Phoenix

Peter, an average fifteen-year-old boy, must choose between life and death when he is hit by a runaway car outside his house. When he wakes up in hospital as a ghostly form of himself, he must use what little information he is given by a Raven-haired teen to make his choice. Between sinister plots, a mysterious Werecat and not knowing who he can trust, he soon learns that choosing to live, may end up killing him.

This is the first of my Journals, detailing the last few years and all their events. This particular journal is more a collective of Peter's experiences, his coming of age you could say. Though I'm obviously not Peter, I'll try to convey his thoughts as best as I can. I hope that you will read, enjoy, and understand. Understand that the world is never as it appears.

All the best,

Aegean Brahyeux White-Fang

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4. Chapter Three

Saint Mary’s Hospital—March 26th Everything was dark and cold. My arms and legs wouldn’t move though they felt as if they could, and my eyes were shut tight no matter how hard I tried to open them. My mind was a blur of faded pictures. I remember someone screaming, and Jason, but as far as that nothing else was coming to mind. Was I just dreaming and maybe would wake up any second now, the dream ending like every other dream once I’d figured out I was asleep? It was hard to tell with my mind so slow. What day was it? Saturday? Yes. I think I remember something specifically significant about Saturday. What that significant thing was, though, I had no clue. Pins and needles crawled up my arm through my hand, making their way around my entire body like hot pokers. It was a weird sensation but it also felt sort of inviting. Slowly the feeling in my limbs began to come back and the heavy lids of my eyes finally were forced open. For a minute or so all I could see were dark blobs and other blob-like shapes against a bright light coming from above. My eyes adjusted to the light. I was a small room with a faded green curtain half-drawn across a railing that went around the bed. The sheets and blankets on the bed were quite tight, either meant to keep me in or to just keep me warm. I wasn’t sure just yet but they yielded quick enough with a rough pull and frigid cold air swept over me. The room was the same tinge of faded green as the curtain and was highly polished, clean like no other place I had ever seen. A small bedside table sat with a jug of water, a single cup and what looked like someone’s glasses next to a worn-out copy of Watership Down. It was my favourite book. Across from that was a pantry-like cupboard which was open a fraction to reveal layers of clothes folded neatly in different sections. I recognised some of them as my winter clothes; hoodies, jeans and other jackets. I had landed myself in the hospital. The glasses on the bedside table looked like they were mum’s and with further inspection, her black-padded handbag was leaning against it. With great effort, I managed to haul myself over the edge of the bed, which reeked of clinical disinfectant, and towards what I hoped was a bathroom. It wasn’t pleasant to see my washed-out face in the mirror staring back at me, cleaner than usual and perhaps even paler than it had ever been. Something was off. There were no markings on my face at all. Thirteen years of falling out of trees, scrapes, bumps and freckles wiped away like they never happened and the strangest part; I felt great. Not only that, I felt better than I ever had before, like I had been born again with new skin and everything. I could smell the different grades of disinfectants and almost see the dust molecules floating wistfully in the air around me. What the hell happened to me? An alarm rang out, piercing my ears so much that not even covering them lessened the sound. Following it was a burst of beeps and then one long sustained note. Outside in the corridor I could hear people calling for help and shouting something. I had watched enough hospital shows on TV with mum to realise what was going on, someone was flat-lining, and I was sure it was the other guy sharing my room. With a burst of adrenaline, I turned back to look for the source of the noise, the bed in the corner of the room with the curtain pulled halfway around. I hadn’t noticed that one before but maybe that’s because I was too busy trying to figure out where I was. I had to do something. The nurses were usually quite far away if the shows were anything to go by, and that would mean that I would be the best person to immediately help until the professionals arrived. Without a second thought, my feet had already started to move, still getting used to the sense of walking. I wrenched the covers away from the body to start CPR when I came face to face…with myself. Bumps, bruises, freckles and all. I froze. Doctors and nurses filled the room, attending to what looked like my body as they pulled out equipment and started CPR. I tried to call out to them, to ask what was going on and why this person looked so much like me but they ignored me. I tried again but my voice wouldn’t work. I was stuck. Even as my mum ran in, screaming my name, I couldn’t even say hers. She walked straight through me. She had just walked right through me and kept going, stopping to stand at the end of the bed, refusing the nurses trying to pull her out while the doctors raised paddles to my chest. As the body jumped, I felt a numbness in my own chest. They continued this, all the while my mum stood there screaming, tears streaming down her face and hands clutching her arms as though to stop herself