” he asked the green stone. He let the pale hand fall to the scarred chest. Clear, obvious open heart surgical scarring where the sternum had been cracked apart. He glanced to the others. An eye and feet from one. The heart and lungs of twins. The body of a runaway.
Then, those mismatched eyes looked back to that final marker. The crumbling green marble found only in Ireland. Imported when the man who now lay in it, in pieces, had faked his death all those years ago. To escape his own misery and loneliness, having outlived the others… Had it put in alongside the rest that now populated the family plots behind Devlin Manor. “You did all of this… Why? I… You weren’t like them. You were…”
“He felt guilty.”
Haniel had returned, placing a hand on his shoulder. “There was no reason for him to be.”
“He had corrupted you. Made you more and more human until your very essence had become tainted. Unable to return to Home with the Almighty. He saw you, lingering in the shadows. A wraith in limbo, and knew it was his own fault. He and I, we both knew what we had would never last. It couldn’t. He loved you still. I was merely… your replacement.” He shrugged. “He took care of you, in his own way, those final years of mortality that you did have. He felt guilty for not having been there to see you off as he should have been.” Haniel squeezed his shoulder. “His task was to save 10,000 mortal souls. Here before you, you see Ryan Miyazaki, number 9,997. Ezekiel Bedford and Elijah Devlin, numbers 9,998 and 9,999. Samuel James Devlin, number 10,000. And Willem Danyale Connor the 3rd, number 1.”
“How could he be any of them, let alone the first?”
Haniel smiled. “He never told you the truth of what he was and how he came to be, did he?” Haniel shook his head and let his hand fall from his comrade’s shoulder. Then moved to sit himself upon the green marker. White wings stretched outward, expanding to their full size before shaking as if to get the dust off, and laying against his back again. “He was a demon. A king of Hell and Lucifer’s right hand in matters of advice and counsel. This much is true. As he had readied for his ascension to Earth in the first wave of this war, a sort of scout for our enemy, a child appeared in his throne room. Scared. Sobbing. Beaten and bloodied.
“Sheol… Belial… he was not like the others of Lucifer’s court. He rebelled because of his conscience, and for the right to be equal to man, whom he saw as his brother. He fought to protect man’s right to learn and grow and make mistakes. To use his mind and expand and evolve. So imagine, the only Fallen angel to ever best Michael, finding an innocent in Hell. He did not take it well. And sought to make it right. When he ascended to discover the child was in fact the vessel chosen for him… he refused to leave the child’s soul in Hell. He brought him back, and kept him safe. Acting as his guardian and his protector. Destroying anyone and anything that had caused the child harm. It was this that had prompted the Almighty to make him a deal. To task him to save 9,999 more. In return, he could become mortal and in such a way, return to Heaven.
“When he saved the final soul, do you know what he did with that gift? He asked for one more. To save one more soul. And in doing so, he sacrificed everything he had worked for. Everything he had longed to have. To save you.” Haniel looked down at the dirt. “This form, cobbled together the best he could manage, is the best part of every person he held dear. You held dear. He gave you his adopted children’s lungs and heart, because you had a weak one. And you had trouble breathing after exerting yourself. He gave you his fighting arm, with which to protect yourself. His face and head and mind, which had seen so much, and had expanded and learned the ways of this wicked world, so that you may better navigate it. And so that when others see your face, they know the fear he instilled in them, an advantage you will need against our enemy. His lover’s feet and eye. Because the man was fast, the swiftest he had ever known, for when you need to turn and run. The eye because despite it’s blindness, it can see so much more than the world of color and light. The heightened senses it brings help with your reflexes, maximizing your awareness of your surroundings. All placed on the body of a boy who chose to run away than face his problems. Because it had become empty long before it had died. And thus was a clean vessel. All people who loved you dearly. All put together to give you the best you could possibly have.”
“I am undeserving.”
