This was supposed to be uploaded like way in advance along with another Halloweenish/spooky fic but there's always something coming up that gets me sidetracked. But since there's only one day left in October and I wasn't going to upload it later when it wouldn't be the right kind of season, I figured I might as well put it out now and continue it once I'm finished with Call Me, Beep Me (which should not take too long. That or Surf City which will also not take too long).
And another thing because I'm really iffy and I don't want to mislead anyone, I don't know if this will turn into a Kenlos love story. Basically cause of Carlos' predicament. It'll be a Kenlos friendship, I'm definitely promising that at least but I'm not sure of the romance aspects. If I do put love in this story, hopefully the pairings and buildup will be realistic enough for you all to not be mad with me.
Anyways, I hope you all enjoy the story!
The first thing that Carlos Garcia noticed was that the air that was supposed to be filling his chest never came, the thud of a beating heart wasn't registering and the supposedly hard cement ground he was lying on didn't feel like nothing at all. In fact, felt like pure air and the texture of the gravel was nothing against his bare cheek or his fingertips. He gave a weak moan, turning and trying to stand but his legs felt like mush. Weak and feeble, even his arms were shaky as he tried to push himself onto his knees and trying to stand. The skies were still a dark black, the dampness of what Carlos believed he was in an alleyway gave an ominous chill up the boy's spine if he even could feel it.
. . .How did he get here anyways?
He was walking. . .walking down the street. . .to meet. . .meet his friend and. . .and. . .Carlos closed his eyes, his memory was so foggy, he honestly couldn't recollect a thing. But he should be getting home. Or at least to a payphone so he could call home. The boy began to walk down the alleyway, his legs feeling tired and his eyelids seemed like they were growing heavier than ever. Maybe seeing his friend would have to be a later thing, maybe he should just head back home and tuck himself underneath the covers to go to bed.
Carlos walked. . .and walked. . .and walked. . .this alleyway seemed like it was going on forever. Was he walking towards the street? He didn't know for sure, he didn't even hear the sounds of the cars or see the street lights. Just everything was pitch black and Carlos began to grow nervous. He didn't like being so late out at night, he didn't like being alone in the dark either. He wasn't that good of a fighter, who knows what would happen if someone jumped out of nowhere. He gave a cautious whirl of the head from the thought of that, not seeing anything but black. His teeth found his lower lip, pulling it in between and biting down on it hard enough to draw blood but none came. And there was no nervous beating of his heart, no trembling of his bones, nothing.
Something was wrong.
The ground in front of him seemed to grow lighter, sounds began to flow into Carlos' ears of shouts and of urgency and before Carlos knew what was going on, a blast of color and lights erupted in his face. There were people running about, shouting out orders and a small section of the alleyway was being marked off by yellow tape. He could see the flashing lights of the ambulance and of the police cars, Carlos worried about what is going on and looking around frantically.
"What's going on? What's going on?" Carlos urgently asked but it seemed like no one could hear him. He shouted louder but nothing, not even a glance in his direction. Carlos hesitantly stepped forward, not wanting to get in the way of whatever this was and only seeking help as to where he was, where he was going, what was happening when a rush flowed through his body, almost knocking out a non-existent breath.
Someone, a man. . .ran through him.
Carlos stared in horror, placing hands all over his body. The fabric of his shirt came between his fingers, Carlos not really distinguishing the texture of the cotton like normal and he glanced back up at the man crouched down along with the others dressed in dark uniform, huddling over someone, shouting out orders and Carlos tried to peer over them to see what was going on. And once he was able to see over their heads, the red and blue lights flashing around him and his eyes caught onto the sight, surely the non-existent heartbeat would be thudding loud against his chest now.
It was him. . .well, Carlos wasn't so sure but at the same time it had to have been. It was that same plain gray shirt he was wearing now, except that this one was stained deep red with blood, his own blood. Those were his eyes that were now glassy and empty, dead and dark. Those were his lips that were slightly parted and dried, no breath coming from them. That was his body. . .his lifeless body. . .but how? What was going on? How was this possible and how did this happen? Carlos touched his cheek, he touched his chest and his stomach and his head before looking down at the Carlos that was lying dead on the pavement. Did he die?. . .How? He crouched down as another man got up to walk to the ambulance and stuck his hand out to graze against the dirtied tan cheek of the dead body before him.
