I don’t know how much I should warn but there is a moment of incredible despair in this chapter and I just wanted to warn people of that. Also, there’s cussing and stuff… and since I know I will get questions about why, I will answer it here: Chance is not in his right mind in this chapter.
He realized it was a mistake with each word that came out of his mouth, but he couldn’t just keep it from Chance. He rather hoped it would help but when Chance held onto him he knew it wouldn’t help. It was a mistake. Because Chance started deteriorating.
Specter tried hard to keep him together. He tried telling Chance that he was probably wrong, but that didn’t work. The few nights after Specter told Chance, Specter came home to find Chance just curled up on the couch. No video games, no guitars, nothing. One of the nights Chance did apologize about not having dinner ready but Specter assured him it was fine, and ordered pizza.
“You want to go out tonight?” Specter asked. “I could pack a picnic dinner. It’s a bit of chilly evening but–“
“No, let’s stay in,” Chance said a bit dully.
“I could make ice cream.”
“If you want.”
“What do you want to do?”
Chance’s lips moved but no sound came out. Finally he sighed and said, “Let’s go to the bedroom? Or–well, after the pizza comes since you need to eat. I’ll be in the bedroom.”
“Don’t you want to eat?”
Chance paused at the bedroom door and didn’t even look back when he said, “I don’t need to eat. I’m dead, remember?”
Specter flinched when the door shut and he no longer felt hungry. He waited for the pizza then set it on the counter, taking two slices into the bedroom. “Here.” He offered Chance a piece but Chance didn’t take it. “Can we talk?”
Specter sat down, setting the slices on the blanket. “I was probably wrong. About… the possibilities?” Chance didn’t even look at him. “It was just stupid theories. They were probably–no. They are wrong.” He picked up Chance’s hand and kissed it. He had hurt Chance and again, as always, no way to fix it. “I don’t know what your life was like–“
“Neither do I.” Chance took his hand away. “I don’t know. I don’t remember anything. My parents, my siblings–if I even had them–or anything. I really don’t. I used to think I did and sometimes I’d… I would remember them but now there’s nothing. Nothing.”
“What’s… the first thing you remember?” Specter asked nervously.
“I don’t know.” Chance pushed his hair back and got up off the bed, wrapping his arms around his body. “Sometimes I remember graveyard. A graveyard, in a… far off place.”
“No, I remember that. Before. There was another graveyard. I think maybe I was buried there. Or… died there. Or something.”
Specter got up to hug Chance tightly, kissing the side of his neck. “Chance, just forget about it.”
Chance let out a sad laugh. “That’s sorta the problem, Spec.” He twisted around to kiss him. “I am forgetting. Everything. Maybe you were wrong, or maybe you were right… how can I answer that? I can’t. You said Chance Danevbie doesn’t exist. So I’m Chance something else. And I just need to accept that.”
I wish you wouldn’t, Specter thought, stroking Chance’s hair. I wish I could fix this. I wish… But he was so lost and confused. Sometimes it seemed Chance wanted something, and Specter had this weird feeling whatever it was Chance wanted would help… but Chance never said what it was, and Specter didn’t know.
The next few days were like a dance. Sometimes they were close, sometimes they weren’t. Sometimes Chance gave Specter this hopeful look, sometimes he was just completely withdrawn. Finally one night Specter asked, “What can I do for you?” he asked, stroking Chance’s thumb. “Please tell me.”
Chance nestled closer. “I’m fine.”
Chance opened his mouth then closed it. “Can we talk about it tomorrow? You look tired, and–and I… well, can we talk about it tomorrow?”
“Of course,” Specter said, since he was very tired. But he was feeling happy, since Chance sounded better and tomorrow maybe things would finally get fixed.
They didn’t have time before Specter left for work, since he slept in a bit, but he was looking forward to getting home. Maybe he’d even skip work a bit early–but as soon as he got there he had to hit the ground running. He had two jobs to do and when he got back from the second one, five minutes before his shift ended, he was told Samuel needed to speak to him in his office.
Specter went up to the boss’s floor and knocked at the door. “Come in,” Samuel said.
Specter opened the door, stepping into the office, hoping whatever it was wouldn’t take long. He needed to get home, to talk to Chance. “I was told you needed to see me?” Specter asked, trying not to look at the clock.
