Remember how I said I was going to wait till I finished this story before posting it?
I'm such a liar. I'm sorry.
I just knew it was going to take a long time for me to ever post this if I waited till then, especially with everything that's going on right now. I've got college apps, my senior project (which will take up SOO much of my time), a show I'm heavily involved in, AND an exchange trip to Japan that I will be leaving for in a month. So, because I am insane, I decided to get this fic started! If I waited till I finished it, that would be a long time. And the longer I wait, the more likely the fic won't be finished. Especially since this is a lot longer then it was originally going to be.
But what I'm saying is that the best way for this fic to see it to the end (which I really really want it to do and will make it do even if it kills me) is for it to be online NOW. Knowing that people can see it already inspires me to work faster. So here it is! I hope you enjoy~
Riding the bus home from school, Alfred F. Jones found himself in an internal struggle. He was about to make the most important decision he had ever made in his seventeen years of existence.
What should he wear for Halloween this year?
Currently he was stuck between two choices. After going down an extensive list that he had compiled in the last month, and crossing out costumes for one reason or another, he was left with two awesome ideas.
He could either be a zombie or a cowboy.
Zombies were cool after all! One of Alfred's favorite pastimes was shooting the brains out of the undead that appeared in his video games. But… he would have to wear a ton of make up and spend the whole holiday limping around and moaning (Alfred always stayed in character, he liked taking things to the next level). And that sounded boring.
Now cowboys, they were classic. In fact, until recently, Alfred had worn said costume every year. Why the sudden conflict? Well, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that when he had come to school last year dressed in his best cowboy outfit (which he looked amazing in, of course) he had been ridiculed for, well…
Let's just say he could never watch Brokeback Mountain again without feeling a little bitter.
And zombies were a little more 'in' this year. But Alfred was a hero! He shouldn't care about what others thought of him.
But there was no way in hell he would let his friends call him a 'gay cowboy' again.
"UGGH!" Alfred groaned in frustration, gaining attention from the few others riding the bus. He ignored their stares, turning to the soft-spoken blond sitting besides him.
"Mattiieeee! I can't figure out what to wear!" Alfred whined loud enough for his step-brother to hear through his earphones.
Matthew sighed as he removed one of his earphones, not very surprised that he was being interrupted. He was used to such things by now. "Wear for what?"
"Halloween!" Alfred said, as if it were obvious.
"Halloween? But it's September. Isn't it a little early to be thinking about that?"
"It's never too early to start planning your costume!" Alfred said, flashing his trademark smile before his face fell back into its previously frustrated state. "And I can't decide if I want to be a zombie or a cowboy."
Matthew gave him a look before sighing again. "This is about last year, isn't it? Miguel said he was sorry, eh…"
"Pfft. He only did it 'cause you asked. I still have no idea why you're friends with that jerk. AND-and that's not it at all!" Alfred defended himself loudly, "There's no way that bothers me! I'm way too cool to care what people think! …Besides…everyone knows that Jack and Ennis were sheepherders, not cowboys."
"Sure Al." Matthew said, giving up. There was no dealing with his step-brother when he was like this. "Our stop is coming up."
Alfred had been so wrapped up with his costume choices that he had failed to notice how close to home they were. He quickly pulled on the wire that signaled the bus they wanted to leave.
Both he and Matthew grabbed their bags and got out of their seats once the bus had made a proper stop. After the large commotion Alfred had made, most of the bus passengers looked glad to see them leave.
"Al?" Matthew spoke up as they began the short walk towards their home (they really were lucky that the city bus made a stop so close to their house). "Don't worry about the costume thing…Halloween is still a ways away, eh?"
Alfred nodded, only slightly listening to him. Matthew just didn't get it. He had to seriously think about his costume- it could make or break the holiday! Everyone knew you didn't get the good candy if your costume sucked. Duh.
(What are you talking about? Seventeen was not too old to be trick or treating!)
