CK: Welcome, welcome, one and all! This is my story 'Death and Roses', and I hope you all like it. This goes on for a few chapters, but not more than four, I think. I'm not sure yet. Anyways, read and review, and be careful, because some of it may be confusing. It's very Twilight-Zone, in a sense.
Disclaimer: I don't own Yugioh, the Great Gatsby, the Yankees, the movie 'Poltergeist', the funeral rites mentioned, or Petshop of Horrors, from which I borrowed the basic idea for this story (I didn't completely rip it off though, a lot of this is my own creation). I also do not own the word 'farglesnot', which belongs to my friend Akira.
Death and Roses
"'I wouldn't ask too much of her,' I ventured. 'You can't repeat the past.'
'Can't repeat the past?' he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you can!'
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
'I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before,'....."
-The Great Gatsby
It was a cold December morning as a small group of people gathered together at the cemetery, surrounding one grave out of the thousands that lined the grass. A priest stood by the headstone, reading to those around him, in an attempt to comfort them at a time of sorrow. As he read a passage to the cluster of people, some sobbed openly, while others remained deathly silent.
"Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there
I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints of snow
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there
I did not die."
A coffin was lowered slowly into the ground, as the mourners surrounding the grave took flowers and tossed them into the grave. When the coffin finally rested in the earth, the priest closed his Bible, and the mourners began to make their way away from the tomb. Some lingered longer than others, trying to grasp their loss, but eventually they all left until the only person remaining was a seventeen year-old boy, standing by the gravestone numbly.
He ran his fingers over her name etched into the marble headstone, feeling her name written eternally onto the slab of stone. He then traced the years of her birth and death, his fingers finally stopping when he reached a rose carved into the marble. He murmured the words written there under his breath. "Beloved daughter, beloved sister, beloved friend." He leaned his forehead against the gravestone, and said quietly to a passing ghost, "I'll bring you back.....I promise..................................I'll do anything for you, anything............" And with that, he began to weep.
Seven years later..............................
It was sunset on an autumn day, and a cool breeze drifted lazily around a small town on the west coast of California. A small area, dedicated to a farmer's market and craft stores, smelled faintly of apples as people strolled through, spending their evening in rural perfection. The leaves on the trees had turned beautiful shades of red and gold, and the chill was only slight, just enough that you needed to wear a jacket.
Off towards the side stood a man, dressed in a worn flannel shirt, smoking a cigar and surveying those that passed him by. He said nothing, but just continued his watch in such a way that would make some people uneasy. He seemed to be in his late fifties or early sixties, and his well-worn hands spoke of someone who had many stories to tell but not many people to tell them to. He carried a small pouch in his left hand, while his right hand held a small basket, filled with smooth, polished stones.
At one of the farmers' booths stood another figure, this one much younger. His silver hair had been tied back and hidden underneath a hat, so that he would stand out as little as possible. He wore a thick black coat that went down to his knees, where black trousers ran down to his ankles. As he paid for a bottle of sparkling apple cider, he unconsciously moved his hand towards his hat, which he lowered so as to partially cover his face. As he walked away with his purchase, he kept his eyes focused on the ground beneath him, not so much as glancing at the other passers-by.
Pegasus J. Crawford had come here to escape for the day. He had to get away from his island, at least for an afternoon. What had once been his kingdom was becoming his prison. As beautiful as it was, staying in the same place was going to drive him insane.
....well, more insane than he already was, anyhow.
Kemo and Croquet had gotten nervous for the last few days. After all of these years, they were very aware of when Pegasus was experiencing one of his "moods". Unfortunately, even after all of these years, they still had no subtlety or tact. Constantly asking Pegasus if he was alright did absolutely nothing, it just annoyed him. He just wanted to be left alone for awhile, so he hopped a ferry and came here, where everything was calm and peaceful.
It wasn't even as though they knew what was wrong. Pegasus had been very careful about leaving his staff in the dark about Cyndia. She was his secret, his past, his problem. That's why they didn't know that tomorrow was the seven-year anniversary of her death.
Seven years........it seemed so much longer. It wasn't as though he was sad, necessarily, he felt more..........empty? Hollow? Numb? All three combined? Whatever it was, Pegasus just needed to be left alone, to just distract himself. And to get away. This small town was perfect for doing just that. It had an ethereal quality about it, as though it were worlds and worlds away from anything and everything to do with Cyndia.
As Pegasus walked along, a puff of cigar smoke was blown directly into his face, causing him to stop and cough a good few times before turning to see who was responsible. The elderly man in the flannel smiled apologetically, then inhaled from the cigar once again. "Sorry 'bout that, sir. Didn't see you a'coming."