“They didn’t think so. The mightiest warrior of Lucifer’s rebellion didn’t think so. You were the love of his life. He had to do what he could to save you. Undeserving, quite possibly. But that remains to be seen. Come now, Azrael. It has been too long since Death has taken the field of battle. Let us fight side by side, and have the Morning Star see the true might of humanity’s champions. I can think of no better replacement in our ranks for Sheol than you.”
“Tyler,” he said gently, taking one final look down the line of graves. Old, and new. The crumbling stones that served as reminders of a past he’d long ago thought was left behind. “I prefer the name Tyler.”
Black, leathery wings burst from his bare back, old and ragged. But still powerful and mighty. The wings of a demon of Hell, cut off long ago when Lucifer’s ranks were cast down from the skies. These were the final gift of the mad, drunken, foul Irishman called Alabaster.
This short is dedicated to some of my old friends, who never really got to know me through anything other than our shared stories and shared interests. People who’s faces I never saw, and who never saw mine. It’s been so long since I’ve spoken to any of them. They were part of a rather… odd and confusing and dark part of my life. This is my goodbye, after all this time, to them. Don’t worry, they’re still alive. Contact was lost years ago, though. And we’ve each moved on. This is just me saying farewell to the old days, while I will cherish the profound impact they each had on my life.
The Green Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger.
The Power Ranger who started out evil, but turned good. A character that would become a literal legend both in the Power Rangers fictional universe, and to fans across the globe spanning the last 20 years of my life.
I wanted that action figure. I wanted it so much that I had begged my mother for it, wanting nothing else for any other gift giving day. At eight years old, I had to have it or else it would be the end of the world.
My mother called and went to every toy store in Bartow County. She searched in Calhoun. She searched in Rome. She searched in Atlanta. She had our neighbor search in Atlanta. Before the days on online shopping, my mom hunted down that action figure with more tenacity than a last minute eBay bidder.
One evening, she slipped away to our neighbor’s house. I watched out the window for her, as dinner time was approaching and she had yet to set the food out on the table. I was wedged between my grandfather’s antique wooden recliner and our sofa, nose pressed against the window watching. My stomach growled, shouting for me to feed it soon.
Just when I was about to give up, I saw her. Walking through the weeds that ran between our fence and the road. Clutching something to her chest. Clutching something tightly beneath the fabric. At first, I panicked. I thought she might be dying, because to a eight year old who watched far too much Rescue 911, that was a classic heart attack reaction.
But no. As she got closer, reaching our driveway and walking towards the house, I could see she was hiding something beneath her shirt. She slowed down, spotting me in the window. She used one hand to shoo me from it.
I was excited. I had no idea what she had, but she was hiding it. Therefore, I had to know. I had to see it. I had to find out what it was. So I left the window, running to the nearby hallway and hiding behind the wall. I heard the front door open, and I peeked around the corner quickly, ducking back behind the wall.
I heard her sigh. “Oh alright!” she exclaimed.
I popped out from the hallway. In her outstretched hands… the holy grail of my childhood. The Green Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger.
I screamed in sheer delight. I screamed in absolute joy. I gave my mom a kiss on the cheek. A big hug, then ran to my room with my new toy, ripping the plastic with my bare hands to get to it. And each time I made the head flip to show the Power Ranger mask, I laughed and I smiled.
I played with that action figure until I was 13 years old. After that, it had started to fall apart. But I still kept it. Finally, when I was 17, all I had left was the head, no longer attached to the body. The body, long gone.
And then, it was lost. I don’t know where it, or the box I kept it in.
Now many years later the story is known in my family as The Legendary Hunt for the Green Ranger. And with each telling I realize something more. A new moral. Another epiphany.
Yet, the core message stays the same. The core message that at 5 years old I was far too young to understand. One that I didn’t truly understand until I had a little nipper of my very own.
A mother will do anything for her child. No matter how mundane, tedious, crazy, ridiculous, time consuming, redundant, or downright scary. A mother will do anything for her children, even if it’s driving around North West Georgia at the height of the holiday season, looking for one specific toy and accepting no substitutes.