“Shut the door,” Samuel said and Specter did so, coming in a little more. “I needed to speak to you about your little problem.”
“Yes, your problem. Jareth, I returned to the cabin on Monday.” Samuel stood up from his seat and picked up a pack of cigarettes though he didn’t open them. “Funny thing. The meter was off the dial.” He waved the pack at the small machine on his desk, the machine they used to register paranormal activity. Spiritual residue. Evidence of ghosts being around. Evidence, in the cabin, of Chance.
Specter felt like he was going to vomit. “Oh. I didn’t realize that place was haunted.”
“I also went over your jeep the other day. Surprise, surprise…” Samuel moved over so he was a couple inches from Specter. “Off the meter. I wonder what would happen if I went to your house.”
Specter tried not to lose it. “I have anti-ghost barriers. You’d find nothing.”
“Oh. Well, I’ve never been to that silly apartment of yours. Perhaps I should come visit Sunday?” He leaned back and tapped the machine. “What would this really tell me, Jareth? Hmmm?”
“It would be at zero,” Specter said, wondering how many cans of anti-spiritual residue it would take to clear the place. “Why?”
Smack! Specter stumbled as Samuel had backhanded him. Hard. He sucked in air and then hissed lightly. “Stop fucking around, you little piece of shit,” Samuel snarled and grabbed Specter by the shoulder, pushing him until he hit the bookshelf. A few books fell off, one of them hitting Specter in the head. “Why the HELL have you been doing research into ghost psychology? Hmm?” He shook Specter, slamming him against the shelves again. “And the Danevbie family?”
“You’ve been on my computer,” Specter said a bit lamely.
Samuel just laughed. “YOUR computer? My dear boy, that computer is the property of EGHB. My computer. And I see everything that goes on.”
“You’re spying on the computers?”
“Of course I am, how else am I supposed to make sure my employees are as loyal as they say they are? Like one little ghost hunter… going soft?” He slammed Specter back and this time a book hit his shoulder rather hard. “Fake e-mails to spiritualists? All those forum questions and searches, about ghosts’ memories? Ghosts don’t have memories, they are memories. You know that. Or I thought you did. And what is up about the searches into the Danevbie family?”
“I don’t know what you’re–“
“DON’T PLAY GAMES WITH ME!” Samuel roared, yanking Specter off the shelves and throwing him to the floor. Specter slid a bit, trying not to cry out in pain. He propped himself up on his elbows, staring up at Samuel. “Why the Danevbie family?”
“Why? Who are they to you?”
“TELL ME!” Samuel demanded.
Specter shakily got to his feet. “A ghost…”
“A ghost,” Specter repeated. “That’s all. The ghost seemed off. So I was doing–” But he didn’t finish since Samuel backhanded him again.
“Who? What was its name? Male or female? Tell me!”
Specter rubbed his cheek. “They weren’t solid enough for me to tell,” he said, eyes narrowed. “Why?”
“I’m just curious to know why you’re doing all this,” Samuel said with a snort. “I just assumed… Ah. But am I wrong? Maybe you’re just… researching the enemy.”
“Spiritualists. Those idiots who insist ghosts have feelings.” Samuel grabbed the cigarette box again and this time he took one out, lighting it up. “What’s your opinion?”
“Ghosts are nothing,” he said, trying to sound like he meant it. He did mean it, really. Sort of. Possibly. “They don’t have feelings.”
“Really?” A puff of smoke blew into Specter’s face. “Or were you meeting a ghost at the cabin? Or hiding one at your house? I’m just concerned about you, Jareth.”
I can tell, Specter thought angrily, still rubbing the sore spot on his cheek. “Don’t worry. I’m still your number one ghost hunter.”
“Good.” Another puff of smoke and his time Specter couldn’t stop himself from coughing. “You better be. And there better not be something else. Because if there is, Jareth? If there is something more… something to do with what I suspect?” He leaned in close and this time the smoke came out slowly, slightly obscuring Samuel’s face except for his eyes. “You’ll be the next ghost for my employees to hunt.” He reached out and flicked the cig, a few ashes falling on Specter’s shoulder. “Message received?”
Specter slowly breathed in and out. “Yes, sir,” he replied very hoarsely.
