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Life Goes On
Maybe it’s true that there are some things better off unknown to us, small things that could have a massive impact on the person to whom it is revealed. “Ignorance is bliss”, Thomas Gray couldn’t have put it any better. Since the night of the fair, I’ve been plagued with gruesome nightmares, and there’s been one haunting thought lurking in my mind that I just can’t keep out, hard as I try. But perhaps things would be different, had this remained a total secret. I can't see how, but that little flicker of hope seems to keep the horrors at bay... for just a little while, anyway. Nevertheless, I wish I didn’t know what I know.
“Remember,” My dad’s harsh, low tone rang in my ears. Your typical 14 year old would ignore their paranoid parent, shrugging off their overprotective concerns like a heavy jacket on a warm day. But I’ve never been like that with my parents, my dad especially. There has always been something about him that made me pay attention to his every word, which forced me to let it sink in like fingertips compressing cookie dough. Whatever he said always left its intended mark.
I turned around to face him.
“Remember what?” I replied, staring cluelessly into his worried, bright green eyes.
“Great, you’ve already forgotten!” He scoffed, pulling a somewhat agitated, somewhat humored face. I never like that, the way he’d display multiple emotions at once, none of which he was actually feeling. He used emotions as a mask, a force field to hide what he was really feeling…really thinking. And I just found it creepy, more than anything else.
“Ten o’clock.” I grumbled, ripping my gaze away. “Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll be standing in this exact spot at ten o’clock sharp. If I’m not, feel free to ditch.” I smiled cleverly with that last comment, suddenly imagining my dad choosing to abandon me rather than wait. It didn’t seem like something he would do, being the oh-so protective parent he was. Truth be told, I had to beg and dust off some old promises in order to gain permission to a simple fair. But that held no importance now; the all-time lows I hit were all worth it.
Dad drove off after that, leaving me to dive headfirst into any troubles a fair may hold. I ran past every life-threatening, flesh-mutilating contraption imaginable, from a Farris wheel to a dunk tank. Okay, I have to admit, some truth lies within that statement. For one reason or another, I am deathly, undeniably, indescribably afraid of dunk tanks, or just water in general. I’m not sure why, but the simple idea of the heavy, suffocating fluid sends shivers down my spine and nightmarish thoughts buzzing through my mind. I hate water.
Okay, shoving the immensely disturbing aside, the fair was a pretty awesome place. Enough cotton candy to make you barf, enough insane rides to put your life on the line, and enough oddities to make even me feel at home. Oh, and friends, can’t forget that. No place was bearable without my friends there. They were pretty much the glue to my structure, seeping in and holding me together. I guess it was their presence that made me feel at home; friends have always meant so much to me. There is a point, though, where you can put too much faith in someone, no matter how close you are or how much they’re a part of your life.
That, however, has almost nothing to do with what happened next.
I, being the oddly perceptive person I am, should have caught on at the first hushed snicker or unusual rustle from behind. But something about the surroundings had me distracted, the sort of odd buzz and entertaining atmosphere that humidified the air seemed to put me on some sort of high. I wasn’t really focused on one thing in particular, but more so lost in everything. That alibi doesn’t really hold, however, because their maniacal laughs could have woken a coma patient.
“Darren…” An unnaturally high-pitched voice cooed, and spun around suspiciously. Accompanied by the obviously forged vocals was a chorus of entertained, eager chortles and deriding cackles that only furthered my suspicions. I didn’t go with the obvious answer that was half-staring me in the face, but rather gawked around blankly for a few moments, still sort of light-headed, without reacting.
Before I’d made 90 degrees, a sudden, well-aimed blow tackled me from behind. I did nothing at first, too shocked and perplexed to even cry out. That was probably the first startle of the evening. In most situations, no matter how out of the blue, I react with the necessary swiftness. Now, however, I was being glued to the smutty, litter soil that served as flooring for the fair grounds, delaying in my self-defense.
Whatever, or better yet whoever, had pounced on me was obviously small and slender. The force on impact wasn’t so much winding as it was surprising, which is what left me both speechless and breathless as I hit the ground. It was a reasonably meek hit thought, and the attacker probably ran a few good feet before throwing himself at me.
“M-mmr fuf-r!” I coughed from below the scrawny character’s hold, which must have been assisted at that point. I struggled for a moment, attempting to turn and confirm the identity of my attackers. I was relatively sure, the slight body type had given away more than they’d intended, but some doubt still remained.
I kicked violently upwards, nailing one of my assailants somewhere uncomfortable. He stumbled back, muttering curses and laughing uncontrollably. The second didn’t waste a moment to ponder his partner’s safety, and secured his fingers on the loose skin of my neck.
“Ow!” I growled, but the mound of fabric, suddenly drawn over my face, muffled it. I lashed out again, forcing back my free elbow and kicking insanely. My attacker cried out involuntarily, his unusually pitchy whines filling my ears and exposing his identity. He ripped his hands from my hood, leaning back and cupping his shoulder in exaggerated agony. With that, I shook the blinding fabric free, and brutally nailed my obnoxious friend in the ribs.
