Spoilers for Scorpia
Horror / Spiritual
Disclaimer: Alex Rider is not our work.
NOTE: Firstly, SPOILERS! Secondly, do not expect the characters to be in character.
She knows he's dead.
And yet, every time the phone rings, Jack can't but help think that it's him. For a long time, people told her that it was okay, that it was normal for someone grieving to have these types of senses.
Alex Rider had died.
Not in the battlefield, where everyone would remember him; not peacefully, of old age—Alex Rider had been murdered after completing a mission. After safely getting through something that most would have died or broken down during, after she had seen him just that morning!
His death is not something Jack could accept.
Alex had been fourteen, not a child, but not yet an adult.
He hadn't been able to experience what adults had, he hadn't been able to fall in love, or just be a normal teenager. Jack hated MI6 for doing these things to Alex, but she knew—oh, how she knew—that Alex had always been strong, stronger than others. So perhaps it had been better that it had been he, an orphan, than another child and an entire family of grievances. That would have been the way Alex would have looked at it, she knew, and yet—
Jack hated MI6. She simply couldn't help it. It was involuntary, but Jack couldn't help but hate the people who had been responsible for putting Alex through what had eventually killed him. No, she didn't know what had really happened—
But she knew that he had been alive, speaking to his friend, speaking to her, smiling! He had been alive until MI6 had gotten him involved in the wrong things!
The phone rang.
Jack let it ring. She knew it wouldn't be who she hoped it would be, and that she was merely torturing herself. She knew this, and so she sat on her hands as she waited for the ringing to stop.
It stopped, and the answering machine came on, and she smiled, listening to the cheery—alive—voice of Alex Rider speaking as recorded to the caller.
She never expected what would happen next.
A familiar voice, one she had been yearning to hear,
"You have no idea how creepy it is to listen to your own voice."
Jack's eyes widened, but she stopped herself. This was a prank, a cruel prank, designed by a cruel person, and that was not Alex Rider on the other side of the phone. So she listened. She waited for the moment where she could say with complete confidence that that was not Alex. It never came.
"It's been a long time, Jack. And I'm really sorry about what you've gone through. It's just—I'm happy here, y'know?"
Tears ran involuntarily down her cheeks, and she brushed them away carelessly. This wasn't real—this was a cruel, creative prank, or a disgusting way to force her out of the slump she had fallen into. By forcing another person's voice to slap her awake. A very special person who had died. Jack couldn't believe the nerve of that person, and she was about to turn the machine out, when the voice stopped her.
"Honestly. Jack, I'm honestly sorry what I've done to you. Where's that happy girl who I called one of my best friends? You have to move on. I can tell this is a lot to take in, so I'll call you tonight, ok? Bye, Jack."
A click, registering that the caller had hung up, showed, and Jack realized with a start what to do. She called the MI6, she called Alex's bosses, and asked them to trace the call, she begged them.
They did as she asked.
What she received wasn't what she had expected. The phone call could be traced to the phone booth just outside her—their—home. Jack rushed outside, hoping to see Alex there, with a smile, telling her that he hadn't died, that it was all another mission, that he was safe, that he was home.
What met her eyes was an empty phone booth, the coil of the phone hanging precariously off the hook. Jack searched up and down the streets with her eyes, but to no avail. Her searching was jejune—her searching would not lead her to any conclusion, false or otherwise.
And as she turned into the once warm home, her eyes caught something strange, and she ran into the booth. There, on the floor of the booth, eyes open and arm stretched towards the phone, was a man.
Jack backed up, running into the home, and called MI6 again, panicking and now quite sure that she was going crazy. Surely nothing had caused—Jack stopped with a sudden realization. It was happening, something she had once heard about. Everything around her would die.
Alex Rider had merely been the start of the chain.
She smiled awkwardly, and told the officer on the other end that she would call the police before hanging up suddenly. She forced her fingers to move, dialing:
9 – 9 – 1
The voice on the other end was alert, and not at all like the sad voice that had been Alex. She frowned, but spoke softly, "There is a dead man in the phone booth outside my house, officer. I have no idea why, but would you mind picking him up? My housemate will panic."
"Your name and your housemate's? Just first names, so I can verify that you live there."
"My name is Jack. The house is registered under my housemate, whose name is Alex Rider. Perhaps you've heard of him?" She said conversationally.
"Of course miss. We'll send someone over right away. Did you notice anything strange? What caused you to go outside in the first place?"
"No, there was nothing strange. My housemate is sick, you see—so he was in the house as well…"
"Could he have possibly gotten involved somehow?"
"Officer, that is completely improbable. My dear Alex couldn't even get out of his bed properly. He had trouble enough swallowing the soup I had made for him. As for why I went outside, I was going to buy some groceries—come to think of it, I think I had heard a voice outside my door, but I passed it off as a passerby."