“Good. You can go. No–wait, one more thing,” he added when Specter got to the door. “You stop looking into the Danevbie family, all right?”
“Do you know them, sir?”
He grit his teeth, then very slowly nodded. “Yes, sir.” He put his hand on the doorknob then frowned, remembering something. “Samuel…?”
He looked over his shoulder. “Wasn’t there a Danevbie who worked in the labs or something? Or went to the labs?”
“The Roods,” Specter reminded him, rather surprised Samuel was confused about that.
Samuel’s face was stony as ashes from his cigarette fell onto his desk, just missing the ashtray. “Nope. You must be imagining things. Go home. Get some sleep. You have a lot of work to do tomorrow.”
Specter frowned then shrugged, figuring he was remembering wrong. It had been a long time ago and it didn’t even matter, did it? There was a lot more to what just happened then a vague (and probably wrong) memory. His body was hurting from being thrown around, and his nerves were frayed. As he went home, he grew angrier and angrier. He knew he shouldn’t let his temper get to this but he couldn’t help it. He was mad about Samuel, he was mad at himself for letting Samuel push him around. He just kept getting madder and madder until he got home in a seriously bad temper, and made pretty much the biggest mistake of his entire life.
I zipped around the house, too keyed up to sit still. Things had been getting just a bit better for me. The fog hadn’t been destroying everything in my brain or making me feel sick and stuff because… well, tonight was going to be the night. THE night. I was going to confront Specter about love. If he loved me. I was going to tell him and ask him straightforwardness and find out. He would tell me the truth and everything would be wonderful. Er, I hoped. Cause he did love me.
I heard the jeep pull up and I sat on the counters, waiting. My legs were crossed and one foot was jiggling. The door opened and shut and I bounced up. “You’re home!” I dashed over and kissed him hard. “Okay, about last night–and today–er, well, okay. So… what I wanted to talk to you about… uh are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he growled. “Why?”
“Your cheek is bruised…” I reached up up he pulled his head away. “Rough day at work?”
“What did you want to talk about?” he asked rather harshly.
I frowned, suddenly not sure if I should continue the conversation. “Nothing, it can wait.”
“No, what is it? Just–just spit it out. Obviously it’s something bothering you.”
I fidgeted, my fingers locking together as I watched Specter. “Specter… I love you.”
I twisted my hands together, quivering with fear. Part of me knew now was not the best time for it, but part of me knew I would never again get the courage. “Do you love me?” My voice was small and I wasn’t even sure if he heard me.
But now he was staring at me like I had asked the most out-there question in the world. I gave him a rather desperate look but all he said was, “What?”
“D-do you love me?” I asked again, the words just barely getting out of my mouth.
“Is this what you wanted to talk to me about?”
“Well…. yeah…” I twisted my hands so much they went through one another. “Specter. I love you. I–I’ve loved you for a long time. And… I just… if you feel the same… I need to hear it. If you don’t, that’s–that’s fine. Nothing needs to change. But if you do… please… just this once… just… once.”
I thought he might. I really, truly thought he might. Stupidly, blindly, horribly thought he might. But he was completely silent. Sickeningly… silent. My heart began breaking, even more than it once did. The fog began eating away at my insides.
“Watcher, Chance. I thought we’ve talked about this.” Oh. No. No, no, no, please no, no. “Remember? I said–and–and I really am not in the mood to talk about this now.”
“Benefits,” I forced out.
“Benefits,” he growled. “Physical–stuff–it’s just–Watcher, now really… I can’t. Not right now, I can’t talk about it.”
“So you don’t,” I said stiffly.
He blinked slowly, once. “Chance–I said I don’t want to talk about this right now.”
I grabbed his arm, the world spinning around me. “You said you wanted to–last night–“
“I didn’t realize you were going to talk about this!”
“What, love? My feelings for you?”
“Yes! Damn it, Chance, I just can’t right now. Just–not right now.”
“When?” Suddenly rage filled me, out of no where. “Tomorrow? The next day? Or never? That’s all this is to you, just… physical… no. Just sex? Is that all I am to you?”
“What?! No–I never said that.”
“Friends with benefits–that’s all I am–and you just–you can’t even–“
“Chance, STOP! Why can’t everyone just leave me alone right now!” He yanked his arm from my hold and fell towards the door. “I’m going for drive to–to clear my head. And when I get back, I really don’t want to talk about this. Maybe tomorrow. But not tonight. Today’s been horrible and I just can’t. Okay? Okay?!” he repeated when I didn’t answer.