His hand phased right through it as if he was air.
Carlos yanked his hand back, staring at the face, his face. . .his body. . .was he a. . .no, no he couldn't be. That wasn't how it was supposed to work, that wasn't how it was supposed to happen. He can't be. . .he just can't be dead! How could this had happened! Who done this to him! And the worse thing is that Carlos couldn't remember a thing. He can't remember this alley, he can't remember what he was doing outside in this dreary dark place to begin with, he couldn't remember anything and the fact made him grow frightened. He was dead, he was dead and he was a ghost but this just can't be happening. This just can't!
Carlos jumped up, beginning to run and running through all the people and the ambulance onto the open sidewalk. There were police officers barricading the area around the crime scene as Carlos tried to shout out for help. No one heard him, no one could see him, no one could help him. He wasn't supposed to be here, was he? He was supposed to be in Heaven if he was dead, right? Or whatever really happens when you die, that was where he was supposed to be, right? Maybe this was a dream, yeah, that explains things. He'll just have to open his eyes and see that everything was alright. He'll be in his bed, curled up in his sheets and just be waiting for his mother's cheerful voice to awake him from slumber.
Wake up Carlos, wake up!
Carlos squeezed his eyes so tight, his fingernails clenching hard into the palm of his hand as he balled his fists. He didn't feel anyone bumping against him, he didn't hear anyone yelling at him to knock off holding his breath until he turned blue. And when Carlos peeked one his eyes, traffic was moving along just fine. . .he was just invisible to everything. His hands went up into his hair, running through the locks and taking in fast breaths with panicked eyes darting back and forth around the ground. He needed help, someone please, please help. Carlos shook his head slowly from left to right, his lips croaking out another little desperate plea as if someone could hear him. How he hoped that someone could help wake him up from this nightmare.
Carlos turned, to try and go back to the alleyway where they were now stuffing his body into one of the bags before he stopped. In front of him was a boy, teenaged like he was and awkwardly flipping through a little black book. He glanced up, eyes a shy and mousy brown as he raised his hand, "J-Just give me a few minutes," he stuttered out and Carlos' eyes widened in shock. He. . .he can see him. Maybe he wasn't dead. Maybe this was all some weird dream and he was getting closer to waking up. Wake up! Wake up! The boy kept glancing up at Carlos, almost as if he was afraid Carlos would just disappear and finally he stuck his hand out, "'Carlos Garcia, it is very nice to meet you. Shake hand'. . .oh."
The boy linked his hand with Carlos' one that was still by his side, Carlos feeling the coldness of the pale skin but also a painful burning sensation in his palm. He tried to yank his wrist free but the boy wouldn't let go, his eyes scanning over the pages as Carlos began to writhe and grimace.
"Stop it! Stop it!" Carlos shouted and the boy let go, Carlos yanking his hand away and holding it close to his chest. He glanced down into his palm, looking to see that there was a small insignia burned into his skin. He rubbed at it, the mark not coming off. It looked like it was still smoldering, the lines singed and skin around it peachy red. "What did you do that for?! Who are you?!. . .What happened to me? Why can you see me and they can't? What's going on?!"
The boy gave a sad frown. "I'm sorry if I hurt you but that's standard protocol. It's so that way if you get lost when we're traveling, you've already been claimed and no one else can take you but me."
What was he, some baggage? Carlos shook his head, "I don't understand. Where are we going? You haven't even told me who you are."
"I. . .uh. . ." the boy looked back into his little black book, muttering 'Questions. . .Questions. . .' until Carlos supposed he found the section he was looking for and began to read, "'I am a good friend and I will not hurt you'."
"Please can you tell me what's going on? What's happening to me? Am I asleep?"
". . .Will it make it easier for you to come with me if you think you are?" he asked and Carlos stepped back when he stepped forward. So. . .so he isn't sleeping? Then. . .what's going on? The boy took another step forward and Carlos stepped back, off of the sidewalk and into the street. Cars were driving right through him like he wasn't even there, he didn't even feel anything except a soft tingle like a light breeze over his skin as each vehicle drove through. The boy bit his lower lip, worried, "Please come back over here."
"Don't be difficult, I don't know what to do if you try to resist."
