I didn't know where to put this story, as stories with real life characters in aren't allowed on so I wasn't sure if I could put it in the Peter Pan section. But, after all, there were MJ movies made, the same as the Peter Pan ones, so I think the place where I finally put this story, fits best. My beta was Moviemom44. I don't own any rights to the places nor people used in it.
All that could be said with absolute certainty about Michael Jackson's feelings when he found himself in this magical land which he had thought existed only on the pages of a children's story by J.M. Barrie, was that he couldn't believe his own eyes. This was the only way he could describe the feelings that embraced him in the moment when he landed, right from his hospital bed, in Neverland – confusion, shock, joy at the fact that now, just after his death, he finally discovered that the land with which he was always so fascinated did exist, but above all, the inability to believe what his eyes saw. Like many people before him, the dead (though now feeling as alive as it only could be) singer, while still alive, fell in love with the magnificent world conjured up by the prolific imagination of the long dead writer, in which hardships of adult life didn't exist. For many fans – most of whom were much younger than Michael was – the magical idyll of Neverland was a perfect breeding ground for their imagination. But Michael was probably the only person in the world who ever managed to make his fantasy come true – at least on such a scale. The Neverland ranch was certainly a magnificent place but this place he was in now outshone it.
It was Neverland. Michael knew it because what else could it be? He often dreamed about this place when he was still alive and the place he found himself in looked exactly like the one he saw so often in the world of his dreams. Even if he had any doubts as to the identity of the place in which he found himself so suddenly barely a couple of minutes ago, they were dispersed by the sight of the mermaids splashing cheerfully in the waters of the bay – their shining, delicate, green tails and long wet hair flashed before his eyes in the distance. This image that would be so unusual on any real tropical island, removed any doubts as to where he could be.
It was two or three minutes he had spent in here, on the white sand of the beach of the island that, until now he could swear, existed only in the imagination of the writer who died many years before he was born. And it was many years since then, given that Michael already managed to reach his middle age. It was a difficult thing to reconcile his physical age with the man who was always so young in his heart but well, one thing was good at least – from now on he wasn't going to grow any older. It was a consoling thought. He spent those three minutes in silent fascination at the sight of the mermaids. They were far from him, too far for them to notice him and even if they did take any notice of him, they didn't let him know this in any manner, splashing and making pirouettes in the air until they fell into the water. Michael couldn't help but feel the tears slowly filling his eyes so he raised his hand to wipe them. It was the fulfillment of his dreams; getting into Neverland and it wasn't until the moment of his death that making this particular wish come true became possible. Now, at this particular moment, when once one of the most recognizable singers in the world, dead but feeling more alive and full of energy than he felt for years, was sitting on the white sand of the beach of the imagined island, observing the mermaids, his head was full of the craziest ideas. What should he do now? Was this how the rest of eternity was going to look? Where should he go now? Was approaching the mermaids a good idea? Michael knew the novel by Barrie and all the movie adaptations, including both the Disney impressions on them, practically by heart and knew that it couldn't be said about the Neverland mermaids that they were the most friendly entities in there. "Dark and dangerous creatures in touch with all things mysterious" – the singer remembered the description from Barrie's novel and shivered a bit. What if they tried to drown him like they tried to do to Wendy? Well, he was already dead but he wasn't going to check if dying again would be possible for him. And speaking of Wendy and her brothers, as well as their Neverland friends – the Lost Boys and their brave leader, Peter – were they really dwelling in there? Was he really given the opportunity to meet them and to see their underground house? And, when it came to the locations of the island, were The Maze of Regrets, the Indian village and the pirate ship of Hook and his band real places as well? Or Neverpeak Mountain, did it really exist, towering over everything; the place from the top of which you could see over anything and anyone? Michael needed to see all of them with his own eyes, now watering with emotion.
