A/N: I wrote this two or three years ago. I had even posted it on this site. So maybe some will remember this. Enjoy.
Chapter 1: You're Still Breathing
It was like this flash of light. So bright it pierced my eyes rending me blind. How could white light leave me blind? A loud shocking crash burned my ears so that my knees buckled and I became so weak. I felt one again learning the first steps of walkin. Learning stability by just walking yet alone standing still. The light came and gone only leaving the blackness and these empty thoughts. Here I am everythings fading and past emotions and scenes of the past flash before my eyes.
I'm seeing the rain, my yellow rain coat, the black rainboots stepping on puddles purposely because I am a young boy fascinated with the complex small pond before my eyes. My umbrella is a sheild protecting me from the harshness of reality, the sting of the acid that weakens us and washes us clean all the same. We call this oximoron rain. I look up from the cracked sidewalk of sand to see the sun and the ocean finally came into agreement, and its all manifested in this other being's hair. In two drooping pigtails, she doesn't look up, her eyes cast down upon the ground. I think I run over to her attracted by her height and hair, a miracolous thing really.
My umbrella now sheilds us both. She notices the disappearance of the acid water and looks up and then into my eyes. And there it was, the most beautiful blue I had ever seen better than any crayola blue. Her eyes must certainly make the seas jealous. She is confused by my gesture and I am at a loss of words, I want to make her happy. It is necessary I satisfy her. I don't know why? Maybe because she is the only other child I've ever met or that she's covered in mud or her sun/ocean hair or those envious eyes. Either way I notice the shade of pink, her ribbon making her her own in some way and her overalls shaping her perfectly. I compliment her outloud and she says what? I realize what I've said and repeat it. She looks terrified and happy and I feel awkward...Was she cursed, her inability to comprehend a compliment? Those seas must have hated her for her eyes. I won't dwell on it to long though, we have prewscwel to get to. I run in and she follows right after me.
We're meant to be together. You will always follow me and I will always comfort you. You and I can never seperate. In life and in death, we are forever bound.
Deep sobbing. Crashing. Screaming. Coughing. The smell of rust and salt. The smell of bodily odor. The smell of dubre. I am seeing with my eyes closed. I open them slowly but I find myself fluttering awake. I know that what I'll see will not be anything I've ever experienced, that I should mentally prepare myself for the dread coming my way. With one final blink I open my eyes and I am here in my classroom and outside as well. The wall where the windows resided are torn down in an unprofessional manor, I am horrified but my shock doesn't seize. There in the corner sobbing is Lila along with Sheena. I want to ask what's wrong, how can I help but no words form as I follow their gaze to see Mr. Simmons crushed by the ceiling, red seeping from under his back, its forming its own small puddle. Rhonda is crying on Nadine's shoulder, who is crying into her hands. The two girls have traded their signature black and blonde hair for white, along with their clothes.
I look around and find my best friend Gerald sitting with his knees up looking out into the gray of the sky, all hope lost within his brown eyes, his hair deflated and covered in the white mess. I find Stinky and Harold, their eyes no longer of the age 12 but much older, so grim. Sid is pacing back and forth in a corner, his white boots squeaking with each abrupt turn. The screams in the hallway become louder. Eugene joins Sheena, his happy behavior torn from what his eyes had fallen upon. Lorenzo tries to call his mother but she doesn't answer and he doesn't quit. Park, Joey, Iggy, and Peapod kid sit off together talking trying to explain what happened. Brainy and Curly are perhaps the most silent, they speak to no one and just observe, like me. Helga sits beside Phoebe, patting her back lovingly as the Asian girl stares into her broken glasses, exclaiming they're broken and need to be fixed. Helga only agrees and continues to listen as if nothing had happened. Her pigtails drooping one out completely. In life and in death, we are forever bound.
With ten minutes to myself to think. I finally stand and walk towards the open outside wall but pause. I can feel all of their eyes on me, burning my back with their gazes. I am their leader, I am their protector, and I am the most mature other than Phoebe and Rhonda. I take a shaky breath and realize my throat is burning and I'm begging for water. I feel wearied, My shoulders ache, my back, my head, my whole being.
"Everyone..." The sobbing stops, the silent talk stops, the dialing stops, the pacing, the soft murmmering, and the thoughts. "Form a circle please." I don't ask, I demand it.
We all form a circle, hesitant of course but its done. I look out to the group, and they all share the same look as I. They're worried for their love ones at home. I look around at all of my classmates faces but one settles out more, those sea envious eyes read indifference and it baffles me.
"We all need to look around the school for other...survivors." I'm being so blunt. I...just find it hard to give a happy introduction to a situation like this.
"Help as many as we can...once we're done with that, we can split into groups and find our...families." I cough at the word and wish to take back my feelings toward them. I'd take it all back if they survive. Wordless we all shuffle to our feet, almost...
"What...what do we do with Mr. Simmons?" Eugene sniffles. I rub my fingers against each side of my temples. Death isn't foreign to me, it always hung around me. In comparison like loneliness to a depressant, or lust to a sex addict. It had always been there, lingering. Mr. Simmons death was hard but I just need to repress it. So I do.