Pegasus waved the remaining cigar smoke away from his face, then mumbled, "No, no, it's quite alright..." He would have turned away and continued walking, but the man continued to speak, as though they were two friends embroiled in a deep discussion. "Y'know, I been smokin' this here cigar for a long time now......I'm tryin' to set a world record. I must've been smokin' this thing here every day for six years now." The man thoughtfully puffed his cigar smoke into a ring that sailed hazily above Pegasus's head. "No, no, that's not right....must've been smokin' it for almost seven years by now." He shot Pegasus a yellow-toothed grin. "Seven years sure is a long time, ain't it?"
Pegasus nodded. "Yes, seven years is a long time," he stated quietly. Seven years? It must've been a coincidence....
Out of curiosity, Pegasus inquired, "How could you have been smoking that every day for seven years?" The man puffed another smoke ring, this one much larger. "I savor every puff." "I see..." The man puffed yet another ring of smoke, this time directly into Pegasus's face. Pegasus coughed a few times before he stated brusquely, "Those things can kill you, you know."
The man shrugged. "I don't mind. I'm not scared of dying, even if everyone else is. Besides....." He inhaled once again. "....not taking any risks doesn't mean anything. Careful people can die young just as easily as everyone else." The man's eyes seemed to gleam a little as he looked at Pegasus. "But you'd know more about that than I would, wouldn't you?"
Pegasus felt uneasy as the man stared at him. "I don't know what you're talking about." The man chuckled. "Alright, if you say so." Pegasus, feeling nervous, tried to turn and leave, but the man continued to speak. "I suppose yer wonderin' why I stopped you here to talk to me. Well, I'm a vendor, jist like a lot of the folks here. And I think you might be interested in what I have to sell."
"Oh, really? And what are you selling?"
The man laughed as an incredulous look spread across Pegasus's face. "Thought you wouldn't believe me. But look...." The man held out the pouch in his left hand, beckoning Pegasus to take it. Pegasus did so, glancing inside to see dozens of small, smooth green stones. "Pretty, aren't they? They're made 'a peridot."
"Are they now...."
"They've been blessed by Celtic magic from ages ago, enchanted to grant whatever wish it is given." Once again, the man smiled his yellow grin. "'Course, I can't sell 'em to jist anyone. Most people are idiots, wantin' wealth or fame." Pegasus wasn't sure, but he thought he saw the man's eyes sparkle for a little bit. "I only sell wishes to those who desire something truly worthy. Can't waste wishes, y'know." He glanced at Pegasus before blowing another smoke ring. "I think I can trust you not to wish for something stupid. After all, y'should know best of all how little wealth and fame can mean."
Pegasus stared at the man in reproach. "So you're just a swindler. You pull people over and tell them fairy tales about Celtic magic, then tell them that they're 'special' so that you can sell them worthless chunks of rock."
The man showed no change of emotion, ad he continued to grin and puff smoke rings. "If I'd told you it was Egyptian magic, you would've believed me."
Pegasus glared at the man. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Laughter emitted from the man's lips. "Liar."
The man watched one of his smoke rings as it slowly evaporated into the air. "I know more about you than you know about yourself. Y'just don't want to realize what's right in fronta you. And besides......." The yellow grin widened. ".......y'were able to read people's souls jist as well as me 'til a few months ago."
Pegasus felt the impulse to run away and not look back. But another part of him was intrigued. "How do you know so much about me?"
"People're like books, Mr. Crawford. Not those thick 'uns by Victor Hugo and the like, I mean those cheap, trashy ones y'can buy fer a dollar at any pharmacy in the country. They're very easy t'read, and it don't take long to do so. People like t'think they're so deep, so complex, but I've seen so many people in my life that I know that ain't true. Now you, fer example......" The man waved the cigar accusingly at Pegasus. ".....yer one of the exceptions. Y'have more substance than most people I could find. That's why I stopped you."
The man now waved the cigar at the pouch that still rested in Pegasus's hand. "Everyone has at least one wish, one thing that they want so badly it tears them up inside. Like I said b'fore, most've 'em are idiotic, but I know that y'have a real wish, one that won't be a waste."
Pegasus looked at the pouch in his hand. "So what do I do with my wish?"
"Take out one of th'stones in that bag." Pegasus did so, and the man nodded. "Now hold it in yer left hand, and bring it up right in front of yer face." When Pegasus held it in front of his eyes, he noticed that the stone seemed to sparkle as the sun gleamed against it, speaking of limitless powers, the likes of which Pegasus would never see again.