Not to mention that this was his last Halloween before college. So he had to make sure his costume was really awesome. There was no way he would have a Halloween that was anything less then amazing!
It was one of his favorite holidays… right after the Fourth of July (which happened to double as his birthday) and Christmas. And maybe Easter.
But Halloween was definitely up there!
Alfred sighed. Maybe Matthew was right… Maybe he was taking this a little too seriously. He didn't have to choose what to wear right at that moment, he still had a month before he had to make a permanent choice.
It didn't take long before they reached their home, a simple light blue two story house in the suburban area. They had lived there for nearly a decade, when they had moved closer to the east coast. Alfred only barely remembered the time when just he and his dad had lived in Washington, before his dad had met Matthew's mom in some business meeting in Toronto.
Alfred hardly remembered his own mother at all.
That was fine with him. He didn't like thinking about her anyway. Matthew, his dad, and Angela were his family, even if they weren't really blood related.
"Hello boys! How was school?" Angela called from the kitchen as they entered. Alfred could already smell the pot roast she was cooking.
"Hey mom!" Both Alfred and Matthew said as they dropped their bags on the floor. They were both about to head towards their respective rooms when Angela stepped out of the kitchen.
"Hold on you two." She said, stopping them from going any further. She looked tired, her soft wavy hair (which Matthew had inherited) nearly out of it's loose ponytail, and her clothes were mattered with cooking material (making Alfred wonder if she had spilled something again, she was a bit clumsy like that). Though she looked a little worse for wear, she still wore a small genuine smile.
"You'll have to sleep in the same room tonight." She said, earning a surprised shout of "What!" and "Why?".
"Because we have a guest, and he'll be staying in one of your rooms."
"Who?" Alfred asked, not really looking forward to being kicked out of his room for some random visitor.
Angela smiled a bit wider at this. "Your grandfather was able to visit a little early this year."
"Really?" Alfred asked, immediately excited when Angela nodded in confirmation. "Alright!"
Alfred's Gramps was quite possibly the second most awesome person in the world (after him of course). He always brought him and Matthew the coolest stuff whenever he came to visit!
"But it's not December yet…did anything happen?" Matthew asked, slight worry showing on his face.
Shit. That was right. Gramps usually only came in December or November so that he could spend Christmas with them, he hardly ever came to visit this early in the year. Alfred suddenly wondered if Angela's worn out look was caused by something worse than clumsiness.
But Angela calmed any rising fears they had with a wave of her hand. "No, no. Nothing like that. His house is just being fumigated, so he's going to stay with us for a while."
"Alright!" Alfred said, fully relieved. He was so excited about the idea of his grandfather staying over that he didn't notice that his step-mom's reassuring smile didn't quite reach her eyes.
"So whose room is he going to stay in?" Alfred asked, wanting to know if he should clean his room or not.
"It doesn't matter. You can ask him when he gets here." Angela said, looking distracted. She seemed to be focused on something far away, not noticing when a loud popping sound came from the kitchen.
"Mom?" Matthew said, snapping her out of her stupor.
"Oh! I'm sorry. The water must be done boiling...I have to finish dinner, your father will be back from picking grandpa up from the airport soon." She said, running off towards the kitchen and leaving the two of them alone.
"What do you think happened?" Matthew asked quietly, obviously worried. "Something seems off."
"Don't worry Mattie!" Alfred reassured him, "Mom's probably just tired from getting the house ready for Gramps. Come on. Let's help her out and clean up our rooms before he gets here."
Alfred barely ever suggesting to clean up their rooms, but he knew that Matthew would be less worried if he was doing something. And, truthfully, his step-mom's behavior and the sudden unannounced visit gave him an uneasy feeling. But he was willing to push away such feelings in his excitement to see his grandfather again.
After about an hour and a half of cleaning, the tell-tale sign of the garage opening alerted them to their dad's arrival.
"Where's my grandkids?" Gramps' rough and jovial voice called out from downstairs, and both Alfred and Matthew began to head down to meet him.
