Dead to Rights

William Morro is just your average sixteen year old boy, well he was, once. After a week of increasingly worsening events he finds himself suddenly awake in his bedroom, or atleast, what appears to be his bedroom. It is shortly after that he realizes that indeed something is out of place; he's dead and stuck in a place where everything seems like the world we know when, at the same time, this world is nothing like we know the world to be...

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4. Revealing secrets: Charlie's Story

   It was the following morning when I learned about the world I was in now. The sun had already come up, a pale gray sky cracked through the shades of my window, the paled sunlight poking at my eye lids. This, however wasn't what got me, no, what really got me was when I went to roll over, I was stopped by the body of another; Samvel.

   "What the...?" I mumbled, correcting my posture as to be able to better examine what had stopped my rolling. There he was, all curled up in a fetal position, the red and blue blanket draped loosely over the two of us with a smile of comfort on his face. As disturbed as I was to find another guy in bed with me, I din't have the heart to move him so I lay there just waiting for him to wake himself up; it took about another hour.

   "Mhmm..." he uttered this strange noise that was somewhere between a moan and a quiet hum of contentment. His eyes gently fluttered open as he looked around at his surroundings. He turned around to look to see if I was awake to which, I quickly shut my eyes to see what he would do. I felt his warm breath close to my face and then, the kid... kissed me. It was on the forehead but still, I felt strange and somewhat violated, but I just laid there to see, or well, to feel what he would do. Then I felt him resettle himself into my chest and lay back down.

   "Samvel..." I quietly muttered, "Why...?" I looked him over; he looked peaceful the way he was laying in the crook of my chest as if, I was his protection from the monsters that haunted him in his dreams. His body didn't feel cold anymore, moreover it felt warm, alive. He was calmly breathing against my chest to which, I gently wrapped my arms around him and whispered into his ear. "When did you sneak in here?"

   "Huh?" he answered drowsily, suddenly he turned bright red in the face and began to thrash around nervously. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry!" he squealed a bit as he tried to break free from my grasp until he looked me in the eyes and saw that I wasn't angry at him; he calmed down then. "Are you upset with me for doing this?"

   "No, just a little perplexed is all," I answered, still warmly smiling. "It isn't every day you wake up to find a half naked boy in bed with you now, is it?"

   "No, I suppose not..." he blushed slightly, "I'm so sorry..." He shifted slightly to make a better connect between our eyes. "You were awake when I kissed you, weren't you?" I nodded yes and he just blushed a bit deeper. "I'm sorry, it's just you're so kind to me, I couldn't help myself... It's something that I learned to do to my master when I was... you know..." He trailed off, becoming melancholy again.

   "I'm not your master though," I laughed a bit, "I'm simply a friend who is looking out for another friend. All good friends do that for one another, or atleast, they should." He just smiled as he sat up and left the bed. I got up after him and stopped him in the doorway. "Sam, if you're gonna live here, I need to know; If I gave you a room to call your own, would you stay?"

   "You'd do that...for me?"

   "Yes, I would happily do so," I answered, "Don't take this in a strange way but, I don't like you being out on your own like that, it's... it's not right. So, if I did, would you?" He just looked at me dumbfounded for a minute, scanning my face to see if I was pulling his leg, which I wasn't, finally he broke out into a broad grin and hugged me. Moving out into the hall, he looked into the different rooms in the house and settled on, ofcourse, what was my mother's room. "Can I have this one?"

   "Sure, it's yours," I answered, patting him on the shoulder. Our moment of happiness was dashed as Charlie came around the corner, a dark glare in his eyes.

   "Sam, stay here and keep low," he started, "Will, you're coming with me for a walk...now." I could tell that something was up with Charlie so I obliged his aggressive request and went for a short walk where we ended up back in the woods on the hill. "Follow me," he muttered as he pushed some of the brush aside as he meandered down a side path. We walked for a little while until we came upon what seemed like a hole in the ground.

   "What's that?" I asked, examining the hole with a minor sense of intrigue. Looking closely at it, I could tell that in fact it wasn't a simple hole in the ground, no, it was a small tunnel that seemed to lead to an over-sized burrow. "Wait, is this-"

   "His burrow? Yes, or atleast, it was," Charlie replied as he flopped down onto the ground in disgust. "I found the Organization tearing the place apart and, I was hoping to god that Sam was still with you."

   "What would the Organization want with Sam?" He turned to me with the utmost dark expression on his face, his answer came out as a quiet growl more than human speech.