"Tell me what you want with me first," Carlos said and the boy sighed, reaching into the cuff of his white sleeve to take off a small black bracelet with a charm attached to it, though Carlos couldn't see exactly what kind of charm it was. The boy took the charm off, "Please do not be frightened," he replied, the charm growing bigger and bigger until Carlos' eyes widened as to what it was, the long clean blade of Death's scythe showing an reflection of the streets with Carlos not in it. Carlos stared at the boy in shock, eyes widening in fear regardless of the warning as the boy held out his other hand. "Come here."
"Please come here?"
"N-No! W-What's going on! Is this some kind of a joke? Please tell me this is a joke! Tell me I'm dreaming! Pinch me or slap me or throw water on me!"
"I'll pinch you if you come over here," the boy replied with a hopeful smile that Carlos immediately took another step away from, holding himself and feeling his body trembling. He. . .he was dead. Something happened and he ended up dead. And this boy. . .was he Death? Here to take him? Carlos felt his eyes beginning to water, scared and confused. Why did this happen to him? Why did he die? Why wasn't he an old man and in the comfort of his bed, passing away in his sleep like he wanted to without any pain? He didn't remember if he felt pain when he was murdered. . .was he? Who killed him? Why did they kill him? Carlos never did anything wrong, he never hurt anybody, he never spoke ill of anyone, why did he have to die? His lips choked out a sob and he saw the boy worriedly lower his scythe. "P-Please don't cry, I-I'm new at this sort of thing and you're not supposed to be crying-"
"Not supposed to cry? I'm dead! T-That's enough to m-make me cry," Carlos sobbed, letting out a wail. Sixteen years old, sixteen years old and he was dead. He hadn't even had his first kiss yet, he never got a chance to play on the varsity hockey team. He won't go to senior prom, he won't graduate, he won't go to college, find someone and get married and have children. None of those things will be happening to him because he's-
Mom and Dad.
Carlos' eyes widened, what happened to his parents? Do they know about this? He had to find them, he had to see them! Carlos turned and began to run, hearing Death calling out for him to 'Wait! Stop! Please!'. As if Carlos was going to wait there and let him take him to wherever he was supposed to go. Limbo? Heaven?. . .Hell? The thought frightened Carlos, his legs going even faster but not sure if he was managing to evade the specter. Shouldn't ghosts be able to fly? And shouldn't he be pale as snow with no legs to begin with? What kind of ghost was he? And Carlos began to wonder as he ran through the streets to his home, not even bothering to stop when cars were busily speeding down since they didn't have any effect on him anyways, if there were others like him. Other ghosts. . .maybe, maybe not. What did Death say? That he was new? What did that mean? What did any of this mean?
He stopped, looking around to see if the boy in black was coming after him but saw no one, giving a quiet gulp. Did he lose him? He only hoped, half of him still not accepting all of this. Maybe a deep sleep, maybe he was so tired from last night he's sleeping in. That had to be it, that had to be it. Carlos turned, immediately meeting up with the face of the pale boy he was trying to avoid and he screamed, backing away fast and the brunette sighed, trying to look through the black book.
"Okay, it says here that I'm not supposed to use any force. I'm trying to make this transition very pleasant for you but if you insist on running away-" the scythe flashed into his hands in a blast of hellfire and smoke, "-It'll be very unpleasant."
Carlos looked at the boy with wide and fearful eyes before the brunette sighed again. "Now, please come here."
"W-Why don't you just take me? I know you want to do it," Carlos stuttered out and Death shook his head.
"Can't. You have to come to me willingly, I can't force you."
"That's a horrible rule."
"It's actually a very good rule if you'd just let me make things nicer for you," the boy said with frustration and Carlos bit his lower lip.
". . .No."
He groaned, scythe disappearing and going back to flipping through his book. "There has to be something about this. Something about stubborn souls."
"I'm not stubborn!"
"Look, I'm not some sort of expert in this kind of thing. You're not even supposed to be out of your body, I was supposed to take you out! You already made things more difficult by coming out on your own, can't you make both of our lives. . .er. . .after-lives easier?"
"I-I can't. I'm not dead. How did I die? What happened to me? And my parents? Are they okay?"