Alfred arrived first, on account of running the whole way there, and gave his grandfather a tight hug.
"Mmph!" Gramps grunted in surprise before returning the hug. "Alfred, my boy! Look how much you've grown!" He looked surprised to see that he was now shorter then Alfred, even though this had been true for nearly a year now.
"It's only been two months since you've seen me!" Alfred laughed, remembering that his grandfather had said the same exact thing at his last birthday party.
"I know! You kids are growing like weeds these days. And where's Matthew? Oh! There you are! What are you doing hiding in the corner over there? Come and give your old man a hug!"
Matthew, who had been shyly standing to the side, smiled and walked up to give him his own hug.
This always happened whenever Gramps visited. Seeing as Matthew wasn't actually related to him (Gramps was Alfred's grandfather on his mother's side) he always felt that he didn't have a right to be close to him. Alfred knew that part of this was the guilt Matthew felt that his own grandparents (that he often visited in Toronto with his mother) made a point of avoiding both Alfred and his dad.
But Gramps loved Mattie just as much as Alfred, and always made sure to pay just as much attention to him. It made Alfred proud that their family was able to get along so well.
"Is dinner ready?" Dad asked Angela, kissing her on the cheek before she could answer.
She smiled, looking better then a half an hour ago. "Yup. I set up the table for everyone already. I spent all day making this pot roast, so you better enjoy it!" She laughed playfully, lightly punching Dad's shoulder.
The five of them were all hungry and immediately headed towards the dinning table to eat. Even though pot roast wasn't his favorite (That's hamburgers of course!), Alfred ate until his belly felt like it was going to burst.
When everyone had finished, having left nothing behind, Gramps got up from the table and walked over to the bags he had left near the door. Out of them he took four gift wrapped boxes.
"I brought gifts for you all, to thank you for taking me in on such short notice." He said as he walked back to the table.
"Oh dad, you didn't have to do that!" Dad said, looking both genuinely touched and surprised.
"I insist. It's the least I can do." He said as he handed each of them a box.
Alfred's was a small square one that was wrapped in his favorite colors, red, white, and blue (He was patriotic…so sue him! You couldn't really help it when your birthday was on July 4th).
Alfred wondered what his grandfather got him…whatever it was, it had to be good! Gramps always got him the best stuff, in fact, he was the one who gave him his prized bomber jacket (which he hardly ever took off). But even though his curiosity was eating him up, he stopped himself from tearing open the present so he could see what everyone else got.
Angela was the first to open up her gift, and had gotten up from her chair to hug Gramps. She was already wearing the pearl necklace that she had received.
"This is too much. I-I…Thank you." Angela gave him a kiss on the cheek, which Gramps returned.
"Dad, really, I can't believe you did this." Dad said, his eyes wide at his brand new watch.
"Oh shut up and just enjoy the gifts." Gramps laughed, though he was serious. Dad smiled, silently agreeing to stop his protesting as he slipped the new watch onto his wrist.
"There ya go!" Gramps said, turning towards Matthew. "So how's your gift? I saw it on sale the other day, and I remembered that you were from Canada and all that…Thought you might like it… But it's hard to shop for you kids, I never know what you guys want these days." Gramps looked a little nervous about whether or not Matthew would like it, but his worries were quickly put to rest.
Matthew held up the red sweater with a white maple leaf, smiling gratefully. "It's great. Really, thanks." He sounded like he really meant it.
That was it, Alfred couldn't hold it in anymore. He just had to find out what he got! It had to be something totally awesome!
So, without any remaining hesitation, Alfred eagerly ripped open his own present.
And found a ring.
"How do you like it?" Gramps asked, eager to hear his opinion.
"Uh…." Alfred really didn't know what to say. The ring looked nice, and didn't look particularly girly, but it was still a ring! Why did his grandpa give him a piece of jewelry?