   "He doesn't belong here... His soul is overdue, and therefore, they're here to find him and perform a reclamation on him; they want to recycle his soul for its energy."

   "What?"

   "A reclamation," he began, "If you spend too long in this world and you haven't figured out what you're here to do in order to pass on, the Organization comes and will reclaim your soul and turn it into energy... That's what feeds this world, the energy of those who couldn't pass on."

   "And you know this how?" I asked with minor suspicion and worry in my voice.

   "Because, all of the members of the Gathering, us, we are all... overdue..." He looked away, "Thus, as they see it, we are no longer worthy of passing on and someday maybe revisiting Earth in another body; essentially, we are dead to rights in their minds."

   "So they will be hunting all of you, won't they?" I spoke up, realizing what he was getting at. "And what, you want to use me as a sort of anchor to keep all of you here!?" Is that it!?"

   "William, please... don't be angry," his growl became a sad whisper, "All we want is to pass on but, none of us have been able to figure out what we're here for, and we've run out of time..." He looked at me with sadness in his face, "Please... we don't want to die and not be able to be together anymore." Though my hatred was welling up inside of me, I felt pity for them all, I could understand the bond they had formed with one another, and therefore understand why they didn't want to be caught, but, what could I do?

   "Fine, I'll help, but what do you want me to do?"

   "You must act like a regular citizen for us," he answered, "You see, this world works in a strange way, if you do what's expected of you, every week you'll get a sort of paycheck in the mail that contains this worlds equivalence to money along with a slip that you can take down to a credit exchange and turn in the slip for a time extension which will allow you to stay here, in this world, until you figure out why you're here."

   "And you let your's run out because..?"

  "When we all died, the system was different," Charlie retorted, "This new system is to control the sudden flood of deaths, yes, believe it or not, Purgatory is becoming overpopulated and so, this is the Organization's idea of population control." We sat there for a bit, mulling the thoughts over in my mind I decided to take him back to my house so I could see this letter for myself and, sure enough, in the mailbox was a letter addressed to me personally.

   "See how they try to act all sympathetic in the letter?" Charlie sneered, "It's a load of bullshit, is what it is." Reading through the letter I could see the false sympathy laced together in this formal letter that was practically laying out what my life here would be like.

   "They want me to go to school, as if I was still alive..." I left off, "And, depending on my grades, my pay rate will fluctuate along with my extension rates. Getting honor role will get me a nice bonus and high honors equals an even bigger bonus, nice..." Throwing the letter down on the sofa I gave Charlie a look; as if reading my mind he answered.

   "In your room is your book bag and appropriate materials," he started, "When you go to school, you'll notice the teachers, if that's what you want to call them, look exactly like the ones you left behind, don't be fooled, they aren't really here, they are NPCs put in place by the Organization; mostly they're are nothing more than pre-programmed puppets." I nodded in acknowledgement and moved out of the room when the question came to mind; how long has he been trapped here?

   "Hey, Charlie, how long have you been here?"

   "Since the fifties, why?" He eyed me with minor suspicion in his eyes.

   "Just curious I suppo- AH!" I cut myself off in a scream of terror as I beheld the boy but, he looked different; his clothes were now all ragged and he looked soaked. There was also a deep red line around his neck and a terrible gunshot in his chest. "Wha.. what.. happened to you?"

   "Death happened... In a very sudden and painful way," he commented, sighing at his reflection in the mirror; with all the water on him I couldn't tell if he was crying, but, it sure looked like he was. "My dad was a cop back then, recently he had arrested some nigg-, 'scuse me, black kid who was suspected of robbing a local convenience store. Any ways, I was on my way home from a friend's house when I learned a lynch mob had come in the night and hung the kid; I felt bad, sure but, he was a lowly criminal so, what did I care? For revenge, the kid's father and a few of his buddies got drunk, sought me out and a few comments later, POW, I was laying on the pavement, shot in the heart. I died quickly but, I had to watch as they then proceeded to tie my body to the tailgate of their truck and drag me to the marina where they took me out on a boat."

   "Jesus Christ, that's terrible," I commented. He just nodded in agreement and continued on.

   "Yeah, then they took pictures, I guess to show 'em to my dad and then they tied me in a sack, weighted it, and dumped me in the drink." He stopped talking, as he recomposed himself and retook his clean form. "I'm happy though, dad was able to find me and bury me properly, however, I'm not too happy that he killed the three guys, even though he got away with it, I don't think it was right for him to do it... oh well, so is life, I guess."

   "I'm sorry," I answered wrapping him in a hug, "I promise, I'll help you guys out, no matter what happens..."

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