from reaching out. Twice more the doctors shocked the body and then, while nurses started pulling out equipment, a doctor wearing a long coat and stethoscope around his neck turned to my mother, shook his head and left the room. In an instant, my mother was bundled on the ground in tears, shaking and ripping at her sides. Now, of course, my legs finally moved and I was at her side immediately. “Mum I’m okay, I’m here. Can you hear me? Please, this can’t be happening. I’m okay, please don’t cry mum.” I reached out and all I grasped was thin air. I tried again and again but still, I couldn’t touch her, my hand would go straight through like she was made of dust. I tried to touch something other than her and got the same result. My hand went straight through the bed post, the chair in the corner and even the glass jug of water. Was I even here? Is this death? The nurses had finished and left, leaving the blankets just high enough to see the boy’s face…my face. My mum, pulling herself up from the ground like a limp corpse, staggered over, laid her hand on the boy’s face and murmured through tears that she loved him. “I love you Peter. I’m sorry, you were always responsible, I didn’t mean to…I’m sorry.” “I love you mum” I tried to say, but all that came out was a choked cry as tears began to fill my own eyes. It all flooded back to me. The car and my sister. My promise to Jason. Had the hospital called his mother to tell her that I was hurt but stable? What had happened to my sister after the ambulance had taken me away? Did she know how badly hurt I was and was Jason able to keep her from losing it before mum arrived? How long had I been in hospital before now? For all I knew it had been days, weeks, even months since I was hit. There wasn’t a calendar or anything that had the date on it in the room and the only clock was in a plain analogue clock which was hung just above the bathroom door. The bathroom. I had to look in the mirror again, to reassure myself of what was happening even if I didn’t understand it. For however long I might be like this, I needed to at least come face to face with it. As I looked into the mirror, I wasn’t quite there. I could see myself, but there wasn’t any detail, just the general shape of what I once was. The tips of my hands were starting to fade away. I couldn’t take any more. In the last five minutes, I had woken up to a situation I didn’t understand and now this. It finally hit me. I was dead. The accident had killed me and when I woke up a few minutes ago that was my soul leaving my body. Not only that, now I was starting to disappear into nothing like I never existed. Seconds passed, but surely my hands began to disappear altogether, leaving only my wrists visible which had too started to fade away. Before long, I would disolve into nothing and then what? Would I stop thinking or would I still be conscious, left to float in the world with no control over anything? Would I just become a spectator for an eternity watching those around me die? It couldn’t be. Is this it? “There is a way to stop yourself from disappearing.” I turned around to seek out the voice that had made me jump. A figure in a dark coat and hood sat in the armchair reading ‘Vogue’. “That is, If you want it to stop.” The figure pulled itself up and began to walk towards me, it didn’t really seem any taller than me, maybe only a few inches at the most. I tried to back away but there wasn’t anywhere to go. “Some people prefer to disappear than face a life being, well, let’s just say not all there.” He chuckled. “If there is a way to stop disappearing, of course, I want to know how.” I felt like hitting it just to make it go away and leave me in peace, but it said that it knew a way to stop me from disappearing. The figure let out a strange sound which I wasn’t sure whether it was an exhale of breath or a brief sigh to itself. “That’s what they all say. Then again, not everyone gets a choice.” It peeled away its hood to reveal a boy no older than seventeen with medium length jet-black hair that clumped so it stuck out slightly in soft spikes. It kind of made him look like a bird. His skin was just like mine was now, flawless and pale apart from his eyes which were the brightest green I had ever seen. He gave a friendly smile and presented out a small white pill in the palm of his hand. “Are you going to ask me to pick a pill?” It had suddenly turned very much into that scene in The Matrix where Neo had to choose between the red pill and the blue pill. “This will stop you from fading for a few hours. It’ll give you some time to think about whether you want to disappear or if you have what it takes.” I had no idea what he was talking about but at least it would give me more time to figure out what was going on and maybe I would at least be able to ask the boy what was happening to me. I decided that at least an hour would be nice so that I could come to terms with dying and reached out only to remember my hands were not there. “Sorry, my fault I should have told you. Your hands are still there you just can’t see them. Here…” He reached out his other hand and I felt the leather of his glove as it gently poked the thin air in front of me. “You eat it by the way.” With a great deal of hesitation, I put the pill into my mouth and quickly swallowed. After a few painfully long seconds, my arms began to reappear and soon I could even see the tips of my fingers. I wiggled them experimentally. “You still won’t be able to touch anything unless asked to, but that’s a little better.” “Thanks…” He hadn’t given a name. “Raven. Strange name I know but that’s just how it