She watched them, milling about like mice in the streets below her. Some pecked at devices in their hands with stylus or finger. Pecking like birds among the mice, fighting for the same seeds hidden in the depths of identical Starbucks cups. An amorphous blob of red and pasty pinkish-peach waddled among them.
A wild boar tramping along the floor of a forest made of skyscrapers and street lamps. Stuffing its face with burgers and fries from the corner joint. Neurotic women scurried out of the way as if nervous squirrels, holding their purses close as they skirted aroundthe hog. Holding their purses close, for that was where they hoarded their husbands’ money like so many acorns and nuts. She sighed, shaking her head as she walked along the building’s top.
Walking along the concrete sides and peering down into the zoo below. Sirens, sounding distant to her as she stood so high above them, her private little show. Police chasing like a pack of dogs suspects, cat burglars and overzealous rats running for their lives. But they need not fear the domesticated men in blue. No, they were merely doing what they had been trained to do and no more. Simple dogs, simple tricks.
She moved along to the third side, and spied a child climbing a tree. She smiled and gave a small chuckle. A playful monkey, with a rather annoyed gorrilla of a mother trying to pull him from the tree. She waved down at him, knowing he probably could not see her up so high, and moved her attention to another animal.
A man, standing in front of a shop window, preening himself like a rooster. Slicking back his hair and checking his collar, then his breath. He must have thought he was the cock of the walk, but he was merely insecure. She moved on, comming at last to the fourth and final side and peered down. Old women, their hair short and curled in that unnatural way. Blue haired women and bald men. Sheep and goats. Too old to care. Too old to be useful. Bleating at the youth nearby in futility. Their time had passed, yet they didn’t want to accept it. So oblivious to the fact they had outlived their purposes. Too stupid to notice their lives had become routine, and their homes now in one larger dormatory for the elderly.
Sheep and goats, they lot of them. They disgusted her. Her ears perked as she heard a creaking. “Who’s there?” she demanded, whirling around to find a dangerous creature indeed.
“Come on down, Nessa. Yer mum’s waitin back at me an Sam’s place fer ye.”
She shook her head. “Not just yet,” she said, turning back to the great expanse before her.
“It wasn’t a request, girlie.” A firm paw landed on her shoulder, nails, claws digging into her expensive blouse. Biting at her skin. She knew he meant nothing by it. He was nervous. He was frustrated. When she was younger, she thought of him as another dog. Housebroken, loyal, and easily distracted. But now, as she came to understand the world she realized only a cruel, vicious predatory creature could have given rise to her. For everywhere she looked, she saw only weak and powerless prey.
Slowly, she nodded and turned to leave the rooftop where she had come to seek solitude and serenity. She could feel his eyes on her as he followed. The careful gaze of a monster, of a killing machine.
“Da?” she asked, breaking the silence of the elevator ride to the Lobby on the bottom floor.
“What kind of animal, do you suppose, are you underneath your human skin?”
He smiled, giving a small laugh and shook his head. “Do you really want to know?”
She nodded eagerly.
“Da, I’m serious.”
He grinned as the bell chimed. The doors began to grind open and he stepped out of the elevator. “So am I. Now, ye wanna take the limo er a cab? I was thinkin it’d be fun ta pull up in a drive thru in either one,” he said as he led the way across the lobby towards the large glass doors which gave way to the zoo outside.
*Opossum, not to be confused with the Australian Possum.
Excerpt on Behavior from the Wiki Page:
Opossums are usually solitary and nomadic, staying in one area as long as food and water are easily available. Some families will group together in ready-made burrows or even under houses. Though they will temporarily occupy abandoned burrows, they do not dig or put much effort into building their own. As nocturnal animals, they favor dark, secure areas. These areas may be below ground or above.
When threatened or harmed, they will “play possum”, mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. The lips are drawn back, teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. The physiological response is involuntary, rather than a conscious act. Their stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away. The animal will regain consciousness after a period of minutes or hours and escape.
