Chapter ten – Finding out the secret
This must be my longest update ever. XD Prepare for some heavy reading, guys. Also…
My heart was pounding in my chest. The main hall was abandoned, and my footsteps were reverberating on the floor and across the room, multiplying the sound until it rang loudly in your ears. It sounded a bit eerie, really. My mind though was focused on completely different things and didn’t pay attention to eerie sounding sounds.
Communicate with the dead.
‘Micah, let’s go back! We’ve gone farther than planned already…’
‘Just a little further!’
I couldn’t deny it anymore now. While for Ethan, roaming the graveyards at night really had been a test of courage, I had tagged along for a different reason. We had gone at least four times, and yet I never even caught a glimpse of her.
That was around the time that I stopped believing in ghosts.
I shook my head wildly and forced myself to come out of the memory. Ethan was still packing his backpack, but he’d be by my side shortly, and I shouldn’t show any hesitation about this when he was. With that thought in mind, I pushed open the doors to the exit, turned the corner…
And stood face-to-face with Nile.
She… wasn’t looking very happy. I smiled at her awkwardly. The two of us hadn’t gone off to a very good start… but maybe I could still break the ice.
‘Hiya… Niles. You’re here late, and, umm… How are you doing?’ I said, keeping up my awkward smile. She didn’t respond at all. She just stared at me, with those yellow eyes behind her sunglasses. I was about to repeat my question when all of a sudden she opened her mouth.
‘I thought I told you to stay out of this.’
Her expression sent chills down my spine and I once again got the impression that this girl could read minds. How else could she know what I was about to do? Unless she was just crazy, but that wasn’t the vibe I got from her at all.
‘Stay out of what? What are you talking about?’ I tried to bluff.
‘I warned you before. Stop chasing after things that are not here anymore. If you don’t, you’re not the only one who is going to get hurt.’
‘Are you threatening me?!’ I said, my initial shock slowly being taken over by anger. ‘This has got nothing to do with you. You’re the one who is meddling in things without being asked! I happen to have something I really need to do, and I don’t need you stopping me!’
I had truly no idea where that outburst of words came from, but it seemed to have an effect. Nile’s threatening expression disappeared, and she was silent for a few seconds. For a bit there, she almost looked… sad?
‘You’re not listening, either… why won’t any of you ever listen?’
‘Never mind,’ she said, returning to her usual attitude. ‘It’s always the same, anyway.’
She wasn’t making any sense. At all. Just when I opened my mouth to ask her what on plumbob she was talking about, Nile turned her back to me and walked away.
I stared at her back until she was completely out of sight. My happy feelings of Ethan helping me had long since disappeared, and had been replaced by irritation… and a lot of confused thoughts. This wasn’t the last I had seen of that girl, that was for sure.
‘Micah! I’m ready!’
The door next to me opened and Ethan came running out, his backpack in one hand and the key to his bike in the other. I quickly diverted my gaze from the point where Nile disappeared.
‘… What were you looking at?’
‘Nothing. Let’s go.’
The sun was about to permanently sink into the horizon for the day by the time we finally arrived back home. Milow was nowhere to be seen; he was probably chasing after a squirrel in the backyard. I told Ethan to wait outside for a minute, and stepped inside to greet dad.
As expected, he was home already. But the mood hanging in the kitchen wasn’t the same as normal, when he’d just come back from work. Dad was dressed in an unusually neat-looking suit, not a hair out of place on his head. He was standing motionless in front of their old wedding picture.
And he was crying.
I whispered the word softly, knowing that I wasn’t supposed to see this. I hadn’t seen my father cry in twelve years- not since the day we went on that trip together. He was sad at times, of course, but I’d never seen him this broken, except on mum’s birthdays and their-
And their anniversary.
Dad slowly brought his hands to his head and covered his face, shoulders going up- and downwards. I’d forgotten. Today was their anniversary. My heart sank a little with each sob that passed through dad’s outstretched fingers.
If it was just the two of them… they’d go sightseeing, or on a small vacation. Mum would wear a pretty dress like the one she wore on her wedding day, and dad’s suit would be blue, not the pitch black one he was wearing now. They’d go out for a romantic dinner and act like they’d only been in love for a few months.
That’s what would have happened.
But… there was a certain someone who had made that impossible.
‘Micah?’ Ethan whispered from the doorstep. ‘What are you doing?’
I quickly looked behind me and gestured at him to be silent.
‘Come on. We’re going upstairs.’
I turned around and followed Ethan through the narrow hallway, up the stairs and into my bedroom. Dad hadn’t noticed us.
I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.