The man stood up and looked around. The leaves of the trees he saw in the distance murmured softly, moved by the warm wind, gently blowing the black waves of his hair. The sky was blue and crystal clear, with the sun as yellow and perfect as if it were taken right from a child's crayon painting. It was shining onto the face of the dead singer who squinted his eyes from the sunlight. In spite of the intensive warmth of the sunrays falling on him now – judging by its position on the sky, he estimated that it had to be almost noon – the air was still pleasantly cool. The trees growing on both the sides of the path he followed were casting a shade on the silhouette of the dead man who so suddenly woke up in the world from the children's novel.
Michael was taking faster and faster steps. Actually, he wanted to slow down, enjoy the sights of the magical country but it was like his legs were carrying him almost without his will engaged, trying to take him as fast as possible to the place where the Lost Boys could live. Later, when he found them out, he'd have as much time to explore Neverland as he wanted. All the time in the universe. Because why not? He was dead, after all.
But there was this boy standing on the path leading through the thicket of the trees of the Neverwood, though, who seemed to appear in there out of the blue. Or at least that was what Michael thought. He was looking around every now and then and, having turned his back on the man, didn't see the moment of his appearance on the path. It was like he appeared in there from nowhere, standing there still and looking at the dead singer; on his face there was no smile.
The mysterious inhabitant of Neverland waited until Michael came nearer to him before he spoke.
"I was wondering if I'd get the chance to see another addiction to his place here soon but I didn't think it would be that soon" – the boy said, looking at the dead singer. He didn't smile. The intensity of his gaze for a moment made the man shiver slightly.
"Why am I feeling like that; he's just a boy" – the voice of common sense whispered silently into Michael's ear, but he couldn't make the feeling that something was wrong go away by merely telling himself rationally that in spite of this gut feeling he started to feel, everything was perfectly all right. The source of this all embracing feeling was just in his nervousness caused by the fact that finally he was meeting someone in this land who could explain to him what was happening. Slowly, the dead singer came nearer to the boy so that they were standing face to face.
The boy didn't look like one of the Lost Boys – assuming that Barrie's descriptions of the island were at least close to the truth and that the members of Peter Pan's band and himself indeed lived in there. He wasn't a child already unlike them – very young but not a kid any more; he looked thirteen or fourteen – old enough to have already started to be more interested in girls and parties than in fantasy lands from children's books. Instead of the green attire of Peter Pan or the animal skins of Peter's companions, the boy was wearing quite ordinary dark trousers and a blue shirt, although they looked a bit out of date. Quite an ordinary looking young teen, he stood looking on the face of the dead singer. But who was he?
And those were Michael's first words to the mysterious boy:
"Who are you?"
He was asking this question with a rapidly beating heart, not knowing what he was going to hear. He knew his fear was probably irrational, as his interlocutor was just a teen, in spite of his coming from Neverland, looking exactly like any other teenage boy. Was he one of the Lost Boys? In a moment he was going to find this out.
The teenager's mouth opened, his thin lips formed a smile, as if the boy was going to calm him down, as he replied:
"My name is David. David Barrie. The ruler of this place."
The reply wasn't what Michael had expected. He imagined the boy could be one of the members of the Lost Boys band… maybe even their leader himself, even if he didn't look like Peter Pan whose face the man knew so well from the cartoon. But well, it was just a cartoon and the boy was real, even if he wasn't wearing the traditional attire of Peter and his face was nothing like the one of the boy who was known to everybody-thanks to Walt Disney. Real, even if a bit too old for Neverland but… wasn't Michael himself way too old for it? Nevertheless he found himself in there. Nevertheless, the name his young interlocutor told him wasn't unknown to him.
"David Barrie? Wasn't… isn't James your brother? Is this Neverland?"
"Yes to both. Jamie indeed was my brother. My little brother who loved my stories on Neverland so much that later he wrote a novel about this place. It was me who told him the stories on this land. I made them up for him to amuse him. Him and our other siblings. And yes, the place where we are is indeed the place from my imagination."
"But… how is it possible? Am I dead? You are. You died in the nineteenth century. I read about you. You would have been long dead even if you didn't hit your head on this skating rink then. The year is 2009 now. Is it heaven? The place people go after they die?"