"Ahh!" Liam cried, instantly releasing his feeble hold on me. Despite his attempted evasion, by elbow had struck it's target, and he tumbled to beside on the filthy soil.
"Loser!" I barked, rolling onto my side and kicking him below the belt. He didn't bother crawl away, but rather whined before my knee connected.
"You looked so hilarious." Dean snickered, who I at last recognized as my second assailant. He was on his feet, observing the violence with an amused expression. He must have thought he was safe, standing a good five feet away whilst I was distracted with Liam. But the distance between us was almost nothing, I could slither across it in mere seconds, and no one would pay attention long enough to figure me out... I love making people realize how wrong they are.
Liam was still rolling on the floor, half-laughing, half-whining from my blows. He was more of the focus than myself, since he'd become the real victim. Not sparing a moment, I somewhat silently dragged myself across the filthy landscape, managing to get to my feet without being noticed. Dean continued to laugh for a moment, subconsciously following me with the corner of his eye. He remained clueless and amused for a while; well, just long enough for me to come nose to nose with him.
"Dude!" He grinned, baring his teeth in a mocking smile. I smirked back, but he instantly recognized the obvious malice dripping my expression. Without another word, his enthusiasm dropped.
He stumbled back uneasily, glancing towards the others for assistance. They did nothing, having been as distracted as he was mere moments ago. That left my eager, clenched fists...and Dean's fearful whimpers...
“Where we headed?” My gaunt, unusually athletic friend perked up, and Dean silently picked himself off the ground.
“Dunno.” Liam replied, trying to sound cool.
“Don’t really care.” I smiled, having passed through my savage outbreak. My eyes automatically began to reevaluate the surroundings. Nothing really snatched my eye like I’d hoped. All I saw was an array of strange, yet somehow attractive fair activities. They all had this almost unexplainable kind of appeal to them, sort of like how you’re drawn to a weird painting. You’re not exactly interested in purchasing it, put this strange sort of curiosity engulfs you the second you spot it. I guess that curiosity was all that fueled me previously, and now I would have been perfectly content with just lying back, chatting, and observing the oddities from afar. That is, if Lana hadn’t spoken up.
Lana, by the way, is pretty much your basic definition and all around perfect example of a tomboy. She dressed kind of like a guy, but not to the extent that it was creepy, and she was really tough. She could probably wrestle me and win if she wanted, and I’m known to put up a somewhat decent fight. Lana was pretty cool, and sort of the Alpha of our pack.
“There!” She perked up suddenly, pointing in the direction of a distant booth.
“…Past life regression?” I couldn’t help but snicker, and her head snapped at me instantly, ponytail flailing wildly behind her.
“You’re just scared to see who you used to be. You were probably something really nasty, like a serial killer who wrote on the wall in blood and tortured children.” She smiled diabolically.
“C’mon, could you seriously see this pretty faced smeared in blood?” I responded cheekily, and everyone laughed. Now the question is, where they laughing at my clever sarcasm, or how insanely untrue the statement was…
“I have seen that 'pretty face' smeared in blood, tough guy. And if I'd been the one who'd tackled you, we all would have.” Lana forced me instantly speechless, and I did no more than gawk in response. “It's okay, though." She continued, obviously enjoying my agitation. "We're starting to see it paralyzed in fear, anyway.” And, as if on quo, a sea nudges and provocative comments filled the tense atmosphere.
“Are you gona take that?” They joked, mostly snickering. From the corner of my eye, I could still make out Lana’s self-righteous smirk; that little leer that always leaped to her face when she thought she’d won something.
That left me two options. I could either A: back off and let the arrogant grin continue, which would leave Lana knowing I wasn’t up for something this strange. Or…I could slink towards the booth, and get my reading done first. That would easily prove that I wasn’t nervous to venture into the possibility of a past life…but then again, Lana would have her cake and eat it too.
Either way, she’d surface triumphant, and I’d finish last. Which, by the way, is pretty much the custom conclusion to all our arguments.
Lana muttered something unintelligible, but I didn't bother clarify what it was. Almost subconsciously, I began a determined march towards the booth.
“Okay, so what exactly do you want me to do?” I was sitting down, staring up at the oddly dressed woman towering over me. She was tall, way too tall for comfort. And, her young face was distorted in what appeared to be a permanent scowl.
