This chapter was a pain for me to write... Thank God this is the last one for this story. :P
Also, the supernatural tag under the genre listing for this? It's finally coming into full force...
Later that night, SpongeBob was still crying uncontrollably in his bedroom. The funeral had taken an unexpected toll on his emotions - after the burial was over, his parents, feeling that he wasn't emotionally strong enough at that moment to attend the planned wake, decided to take him straight home. No-one in the car spoke a word to each other as they drove towards the sponge's home – only the sniffles of SpongeBob and the sighs of Mr. and Mrs. SquarePants could be heard.
As soon as the family had arrived at the pineapple, SpongeBob instantly collapsed onto his couch, unable to stop his stream of tears. In response, his parents sat beside him and comforted him deeply. Time passed by idly as all three of them sat in the front room locked in mourning – all the while, SpongeBob continued to sob loudly, his heart breaking up into even tinier pieces. Everything that was happening right now felt incredibly wrong to him – life was changing too dramatically, too quickly for him to handle well. Never once in his existence did he think that one day, he would lose his Grandma to nature. ...Actually, deep in his childish self, he had wanted Grandma to live forever. But she didn't. She couldn't, anyway. Reality wouldn't allow it.
Time carried on further. Finally, SpongeBob's father checked his watch and realised that he and his wife had to leave to attend the rest of the wake. Although they wanted to stay with their son badly, they felt they couldn't ignore the rest of the family. In fact, SpongeBob looked as if he was beginning to calm down a bit. Despite the fact that they were very hesitant to leave him behind, Mr. and Mrs. SquarePants decided to go on without him. They said their goodbyes and the parents left the pineapple.
For the rest of the day, SpongeBob merely sat on the couch, appearing distant from the small world around him. Even though he had knocked off the sobbing for the time being, he still felt empty inside. It was like he had no reason to truly live anymore. Fortunately, Gary, who had been listening to his master's wails since he'd arrived home, had decided to take over the SquarePants parents' previous duty by comforting SpongeBob in his own way. Slithering towards the couch, Gary rubbed against his legs affectionately. Realising what he was trying to do, SpongeBob picked Gary up and stroked his shell gently. Although he may have been just a snail, the sponge was very glad that he had Gary by his side. They may have had their ups and downs together, but he knew that he could always count on his loyal pet to support him.
He must have been fussing the snail for a very long time, because the next thing SpongeBob knew, his wall clock was saying it was night-time. Feeling extremely tired from the emotional burnout, he placed Gary back on the ground and decided to go straight to bed – but once he got in, he couldn't fall asleep. Thoughts of the events of today kept lingering and replaying in his mind. Then, just as he felt he was finally about to drop off into slumber, he began to recall memories.
Memories of his grandmother.
The memories were fleeting, yet also extremely vivid. They consisted of random, pleasant times SpongeBob had had with Grandma – being fed cookies, trying out one of her knitted sweaters, being read a story before work... There were many more, some SpongeBob had even forgotten about until now. As the recollections continued, his eyes began to water once more. Ultimately, SpongeBob shot up from bed and started to cry again, this time much harder than before. Gary, who had been sleeping in his newspaper bed beside him, was immediately startled by the wailing. Realising what was going on, he jumped onto his master's bed and meowed, trying to calm him down. But he couldn't – SpongeBob had accumulated enough energy to cry non-stop. Feeling helpless at that moment, Gary simply stayed beside SpongeBob, refusing to ignore the plight of his best friend.
The sponge couldn't remember if he had cried himself to sleep; but he must have done, anyhow. He had just opened his eyes, only to find himself under the covers of his bed in complete darkness. But he had not woken up spontaneously – short-term memory loss was the least of SpongeBob's fears right then. He had woken up because he was feeling something incredibly wrong with his bedroom.
The temperature was strangely cold for the time of year – it was now approaching summer in Bikini Bottom, yet SpongeBob was almost shivering under his blanket. It almost felt like he was trying to sleep in his refrigerator. Was he falling ill, or something? He checked his forehead – no, he didn't feel hot or anything. So why was his room so cold?
Then he began to feel something else – something much more sinister.
He felt like someone was watching him.
The sponge didn't want to poke his head over the blanket – what if someone dangerous had broken into his house, like a burglar, or even a maniac? Hang on... He couldn't hear anything in his room. Aside from the ticking of his alarm clock and Gary's snores in his room, it was completely silent everywhere – he couldn't even hear anything foreign throughout the house. But if no-one had broken into the pineapple, why did SpongeBob strongly feel that someone was watching him intently?
Although he was petrified, SpongeBob wanted to understand what was happening in his room. Taking a deep breath, SpongeBob raised himself up from under the covers...
...But there was no-one there. His room was completely black, with no shadows of anyone anywhere. Breathing a sigh of relief and dismissing his fears, he decided to go back to sleep while still feeling cold...
...Until he saw her in the corner of his eye.
SpongeBob jumped up in surprise and almost screamed in shock. Frozen in dear fright, he sat on his bed mouth agape as he tried to comprehend the sight in front of him.
It was Grandma SquarePants – and she was standing in SpongeBob's bedroom doorway.
It took a while for him to process everything, but the sponge began to realise that something was very different about the Grandma in front of him. At least she didn't look like the one in the hospital, thank goodness. But this Grandma was probably the strangest he'd ever seen - in fact, this one literally appeared to be transparent. If he could move at that moment, SpongeBob assumed that he would be able to walk right through her.
He continued to stare at her for some time. Grandma stared at him back without moving an inch. Then, she spoke – or at least tried to. SpongeBob didn't hear any speech come from her mouth. But he could somehow read her lips.
She was trying to say, "Goodbye, SpongeBob."
It was the phrase that made him realise what was happening to him right now. Grandma must have been upset that she was unable to say goodbye to her favourite grandson, so through some force completely unknown to any mortal creature on earth, she came back from beyond the dead to say goodbye to him. She definitely must have felt the same way as me, SpongeBob thought.
He was taking part in a miracle – he was seeing one of the oldest lights in his life for the last time, before she would burn out forever. He didn't want the moment to end. But unfortunately, it had to. Once he felt he had reconciled with his grief long enough, he said to the ghost of his grandmother:
Grandma smiled at him. Then, she began to disappear. SpongeBob almost wanted to cry out to her to stay, but he didn't. It was time for her to go. She was going off to a better place, free from pain and suffering. She would never have to worry about anything ever again. It would be selfish of him to want her to stay by him forever – so he was letting her go off to the heavens.
Finally, after some time of fading away, she vanished completely.
SpongeBob began to cry again – however, he was doing it silently. He was also not crying of sadness, but of joy. His grandmother had just visited him from beyond to tell him that she was OK, and to say farewell. He was extremely glad that her death seemed to have been painless. He would treasure the experience that he'd just had for the rest of his life.
"Grandma..." he whispered, so as not to awaken Gary. "I hope you get to wherever you're going to safely. I'll see you later..."
...Alright, I'll admit it – I almost cried as I wrote the ending to this. Then again, I shouldn't be acting all emotionally defensive about that. :P
I hope you guys have enjoyed this story. Unfortunately, I don't have any new SpongeBob stories planned out, but I might have a one-shot or two somewhere in my mind. Right now, I'm focusing on getting back into college, so that'll stall any new projects I've got. Anyhow, I'll see y'all later!
Sincerely, Third Kind.