Grazing the Sky

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 10 (v.1) - Erased, Part II

Submitted: November 07, 2019

Reads: 72

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Submitted: November 07, 2019

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Cal glanced to him again. "Can I help you with something or are you just gonna keep standing there?"

Lance tried to speak, tried to say no to the question. But he couldn't look away from the flyer.

Cal leaned away from the paper he was putting up, letting it hang by two pieces of tape. He handed Lance a flyer from the stack, the action rough. "Look, do you want one of these or not, pal? Sorta losing my patience here."

Lance took the piece of light grey paper, trying to focus on stopping his hands from shaking. He looked down at it, already knowing exactly what it said. This flyer was something he'd once helped design. Except now it was just requesting one person instead of two; just a guitarist. Vocal talent preferred.

"You guys even used the same wording..." Lance breathed.

"Huh?" Cal looked to him. "What the hell are you talkin' about?" He turned back to the flyer, making sure it was smooth against the window before putting another piece of tape on one bottom corner.

"We needed a clean vocalist," Lance began. "Someone to balance out my screaming, but we also weren't totally sure what sound we wanted to go for. So we just used the term 'vocal talent preferred.'" Lance shook his head at the memory, trying to fight back the details, but his mind wouldn't stop. His chest hurt; every detail his mind recollected just pierced another needle into him. "And that's how we met Trent. And Danny tagged along with him."

"Wait a minute, what?"

Lance looked up, seeing Cal's wide eyes and feeling his inside begin to collapse.

"Cal..." Lance began, trying to keep his chest from caving. "Tell me you know who I am..."

Cal searched his face for only a second. "Sorry, man," he said. "I got no idea who you are."

Lance fought back the pressure welling against his eyes. This wasn't happening... His words came out in a panicked gasp.

"Call Danny," he said. "Call Trent. Hell, call Cassie. They—they know me. They have to know me..."

He felt the words sting as they fell from his tongue, burning as they left because he knew he was lying. If Cal didn't remember him... If his own mother had forgotten...

Cal was already pulling out his phone. He kept his stare on Lance, only glancing down to call the right number. He raised the phone to his ear, and then as if thinking better of it, brought it away from himself, quickly putting the phone on speaker and holding it between them.

The dial tone was loud, and Lance felt the vibration of it in his chest. He focused on breathing, focusing on not feeling the pressure of Cal's stare. He just stared down at the goofy contact picture of a girl he had grown up with.

Cassie answered the phone, and Lance felt his heart skip a beat at the sound of her voice.

"Yeah, hey, Cass," Cal began. "I've got some weird guy here saying he knows you?"

"Uhhh, okay." There was a grin in Cassie's voice; she was unsure where this was going. "I just might; what's his name?"

Cal motioned to Lance with the phone. The words were hard to say, and Lance just focused on breathing as he spoke them. Closing his eyes, trying to escape this entire situation. Trying to find something in his life that still made sense.

That glimmer of light came back to him, Zooka's name accompanying it.

Lance gritted his teeth, feeling the structure of his heart begin to waver and try to collapse.

"Um..." Cassie was still thinking, but Lance knew she was prolonging as a fucking joke. "Uhhh... Well..."

Her loud hum faded into something of a croaking groan, and then silence. She laughed, and Lance opened his eyes to the sight of Cal grinning wide.

"Yeah, I got no fucking clue who that is, Cal," she said. "Never met a Lance in my life."

"Really?" Cal asked, meeting Lance's eyes from the phone between them. The grin on his face widened.

Lance looked down and closed his eyes again, shutting them tight. He decided he never really liked Cassie, anyway.

"Call Trent," he said, forcing the words out of his closing throat. "Call him."

"Uh, no," Cal replied. He turned back to the phone, raising it closer to him, his eyes still grinning at Lance. "I'll talk to you later, Cassie."

"Wait-wait-wait." She stopped his thumb from ending the call. "This actually sounds interesting. I'm on break so I got a few minutes to spare. You said this guy just walked up to you?"

"Yeah, came out of the alleyway."

"What. The hell." More laughter. "Oh my God, that's so crazy! Is he homeless?"

"No clue. Weird as hell, though." Cal shook his head. "I gotta get going; there's too many flyers I need to litter the town with. I'll talk to you later, Cass."

"Yeah, sure. Talk to you laters." She drew out the last syllable, hissing it until Cal ended the call.

He pocketed the phone. "So did that answer your question? You still think we're friends or some shit?"

Lance couldn't respond. He only stared at the ground, looking at the spot beside them where the music shop's wall met the sidewalk.

"Yeah, okay." Cal started away, his feet stopping the quick turnaround as he motioned to the flyer in Lance's hand. "I'd take that back, but it seems like you already know who we are. If you're a groupie, then cool. Just lay off the crazy drugs, okay?"

Lance listened to the sound of Cal's footsteps leading him away. He raised his head, barely focusing on the back of that stupid head of messy blonde hair.

"You got a scar on your left leg."

Cal stopped walking.

