Yesterday, the 8th, was a whirlwind of activity. I’m surprised that by the end of the evening i was still on track. The election here in America threatened to slow me down, and i’m convinced more than ever i need to stay off Facebook if i’m going to complete a novel this month. Even Pinterest is trying to distract me with its vegetarian recipes and kpop idols, lol. Yeah, i fess up, I love kpop :)So anyway, now as i jot this out on my mobile keyboard it is the 9th, and the day is halfway done. I’m also about half way through chapter 9. If all goes well, i’ll end the day with 18,000 words and still be on track. Fingers crossed 😉
Alright. With all that said, here’s yesterday’s work. Chapter 8. Hope you enjoy 🙂
Time Of Our Death
Paul D. Aronson.
We left Shannon’s house, and continued on our way to the library. I told the others what I’d noticed on the television. They all seemed concerned about the death toll.
“I hope it’s not us,“ Kelly said. “I don’t want to die.”
“We’re already dead,” Brian answered.
“Yeah, I know. But at least we exist. What happens when this is over? Do we just cease to be?”
I understood her fear. I’d often pondered death and what came after the life we know. Many were the nights I had lain awake in bed, afraid to go to sleep, afraid of that eternal kind of sleeping, as if one night I would just slip into it and never wake up. I’d feared what came after this life, and somehow I was finding out. The five of us were solving some of those mysteries, but there were still some truths yet to be discovered. And that frightened me a little. Like Kelly, I didn’t want there to be just nothing. I feared it was all a great big emptiness.
“Do you think it was us they found?” Donald asked, interrupting my thoughts.
“No, I don’t,” I replied, half convicted of that.
“Why not?” Lori asked.
“I don’t know. I just feel like once they find our bodies, we won’t be ghosts anymore.I don’t know why I think that; I just do.”
“It’s your woman’s intuition,” joked Brian. “You grew your hair long like a girl. You walk around talking about stupid shit all day like a girl. Hey, I’m just waiting for you to grow tits.”
Kelly snickered, but Lori wasn’t amused. “You are such a pig,”she said.
“Come on,” Donald shouted. ”This isn’t stupid shit, this is serious. I didn’t think this was going to happen, but here we are dead and walking around like we’re alive. There’s no way it’s going to last.”
“Maybe it is like the movies, “ I said. “Maybe once we resolve issues left over from our life, it will end our ghost lives, too.”
“I don’t have unresolved issues,” Donald said.
“Everyone has them,” Lori corrected him.
Brian didn’t seem happy with that. “So what are you saying, Chris? We all just go walking around telling everyone we’re sorry or some shit?”
“It wouldn’t be a bad start,” I said.
“Yeah, well I kind of like this ghost thing. I’m not saying sorry to nobody. Especially not to you and fatty.”
If I thought Brian would have a heart and ask forgiveness for the unrelenting act of picking on us for years, I was mistaken. He wasn’t going to change. Alive or a ghost, one can’t just change who they are inside, I suppose. Before I could consider this for long, we arrived at the library.
“How do you want to do this, Lori?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Do you need time alone or you want us to come with?”
“It’s a public library. She might not even be here. At the least maybe we can look at some books about ghosts or something. Maybe figure more stuff out, you know.”
I nodded. “Okay. Let’s do it then.”
The public library was near empty. Maybe everyone had heard the news of the accident, and like those just dying to see someone else’s train wreck had rushed to the scene. The single story building was across the street from government housing, which is probably why it was on the far side of the suburb. It seemed no one went there, except under privileged school children or people just wanting to read the local papers. Another library, much larger than the one in South Maine Heights, was downtown, and the most favored and frequented by local residents. Still, it was the closest one to the house, and that’s why Lori’s mom went there for her research instead of the main branch.
I usually used the library at school myself, and it was never very quiet, so the stillness that greeted us when we walked through the door was kind of creepy. Never mind that walking through a door instead of opening it was probably creepier. We spread out in the library’s vestibule and began to look for Lori’s mother, though none of us except Lori herself knew what she looked like.Suddenly, Brian let out a big whooping yell. We all jumped at the sudden interruption to the silence.
“I always wanted to do that, “ he said, with a big grin on his face. “Felt damn good, too.”
“You could warn us next time,” I replied.
“What would be the fun in that?”
“It’s not like anyone heard you.”
That seemed to be a challenge, so he tilted his head back and let out a louder, longer screech as if he was auditioning for Guns n’ Roses. Lori rolled her eyes and went in search of her mom, heading towards the study section.
I decided to take a look around myself. I knew the news hadn’t hit the papers yet, so there was no point browsing the periodicals section. Instead, I stuck to the book aisles, not really browsing or looking for anything, just killing time while waiting on Lori. A few rows over from me I heard a rhythmic noise. It was the sound of books hitting the floor to a steady tempo. I could only assume it was Brian, and possibly Kelly, pushing books from the shelves and making mischief. I was surprised when I went to investigate, for there was Donald right there with them, making havoc in the library. I shook my head. After all the abuse he had taken over the years, now he was playing pranks with his tormentor.