"It's a family heirloom. It belonged to my father, and his father, and his father's father, and well. You get it I'm sure. I thought you would like to have it. You always seem to like these old things." Gramps said, seeming to sense his confusion.
A family heirloom! Alfred quickly forgot about the fact that it was jewelry and grabbed the ring to get a closer look.
It was a wide silver band, with no stone, that had black marks carved on it. It was pretty cool looking, and the fact that so many of his ancestors had worn it was pretty awesome too. And it wasn't like girls were only allowed to wear rings.
With that in mind he slipped it on his right hand, happy to find that it was a perfect fit.
"Thanks Gramps!" Alfred said, giving his grandfather a wide and grateful smile.
"I'm glad you liked it. When I found it the other day, well I thought it was about time to pass it down to you." Gramps said, returning his smile.
"Cool!" He thought how his Gramps must have worn the ring when his father gave it to him, and how his father had received it. It made Alfred feel as if he was a part of something, a tradition that had been going on for years. He admired the ring on his hand with new found admiration. Who knew how old it was, or how many of his ancestors had worn it also?
Well, his grandfather probably knew, but he could ask him later. Alfred wanted to imagine the countless possibilities for a little while longer before finding out.
The dinner conversation went back to regular topics after everyone had received there gifts. After finishing dinner, and dessert (ice cream of course!), Alfred and Matthew got ready for bed.
Gramps was going to sleep in Alfred's room, meaning that Alfred had to sleep on an air mattress in Matthew's room. That was cool with him, seeing as it made it easier for the two of them to talk when they played computer games.
"Come on Mattie! He's hiding behind that barrel!" Alfred said, sitting on the mattress and eyes not leaving his laptop's screen. "Hurry up! He's going to kill me!"
They were playing a shooting game with a couple of friends from school, and he and Matthew were on the same team. Miguel and Young Soo were on the opposing team, and at the moment Miguel was shooting him down. Alfred was in a corner, and even though he had weaken Miguel a bit, there was no way he was going to last very long if Matthew didn't show up soon.
When Alfred had just given up all hope, Miguel's avatar fell down. A clear message showed across his screen.
Maple_Leafe has killed CubanCigar.
"Got him." Matthew gave a small smile as his avatar jumped from the ledge that he had sniped Miguel from, and together the two of them went to go and kill Yong Soo. He put up a bit of a fight, but they eventually finished him off.
"Alright!" Alfred yelled as their team won for the tenth time that night. "We make such an awesome team, right Mattie?"
Matthew nodded his head, smiling at his step-brothers enthusiasm. "Play again?"
Alfred was about to nod in confirmation when, all of a sudden, the door to Matthew's bedroom opened.
"What are you kids doing, still awake like this?" Gramps said, looking as if he had been just woken up. "It's 12 pm for God's sake!"
"Sorry." Alfred winced guilty. Had his yelling woken him up?
"I know it's Friday, but you won't be able to wake up tomorrow if you don't get to sleep soon." Gramps reprimanded them, and Alfred didn't have the heart to tell them he stayed up this late even during school days.
"Okay." He said, giving in. It was getting late anyways, and he could feel his eyelids grow heavy.
"Good night." Both he and Matthew said as Gramps sleepily walked back to Alfred's room. Matthew got up and turned out the lights, both of them deciding that they would follow Gramps' advice.
After saying goodnight to their friends (not that he considered Miguel his friend, but still), and turning off his laptop, Alfred laid down on his mattress and tried to get to sleep. He turned his new ring around his finger, the action relaxing him a bit, and soon drifted into unconsciousness.
Alfred was in a narrow alleyway and he couldn't remember how he had gotten there. Where was he? It was neither light nor dark, making it hard to tell what time it was. Alfred was starting to panic, and tried to stop himself. He was a hero! Heroes didn't panic!
Where had he been last? Alfred tried to think, maybe if he could remember he could figure out how he gotten here and where he was.
He remembered playing video games with Matthew, Gramps coming up to yell at them, and going to sleep…Oh!
That was it! He was asleep!