‘So… are you finally going to tell me what this is all about?’ Ethan said, after walking through my bedroom door.
‘Yes,’ I nodded, closing the door behind him. For a second, just before letting the wood fall in the lock, I thought I heard dad’s car pull up in front of our house.
‘You’d better brace yourself, Ethan, because it’s a long story.’
Ethan simply smiled. ‘You know I’ll believe you no matter what you say.’
So I told him everything. The ever worsening dreams I had, the vision in the playground, how I went out in the middle of the night and found Gerry Custard’s body. How the FBI came after me, and the facility they trapped me in.
‘I’ve seen the report on the news,’ Ethan said with a frown. ‘They said an anonymous tipper gave away the area where the body was, and that the police suspected it was the murderer who did that…’
‘It wasn’t the murderer, it was me. Remember how I stormed out on you and Archie before? The FBI found me that same afternoon.’
‘And now you’re on the run,’ Ethan concluded. I shook my head.
‘Not exactly. I left a note saying I would be back. That doesn’t count as being on the run, does it?’
‘I guess not.’
‘But I know that was I saw was real,’ I continued, sounding as seriously as possible. ‘I can communicate with dead people, or ghosts, or whatever they are. But I can’t control it, and I think that book I showed you gives an explanation on how to do it. Not like fraud ghost hunters do, but really communicate. This is real, Ethan. I swear it.’
‘I know,’ Ethan said, with another serious face that he showed so rarely. ‘I believe you.’
‘Y-you do?’ I said, my voice faltering a bit. ‘You really believe me?’
‘Of course, Eves. That’s what friends are for. We believe each other. You’re telling the truth, I can see it in your eyes.’
The feeling of relief running through my body came as a surprise. Who would have known I’d feel so much better with my friend believing me. It lifted my spirits up high, really high, up to the point where I finally started to feel confident about taking this step.
‘No problem,’ he smiled, and pointed at the book lying on my bed. ‘Now can I take a look at this? I’ll need a pen and paper too, to write down the translation.’
‘Of course! I’ll get some,’ I said, jumping to the drawer next to my bed. I pulled it open and rummaged through until I found a pencil and something to write on.
‘Perfect,’ Ethan said, taking it from me. ‘Now let’s get started.’
I nodded and grabbed the book from my bed. We sat down on the bedroom floor, in lack of a proper desk to study on, and spread the pens and papers in front of us.
‘You brought your translation books?’ I said, a bit impressed that he still had them. ‘Wasn’t that course over a year ago?’
‘Yeah, but it was interesting, so I studied it further. Did you know the writings and calligraphy found in Al Simhara are a direct descendant from the ancient Simlish? It is said to have been influenced by the southern civilisations and that’s why it changed a bit, but you can still see the original-‘
‘Ah, right. Sorry.’
He grabbed the nearest pen, opened his books and started writing. The next ten minutes passed by in absolute silence, only interrupted by the flipping of pages and the occasional sigh when Ethan wrote something down that wasn’t right, and erased it again.
Eventually, after eighteen whole minutes, Ethan dropped his pen.
‘I think I’m done. It’s everything on the page you told me to read back at school.’
‘Can I see it?’ I asked.
‘Of course. That’s why I translated.’
He handed the piece of paper over to me, after which I spread it out on the floor and began to read.
“As decided by the Grand Design, Man, the descendants of Plumbob, bear within them two- their life energy, which keeps the body running, and their soul, which keeps the mind at bay.”
“When Man fades, their life energy scatters across the plains to strengthen the land. Their soul crosses the Gate, and disappears until the day that plumbob allows them to descend again.“
“Sometimes, however, the soul does not fully cross the gate. It is kept in this world by a powerful emotion and seeks to reunite with life. Until the spirit realizes this is impossible to make happen, the energy will not scatter. Descendants who have been close to the Gate in life can see this energy.”
‘It makes sense… it’s finally starting to make sense now,’ I whispered. ‘The gate must be the thing I saw in my dreams. No wonder that boy didn’t want to get sucked in. Ethan, what else does the book say?’
Ethan shook his head. ‘I haven’t read further yet. Micah, if this is true, then how come you’re able to see things like this? You’ve never even broken something, let alone been close to that gate-thing they mention.’
I was silent and thought for a while. And then it came to me.
‘During my birth… I almost died when mum fell off the stairs. That must have been it,’ I mumbled. ‘The doctors said It was a miracle that I was still alive.’
‘You saw the gate as a baby?’ Ethan thought out loud. ‘How did you come back from there if you were just a baby?’
‘I don’t know. Can you translate the rest?’