"Now whisper yer wish to it. And be quiet about it, if I hear it, or anyone else does, it don' work."
Pegasus glimpsed at the stone before cupping it in front of his mouth, softly saying, "I wish......I wish I knew why Cyndia had to die so young.......and I want things to turn out differently......I don't want her to be dead"
Pegasus lowered his hands, and the man held out the basket filled with stones. "Now place it here. This is where all of the other wishes are held." Pegasus placed his stone carefully with the others, then faced the man. "What do I owe you for........for your services?"
"Wait 'til yer wish is granted. Then come to see me again."
The man glanced around the farmers' market. "You'd best be goin' now. Sun's almost set, and y'need to catch a ferry home don't you?" The man then tipped his hat, and walked away to the horizon.
As Pegasus made his way back to the docks, he had the distinct impression that he had just spent ten minutes with a madman.
That night when Pegasus got ready for bed, he felt like he was on the verge of a headache. Not only had cigar fumes been blown into his face for ten minutes, but Croquet seemed to want to be his mother. As soon as Pegasus got back, he had to face several minutes of "Where on earth were you?" and "Why didn't you just TELL someone where you were going?" and, his personal favorite, "You did this just to give me gray hair, right?"
It was absurd to the point of laughter. Pegasus felt like a monkey in a cage, with zookeepers milling around wherever he went. Except he had to PAY his zookeepers. And it wasn't even as though there was sincere affection behind what they did. It all came down to one fact: if he died, they'd need new jobs.
Climbing into bed, Pegasus wondered what on earth had possessed him back at the farmer's market. It was obvious that the guy was a nut, possibly a scam artist, and in either case Pegasus should have known better not to believe him. So what on earth had gotten him to buy a "wish"? He didn't know, but something must have clearly been influencing him. Maybe the cigar was actually marijuana or something.
Pegasus plopped down onto the mattress and let his head sink into his pillow. Some small part of his brain, the one still affected by the cigar fumes, perhaps, wondered if there might be some truth behind what the man had said. Maybe the stones could actually grant wishes. The rational part of Pegasus' brain laughed as he thought this. As if it were that simple to bring people back from the dead.
That night, Pegasus had a dream. He had had it so many times before, that he had memorized every detail of it from start to finish.
He and Cyndia stood together at the altar of a beautiful cathedral, lined with brilliantly colored stained glass windows. As Pegasus placed a ring on Cyndia's finger, she looked at him and smiled softly. The two moved towards each other, embracing slowly, when suddenly, Cyndia was snatched away by a giant rose. As he watched in disbelief, rose petals began to rain down from the ceiling.
However, this time the dream had a different ending. As Pegasus's gaze moved from the rose petals back to the space in front of him, the man with the cigar suddenly appeared in front of him.
As he lit his cigar, the man turned to Pegasus reproachfully. "What are you still doing here?" Pegasus stared at him, wide-eyed, his mouth agape. The man waved his cigar at him accusingly. "You want her back, don't you? Then go get her!"
And with that, the cathedral disappeared, and Pegasus began falling from the sky. As he streaked past the clouds, he saw that, directly below him, stood Cyndia with her arms wide open as though she would attempt to catch him. As he continued to accelerate in his freefall, Pegasus screamed to her, "Cyndia, LOOK OUT!!"
Just as Pegasus was about to hit Cyndia, she vanished once again, so quickly that it did not immediately register in Pegasus's mind. Once it did, however, he looked around and found that he couldn't see. Or move, for that matter. As he squirmed around, he all of a sudden realized that he was trapped. As he screamed for help, his fingers scrabbled frantically against wood surface, as he kicked his legs in an effort to make someone hear him. Quickly, Pegasus was gasping for air, feeling himself suffocate from the lack of air within his confines.
He had been trapped inside of a coffin.
Pegasus found himself being rudely awoken by a pair of strong hands shaking him. "C'mon, Pegsy, it's time to wake up......"
"I dun wanna......."
A highly feminine voice sighed, then the hands proceeded to continue shaking him. "C'mon, it's time to get up! It's almost noon!"
"Five more minutes......"
Pegasus heard someone's foot tapping impatiently on the floor. "Well, if you're not going to get up, then there's only one thing I can do..."
"TICKLES!" And with that, Pegasus was forced awake by a pair of hands tickling him relentlessly, despite his pleas for mercy. Giggling while trying desperately to squirm away, Pegasus opened his eyes to see a tall, middle-aged woman as his tormenter.