Adult opossums do not hang from trees by their tails, though babies may dangle temporarily. Their semi-prehensile tails are not strong enough to support a mature adult’s weight. Instead, the opossum uses its tail as a brace and a fifth limb when climbing. The tail is occasionally used as a grip to carry bunches of leaves or bedding materials to the nest. A mother will sometimes carry her young upon her back, where they will cling tightly even when she is climbing or running.
Threatened opossums (especially males) will growl deeply, raising their pitch as the threat becomes more urgent. Males make a clicking “smack” noise out of the side of their mouths as they wander in search of a mate, and females will sometimes repeat the sound in return. When separated or distressed, baby opossums will make a sneezing noise to signal their mother. If threatened, the baby will open its mouth and quietly hiss until the threat is gone.
He was always like that. She knew this when they met. His hands always moving. Always fiddling with a gadget or a thingamabob. Never still. Never steady.
Some days it was rough. Some days it was easy. Soothing. Angry. Powerful. Careful. His hands, so large and strong, could crush the glass in them if he wasn’t careful. If he wasn’t paying attention.
He feared what his hands could do. Have done in the past. He had lost so much because he could not keep them to himself. So he fidgets more. Nervous. Anxious. Unsure if he should use them. Unsure if he should reach out, just to run his fingers through her hair. The restlessness of what if would spread throughout his body. Feet tapping. Legs shaking. A man in perpetual motion, unable to sit still. Unable to silence his mind.
Until, at last when the sun sets and Luna rises high, she smiles. She sits and holds out her hand. Calm. Steady. Sure. She holds it out and patiently waits.
He at last reaches out, and fingers entwine. He stills. She sighs – soft and reassuring.
And in just that small gesture, he knows it’s okay. He has nothing to fear.
She knew it wouldn’t be easy, loving someone who is always a nervous wreck. But he needed her to help him still the mind and squash his fears. And she… she just needed a decent man’s hand to hold.
Darkness falls quickly in the Georgia hills. One moment you glance out the window to see the sun just starting to set on the horizon. Next you look the sky is black as pitch. The temperature drops like a brick and you can’t distinguish between your breath and the smoke wafting off the cigarette clamped between your fingers. The only tell-tale sign is the slight burning smell that arises to your freezing nose on the end of your face.
But oh, that night sky. Clear and beautiful. The lack of light and smog allow you to easily pick out all of the constellations of your childhood. These kind of nights are the best for warm cocoa, loaded to the brim with over-sized marshmallows and warm blankets wrapped around you as you sit in the grass. Snuggled against your sister, or your mother, or your lover, pointing out planets and stars in the sky. Lifting your arm as you tilt your head back to take in the splendor you once took for granted.
These are the sort of nights that are few and far between. These are the nights were troubles melt away with every sip of warm cocoa and laughs as you point up, and together connect the dots of stars in the pitch colored sky.
Darkness falls quickly in the Georgia hills. It is a thing I have missed the most.
We sit. His back pressed against mine. His scarred skin flush against the thin fabric of my shirt. His head is bowed, and his snores are light. He is warm against me.
Late into the night, we sit like this. Passing a tepid cup of coffee between us. He drinks from one side. I from the other.
Sometimes we break, and we are parted. But never far from touch. We step outside into the grass, looking into the night sky. Fingers brush as a burning stick is passed back and forth.
But we always come back, smoke in our lungs, to our pads of paper and pens. He writes in blue, I in red. And we take up space again on the couch.
His back against mine, his head leans back as he looks to the ceiling. Brown eyes tired but filled with thought.
I turn my head, I smile and pass him a scrap of paper. He brushes my cheek with his fingers before righting himself and getting back to work.
Through all the years and all the tears he is my best friend. Through heaven and hell we’ve trampled, and still we stand together.
It’s times like these, the quiet times, when pens scratch paper, that I’m reminded that I’m not alone. Because we’ll always be alone together.
His head droops forward, and the night wears on. My own eyes start to close.
And still with backs pressed together, here we will always sit.