He turned around slowly, wide eyes staring into Lance's again.

"How... How do you know that?"

Lance felt a grin quiver onto his face; a hope that maybe, just maybe this would be enough to trigger something. Some memory of him.

"We ditched class in middle school," Lance said, trying to keep his voice stable. "We started climbing the fence, but the links were busted. I mean like really broken up towards the top,"—He swallowed, trying to keep himself from collapsing, trying to find some stability—"so when we got caught by some teacher, we cut ourselves up." He started laughing, taken by the memory. "Y-you were like, 'I guess that thing liked me so much it wanted to be inside me' and I made a 'that's what she said' joke."

Lance felt his eyes watering, the smile still on his face as he focused on Cal again.

"Remember?"

Cal avoided his gaze. He was staring on the ground, thinking hard. Lance held his breath, watching his friend's stare rise to meet his.

"I did that on my own," Cal said.

His movements became quick, panicked as he trapped the stack of flyers in between his arm and his side. His free hand dug into his back pocket, and Lance felt his breath leave him at the sight of the white carton.

"No..." He looked to Cal, watching him pull out a cigarette. "Cal... Tell me..." The tears came back, pushing against the rim of his eyes. "Tell me you didn't go back."

A grin shot onto Cal's mouth, body remaining hunched over, hand cupping the flame of his lighter. The fire caught onto the cigarette, allowing Cal to straighten and flip the lighter closed.

He took the cigarette out, smoke puffing out of his mouth. "I never fucking quit, man."

Lance stared at his face, finally realizing how hollow and tired his eyes looked. He focused on breathing, trying not to collapse as he spoke.

"Jesus, Cal... What else did you go back to?" The tears welled up again but Lance forced them away, converting the feeling to anger that growled through clenched teeth. "What about your sister? What about your mom?"

Cal quickly raised an eyebrow, and Lance knew exactly what was going through his brain: how did this freak know about any of that?

Lance watched him step away, withdrawing the cigarette and pointing it at him. A long trail of smoke came out of his mouth as he said, "Don't fucking let me see you again. I'll beat the shit out of you, got it?"

"Cal..." He couldn't be serious...

"Got it?"

Lance held the pressure of his reply against his mouth, focusing on breathing and not breaking down. The one thought that still held onto this all being some giant joke shattered when Cal yelled, barking the question again.

"Yes!" Lance answered, nearly screaming the word. "Yeah, I fuckin' got it!"

He was glaring, trying to convert that desperation into something other than this horrible sadness. But this was an anger Cal was eager to match; he straightened, tilting his chin up as his expression matched Lance's glare.

Lance kept breathing, kept focusing on that anger like it would somehow solve everything.

Just wake me up, he thought, speaking to whatever higher force was possibly out there. Just let this be another dream.

Cal turned around, taking a quick drag that was exhaled as a tight ring of smoke.

"Good," he replied finally.

The air Lance had been focusing on moving in and out of his lungs disappeared. He watched, staring at Cal's legs, remembering the scar that was formed on one of them and feeling his mind begin to crack. His hands moved to his hair, fingers threading through and palms pressing against his head. He closed his eyes, body hunching forward as he struggled to breathe through clenched teeth. Tears were forming, and Lance focused on pushing them down. His body began shaking in response, trembling everything except his hands and the feet still placing him on the sidewalk. The same sidewalk Cal was using to walk away from him.

He doesn't remember me, Lance thought, forcing another breath in, his lungs shaking from the weight. Nobody... No one does...

Why can't I wake up?

He knew why he was denying reality so heavily, why he was grasping at a weak form of control.

Because without this, what did he have?

Nothing...

No one...

"Please..." The word cracked as it fell from his mouth. He squeezed his eyes shut a little tighter, his body bowed inwards a little bit more. "Please just let this be a dream..."

He continued to stand. He continued to shake, feeling a sudden breeze against the skin his hoodie didn't cover. The one his mom had told him to wear. Lance felt himself break a little bit further.

Fire whipped out from the ground beside him. He didn't move, knowing who it was. The flames died down, spiraling and casting another burst of warmth towards Lance, who tried to block the feeling out. Everyone, absolutely everyone, had forgotten about him... And the only person who knew he existed was this guy?

I have to be crazy.

Zooka's glowing light came back; Lance felt like screaming.

Sensing something was happening in front of him, Lance looked up, opening tired eyes. His lids stung as they parted, revealing the sight of Cal standing a few feet away. Hope, pure sweet hope, kick started Lance's heart again, but something was different about his best friend; he wasn't blinking. Or moving.

Zidane reached out a hand, touching the center of Cal's forehead. Withdrawing a wisp that looked similar to the one that came out of Lisa's head. Lance closed his eyes, finding himself nauseous for the second time.

"Why?" he asked. "Why is it like that?"

His brain scoffed at the question; this couldn't be real. This couldn't actually be what was happening. He was in some hospital, completely doped up out of his mind. Maybe in a room with nice padding.

"You mean why does it look like this?" Zidane returned. Lance tried to focus on the topic. He closed his eyes a bit more.