I folded my arms and nodded. “Okay.”
He turned to the door then turned back. “Chance, we will talk about this tomorrow. I think we–we should.”
He frowned then kissed my forehead. I didn’t stop him. I also didn’t stop him when he went to the door and left. I just stood motionless until after I heard the jeep start up. Then I slowly unfolded my limbs and went to the door. The jeep drove off into the darkness, and I made a decision. In that shattered-heart-falling-into-a-void moment, I made a decision.
Everything was too much for me. All my lost memories, the fog which was back and worse than before, and now this.
Physical, friends with benefits. He didn’t love me.
I was just imagining it all.
I couldn’t deal with this, and I didn’t have to. Something down inside of me, a bitter little dark spot inside of me began controlling me.
So I went over to one of the drawers and rifled through until I found what I wanted: an envelope, with an address. I stared at it for a full minute, repeating the address in my head over and over until it stuck. Then I closed the drawer, turned invisible, and went out the door. I did consider leaving a note but what did it matter?
He didn’t love me.
He wouldn’t care if I was gone.
He wouldn’t care if I was dead.
Which was where I planned to be. The Nether.
I remained invisible, drifting along the road towards town. I had been fighting it for so long, my entire life. That little pull towards the Nether. It had never been stronger. I was too weak, too tired to fight it. I was a ghost after all, I was dead already. I shouldn’t even be in the land of the living. The only thought in my head was the Nether. Maybe that was what the fog in my head was. Maybe it wasn’t. I didn’t really know.
I didn’t really care.
I had probably just imagined my entire childhood. Or maybe I didn’t. Did that even matter? Even if I didn’t, then I still couldn’t go back. I would just be a burden to them, some… memory… of whatever I was… whoever I was. Chance Danevbie, or someone else.
I rubbed the tears from my eyes. Specter didn’t love me. I was just imagining it, hoping for it. Hoping for something that wouldn’t happen. Imagining what I wanted…
Maybe that’s what I did.
Imagine what I wanted. Maybe that was the truth, I just imagined things. Like my childhood. Specter’s feelings for me.
Well, in any case. It didn’t matter. Not anymore. Because I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t deal with another minute of this… hell. These feelings that would never be felt back, these memories that only sometimes surfaced and probably didn’t exist–this life that wasn’t a life. This death, which wasn’t a death.
No. No more.
I went into town, glancing at street signs. I had no idea how to get to where I needed to go but I was sure I’d eventually find it. It just might take a while. Hopefully not too long since it was hurting so much to be like this. The last time I hurt this much was because of a guy, at least if my memory was working right it was…. but I couldn’t trust my memory, now could I?
I repeated the address in my head, looking at the street signs. Looking. Searching. Needing. Wanting. Not a single part of me even questioning whether this was the right thing to do or not.
Ah. There was the street sign. It had taken me a couple hours and going into daylight but I found it. EGHB. I looked up at the glass windows. This was where he worked. Where the ghost hunters worked. Where I would find a way to go to the Nether.
Maybe in the Nether I could find answers, I thought. Maybe I could find out who the real me was. Chance Danevbie? Or someone else?
I drifted through the walls, surprised I was able to. It wasn’t protected like Specter’s house had been? Interesting. I went in and found myself in a small cafeteria. A few people were eating, but it was mostly empty. I looked at them all, wondering which one would kill me. But I didn’t like the look of any of them so I drifted out into the hall. There were some security guards and–
He was going through an archway that glowed slightly. I watched as he kept walking purposely towards some shiny doors. Frowning, I followed. Samuel, the head of the ghost hunting business. Samuel, the one who ‘fueled’ Specter’s fire for killing ghosts. I hated him, in that moment. I hated him so much. If he hadn’t pushed Specter so much into hating ghosts maybe he would have actually liked me. Maybe he would have said ‘I do love you’ when I asked him.
Glowering, I followed Samuel into the tiny room which I realized was an elevator. Samuel stared blankly ahead as we went up a couple of floors. I folded my arms and glared at him the entire time. Maybe I would hurt him. Revenge? Is that what I wanted? No. It wouldn’t change anything, and it would just hurt Specter–even if they didn’t get along, it would hurt Specter. Watcher, a ghost killed his parents, what would happen to him if a ghost hurt his adopted father?