"And another thing too, I don't remember asking these many questions," Death said, frustrated as he flipped back to the 'Questions' section of his book. What was that? A handbook? Death needs a handbook?. . .Carlos wondered if there was a book for the recently deceased. . .if this wasn't all just some horrific dream. The brunette scoffed, "Can you word those questions of yours to something that fits what's written in here?"
"What's written in there?"
"Come over here and take a look."
And Carlos took a step forward but quickly took a step back, frowning. "Nice try, I'm not coming to you. Give it to me."
"Drat," the boy muttered, tossing the book to Carlos and he caught it with ease. This wasn't so bad, he thought ghosts couldn't hold a thing at all. Then again, his hand did phase through those people and his dead body, his own ghostly figure had cars that drove through him like he was thin air. Maybe there was something about this book that allowed him to hold it, he wasn't sure. Carlos flipped it open, eyebrows furrowing as he read the text on the first page, almost like someone had hand-written it personally.
Congrats Mr. Hortense Logan Mitchell
Carlos glanced up at the figure standing a good distance away, watching him closely as he turned the page that listed out detailed sketches of a scythe, instructions next to it on how to properly reap, sign and transport a soul to the final destination. But unfortunately, the final destination was not explicitly explained here. He flipped to the back of the book, seeing the 'Questions' that Death was trying to scan over. They were so mediocre, some of the standard questions that Carlos had asked, 'What happened?', 'Who are you?', 'Where are we going?'. None of the questions that he wanted answered, none of the ones that he asked. He flipped the yellow pages to the last page, seeing more of that hand-written scrawl that was in the front of the book.
If they have any other questions, call King.
Carlos stared at the number confused, wasn't enough numbers to actually be able to dial someone. He then glanced back over at Death, people walking the streets around them and not even aware of them both, walking on their merry little way with ignorance of the poor little lost soul or Death was near by. Carlos threw the book back, Death catching it and tucking it into his coat pocket.
". . .Huh?"
"It's Hortense?" Carlos asked and he saw red flash over the pale cheeks. Huh, Carlos didn't know Death could blush, nor did he thought that Death would actually be kind of adorable when he did.
"Logan if you feel more comfortable but not Hortense, please."
". . .It makes me feel a little bit better. . .can I call this King person? Do you know how to call them?" Carlos asked and Logan bit his lower lip, taking his book out quickly to look over it.
"W-Well, I don't think it's such a good idea to be bothering her. I mean, I can do it on my own, I don't need to call her about something like this. . .do you feel comfortable to come with me now?"
Logan sighed, plopping down on the sidewalk and folding his legs, "Then I guess we're stuck."
Carlos frowned, crossing his arms and glancing around at his surroundings. He remembers this street, it was only a couple of miles from his home. Home. . .it feels so much farther away now and he just wants to go home. He just wants to see his parents again and he just wants to feel his dad hugging him or his mom kissing his cheek. "Carlos?" Logan asked and Carlos turned, Logan looking down at the pavement underneath them, "I understand that you feel lost, afraid, confused as to what happened but I assure you that it's the same for everyone."
"But aren't you new at this?"
"Well I'm familiar with the concept of dying to be able to empathize with you," Logan replied back with a huff, standing onto his feet and Carlos bit his lip.
"Don't you have other dead people to chase after? Why me?"
"Because I already claimed you, Stephanie assigned me to you so I have no choice, and will you just come over here so we can all move on!"
"Who's Stephanie? Can I talk to her?"
Logan let out an anguished groan and Carlos only nervously bit his lip. Maybe he was being a stubborn soul but. . .there were so many things that were unanswered. So many things that just weren't clicking as to why it happened the way it did. Logan glanced around before he turned on his heel and held out his hand. Something red appeared in his palm in a blast of hellfire, Logan handing over to Carlos what appeared to be a simple pager.
"You call her. I'm not going to get into trouble because of you. I'm trying to do my job, I'm not cut out for this thing at all," Logan said frustrated as Carlos took the pager. Death crossed his arms and huffed, looking away from Carlos as he inspected the small red device, checking to see if this was some trick. Carlos glanced back at Logan, the brunette clearly done with Carlos all together and facing away from the ghost boy. He bit his lower lip before he inputed the numbers. 42. . .33. . .51. . .but that still didn't seem like enough numbers to-
Carlos' eyes widened and his mouth felt like it was being forced open to let out a scream. His body felt like it was on fire, the vision of the street disappearing before his eyes into a deep darkness. No light, no sound, nothing but bleak and empty space. He couldn't even move his body, but at the same time it felt like Carlos was being pulled by someone. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, if this was life after death, he didn't want to know what Heaven or Hell was even like. As the feeling of flames licking up over his cheeks and over his lips, his breath feeling like it was sucked from his chest, Carlos squinted his eyes tight.