"Wait" – smiled the boy. Serious by nature as he probably was, he smiled one more time, with a smile which brightened his face up. His face, though nowhere near as pale as Michael's, wasn't tanned by the sun of the island as you could expect; it was the face of a boy who liked spending most of his spare time inside. If he lived in modern times, Michael would have sworn that he devoted most of his time to watching TV and playing console games.
"One question at a time. Let me start from the very beginning. When I was little, I liked to imagine I lived in Neverland. It was myself who made this place up. Well, I wasn't the only kid who lives in a world made up by their own imagination but it was me who made this very place up. I told my siblings about it. Jamie was the one who liked it particularly. Well, he even wrote a whole book about it" – the teen in the dark trousers and blue shirt with its sleeves pulled up smiled again – "He, I could say, stole the idea from me but it's not like I have a grudge against him for this. Quite the contrary, and as for why it is so, I'll explain it to you in a moment. First let me tell you about what happened after I died. I hit my head on the ice on a skating rink and a couple of days later I … well, passed away. Actually, that's strange to think about myself as dead. I feel not any less alive than when I really was like that. I think you feel the same."
Michael nodded eagerly. Although he wasn't alive for too long, it was what he was eager to fully agree on. His previous life on Earth seemed actually quite distant and being barely a pale shade of the life that was awaiting him, in the land he was so fascinated with for his whole adult life. He wasn't even thinking about his children too much – he knew he should have been but the truth was that – he admitted to himself not feeling any shame while thinking of it – somehow he managed to forget about them. Yes, it was almost as if the earthly matters ceased to matter to him. As if worrying about it was the concern of other people, not himself.
"I found myself here. Here, in the land from my dreams. I was very surprised. I never thought the place you go after your death could look like that. But after some time I got used to it. I figured out that it's just like what your afterlife looks like depends on you. Depends on what you expected to see in there. And I always liked this place. It had all the elements I liked when I was a child – pirates, fairies, mermaids… Well, mermaids were what I added after I became a teen., I just started to be interested in pretty girls and the mermaids fit this place. Pretty girls, yes, but with tails, very fitting a fantasy land."
Michael smiled. This boy, though long dead, was so human, after all. The man and the boy exchanged smiles. The boy looked around, as if listening to the voices only he was able to hear, before he started again:
"I told you I keep no grudge against my younger brother for appropriating my story. It was he, after all, who was alive, not me. He had a full right to do it. He immortalized me as a character from his story. Peter was based on me. You are asking how can I know this? Because many children, hell sometimes even teens, arrived at this place after they died and they told me about the book written by him. They, of course, were fascinated with it. With Neverland. So they ended up in here, eternally. They became my own Lost Boys. And Lost Girls. Yes, here is where the versions of my brother and myself differ. Everybody can came here, girls and boys alike. Children and teens. Though so far, there was never an adult like you who came here" – the teen smiled in a warm smile again.
Michael answered with an apologizing smile. He knew he wasn't like a regular adult. Everybody knew it, including tabloids which with malicious satisfaction had labeled him a total creep. But it didn't matter now. Here in this land he was safe and secure. This boy wasn't going to make fun of him; he knew this. He didn't know this boy for too long – actually he didn't know him practically at all save for this whole talk and, of course, some excerpts from the books and Internet articles on Barrie's brother from whom everything started – but he trusted him. His initial feelings of uneasiness dispersed.
" Yes, there are many kids in here. We have great fun with each other, all day long" – said David Barrie, looking on the blue sky, as if the sunrays falling on his face weren't bothering him. He put his hands in his pockets and tilted back his head, which was covered with wavy dark hair. For a moment the teen seemed to be sunk in his own world, not paying attention to Michael nor to Neverland surrounding him.
"Real great fun" – repeated David in a sleepy voice, still looking on the sky. "You will meet all of us. There are two thousand three hundred thirty five of us, including myself. We come from different countries and from various epochs but we understand each other well. Here, in the afterlife, those differences don't matter. We call ourselves the Lost Kids. Not Lost Boys for there are girls as well. What a pity they rarely are of my age, mostly just little kids" – David looked disappointed for a moment. Michael couldn't help a silent giggle. A typical, normal boy, with no doubt. "You will meet us all and I'm sure you'll like this place."