The revelation automatically calmed Alfred down (not that he was scared or anything). If this was a dream, he was perfectly safe. And if he realized that this was a dream that could only mean…
Ohhhh yeah. It was lucid dreaming time!
Okay, what did he want? Well, he was a little hungry, so a hamburger would be just the thing! So Alfred thought, as hard as he could, of a hamburger appearing into his hand.
Well that was weird. Maybe it was because it was food? What else could he ask for?
Then it hit him! On the other rare times he had been able to lucid dream, he had flown. He closed his eyes and could just imagine it, his legs lifting off the ground and into the air, everything growing smaller behind.
But when he opened his eyes he was still in the alleyway, his feet flat on the ground.
Why wasn't this working? He was thinking as hard as he could and nothing was happening!
That was how it was supposed to work, right? He was supposed to just think of something and it would happen.
Maybe he just sucked at lucid dreaming.
However, before he could figure out what to do now that he couldn't control anything, a feeling of dread came over him. He had never been one to have a sixth sense, but Alfred couldn't shake the horrible feeling that someone, or something, was behind him.
Time seemed to slow down, and the air seemed to grow heavier. Alfred felt as if his whole body was being pressed against, and it was hard for him to move. But slowly, so slowly that he could have sworn he was moving through honey instead of air, Alfred moved his body inch by inch to look behind him.
He was just about half way turned around when he saw it.
There, almost directly behind him, was a black mass of something.
Whatever it was soon formed a crude body, that seemed to stick out in all the wrong places (oh god what was he doing just staring at it but he just couldn't look away-), and a face. The face, if you could call it that, had nothing but a mouth that opened wide to reveal a pair of feral teeth.
And that was the exact moment that Alfred started to run.
"Gh-Gh-GHOOOSSSSTTTT!" The scream tore from his mouth as Alfred was finally able to move, and he began sprinting in the opposite direction of the thing.
He barely thought about where he was going or why he was able to move regularly again. What little thought he did have was entirely focused on keeping one foot in front of the other.
It was chasing him. Alfred could feel it. Which only made him move his feet faster. And scream louder.
It's going to catch me and eat me and dump my body somewhere where no one will ever find it and-
A whole array of images of Alfred's body being maimed and disposed of by the ghost in different and creative ways flashed though his mind. It was so close now, Alfred could swear he felt an icy touch in the back of his neck.
Just when he was so sure that the ghost was about to reach him, Alfred hit a brick wall.
"What the hell!"
Except it wasn't a brick wall at all, Alfred noted as he fell against the cold hard floor, because brick walls didn't yell in British accents.
But Alfred barely had any time to wonder who he had run into, as his mind went right back to the ghost that was still chasing him. With a yelp, Alfred rushed to get up and start running away again.
Okay, so running away wasn't that heroic, but Alfred just couldn't help himself when it came to ghosts. And he had the full intention of grabbing whoever he had run into to help them escape as well (he couldn't let the ghosts get whoever that was, that meant they would win!).
But he never got the chance. Almost as soon as he was able to get on his feet, Alfred felt an ice cold wave of energy rush through him. It felt as if all of his remaining energy had been painfully sucked out of him, and he again collapsed to the ground.
Alfred was able to see a pair of green eyes and a scowl before everything faded to black.
Tadah! That's the end of Chapter one! Hope you enjoyed it!
Chapter Two will be up next week. My goal is to keep up a weekly update schedule for as long as I can, until I have to leave for Japan in a month or so. Then I won't be able to update the fic for three weeks (I won't have a computer), but that should be the only large break in updates. This story will be moving quickly folks!
I apologize for all the OCs. I couldn't help it, I really don't like changing characters to fit the needs of the story. While some won't be very important, others will be later on (though not as important as our main characters of course!). But we won't see too much of those guys for a while yet. Hopefully the OCs aren't too annoying though...
Next week we will be hearing from Artie! And explain a little more about what's going on. Hope to see you then!