"We'll figure it out later. We have a chance to help others before its too late for them. Come on." I watch as all of my classmates exit the door, the last one greeted my green eyes with their sea envious ones, they had sympathy in them. I quickly glance away, I don't need that. I...I have to focus.
The hallways are worse, the lights are non existent almost, hanging off the celing dangerously swinging, the lockers, torn or dented, the windows to all the classroom doors broken and worst of all the bloodied bodies covered in white lay lifeless. With each classroom entered and each shoulder tapped and each pulse checked, we are all alone. The cafeteria's staff is dead, the head chef stabbed by her own knife. My only thoughts are we could stock up on the food. I feel disgusted with myself, I feel sick. Some of my classmates have gotten sick already from the sight, gagged and sobbed some more, while others cried for their parents. Lorenzo kept trying to call his mother, she was all he had. The teachers. DEAD. The 1st graders. DEAD. 2nd graders. DEAD. 3rd graders. DEAD. 4th graders. DEAD. 5th graders. DEAD. 6th graders. DEAD. Our principal, Wartz...he...died, I could still see the tear stains on his cheeks. The brightside was fading but of course I would pretend it was still there, like I pretended my parents were still alive. I know they're not, deep down.
The walk back to the classroom is silent, with the occasional silent sob and sniffle. Then we hear it. The supressed groan. All eyes look toward the janitor closet and then toward me. I want to open he door but I can't take another surprise. The door creaks and theres Helga slowly opening it. Chocolate boy, the half of him we see, his upper half. He is drastically pale, in a sweat, his eyes dilated and mouth and nose bloodied with dry brown blood. Helga opens it more and there is the cause. A broom jammed itself into his intestines, a half eaten chocolate bar in his left hand. My heart goes out to him and his eyes lock with me, he deep frowns and it is true pain. The agonizing truth pouring out from his eyes. The water spilling. "Arnold, I miss my Nanny." More tears spilled. I find myself on my knees beside him, his head craddled on my lap perfectly.
"Sleep Chocolate Boy." I hush him from his mummers.
"Arnold.." He shakily speaks and coughs. "Ratishes...suck." He laughs and I find myself laughing after a huge shaky breath comes out. "It doesn't hurt anymore, you know." My eyes widen. I could only imagine the pain or lack of.
"Ohhh that bright light's back Arnold!" I can't understand him, the rift between death and life. "Nanny?!" Chocolate boy smiles, his tears fall slowly now as his gaze disappears from the ceiling and land on mine. "I gotta go now, Nanny has a bunch of chocolate for me!" Chocolate boy smiles at me.
"Bye Chocolate Boy." I smile.
And then he's gone.
He doesn't speak nor move. I slowly set him down back to the ground and stand. Nothing makes sense. I turn around and everyone is silently crying. I turn away from each person, all the same reactions. One surprises me. The sea envios eyes are leaking salt water, she places her index finger and thumb under my cheek wiping away at my now apparent tears. I have finally cried. You and I can never seperate.
Our classroom that once was one of our definition of us is now torn. I can't help but think this analogy will somehow be metaphoric. The silence is consumed. "Who ever lives closest to each other walk together and search for your family." I look around and decide who lives closest to each other. "Lorenzo, Rhonda, Peapod Kid, and Iggy." They all nod. "Harold, Park, Curly, Nadine, Eugene and Sheena." Eugene takes Sheena's hand sending her strength. "Brainy, Lila, Sid, Joey and Stinky." Lila's hazel eyes search mine for comfort but I have to look away, be strong. "Last Gerald, Phoebe, Helga and I." I finished an exhausted breath coming out.
"Listen up." I can hear her strong voice ring out, her hair still unbothered. "Meet at Gerald Field at 8. Lets go!" She yelled out, She exited out the broken wall and was greeted with the grey cold sky. Her head tilted up and the water began to flicker down on her a bit. Her eyes fluttered. I noticed her tears mixed in. She picked the perfect time to cry. I walked ahead of her not before seeing Phoebe and Gerald's hands intertwined together. I had an urge to comfort Helga but knowing her all of my life, she would only scruntinze me, maybe even more due to todays events. But she followed close behind me, so close her breath comforted my neck. With a new confidence, my hand reached back and held hers. I could feel the tremble in them, and the lack of reaction but she grasped mine tiredly. It felt good to be touched right now, I needed it. You will always follow me and I will always comfort you.
The walk is relativly silent. No one speaks for everyone is afraid of what they will find. I admit this same feeling, I cannot lose again. I've already lost my parents how will I deal with my surrogate families loss? I won't think on it. Right now grandma is yelling about how the world is ending and grandpa is yelling at her to calm down, that she's a crazy loon. Mr. Potts is cursing at Oscar telling him to not eat all the food because we need to save up. Oscar continues to sneak more into his mouth and some ino his wifes purse. Mr. Hyun screams for everyone to stop yelling all together because he's concerned for his daughter well being. Everyone is fine. I believe it strongly.