When she finally stopped, she leaned against the wall, chuckling, while Pegasus tried his best not to smile, in an attempt to look very, very stern. "That wasn't funny, Mom," he said as a grin broke out on his face. The woman just continued to laugh. "Well, you deserved it, or else you would never have gotten up." She stood upright, no longer needing the wall to support herself. "Now, come on, it's time for lunch."
As Pegasus followed her downstairs, he passed a mirror, and he stopped briefly to look at his reflection. He stood about four and a half feet tall, and his silver mane stopped a few inches short of his shoulders. And he had both of his eyes. Pegasus felt confused for a moment. Why did he feel so out of place? He felt like he was much older for an instant, having a vision of himself as much taller, with much longer hair, and his left eye gone. But why did he think that? He must have had some really odd dreams last night, to think he was going to lose an eyeball...
Pegasus shook it off as the remainder of some odd nightmare. He wasn't an adult yet, he was only ten years old! And he had two perfectly good eyeballs, thank-you-very-much! And with that, he quickly ran past his mother, screeching, "LAST ONE TO BREAKFAST IS A FARGLESNOT!!!"
About fifteen minutes later, Pegasus was clearing off his dish from breakfast when his mother turned to him and said, "Oh and I forgot to tell you before, guests will be here in a few minutes."
And with that, Pegasus found himself being tackled from behind. The dish he was carrying went flying, and as Pegasus tried to get up to retreat it, he found that he couldn't get up due to the fact that someone was sitting on his back. And giggling insanely, no less.
"Morning, Pegasus-kun!" A ten year-old Cyndia stood up so that Pegasus could finally breathe after having the wind knocked out of him. She then turned around. "And good morning to you, Mrs. Crawford!" Pegasus's mother smiled a little. "Good morning to you, too, Cyndia. I didn't expect you here so soon. Where are your parents?"
"They're in the drawing room. They're placing bets on baseball with Mr. Crawford."
Mrs. Crawford groaned loudly. "Not AGAIN!" And with that, she scampered out of the room to prevent her husband from making idiotic gambles, which, as a Las Vegas casino owner, he was bound to do. As she watched Mrs. Crawford leave, Cyndia called after her, "Remember, root for the Yankees!"
Pegasus sat up on the kitchen floor, and Cyndia turned to him with a wide grin on her face. "Morning, sleepy-head!" Pegasus still, regaining his breath after nearly having a heart attack, slowly said, "Morning...to you....too.......Cyndia..."
After a few minutes, Pegasus, managed to stand up. "So how have you been doing, Cyndia?"
"Pretty good. Are you wide-awake now?"
"Good. TAG, YOU'RE IT!" With that Cyndia tapped him on the shoulder, then sped off in the other direction, Pegasus chasing after her as best he could.
Pegasus ran out of the kitchen and down one long hallway, but stopped abruptly when he noticed one of the closet door was open a little. He quietly approached the closet, careful not to make a sound. Then, he quickly swung open the door, yelling, 'BOO!' Only the closet was empty. No Cyndia to be found.
Pegasus was about to turn around and continue his search when he was knocked over once again by a hyper Cyndia. "GOT YA!" Pegasus landed face forwards, with Cyndia on top of him, roaring with laughter.
Cyndia rolled off of Pegasus and stood up. "Wanna keep playing tag?"
Pegasus sat up, shaking his head. "Nuh-uh. You always win."
"Okay, then whaddya wanna do?"
"I dun care, what do you wanna do?"
Cyndia smiled sweetly, then replied, "Can I do your hair?"
"Pleeeeeeeease? It's so PRETTY! And Mom taught me how to do French braids! Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleeeeeeeeeeeease?"
"YAY! Thank you, Pegasus!" She gave him a big bear hug, and then ran off to go borrow a hair brush.
Five minutes later, Pegasus was sitting in a chair as Cyndia skillfully manipulated his hair into cornrows. At one point, Mr. Crawford had walked by and seen them, proceeding laugh and murmur something or other about femininity. Pegasus was still trying to figure out what he had meant.
While Cyndia was putting the finishing touches on Pegasus's hair, Pegasus stated, out of the blue, "I had a dream about you last night."
Cyndia stopped what she was doing for a second. "Really? What was it about?"
"I think.......we were older, and then you died or something, but then you got swallowed up by a rose......it was really weird."
"I died by getting swallowed by a rose?"
"No, you died, and THEN got swallowed by the rose."
"Well, then, how did I really die?"
"I don't remember it that well...." Pegasus tried to conjure up a vision of what exactly had happened in his dream, but he didn't remember it that well. He finally conjured one detail.....
"Screaming. There was lots of screaming." Cyndia wrinkled her nose a little in response. "I think you need to stop watching horror movies before bed, Pegasus. Lemme guess, you watched one last night?"