"Thank you. May I speak to your housemate?"
"No, I'm afraid he's sleeping. He had a high fever earlier, so I can't let you disturb him. On top of that, our house's phone is corded. He'd never be able to get out of bed, let alone that far." Her mind supplied, he's not sleeping here, either, but under dirt in a bed of flowers.
The officer finally hung up, and as she saw the cars out her door, Jack smiled. This could be a sign that her dear Alex was coming home, that he would come back to her.
The phone rang.
Jack smiled brightly, running her fingers across the top of her answering machine, waiting for the dear voice to come from it. She was not disappointed.
"Hello, Jack. I noticed that you took the time to trace me, so I'll tell you where I'm calling from in a bit, okay?"
"Okay," Jack whispered slowly, though she knew he couldn't hear her.
"I hope you've coming to terms about my death, Jack, so this will be my last…voluntary…phone call. I won't call you again unless you pick up right now."
Jack's eyes widened in panic, and she picked up the phone. "Alex? I'm here, Alex. I'm here!"
Instead of the soothing voice she had been expecting, she heard Alex screaming. He was in pain. What was going on?
"Why…" The voice was quiet, after ten minutes of screaming. "Why did you pick up the phone, Jack? You shouldn't…have…"
She pressed her ear harder against the phone. "But, Alex!!"
The screaming began again. He was hurting, and she wasn't sure what was going on! Who was hurting him?
"Jack!" Alex screeched. "Please…don't…talk…Jack. I'm in the pay phone by the supermarket, you know, the one that you like so much?"
The phone went dead.
Jack grabbed her coat, running towards the supermarket pulling a purse with her—if he was there, she could buy him food, take care of him…
She ran by the store, looking for the pay phones, and when she found them, there was a large crowd already gathered around them. Jack asked a man, "What's going on? Why are there so many people?"
The man looked at her. "They found a woman. She was brutally murdered, inside this booth, and no one can figure out how. Blood was everywhere. But a man in just the next booth didn't see anything."
Jack slumped. Dead bodies… she bit her lip. She would never find Alex.
Jack went into the supermarket, buying a snack for the road home, and walked towards her home. Along the way, every pay phone she walked by seemed to ring, but Jack ignored them. It was a cruel prank, someone trying to prove that she was insane.
Fifteen phones. She counted. And so she knew that it was not a coincidence. It was a terrible prank, a cruel prank, someone calling her and mocking her from behind her back.
When she got home, the door was unlocked.
She entered the home cautiously, and promptly let out a scream. She heard her neighbor's door open, she heard him stumble down the stairs, but Jack could not remove her eyes from the sight in front of her.
Fifteen children were in her hall, dead but without blood, each reaching for the phone—which was off the hook.
Jack knew. Now she knew for sure. Alex was doing this. He was tormenting her, for being a bad friend, for not being there when he needed her the most. The time of his death.
Jack fell to her knees, screaming, and wished that someone would come and save her. Alex was haunting her. She couldn't let his spirit rest! With a start, she realized that Alex had tried to give her a way out.
"…phone call. I won't call you again unless you pick up right now."
"Why did you pick up the phone, Jack? You shouldn't…have…"
There was something she was missing, Jack knew.
Alex would never kill so many people just to talk to her.
White hot tears fell down her cheeks, and Jack could feel someone shaking her, but she kept screaming. Her brain only seemed to be able to process one thing, one word, one person. A person whom she had let down long ago.
Alex Alex Alex Alex Alex Alex Alex ALEX ALEX ALEA ALEX ALEX ALEX ALEX ALEX ALEX ALEX!!!!!!!!!!!!
Her descent had begun. She knew, she knew she had let down; she knew that Alex deserved to kill her; she knew it was her fault; she knew that Alex had given her a way out; she knew, she KNEW that Alex could not have done this on purpose. There must have been something that could have told her that this was going to happen and that Alex had no power over it.
It came to her, almost four hours later, when she awoke in a hospital bed. The message.
"…this will be my last…voluntary…phone call…"
It was her fault. Because she had picked up the phone. Jack stood up, determined to tell the officials. She would be arrested, she would be put under custody, but Alex would no longer call her. She would make it safe for everyone else.
Jack turned herself in that evening.
The police had called a mental ward, and Jack didn't care. She would be free, and Alex would finally be at rest. Jack smiled brightly. It would all work out for everyone, after all.
"Did you hear about that girl, Jack, who turned herself in?"
"Yeah! For INSANITY!"
The two rambunctious cops laughed together, taking a drink of coffee as they mocked the girl. They sat in the kitchen of Jack and Alex's home…
A mere two halls down, the phone rang.
And it's done! Hope you liked!