"Where do you live? Does the underground house really exist?"
"Yes. Though some of us do prefer small houses on their own. Like Elsie. She's from the US and came here after she died of the Spanish flu in 1918. She's 8. She has a house made of leaves of the trees of the Neverwood sewn with each other because it's what Wendy's house looked like and she wanted to be like Wendy. She was one of the first kids in here and the first girl so she imagined herself to be like Wendy Darling" – the boy said. "She lives in a leaf house since then. You could think that she'd get bored with it soon and would want a change, but no. Time in here doesn't pass like in the real world. You don't feel the flow of time.
"Or Michael. Not the Michael from my brother's book; he never existed, but the one from the imagination of James, who is one of us. He's 18 and the oldest out of us. He died in a fire of his house in the nineties. He's still afraid of living in a house since then, even though he's already dead. Bad memories. He made some sort of wigwam for himself, it's much easier to escape from it when something wrong is happening. Which isn't, it's heaven – well, some sort of – and here nothing wrong happens. There's no chance for a fire starting in here. And even if did, it wouldn't kill him. Not for the second time. But tell this to Michael" – David finished with a smile again but this smile was contemptuous this time.
"My name is Michael too" – said the singer. "Michael Jackson. I was a famous person on Earth, a singer".
"Well, I think I've head about you" – said David Barrie. "Yes, I think some of the kids from my band told me about a man of this name. He had a ranch named Neverland, after this place. He was very famous".
Michael thought for a very short moment, not without some disappointment, that in the voice of the boy there wasn't as much enthusiasm and recognition of him as he would have wished. He wasn't fame hungry but he was used to people recognizing him instantly. But they weren't of course, the boys dead for a century and a half, for that whole time living in some strange version of heaven from childhood's dreams.
"It was me" – he said. "I loved the book by your brother and though I wasn't the only one like that, I was one of those little people who could afford to make this fantasy come true on earth in the form of my ranch. But it couldn't be compared to this place" – the dead singer looked around. "I never expected I could find myself in here. Tell me, David, what does life in here look like?"
You are asking me what we are doing here the whole time" - slowly started David Barrie. Some strange light shone in his grey eyes for a moment. "You want to know what sort of life I and my companions lead in here. You want to discover what my life in here as the ruler of the Lost Kids looks like in here, don't you? What the life of all of us looks like? Because you'd like to stay in here with us, wouldn't you?"
The singer could only nod. Shivering with excitation, the man fixed his eyes on the face of his young interlocutor, trying to the answer there.
"You will. You will stay with us for the whole rest of eternity" – the teen reassured him, lightly patting him on his shoulder. Living in here for so many years, I discovered many things about the nature of this place' – said the boy. "The fact that time doesn't flow here like it did in the real world is just one of them. The other one is that I, as the person who created this fantasy, am bonded by a bit different rules that my companions who found their way into here. It can be heaven but, similar to the things that exist on Earth, it also needs some fuel to work for eternity without any problems. Do you know what sort of fuel it is?"
Michael shook his head, though the question, judging by the David's tone of voice, apparaently was a rhetorical one. The young Barrie boy didn't seem to care though if his interlocutor understood his question literally or not, sinking in his musings over the nature of the Neverland, oblivious to Michael's presence. He seemed to speak to himself now, looking at the ground beneath his feet, which, as the dead singer realized not without a mild shock, were hovering an inch above the path now. Pixie dust? Or just the happy thoughts that made him fly, even if just an inch above the surface of Neverland? What was it that could make him so happy? Could it be the arrival of the newest addition to his version of heaven? Michael was happy too. He opened his mouth to say something but before he did it, the teen spoke again.
"This fuel is the souls of the Neverlanders. This place needs the souls of those who arrived in here to function" – the boy said raising his eyes to make his gaze meet Michael's as he shivered a bit. He had no idea what the creator of Neverland was exactly talking about but what he said was in some way sinister. What did he mean? Souls as the fuel? The thought about this was a bit unpleasant and really odd.