‘If I do… what are you going to do with the information this thing gives you?’
‘I don’t know, Nut,’ I said slowly. ‘But I want to try this. It’s not just a fable to scare people believing in ghosts. This is real, and I want to see what it does. It’s like we’re just centimeters away from something big. I just know it.’
‘You’re right,’ Ethan said. ‘Because the next part explains how to communicate with those passing souls.’
My eyes narrowed and my heart started to beat twice as fast. This was it. This was what I’d been looking for.
‘How? How do I communicate with them?’
‘Through your second mind,’ Ethan said, his nose buried in the book. ‘Or your subconsciousness, as we call it. They write that, if you have seen the gate before, all you need to do is… let’s see…’
“Pacify your active mind and enter a state of stasis, in which your subconscious mind is active. You will then be able to enter the grounds of the Gate.”’
“One traveling to the line between life and death must however be warned. Passage through the Gate is part of a constant flow that keeps this world in existence. One must never oppose that flow, for it is the highest taboo to do so.”
‘This is it!’ I yelled, jumping up in excitement. ‘I’ve finally got it!’
‘Got what? What are you talking about?’ Ethan said, getting up as well. He had a confused look on his face. But I didn’t even bother filling him in, as I was almost speechless from the realization of what I’d been missing all along. It was so simple now.
Sleep. I just needed to sleep.
‘Ethan, thank you! Thank you so much for helping me, we’ve finally figured it out!’
‘We have?’ he said, dumbfounded.
‘Yes! All thanks to you!’
I smiled at him, my thoughts running miles ahead. The next step. Yes. I knew just what to do. But not on the bed, it had to be right here.
Ethan didn’t seem to be able to keep up with my thoughts, as he was still stuck on my thanking him.
‘I’d do anything for you… you know,’ he muttered softly, looking at me with just as soft an expression on his face. ‘As long as it’s you…’
‘Great!’ I said. ‘Then lend me your lap!’
‘No complaints, I need a pillow.’
I grabbed Ethan and pushed him on the ground, after which I dragged the carpets on the floor in his direction and lied down, putting my head on his leg.
‘Wha- what are you doing?!’
‘Lying down,’ I replied simply.
‘You have a bed for that!’ he protested, with a voice two pitches higher than normal.
‘I don’t want to lie on the bed.’
‘Why not?’ Ethan asked, but in a different tone this time. I was silent for a few seconds. Was I maybe pushing it too far if I said the next line?
‘It just… feels safer this way.’
I closed my mouth and gazed idly at Milow’s dog bed, wondering what Ethan was thinking at the moment. Forcing all this unto him… he’d surely be confused at the least. But I was really happy to have him with me. All on my own… I probably would have given up long ago.
I felt Ethan put his hand on my head and softly stroke my golden hair. It felt really good, and I started feeling sleepy right away.
‘After we’re done with this… there’s something I need to tell you.’
‘It’s about… How I feel…’
‘It’s about… how I feel…’
I groaned and squeezed my eyelids together to wake up. That had been Ethan’s voice. It sounded so far off… but it had definitely been him. What had I been doing…?
I finally felt awake enough to open my eyes and lift my head a little from the ground. Everything looked fuzzy, but I appeared to be in… some kind of forest?
No, that wasn’t right. This wasn’t what a forest looked like. There were too many colors and the light seemed unnatural. But still, it was… very beautiful…
I slowly got up and admired the scene around me. Everything was moving, almost sparkling with energy. It felt really, really familiar. Was this another one of my dreams? Why had I come here?
I took a few steps forward and then turned around, expecting to see more of the same scene.
‘That took you long enough.’
‘YOU!’ I said, jumping back in fright. My memory returned to me right away- I came here to talk to them. To him.
To think it actually worked.
‘But… you… you were pulled into that gate! I saw you get pulled in!’ I said.
‘You pulled me out again,’ the boy said, with a smile on his lips. ‘Don’t you remember? The second you touched me, I was set free.’
‘What… what do you mean?’
‘We weren’t supposed to meet. But we did, and you could touch me, and you pulled me away from the gate. I’ll be forever grateful for that.’
‘You’re welcome…’ I said, still nervous about him being in the same place as me. He floated a bit closer, and I stepped back right away, my arm in front of me as if to protect myself. The boy laughed.
‘I’m not going to harm you,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Don’t act so scared, you’re hurting my dead feelings.’
I eased up a little. At least he had a sense of humor.
‘Your name is Micah, isn’t it?’
‘Yes,’ I nodded.
‘I’m Conifer. Conifer Lace.’
‘What happened to you, Conifer?’
