Chapter 14: It’s true. I assure you. But, in the imaginary sense, of course.
“So, they were always real? I wasn’t crazy? I mean, I kind of had a feeling. But, it’s just nice to have someone confirm it… Even if no one else can see or hear either one of you.”
Aiven nods. “Mom brought you home when I was four… that’s when I first saw them. I think you were four too when you finally noticed them yourself,” Aiven says, sitting next to me on my bed. “Anyway, the day Mom brought you home, you were extremely sick. She wouldn’t let me see or touch you.” Aiven sighs and shrugs. “So, I sat on the big couch in the living room and looked out the window; there were a few kids playing soccer, they had nets up at both ends of the block.
I remember wondering if that’s how you and I were going to be when you got older…” Aiven says, his death sitting clearly on his forehead. “There was a shadow following one of the kids. Every time he missed a goal or someone made a goal past him, he got angrier, and the darkness… solidified,” Aiven clears his throat. “The shadow eventually condensed into a black, porcelain mannequin that looked like a witch under water. She was wispy and her hair floated eerily in every direction. Her joints creaked and popped so loud I heard them through the window. I instinctively knew what she was doing.”
“She? What exactly are the Nothing?” I ask, concerned. “From what I saw they’re kind of like people…”
“Well, everything is like people. But, nothing, especially Nothing, is human.”
“What do you mean, Aiven? That doesn’t even make sense, you idiot.”
“You’re so simple, Em. Look, every creature has some sort of community, some sort of frivolous rank or class structure, a military class, religion… or religions, even ants do, we just lack the capacity to comprehend animals on their own terms. Everything has the qualities of ‘people’, or a ‘society’, but no creature comes close to being human. ‘Humans’, meaning every living creature in the physical realm, possess certain qualities that transcend those of metaphysical beings, and, obviously, vice versa. ‘People’, in a broad sense, are an impersonal mass of bodies following written or unwritten doctrines of their respective societies. They’re voters, workers, consumers, armies, religious worshippers and the like—But humans are you, me, Mom, Dad, dogs, cats, snakes, birds, ants, spiders, anything that exists in a physical sense and can be thought of on an individual level. Even when you think of a person, it’s just some random fuck face from god knows where, but when you think of a human or a member of the human race, there’s weight attached to it. You follow, Em?”
“Yea, I do. Sorry, I called you an idiot. I jump the gun more than I should.”
“All good. Anyway, so we’ll get to what exactly the Nothing are. Where was I?”
“The witch-looking Nothing and street hockey. She finally solidified.”
“Right, right. It was soccer though. Anyway, she stared at the kid with her beady, white eyes, following him around, convincing him to do something. Something evil, as I’m sure you’ve seen and heard them do. The boys all moved the soccer nets off the road when a car rolled up the hill. They stood in front of our house and the kid looked over his shoulder, directly at me, in sync with the Nothing following him. His eyes were black pits. The Nothing’s eyes were pure white. He smiled at me and threw the puck out into the street…” Aiven pauses again, sighing heavily. “… The newest kid on the block ran after the puck and the car slammed into him, screeching, then crushing his body as it slowed down.
Black mist surrounded the one kid’s body and the Nothing went inside him. Then his eyes sharply turned to me and he smiled again. I ducked and squeezed my stomach; it was the first time I saw someone die, and the first time I’d seen someone consumed by evil. When I looked back out the window, he was gone. I looked around, and the kids were yelling frantically.” Aiven freezes. “A hand slapped the window and the kid stepped away from the house… glaring at me. Several adults ran outside to the body. The Nothing walked into the group of parents and kids yelling ‘I saw the whole thing! The car never stopped. It was on purpose!’ The dead kid’s dad yanked the driver out of his car,” Aiven looks out into the distance. “A distorted chuckle echoed behind me and I heard you crying. I dashed to Mom and Dad’s room to make sure you were alright; the boy stood over you whispering in the Nothings’ language. All I could make out was ‘Gaht Aemon.’ A mist pulled the Nothing out of the boy’s body and into yours. Then I blacked out, and awoke to Mom and Dad standing over me. The possessed boy had disappeared.
The Nothing— they constantly followed you around, Em’. I wanted to tell you when we were kids… I wanted to tell you that I saw them too, even though I never saw the first one in your room. I wanted to tell you all about them, but somehow, knowing that they exist attracts them to you, unless you wear a cloak. You spent enough time drawing and writing about them that it seemed like it would only put you in even more danger, considering you were harboring Aemon, a god the more religious Nothing sacrificed themselves to. I—I hope you can forgive me for everything I put you through… especially with my death. One of them killed my physical body when I had transcended into an astral state, and staged my suicide by possessing my corpse.”
Aiven… I’m sorry, Aiven. “I never knew… how did you find out?”
“The Nothing told me. When I killed him.”
Pressure builds in my eyes. I hug Aiven. His pain… Oh god, his pain. He must have been there to see Mom and me over his body… Damn. Tears stream down my face.
“It’s alright, little bro.”
I sob thinking about how he must’ve felt. Then I remember the Nothing following me around, telling my parents about them, trying to tell anyone who would listen. Years of therapy, several thousand insults later, I’m not crazy. I sigh. Aiven hugs me tighter. Tears flow faster down my face, “I’m not crazy. They were always there…”
“I know. I was watching… I was always watching, little bro.”
I understand what they’re not talking about. I wipe my tears on the right sleeve of the cloak. Sickness immediately replaces relief. My face is warm; I’m still crying.
“You have to do it bro.”
“Five human hours…” Kanti says solemnly. “… before you completely turn.”
“Turn? What does he mean, Aiven? Turn to what?”
“Nothing,” Aiven says.
Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the next chapter!
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