In honor of the upcoming candy grubbing costumed holiday of Halloween, have this little diddy I wrote back in 2010.
It crept upon me, in this room. The very shadows stirred and stretched to snatch me from the warmth of the blankets that hid me from the world. Their hands, like sharpened blades, scratched my skin. My beautiful, pale flesh was a cross-hatched enigma to the minds of the men and women gathered around me, poking and prodding with their latex covered digits… I blinked, and the stark memory of when I had last seen this room was gone. With my head tilted, I listened to the soft spoken words of those who’d come to see the man that stayed here. “How did this happen?” “No one knows.” “When was it?” “Two, maybe two thirty. It’s hard to tell in this light.” “Who was on duty?” “I’ll call the orderlies from last night.” “Don’t bother. Riggs is still here, taking a double shift.” “What about the other… what’s his name?” “Garret.” “Yes, that’s his name. Wasn’t he in last night?” “Well, yes. But he-” “He what Silverman?” “He couldn’t have heard anything. We were restraining Victoria last night. She wouldn’t stop her fits, even after we tried to sedate her.” I looked up at all the faces, fraught with worry and consumed by curious thought. Silverman was lying. Her right ear twitches when she lies. I saw her, with Garret, last night, just across the hall in the room that has been empty for months. Of course Garret couldn’t hear anything, not with her lips pressed to his ear and her voice rising in pitch as he stuck it to her against the white wall when they both should have been making their rounds. “Call up Patterson, we’re going to need the cart.” “What about the family?” “He was alone, for the most part.” “No parents? No relatives?” “None. His father died just under a year ago. Liver failure they say. His uncle lives in Europe, and no one was able to get in contact with him, or anyone else.” “It’s a shame. He was such a nice young man. He was always so polite…” “We’d better get this one bagged and tagged. Call the local priest.” “Whatever for?” “He was a deeply religious man.” “I see…” I sighed, standing up and brushing off my knees as I watched them. Their expressions changed, slowly at first, from serious curiosity to pity, and finally sadness. I crouched beside him, and examined his face very closely. He was smiling, his eyes open and his head turned slightly, as if he were glancing out the window. I touched his forehead lightly and straightened his hair. He had a lot of visitors today. It wouldn’t do for him to look like such a mess. I touched his hand as he was lifted, and my fingers trailed along his arm as they took him from the room. I followed them, and stood in the doorway of the room. “Where are they taking me?” he asked. “To the morgue downstairs,” I replied. “Really now? I’ve never seen one of those before.” “You aren’t missing much.” I smiled. I looked down the hall, where the doctors that once had poked the man with their rubber clad fingers spoke amongst themselves. When the eldest of them followed out the doors where the body disappeared, the others returned to where we were. “Did you hear?” “No… what happened?” “I don’t care what that old boff says… that poor man.” “Wasn’t he the one with the brother that…” “He was. He didn’t handle the loss well, and…” “I see…” I sighed, and turned to him, holding out my hand. “This place is boring,” I said. “Let’s go find something better to do Aaron.” “I don’t want to… can’t we just look around a little? Please James?” “Oh… alright. Just for a few minutes,” I said, reaching out my hand. He slipped his in mine, and it felt as if the two fit together like a puzzle. “What did you think about when you died?” “Remember the summer uncle took us all over Europe to follow his favorite soccer team around, and that one game where this guy took your seat when you left to go to the bathroom?” “Yeah. What about it?” “Uncle didn’t punch that guy, I did.” “And you let him get carried off by the police!” “Yeah… We had a lot of fun… what did you think about?…” I smiled. “When we were six and dad accidentally drove the car into a stop sign, and the police officer wouldn’t believe him when he said he was sober, but blind.” “Where do we go after this?” “Dunno. I’ve been waiting for you to croak so you can come with me. You’re not mad are you?” “No. Not really,” he said as we stepped through the door and went down the stairs to go watch the mortician dissect the cold form that was my brother. “Did you ever get your belly button pierced like you wanted?”