"Hey, I've been waiting FOREVER to see 'Poltergeist'!"
Cyndia wagged a finger at him, but grinning to show that she was teasing. "You better be careful, young man, or you're going to turn into Freddy Krueger!"
Pegasus grinned widely. "What if I already HAVE?" He stood up, and began to stalk towards Cyndia, holding his fingers in a claw-like fashion. Cyndia giggled, then ran away, laughing, "Help! Help! Pegasus is gonna chop me up into little pieces!" Pegasus chased her, making hilarious growling noises. In retrospect, it was even funnier, since Pegasus didn't realize at the time that his hair was still in cornrows.
Pegasus was in a dark room, with no discernable walls, ceiling or floor. He could barely see his nose on his face, and he began to look around. There seemed to be nothing there.....no sounds were made except for the light tread of his own footsteps, disturbing the eerie quiet that permeated the room.
After several minutes of wandering, Pegasus finally heard something..........a woman's voice. He turned sharply to the left, where he saw a very young Cyndia sitting on the ground, illuminated by a spotlight that seemed to come from nowhere. Even when he said her name, Cyndia did not look up. Instead, she twirled a small rose between her fingers. She couldn't have been more than five or six, although it was difficult to tell.
Cyndia stopped twirling the rose and held it firmly in her left hand. Placing her thumb and forefinger around one of the rose's petals, Cyndia pulled it off, saying softly, "He loves me." She then repeated the process with another petal. "He loves me not."
As soon as she said those words, Pegasus noticed that Cyndia had quickly grown older. Now she was no longer a five-year old, but a pre-teen. Cyndia pulled off two more petals, "He loves me, he loves me not." And with that, she became a full-fledged teenager.
This process continued for every pair of petals that she removed from the rose. She changed from a teenager to a woman in her twenties, then into a middle-aged woman, counting down the petals until Cyndia looked as though she were a century old.
Withered and gray, Cyndia's shaking hand plucked the last petal from the rose. Happily. she cried, "He loves me!" And with that, her skeleton fell forward to the ground, landing at Pegasus's feet.
Pegasus woke with a start, cold sweat running down his face. What a nightmare. Those cigar fumes must have affected his brain for him to have had such odd dreams all night long. First he had been trapped in a coffin, then he was ten years old, and then Cyndia.......
Well, no matter, they were just dreams anyway.
Pegasus stepped out onto the floor and yawned. He heard someone knock on his door quietly, and Croquet poked his head in. "A thousand pardons, sir, but I just wanted to see if you had woken up."
"Excuse me if I seem forward, sir, but you didn't seem well last night. Several others heard you screaming and thrashing in your sleep throughout the night."
Pegasus wiped the sleep from his eyes while attempting to conjure a reassuring smile. "I just had some odd dreams last night, that's all. Nothing to worry about, Croquet."
"What? What is it?"
"Well, many of the others have been saying that you haven't been acting like yourself lately."
"Well, it's just........today is the seventh anniversary of when Cyndia.......well, you get the idea."
Croquet nodded, understanding. "Perhaps it would help if you went to go visit Ms. Cyndia."
Pegasus was confused for a minute, until comprehension dawned on him. "Oh, you mean her grave."
"Excuse me, sir?"
"Well, I got confused for a second. I thought you meant I should actually visit Cyndia."
"Er, but........that's what I meant, sir."
Pegasus stared at Croquet oddly. "Croquet, that's impossible. Cyndia's DEAD. I saw her die."
Croquet gave Pegasus a bewildered look. "Sir, are you sure you're alright?"
Pegasus's temper rose a little. "Yes, Croquet, I'm perfectly fine. Why are you asking?"
Croquet shifted his weight onto his left foot, feeling somewhat like a child caught in mischief. "Well, you keep saying that Ms. Cyndia is dead, and I just thought you might be confused....."
"What do you mean? Are you saying that Cyndia is ALIVE?"
Pegasus stared at Croquet in disbelief. Was this his sick idea of a joke? Cyndia had died before Croquet could have ever met her! What on earth was going on?
"Croquet........if Cyndia IS alive......then where is she?"
"She's at the hospital, just like she has been for seven years now, sir."
"What on earth is she doing at the hospital?!"
"Well, sir, she suffered severe nerve damage in the.....erm.............accident........and she's been in a coma ever since."
Pegasus sat down on the edge of his mattress, his mind swirling. Was she really ........Cyndia was ALIVE?!!!
CK: That's all for now, please read and review! And stay tuned for the next chapter, which should be up within two weeks! Ja ne!