I caught up with Lori as she walked through the study section. No one was there, but she made her way to the quiet room. This was a closed in study area, blocked off from the rest of the library by a wooden door. Upon the door, signs read: Absolute Quiet. Study Room. A window allowed one to see inside. Four tables with chairs were spaced in the room. There were no book shelves or anything. You were required to bring them in with you. Great care had been taken to eliminate things that could make unwanted noise. Still, noise did come from within. A giggle followed by the scooting of a chair greeted us as we peered in the slightly tinted window.
A woman was half seated at one of the tables, leaning across the top and kissing a man who didn’t seem interested in books at all. He wore work overalls and his bearded stubble grazed the woman’s face, as she opened her mouth against his.
“Oh my God,” I heard Lori say beside me.
At first I thought she was just embarrassed at witnessing a lover’s secret rendezvous, but the look on her face told me this wasn’t it. Her complete surprise told me she had found her mom. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise to her.
“That’s not my dad,” she whispered.
“I can’t believe this,” she said, her voice choking up a little. “She told us she was doing research for her book, and the whole time she’s up here with some guy.”
The woman in the room had gotten up and come around the table to straddle the man’s lap. She put her hands on his face and appeared to either be French kissing or eating his mouth, I wasn’t sure which. Suddenly, the window exploded, sending glass fragments into the room. Lori had slammed both her fists against it .
Instinct made me jump back, so as not to get cut. I needn’t have worried. Her balled up fists showed no signs of being affected by the glass. We were immune to such things now, but the lovers inside the room weren’t. At the sound of exploding glass, they had dove for cover, both of them cowering under the table. Perhaps they thought someone had fired a gun, or set an explosive off in the library. It didn’t really matter that they were hiding though; Lori was done.
“Whoa! What the hell was that?”
Brian and Kelly, with Donald close behind came running up to us. I guess Lori had just topped their appetite for destruction. As if to affirm this, Brian whistled. “Holy shit, welcome to the jungle, man!”
“Who’s the people in the room?” Donald asked, seeing the couple cowering and covering their heads, fearful for more attack. “Oh….no..”
“Yeah, I think we found her mom,” I replied.
Lori was too angry to say much of anything. I didn’t know a thing about her relationship with her parents, but it seemed obvious she was mad for her father. Her fists clenched and unclenched, as she tried to get her emotions under control. “I can’t believe this. I’ve died in the river and my mom is out here trying to have sex with some loser in the library.”
“She might not know about the accident, “ Donald said. She cast him a look that wasn’t very friendly. “Or maybe that doesn’t even matter, “ he added.
Lori turned to Brian. “You know, maybe you’re right. We should just have fun and do crazy shit while we can.”
He grinned. “Hell yeah! Now you’re coming around, gloom face.”
I looked back at Lori’s mom and her lover as they slowly rose from their position behind the table. They both had shocked, scared looks on their faces, but I could tell they were oblivious to our presence. No matter how much emotion burst from Lori, contact was not being made. This made me wonder what would have happened if she had tried to slap her mother instead of break glass. Would she have made contact then, or perhaps physical contact with the living only occurred through sad emotions. Maybe anger dampened the ability to reach out and touch others.
Lori was moving away from the study room, and the others were following, though a little bit behind her. I hurried to catch up, watching Lori knock books off shelves and tables as she made her path to the front door. I thought of my own parents as we left the library and went back into the day. I needed to go home and see how they were holding up, or if they too didn’t know what had happened to their child. I said as such to everyone else, though I believe they were getting tired of house visiting. Everyone seemed to be of the mind it was better to be tricksters than truth seekers.
“I just want to see my parents. Make sure they know I’m alright.”
“But we’re not alright,” Lori replied. “We never were.”
“Look, I’ll go alone if I have to. You guys can go around and do what you want. I’ll catch up to you later.”
“No,” Donald said. “You were right earlier. We need to stick together. We don’t know what’s going to happen. No one should be alone.” He looked at Lori. “I’m sorry about your mom. My dad did the same thing to my family. But this isn’t about your mom. It’s about us. In our world, this is all there is now.” He swept his arms around to include all five of us. “If this lasts, we can have some fun later. Halloween is just a couple days away. For now, we need to put ourselves at ease, and to do that we need to go home. We should all go with Chris to his house, and then we can do whatever.”
“Well shit, “ said Brian, “We didn’t need the valedictorian speech, chubby. You could have just done a Tina Turner on us and sang, Let’s Stay Together.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. He may have been an asshole to me for years, but he was learning how to lighten things up when it was needed. Even Lori smiled.
“All right”, she said. “Let’s go see your folks, Chris.” She turned to Donald. “Thanks Don for trying to cheer me up.”
He returned her smile. “Yeah sure.”
The five of us stepped back into the street, returning to the heart of South Maine Heights, as we headed to my house. For me, I was a little worried and hoping I would not stumble onto a dreadful truth the way Lori had.