"Souls… as the fuel? Have I heard you right? What do you mean by this?"
David Barrie let out a short chuckle and this laughter was unpleasant as well. The sound of it seemed sinister.
"I told you that the kids who came in here don't feel the flow of time in the same manner in which they did on Earth. But I didn't tell you why it is so. Why do you think it is so?"
This time it wasn't a rhetorical question but Michael couldn't answer it. For a moment he tried to look for the answer in his head but it was like his mind subconsciously was protecting itself from the sinister truth which was too scary to even think of it. The man for a moment was trying to find any answer before he finally helplessly shook his head.
"I don't know" – was the only sincere answer in this situation. Again, the singer looked at the face of the boy to guess what the good answer was.
"My companions don't feel it for they don't remember anything from their time on Earth" – said the boy matter of factly. "Well… wait, it isn't the full truth" – he added after a short, very short moment of musing, like he was trying to find the best words to deliver the truth like in some futile subconscious effort to sweeten the bitter pill he was giving his newest Neverlander to swallow. "It's not that they don't remember anything from the time spent on Earth but those memories are very pale. They know that they were someone else in the past but even apart from the fact that they don't remember much, just their names and age and how they died and not much more, they just don't care. All they care for is having fun in here. They don't remember the details of their life" – David repeated in a mischievous voice fitting a much younger boy, into which a subtle shade of maliciousness sneaked suddenly – "and they don't care for anything else than playing in here all day long. They don't care for the people they left on Earth, for their families, for their past, for anything. Their memories they sacrificed to make this fantasy function are the fuel. But I don't think that this is something I should tell you; you would discover it soon on your own. Don't you feel like not all your memories are left in your head?"
The man tried to look for some memories of his life but with a sudden feeling of shock, he realized the young ruler of Neverland was right. When he was trying to come back to some memories of the past, he couldn't. It was like there were gaping holes in his memory. He knew some events from his life did take place, that some people did exist but it was just this prosaic knowledge and that's all. He couldn't recall the faces of his children any more nor the ones of his other family members or friends. What was worse, he didn't care, just as David told him. He knew he should be worried by what was happening with his mind but it was like his mind was drifting in a blissful fog which prevented him from recalling those once important matters. With his eyes suddenly widened with fear, he looked at the boy, expecting the answer for what exactly was going to happen to him. Although he already knew.
"This process is only going to develop" – cheerfully stated David. "You will be like the others. I saw it so many times. They tried to fight this feeling but once it started, it only progressed." The teen took a step back, as if he was afraid of what the newest inhabitant of his heaven could do to him. On his face blossomed a wide malicious smile. With his eyes narrowed with excitation, he was observing the man standing before him.
"Once it has started, it grows progressively worse in half an hour." – he added. "I saw it so many times. So many, many times. You can try fighting it but it isn't going to help you in any way. Let me leave you now, for a moment, I'm sure you'd prefer to be alone at those sweet intimate moments with your last memories from Earth; just you and them. I can't disturb you; it would be a very bad thing to do. Bad and just rude. I'm going to come to you in half an hour when the process has completed. I'm going to play with Sally, Justin, Raul and Danny. They just made a great pirate trap and I'm not going to miss the pleasure of joining them. Yes, the pirates are here, quite like in the book by my brother and we kill them every day if we wish. They get killed but a moment later they are alive again for they aren't real. It's heaven and heaven is the place you get what you wish for." – in the voice of the boy a subtle note of impatient expectation appeared. "Or sometimes it's someone of the kids who pretend they are a pirate and the rest of us are fighting them. You will be able to join us in like half an hour.. but maybe even not; I saw that some kids lost their memories in like ten minutes, not more. Once there's a hole in a mug, all the water leaks out instantly. The same is true with one's memory in this place. So now let me leave you for a moment. When I'm back, you'll be able to join us and have fun with us. Oh, so much fun" – the teen was daydreaming. "So much, much fun, the most fun in the whole world, this world or the other one. The biggest fun in the world. Playing here is an awfully big adventure, you'll see yourself." – the thin pale face of the boy looked like a face of a madman for a moment now. He bared his small yellowish teeth in a happy but crazy smile. "You will see it on your own in half an hour."