“Relax.” She commanded in a heavy foreign accent, and I froze in my spot. My friends chuckled in the background, but I filtered it out as best I could. I heard the lady’s heavy accent ringing in my ears for a few moments, buzzing like annoying distortion from a radio or faulty guitar amp. After a few seconds of silence, her speech started up again, slow and thick. Like syrup pouring leisurely from a bottle, filling every crevice of my mind until I was completely coated and out of it. I didn’t even know what she was saying; all I heard was noise, noise that seemed to carry me off into nothingness…
I would say I ‘awoke’ in an unfamiliar surrounding, but in order to wake up, you’d have to be asleep to begin with. And I’m fairly certain that I never once feel into unconsciousness. So rather than ‘awoke’, I guess I more or less ‘reappeared’ in this seemingly unfamiliar surrounding. At least, it was at first glance. That was until I got a better look of the untouched river bends and shrubbery sprouting about the landscape. This…transportation, I guess you could say, or reopening of my past life had dragged me where I’d least expected. I’ve always thought that reincarnation lugged you across the planet and placed you in a life completely distant and unlike your own. But here I was, standing at the banks of a river just a mile from my home.
That, I guess, was the first...no, second major surprise. The fact that I’d lived so close to home. Heck, I might even have been related to me, or have heard of me! Maybe I knew me...wait, that's not really possible. Well, that is if you choose to take any of this seriously. You could also embrace the theory that I’m on drugs, and this is all a load of crap. Or you could face the possible, and clue in on the interesting facts.
I viewed the whole memory from a first person point of view, no omniscient character that saw all and knew all. I couldn’t see my own face, but just decided to make the assumption that I was good looking. Hey, they say you carry some things with you from life to life. But one thing I could see was a tall, slender, masculine figure before me. A teen that I’d never seen before, yet I somehow swore looked familiar. I didn’t really have time to stop and ask his name, though, because he was driving his fists into my face.
I ducked suddenly. Okay, I didn’t actually duck, but the body that I was currently trapped in leaped out of the way. It wasn’t until then that it dawned on me; I had no control over my actions. I was reliving a memory, and therefore forced to carry out every action exactly as the event took place.
Whatever happened was completely out of my control.
Darren, the present me, would have reacted differently. But whoever I used to be seemed to have a different idea about fighting. I knew good and well that when someone gives you a headshot, you should duck and nail them in the ribs. But old me was an ignorant, cowardly fool. Past life me sprung right back up and mimicked the attackers moves exactly. That is probably what got me killed.
The enemy caught my fist easily, and twisted my whole arm painfully to the side; a scene right out of an action movie. Okay, so I can't make any decisions, but I can easily feel past pain. Once again, I responded stupidly, and stumbled towards the aggressor. So close, in fact, that he could make his murdering move. Before past-life Darren knew what was going on, the attacker whipped out a long, brutal knife. The object would have been beautiful in that morbid kind of way, gleaming and proud with a carved wooden handle, had it not suddenly plunged into the soft flesh of my stomach.
Present-day Darren would have easily seen this coming, and could have very well one this fight. But past-life Darren was an idiot, and didn’t expect the sudden, shrill, pain in his gut. The enemy dropped my fist, and I glanced downwards, to see a wooden handle sprouting from my gut. Around the wooden handle, redden, torn flesh jutted out. Dark, unidentifiable fragments of my innards fell around it. And, of course, bright, crimson red blood spilt down my front, in every direction imaginable, like a waterfall racing over the side of a cliff. Eagerly, continuously, it flowed from my wound. A sickening and agonizing sight and feel to me…but almost satisfying to my attacker.
The foreign, familiar teen ripped the blade from the wound like a sword from its sheath, but didn’t waste a second to ponder what he’d done. I was in no position to defend myself, and could merely watch and begin a cry for help as he dragged the cutting edge over my throat. At that point, I couldn’t cry out. My vital neck had been hacked at, and could do no more than stare as the assailant tightened his hand around my bloodied collar, and stared deeply into my fading eyes. I guess I had no last words, yet I was dying to scream something as I glared into those unmistakable, deep, infuriated green eyes. But I was physically speechless as the familiar character shoved me into the racing water, which swallowed me avidly, only added to the pain.
“Boy!” A brutal, heavy accent shook me back into reality, away from the pain and uncontrollable actions, ripping me from the familiar faces. I looked up to see a woman in odd clothing, which I’d met mere…moments, minutes, hours ago? I was honestly dazed after immerging from the trance, and had no idea how much time had passed. For all I knew, it could easily be past ten o’clock.
“What?” I looked up, fear, exhaustion, pain, confusion, all making a home in my eyes and expression alike. The lady could read this easily.
“Are you okay?” A familiar voice came from the opposite direction, and I unenthusiastically turned to greet it.
“Yeah…why?” I responded, wondering how much of my battle they’d seen. Lana looked uneasy, but not the sort you get from watching a sickening horror movie. Only concern dripped from her expression.
“You were screaming.” She answered, and her eyes shifted suddenly to the oddly attired lady, as if she knew something I didn’t.
“What was I saying?” My eyes flicked open instantly. The question was pointless; I already knew the answer. It was too obvious to miss, but I wanted the facts confirmed. Just to guarantee I wasn’t insane.
Lana looked back to me, jaw loose and uneager to speak. “Dad.”