Please let it be over, please let it be over!
And just like that, Carlos felt someone yank his shirt forward and his eyes popped open. He wasn't on the street anymore, he was in an office. A dusty and unkempt one at that. Stacks and towers of paperwork lined the walls and the room smelled stale. Like death and burning flesh and brimstone. And in front of Carlos with a fist in his shirt was a woman. Her eyes were glaring annoyed at Carlos, long brown hair done up in a bun, and dressed in a slim black dress. "And what are you doing here?" she asked and Carlos gulped, mouth and throat extremely dry.
"I-I'm here f-for-"
"I know why you're here," she said with an eye roll and released her grip on Carlos' shirt to saunter around the sleek black desk to sit on. "I want to know how you managed to get away from Logan."
"He. . .he let me go talk to you. . .I mean, if you're Stephanie. . .are you?" Carlos asked and she groaned, not really giving a no or a yes.
"This is the third soul he's screwed up on. I knew I should have just gave him someone more simple to deal with, never can trust him on murder cases-"
"I want answers," Carlos interrupted and balled his hands into fist. "What happened to me? How did I die? Who killed me? What about my parents and my friends and-"
"Yadda-yadda, blah blah blah. Nobody likes a whiner," she replied and snapped her fingers. In a flash, all of the clutter and paperwork that lined the walls rose and flew in different directions around the room towards the black filing cabinets. The walls were cleared to show blank red walls, a hardwood black floor and all of the papers disappeared save for one manilla folder that floated onto the desk. She took it in her hands and opened it. "'Carlos Garcia, age 16. Cause of death: loss of blood due to repeated stabbings and mutilation.'"
"M-Mutilation?" Carlos stuttered out in shock and she nodded.
"Yep. Your killer really did a number on you."
"But I. . .my body looked just fine-"
"All a part of the process of death and the afterlife. Your body is presented to you in a way which is comfortable and-"
"It would be more comfortable to see my body not covered in blood!" Carlos exclaimed and she rolled her eyes.
"Well we wouldn't want you to deny that you even died. We show your body that you are indeed dead but not to the full gruesome effects that will make you freak out and do something stupid like running away from your Reaper," she said dryly and Carlos bit his lip.
"But I'm not supposed to be dead! Why did I have to die like this?! Why do I have the Grim Reaper chasing after me for something I can't understand?!" Carlos shouted and the woman placed a hand to her temple.
"One thing, you're dead. Who cares if you didn't die the way you want to die, you all die in the end anyways. Tch, humans. And second, Logan is not the Grim Reaper. He is a Grim Reaper and a lousy one at that," she said with a discouraging scoff and clapped her hands. In a flash of fire and smoke, Carlos could see the sleek blade of the scythe, Logan coughing from breathing in the hellfire's smoke. "I send you to deliver a soul and you let him get away. If you hadn't claimed him, who knows what kind of havoc he could have caused or where he could have ended up," the woman scolded and Logan pointed an accusing finger at Carlos.
"I-I tried to get him to come with me but he wouldn't! I don't know how to do this, Stephanie! Not like I had a Reaper that was helpful to me!" Logan said, voice cracking in a high pitch and the woman, Stephanie, gave another eye roll. Carlos looked between the two, eyes so confused and only more questions brimming in his mind the longer they went unanswered.
"Please, I just want to know what happened to me. One of you must know what happened to me and why I was murdered," Carlos plead and Stephanie gave him a smile.
"Haven't you read your handbook?" she asked, and before Carlos could even ask what handbook she was talking about, a book proofed in front of his face and made him jump back with a startled scream. Stephanie laughed at Carlos' reaction before snapping her fingers and the book flipped open. "Chapter four, page 60, paragraph three. What does it say?" she asked and Carlos took the book, scanning his eyes through the text.
Those that were murdered may not return for a personal vendetta against their murderer.
"I-I don't have a vendetta, I just want to know what happened to me," Carlos stuttered and Stephanie quirked an eyebrow.