We got off the elevator and went into a big office. He shut the door and went over to a desk, fumbling for a pack of what I realized were cigarettes. I just watched him, wondering what to do. Then I realized–he’d be the perfect person to kill me, and he would. Specter had said he would before I could blink.
No more foggy, lying memories (or real memories, if that’s what they were). No more being hurt. No more anything but being where I belonged… and answers.
I went visible. “Hello.”
Samuel looked up, seeming only mildly surprised. “I thought I was being followed,” he said, lighting up the cigarette. He sounded creepily friendly. “Hello.”
Hmm. I blinked, and was still here. “You’re, uh, Samuel Everett. In charge of this place.”
“I am. And you are…?”
“I dunno,” I said honestly. “I think my name is Chance. Aren’t you going to kill me?”
“Do you want to be killed?” he asked, eyes going wider in surprise as he inhaled the smoke from his cigarette. I crinkled my nose at the weird smell. “Hmm?”
“I, uh… yeah. I want to go to the Nether.”
“Can you smell this?” he asked, lifting the cigarette. “It’s just you got this look on your face when the smoke came closer to you.”
“Yeah, I can smell it. Why?”
He raised his eyebrows then reached over, picking a book up off his desk and tossing it towards me. I gasped a bit as I caught it, wondering what was going on. “You can hold that?” he asked.
“Y-yeah… um…” I offered the book and he took it, his fingers brushing against mine. “So, uh, are you going to… kill me?”
“Yes. Of course. Come with me.” He went over to the bookcase on one of the walls and pulled out two of the books out. He reached up into the case and I heard a grinding sound. He smiled as he replaced the books and stepped back. My jaw dropped when the case slid open. A secret door! To what? He was crooking his finger to indicate me to follow him, so I did, going through the weird door and down a short hallway. There was another door which he opened without any weird way…
“Wow!” I said, looking around the room. No windows and lots of science-y looking stuff. “Wow,” I said again.
“Welcome to the lifeblood of EGHB,” Samuel laughed, shutting the door behind him. “All this machinery has given to all our items. All our guns, goggles, devices–big and small.” He ran a finger over a metal table with straps on it. “The real research happens here.”
“I see,” I said, though I didn’t.
“Are you going to kill me?”
“You’re anxious for death,” Samuel said, dropping his cigarette and crushing it with his shoe. “That’s never happened before.”
“I thought you aren’t supposed to smoke in buildings and places like this,” I said. “I saw it on TV.”
“You can’t believe everything you see on TV,” he said with a sly smile. “Also, since I’m the only person who comes in here, I can do whatever I want. Step into this thing, please.” He opened the door to a small area sectioned off by glass.
“Is that what will kill me?” I asked.
“Mm,” he replied in a manner that just reminded me of Specter. My stomach twisted and anger filled me. The hurt, the fog, it consumed me so much that I couldn’t. So I stepped into the glass area and turned to look at Samuel. He shut the glass door and typed in a code onto something on the wall. A beeping sound, a hissy sound, and then nothing. No death. I was still here?
“Are you going to now?” I asked, since nothing happened.
“You’re an idiot, aren’t you?”
I whimpered at that and stepped back, my elbow bumping against the glass. I went non-solid and tried to slide backwards through the glass but when I did that there was this jolting feeling and I was flung forward, and would have hit the floor but I banged into the glass door and was hit by another jolt. I collapsed down, unable to move. It was the stuff Specter had in his walls and windows before…
“You are an idiot,” Samuel laughed. “And now you’re also my prisoner.”
“P–prisoner?” I managed to gasp out once I was able to move again.
He was going towards the exit and gave me a wide, creepy smile. “Oh yes. You can make yourself invisible and visible at will? Smell things, catch things… you’re not the average ghost, are you? No. And I intend on finding out just what you are.”
Stupid… stupid… stupid… “You’re g-going to experiment…?” I croaked.
Samuel turned off the lights, the only light now coming through the door which was open again. His laughter filled the room. “Just when I thought my research was at a… dead-end, too! Sleep tight, my little lab rat.”
The door closed, and I was left in complete darkness.