His mood changed visibly. The smile disappeared from his face and he looked at my with a sad expression in his glowing eyes.
‘My mum and dad gave me a car as a graduation present. I was so proud of it, I always drove it to school and back and picked up Lavender on the way. She’s my girlfriend. We were planning on going to college together.’
‘We… we wanted to go on a lunchdate in Twinbrook in between classes…’
‘There was another car… driving on the wrong side of the road…’
He brought his hand up to his head and buried his face in them, letting out small sobs. I could see his shoulders trembling.
‘We got into an accident, and Lavender… Lavender and I…’
I felt for Conifer. I really did. He was barely older than me, with so much to look forward to, and his life had already ended. I put one hand on my side and the other near my face, unsure of what to say.
‘Conifer, I’m… I’m really sorry. If there’s anything I can do-‘
‘Micah! Won’t you revive me?’
He was centimeters away from my face before I could blink. I jumped back and stared at him with eyes twice as big from shock.
‘Wha- what? Won’t I what? I can’t do that!’
‘You can!’ he said, pleading with me. ‘You’d be able to do it! You’ve overcome the gate before, haven’t you? If it’s you, you can do anything!’
‘How… how do you know what happened to me?’ I whispered. This was really starting to creep me out.
‘We all do. We’re connected to the Gate. We can’t escape- but you did. You can help us do the same. Wont you help me, Micah?’ Conifer pleaded again. ‘My sisters – they need me to protect them. And Lavender! I need to know if Lavender made it out alive, Micah! Please?’
‘How?’ I asked. ‘How do I do it?’
‘You have to unite the soul and the life energy that was taken from the person into one being again,’ Conifer said, touching my arm with his hand. I felt nothing, but shivers ran down my skin nonetheless.
‘A ritual described in ancient simlish… You’ll need… the thing that binds the soul and the energy into one.’
‘What? What is the binder?’
‘You already know that.’
I frowned and proceeded to shake my head. And then it hit me.
‘A human body.’
‘Not just any. One which has the same energy… the same blood.’
The shivers became worse and ran all over my body now.
All of a sudden, Conifer distanced himself from me. His first so hopeful look became grim and disappointed.
‘I just realized. You can’t revive me…’
‘Why not? You just said I could!’ I protested.
‘I’m sorry, Micah, meeting you has gotten me carried away too far. My body- it turned to ash in that carcrash. There’s nothing left. And my siblings can’t reach me here. I have… nothing left to bind me to this world.’
‘Are you sure?’ I said. ‘Wouldn’t it work without a binder? We could still try.’
‘Thank you for caring about me, Micah. I bet we would have been friends if we’d met each other when I was still alive.’
‘You think so?’
He nodded, a small smile on his face. For some reason, Conifer seemed… more transparent than a few seconds ago.
‘Conifer… what will you do now?’
‘I think… I think I’ll go where I’m supposed to.’
‘The gate?’ I asked.
‘Yes. It’s calling. And Lavender is probably waiting for me on the other side, if she faded as well.’
‘A gentleman shouldn’t make his lady wait,’ I smiled.
‘That’s right. And I am a gentleman, after all.’
‘I bet you are.’
Conifer turned around and I prepared myself for seeing him vanish into nothing, but then he turned to face me again.
‘I forgot to tell you something! You didn’t come here to look for me, did you?’
I stayed silent. Admitting it might upset him, but Conifer was spot-on, anyway.
‘The energy needed to bring her soul back to this world…’
‘It’s inside of you.’
My eyes opened by themselves and presented me with the view of my bedroom carpet. I’d slid off of Ethan’s lap and was lying on the floor, but his hand was still on my head.
‘Micah! Hey, Micah! Are you back? Can you hear me?’
‘Ethan…’ I mumbled, shoving around with my feet. ‘It was real. We were right, it’s actually real.’
‘Don’t move! You were really pale just now, what happened?!’
I ignored him and slowly picked myself up from the ground. My body was tingling from the experience I just had. I was physically shaking, and Ethan saw it. He put his hand on my shoulder and urged me to lie down again, but I brushed his hand off.
Conifer had given me just the information I needed. What I had been looking for.
‘Ethan… I need you to translate one more page from that book for me.’
The answer I’d been looking for since the beginning. I wouldn’t have to look at a picture of mum anymore to know what she looked like. We’d never have to go through another anniversary or birthday with the just two of us again.
Because I was going to bring her back.
Also… the next post will be Micah’s theme song.
First one to guess the title before the next update will get free choco chip cookies! =D
Ah, but you’ll have to explain yourself, no random guesses XD Haha, just kidding. Thanks for reading everyone!