"Yeah." The word was softer than he wanted it to be. Cracked out of his throat a bit, too.

"Thoughts and mental concepts themselves are a bit... Fluid, I guess you could say. They can't really take on very much of a solid shape, but their ideas—in this case, memories—interlink together, forming what you see here." He paused, enough for him to subtly motion with one hand or maybe even with the strand he was threading thin. "They're pretty tricky to capture in general, too..."

"Why would someone do this?" Lance took a deep breath in. Let it out slowly. Calming the pressure ramming against his forehead. He tried to block out the image of that thing coming out of Cal's forehead.

He focused on Zidane's explanation, focused on the quiet words filling the silence between them.

"Whoever injected you probably didn't want anyone trying to find you, family and friends included. It's possible to do a massive slate, but that's obvious, considering what's happening now. It really just makes everything easier; gets rid of any possible confounding variables."

Lance looked up, focusing on the crossbreed instead of his friend. Those blue eyes met his, Zidane's head turning just a little bit to meet Lance's stare. The color of that blue dropped significantly, becoming a deep navy.

Questions ignited in Lance's brain, but he picked one of them.

"What's a slate?"

Zidane had turned back to the strand, continuing to strip it down to a manageable size as he spoke. "My own term for memory wiping." His head shook, a slight grimace coming to him. "Never really liked that phrase; someone getting 'wiped'. Always thought it was a little bit Freudian."

Lance dismissed the comment with a shake of his head. "So they erased everyone's memory."

"Yeah." Zidane nodded. "But there's a way to get it back."

"But you can't fuckin' do that."

A pause. "I'll do what I can..." The bright strand slipped into his closing hand, disappearing as he turned towards Lance, both hands finding his pockets. Unconsciously, Lance straightened his posture; he didn't realize how tall this guy was. At least six-foot-three.

"But our main priority really should be the cells inside of you," Zidane continued. "There's not a lot we can do if you're gone by the time we restore these memories."

"Cells..." Lance repeated, the word slipping from his mouth in a smiling breath. He closed his eyes, hand clawing through his hair as he looked down. "You're still telling me I'm injected with whatever the fuck tailed-race type of bullshit?"

The littered sentence only served as a moment's worth of comfort; soon, that pain was back. Lance opened his eyes, his hand dragging down to cover the right side of his vision. Blocking the sight of the sidewalk, the view of their shoes. Lance realized this was might be the last time he would see Cal's scuffed up shoes. Tears, holes, and all.

"Spiro cells," Zidane answered calmly.

"Whatever."

"But yeah. That's exactly what I'm saying."

Lance shook his head. He pivoted, beginning to walk in the opposite direction of Zidane and Cal.

"Yeah," he called over his shoulder. "I'm probably gonna pass on that, thanks."

Zidane was suddenly in front of him, eyes nearly black and subtly glaring. Lance stopped walking, feeling the crossbreed's fingertips on his shoulder hold him in place.

"Look," Zidane was saying, "you really don't have any clue how much danger you're in right now. This—"

"So, what?" Lance interrupted, stepping away from his hand. "You really think I'm going to trust some guy that's pulling mental DNA out of people's heads?"

"No," the response was nearly growled; whatever patience this guy had was beginning to wear thin. "I think you're going to trust me because I'm the best chance you have at living."

Lance couldn't find a reply. He swallowed, trying to think back. But his memories were garbled with words and phrases—races, explanations—that didn't make any sense.

"What're you talking about?" he asked, keeping his eyes shut. "You're acting like I'm dying."

"You are," Zidane replied. "Why do you think I'm so persistent about helping you? I'm trying to save your life."

Lance focused on that question, that statement. Put his mind into those words. That part made sense, at least a little bit.

"No..." He stepped back again, shaking his head. "No, this isn't happening."

He expected some sort of response. But he didn't hear anything. Didn't hear a footstep, didn't hear any type of reply. Lance opened his eyes, seeing Zidane still standing there. But he was looking at something past Lance; those eyes wide with something of alarm or fear or maybe both.

Before Lance could completely turn around and follow his stare, his sleeve was grabbed. His back hit the wall of a nearby alleyway, his surroundings teetering for a moment before he suddenly saw people walking by. Lance focused, seeing them look around as if searching for something.

Something in Lance's brain was triggered; the briefest flash of something warm and familiar. He couldn't pinpoint the memory or anything about it; a second later, the crossbreed's voice was inside his head again.

"I need you to sink inside the wall."

What? Lance returned.

"Sink. Into. The wall."

Lance leaned back, feeling the wall give way behind him. He panicked momentarily, about to lean forward again before feeling the back of an arm press against him, gently pushing him further. Lance looked to his side, seeing the bricks slowly move past his head.

"Teleportation." Zidane's voice again. "Discreet enough so they won't notice."

So who won't notice?

The reply never came; Lance suddenly stumbled back, his feet echoing on hardwood floor. He was staring at a wall he hadn't seen in over five years.

 


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