"I have a hard time believing that. You're telling me you wouldn't want your killer to see what's coming to them for murdering you. You'll be satisfied if your killer is living in comfort while you're gone from your family, your friends, your dreams of a happy life?" she asked and Carlos bit his lower lip.
"I. . .I just want to know why. Why did it happen to me?"
"Sometimes there just isn't a why. And you need to accept that and move on," Stephanie replied and gestured to Logan. Carlos turned to look at the Reaper, Logan holding out his hand before he turned to the woman and shook his head.
"I'm sorry, but no. I have unfinished business here, I deserve to know," Carlos said and the manilla folder on the desk closed shut by an unseen force. A red stamp appeared on the cover, a big bold INCOMPLETE standing out clear as can be and Stephanie snapped her fingers.
"Darn, I was hoping you weren't going to say that," she said with a sigh and Carlos looked at her confused. "'Unfinished business' clause. Can't send you on your way if you claim it. . .fine then. You can remain on Earth as a ghost until you find your murderer. Then, you must accept your death and move on with Logan. No vengeance on your murderer, no haunting. . .do you understand? And Logan will be with you at all times."
"But this-" Stephanie raised her hand, silencing Logan from speaking. She then pointed at the handbook that floated into Carlos' grasp. "Keep that with you at all times. That handbook will tell you everything you need to know. . .we won't be seeing each other again now, would we?" she asked and Carlos nodded his head. She smiled. "Good then, goodbye and welcome to the afterlife."
And as forceful as Carlos was dragged to the office, the force pulling him away seemed just as painful. Everything disappeared in a flash like it was being sucked out of a tube and Carlos' skin felt like nails were clawing at him, hands were grabbing at him to try and keep him there. He gritted his teeth at the pain, his clutch on the handbook tight and eyes scrunching closed as a cool wind blew over his face. And when he opened his eyes, he wasn't in Stephanie's office, nor was he on the street. It was a house with the furniture covered up by white sheets, dark floorboards and a fireplace unlit. Carlos glanced around, confused as to why he was here and who's house this was before he heard Logan groan behind him.
Carlos turned, jumping back from Death in fright before he glanced around at his surroundings again. "Well. . .I supposed we should get started, huh?" Carlos asked sheepishly, trying to not grow nervous from that upset glare in Logan's eyes. He walked past the Reaper and moved into the main hallway, looking at the antique walls and the corners gathering dust. The floorboards didn't creak when he stepped, his hand outstretched to grab hold of the doorknob. Carlos glanced behind him, Logan not following him at all and he gulped. Fine, he didn't need his help anyways.
Carlos opened the door, to his surprise, and stepped down the porch steps. But when he looked up, he didn't see houses or streets or anything. All there was was darkness, bleak and empty. Carlos looked around, confused and scared as he heard the sound of someone moaning. Not only one person, but a bunch. All sounding like they were in such pain and suffering, Carlos knew if he had a heartbeat right now it'd be thumping fast.
The sensation of something burning his skin coursed through Carlos again, the boy hissing at the invisible pain. It felt like nails were scraping at the back of his neck, over his forearms but there wasn't anyone around him in the dark. The moans were growing louder, the screams piercing in the dark and the nails felt like they were opening scratches into his skin. Carlos closed his eyes and turned, quickly making his way back up the steps and inside the house.
He took a few worried breaths, the moans disappearing and the fire gone from his body. Carlos glanced around the hallway before walking back into the room where he and Logan first appeared in. There was a window with the curtains pulled back, Logan was sitting on one of the sofas with his head in his hands as Carlos walked past him. He peeked outside, seeing houses and the street lights on, confusion making his head swirl.
"I-I don't understand. There was nothing out there! Are. . .Are we stuck here?"
"There's so many things about dying you don't understand," Logan said with a sad tone and Carlos looked over at the Reaper. Logan pointed at the handbook still in Carlos' hand. "You should read the fifth chapter. Tells you about haunting."
Carlos glanced down at the book before looking over at Logan once more and he sighed. He moved to one of the large chairs that were covered, sitting down on the cushions and pulling his legs up to his chest. The handbook was very thick, a lot of pages Carlos had to read, a lot of time Carlos needed to read over and understand.
But it's not like he's getting any deader.