With those words the young man turned his back on Michael and slowly rose into the air. Evidently, the pixie dust existed not only in the novel written later by his brother on the basis of the stories David told him. Michael observed the boy flying away as he was waving at him while flying above the trees of the Neverwood. He knew there was nothing he could do but wait for his memories to leave him, making him just a mere husk with no memory of his previous life, a zombie like adult imitation of a little boy forever playing with the souls of deceased kids and young people in this ghastly version of heaven by the shores of the Lagoon of Mermaids. Fighting the pirates, flying above the tops of the trees… all those things he imagined would be so wonderful when he was still alive, certainly didn't seem that wonderful any more. He knew he didn't have too much time to ponder this though. There was nothing else left for him but wait for the inevitable. The faster the better. The man closed his eyes. He wished it to be just a bad dream. He wished it as he never wished for anything before.
A couple of years later… (even if time as understood on Earth doesn't exist in this place)
A little soul of a very young boy who died when he fell from the stairs in his house, after a couple of days spent in a coma, looked around with curiosity. He came here barely a couple of minutes ago and didn't know what he should do or where to go. The boy was only three years old and couldn't read yet but his favorite bedtime story was Peter Pan. He always wanted his parents to tell him the same story and was very displeased when they tried to read him the books by Dr. Seuss or Winnie the Pooh; it had to be Peter Pan and nothing else. The boy, whose name was Jason and who came from a town in England (which though, isn't important for the further development of our story) loved the stories of Peter, the boy who could fly using the pixie dust. He often imagined Neverland, the place where Peter and his friends lived. And now, not knowing this himself, he was in there. It was a beach. Jason knew what a beach was. He never was on one but he had seen pictures presenting beaches in his short life. And this was one of them. Actually, even if he didn't know what a beach was and that he was just standing on one, he would have been informed about this by this nice big boy whom he had seen a moment ago. The boy he saw soon after he came here. He was wearing dark trousers and blue shirt and was very nice. Nice and big, at least the age of Jason's older brother Aiden who was thirteen and little Jason thought him to be quite adult. This nice boy David whose feet were hovering a couple of inches above the ground told him that it was a very nice place to be and that he would stay in here for quite long and that he had some things to do but Jason should now be a good boy and play with those nice people who were on the beach and that he, David would came for him in half an hour. Jason didn't know how long half an hour was but he wanted to be a good boy so he went nearer to the people from the beach. They seemed nice as well; boys and girls of various age. But it wasn't them to whom the toddler came closer; it was that man, an adult man with a very pale face and long black hair sitting on the white sand of the beach and in silence looking at the mermaids splashing in the waters of the sea. On his face there was this expression of absent mindedness, like the man didn't know where he exactly was and even, if it didn't sound that ridiculous, who he was. Of course, Jason was way too young to be capable of putting this in words but the man did look like that. The boy toddled over to him, smiling shyly.
"Hello, little boy" – answered the black haired man still smiling, still looking absent minded, as if focusing on the talk with the boy was a difficult task for him. "So you are here… that's good… it's nice to have a new boy in here again."
The man was choosing his words with an effort, as if he couldn't focus on anything else than admiring this place and enjoying the pleasure of just sitting in there and doing nothing. But he seemed happy.
"My name is Jason" – said the toddler carefully, just as Mom and Dad taught him. "Will you play with me? What is your name?"
"The man who looked like he was hypnotized (if only Jason knew this word) smiled once more in this dreamy smile.
"Michael" – he said. "Yes, I think it's my name. And if you want me to, I can play with you. Just you and me. Soon David comes after you and we will play together. We will have a great fun. The biggest fun ever. To play here will be an awfully big fun. I think someone once told me this but I don't remember who it was. But never mind. This is true. Oh, what a wonderful fun we will have here. The biggest fun in the world."