My hand feels cold and my thoughts are back to reality. Helga has let go and she is now looking at me. We are at the corner that seperates our travel. We are now alone. She looks like she wants to speak, I want her too. Her mouth quivers and her eyes avert their gaze, those sea envious eyes. She weakly nods at me and turns her back from me and begins to walk. I watch her leave, the yellow hair down her back, the other in a drooping pigtail.
I wonder what she's thinking. I know her strong dislike of her family but I also know her strong love that she begs for from them. If she were to find them alive would things change? Or if she were to find them...would she regret? She stops walking and stands a distance from me. She doesn't look at me but she speaks. "Good luck Arnold." Her voice sounds weak and dare I say...sincere? When I realize I'm still analyzing her words I look up to an empty corner. Guess it's my turn to go home.
Three short blocks and I'm there. I murmur to myself outloud. Right now grandma is yelling about how the world is ending and grandpa is yelling at her to calm down, that she's a crazy loon. Left foot. Mr. Potts is cursing at Oscar telling him to not eat all the food because we need to save up. Right Foot. Oscar continues to sneak more into his mouth and some ino his wifes purse. Stoop steps. Mr. Hyun screams for everyone to stop yelling all together because he's concerned for his daughter well being. Opening the door. Everyone is fine. No animals run out. I believe it strongly. Silence.
The day of the great flood in Hillwood was one that no one was prepared for...well except grandpa. The teachers were almost nonexistent, the class savage and the tension was filling the atmosphere. I wanted to join my classmates and play along. I waned to feel free and wild to lose control just once but Mr. Simmons brought me back to reality. I am too good sometimes but like the world I get tempted. Sometimes it takes adult supervision for me to be brought back to reality, I can be tempted easily and I can be worse than the rest of my classmates. I am dangerous. Helga fell, I can't reach her. I need her with me...she's alright, we are rescued by grandpa. He is a savior of sorts. I am grateful and happy we're alive and well. Things worked out fine. I believed it strongly.
Abner is dead. His body bloodied, crushed from the weight of a coat rack, it stabbed him. "Grandma...Grandpa!" I call them but they don't answer, no one does. I travel the house in a rush. I have no thoughts except of what I need to do, I'm in a panic. I have no answers, I am Arnold the carrier of solution but with none for himself. Suzie's body lay limp in the kitchen, her head seeping red, it's covering the tile floor. A piece of her head on the edge counter. There is a walll in the kitchen, bricks and dust fall out by the few minutes.
Mr. Potts body and head crushed by the bricks he once crushed himself. I piece together the irony. I am horrid. Mr. Hyunn is missing, probably went off to be with his real family. Why does this bother me? I am walking to the Kokaska's room. The door is cracked, I swing it open slowly. Oskar is face forward down on the empty bottles he once laid out around the couch, blood is everywhere around him, englufing him till the floor seeps blood. I turn him over and see the cause of death, a bottle lunged into his throat. My surrogate family are dead.
My breaths feel shallow and my heart is racing, I am crying from the anticpation of seeing my real family of what they could be. I feel like I'm losing everything. It is almost humorous how I thought I had already lost everything when my parents left out of my life. Grandma and Grandpa are all I know. They were my everything, they are my everything.
I walk toward their room, this isn't an easy task. I'm still a child, I still become irrational but things seem clearer because I know death, I have seen him and felt him. He is the enemy. The door is shut and I whisper their names again but recieve no answer. Deep down, I know there won't be. I see them. I feel the momentary freeze, the cold take over my body the pain in my chest and stomach from the shock. Grandma is on the bed she looks peaceful a bit of blood dripping from her lips and grandpa is kneeling on the floor beside her, his hand cluthing his chest, his head on grandma's stomach.
I can't help but stare at them for a long time. I am in denial. The memories flood in. There are so many. They loved each other even in death. I look around them a picture of myself on the night stand. I watched them die. We died together. Before I know it I leave the room, the door is behind me shut. I am walking away, downstair in the living room where all things are living.
I cannot cry but I can feel the physical pain of loneliness. It is aching and searing. I begin to shake and fall on my knees. Fate wants me alone. I am undeserving of true love so it is taken. I cry but each tear is like acid dripping from my eyes, my throat closes in on me, for I am trying to scream but nothing comes out, I am choking, I am slowly dying. I claw at the flesh of my arms for my sweater is off and I only wear plaid. I feel the blood under my fingertips. I feel worse. Orphan Arnold is real. I am alone.
My clawing is abruptly stopped and I flinch from the touch of flesh on flesh. "Arnold stop." She harshly whispers. I can hear the tears in her voice. I turn to the yellow haired female who is looking at me with utter concern. "I'm so sorry." She stutters as if thi is her fault, that her apology can fix this life long pain. And momentarily it does. For I am not, she is with me. I fall into her embrace and she holds me shakily at first but her fingers bore ino my back flesh and hold me there. I grasp onto her for dear life cause being alone is deathly. We cry together for we are alone together. We're meant to be together.