is. Of course, that’s not my real name, that I forgot a long time ago.” “Wait you forgot? How can you forget your own name?” “Sorry, I think that might be a story for another time. First, let’s decide what to do with you.” He crossed to sit at the edge of the bed, motioning for me to sit in the armchair where he had first appeared. With some effort, I managed to sit down, being slightly paranoid that I would fall right through. “You won't go through it because I invited you to sit. As you would have guessed Peter, you’re dead…you have my condolences about that. However, now you are in a transitional phase, sort of a crossing over if you want to think of it that way. Now, normally when someone dies they cross over immediately, but every now and then when someone has a strong will to live they end up between life and death, though this is an extremely rare thing and as of yet only a small number of people have achieved it.” He paused for a second to let his sink in. “So now, that is where you are, between the living and the dead, a body-less soul floating in the nothing. Here’s where I come in. The world as you know it is a lie, a mere shadow of what it actually is. You see, humans are not the only creatures that live on this earth.” “Wait, what?” “I’m sure that in some form you have heard of them. Faeries, daemons, spirits, whatever you like to call them they exist to the inhuman eye. Unfortunately, they have more sway on what happens to humans than they should, often causing sickness and death because they feel like it; though not all, of course, do this. Some prefer not to mix with humankind and only a small percentage mascaraed as humans. My job, and the job of others like me, is to make sure that these creatures don’t go beyond the boundaries that are set, the rules they must follow. These boundaries include a multiple of things but the biggest one, of course, is causing sickness and death. When one of these creatures breaks the rules, we are sent to…dispose of them. Do you understand so far?” It did make some sort of sense, I mean, when you look at it there are a lot of unexplained illnesses and accidents. ‘So, all this time without knowing it, there are these creatures that cause accidents and illness?” “That’s it, you’re catching on pretty quick. There’s a bit more history to it but that’d bore you to death. Sorry, bad metaphor” “Then, the accident…” His expression was grave and he turned away for a second. “You’re catching on too quick. Yes, to answer your question, the accident that would have killed your sister was because of one of these creatures. At the moment, I can’t tell you any more than that.” He frowned. “Why they were after your sister though…strange” I needed a moment to collect my thoughts and, having sensed this, Raven occupied himself with reading the chart at the end of the bed. So, from what Raven had told me, I was most definitely dead. If that wasn’t scary enough I was currently in a transitional phase from which I’ll either continue sort of living or I would cross over into death. At the moment, the only thing stopping me from doing so was the pill that Raven had given me which would supposedly stop me from fading for a few hours so I could decide what I wanted to do but how did I know I could trust him. He had appeared at probably my most vulnerable and offered me a way to cheat death, surely there was some catch. The way he had said he disposed of these creatures, it just didn’t sound right. Even I know that some things just don’t come for free and I’m certain that avoiding death would be one of those things. Another thing that confused me was that he expected me to believe that the world was filled with invisible things that cause all sorts of illnesses and even death and that one of them were responsible for my sister nearly being. What if he was one of those creatures and in fact, he was the one that was trying to kill my sister and as I had ruined his plans he had come to make me join him. After all, when I thought back to him talking he kept using the word ‘humans’ as if he wasn’t one. Maybe this was all a dream from which I’d wake up from and maybe there had never been an accident at all. I tried pinching myself to wake up and only succeeded to hurt myself and notice that my hands had once again begun to fade. The pill was wearing off quicker than he said. “Woops, did I say a few hours? My bad”, he smiled sweetly. I wanted to punch him. I had to decide now what I was going to do. It was either death or life, though I’m not entirely sure what kind of life it would be. I knew nothing about what this boy was telling me and it would be easier just to fade away and let it happen, it wasn’t anything I needed to worry about. If I disappeared someone else would replace me. I didn’t even know if I could do it, it all seemed far-fetched to me. I couldn’t imagine myself ever being able to stand up to one of those creatures. I mean, if what said is true and one of them did set up that accident so that Sarah would be killed then I had technically already stood up to them and look where that got me; I’m dead. Time was running out as the fade spread back to my arms at a faster rate than it had at first. I had to decide now or never. I cleared my throat to talk and Raven, without hearing my answer, put down the chart with a sigh before turning to look at me. His expression changed completely though the moment he faced me, obviously reading my answer from my own expression, and his face began to slowly uplift in a soft smile. “I’ll give you a few hours to hear your goodbyes.”
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