The next few hours were a blur. I think the power came on about thirty minutes after Paul... left, and I must have called 911, because the paramedics got there at lightening
speed. I didn't sleep at all. In fact, I think I just paced around the lobby until everyone else got there.
My memory is even worse after that. I remember holding a sobbing Annie, and Kumar trying to comfort the both of us without much success, but other then that it just jumps right to the funeral, which was held the day after.
The bulk of the storm had long since past, but a light rain still fell persistently on the white flowers and black umbrellas clutched tightly in the hands of mourners. The grass was as green as it had been at the picnic, though when I observed this I felt a pang of sadness. How happy Paul had been, how delighted his audience as he addressed his thanks. Now, I was beginning to believe it was us who should have been thanking him.
I could see the long black box in front of the crowd. I couldn't count the number of people, but it didn't matter. Paul was a legend; of course he was going to have more then a few visitors. What concerned me the most was that I hadn't shed a single tear. Not one. Was I some kind of emotionless dick head? This thought only made me feel worse, and still my eyes yielded nothing.
Annie was standing off to the right of me, Dawson holding her in much the same way I had. I was glad. If anyone deserved to feel better, it was Annie. She was looking at the ground and shivering slightly. Her hair had grown much longer since I'd first met her, and though it was soaked it still added that extra touch of plain, sad beauty.
I was wearing a black tux, one I had bought with money I'd saved from The Lab's 'paychecks', and there were dark circles under my eyes. My hair desperately needed a trim, and I hadn't shaved. More than a few people casted me a second glance, either because of my appearance or my status. I didn't care. They could think what they wanted.
A woman was speaking at the front, but their words fell empty upon my ears. Someone else had set up a memorial table behind me, one with pictures of a younger Paul and vases with flowers that made it even more depressing. I couldn't look at those pictures for more than a few seconds without feeling sick. Why the hell did he have to look so much like me?
"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen." The person speaking said solemnly before stepping back as they prepared to lower the coffin. Tears mixed with rain among the spectators. I remembered looking into it when it was open, how much like a wax doll Moore had looked, how unreal.
Someone was screaming. I frowned in annoyance. Who the hell screams at a funeral?
Then the vase beside me exploded. Someone was yelling "he's got a gun!" and someone else was speaking bible verses. The bible sayer was in the crowd ahead of me. I hadn't even noticed him before, and I barely registered the pistol he was aiming at me. I couldn't quite catch what he was saying, but I'm pretty sure he'd associated me with Satan.
"Die, heathen!" Was the last word he got out before being tackled by several other people, including, oddly enough, Dawson.
"That's enough outta you." Annie's fiance spat before dealing the man a blow to the face much like the one he had given me.
The man was dragged off before he could do much else, his gun laying discarded in the grass. I stood there, stareing at the gun like I couldn't believe what had just happened. Someone, Annie, was talking to me, her hand on my shoulder, but I was no longer there.
I was in space again. Floating, floating, floating.
Wake up. Paul's gone, nothing you can do about it. Stop acting like a zombie and get back in there. You almost got yourself killed.
You changed it, didn't you? You made the bullet miss. Why shouldn't I have just stood there? You probably would have dropped a safe on his head if that's what it took.
Sure, fine. But don't get so cocky my friend. I can move the bullet, but I sure as hell can't stop the pain. Now, how about you get the fuck over your little depression there and say something? People are stareing.
Then I was back again. People were stareing indeed. Now Annie, Dawson and Kumar were all talking to me, trying to get a response.
"I'm alright." I said at last, my words slurred as if I were drunk. There were a few sighs of relief, and the crowd slowly began to direct their attention to the hole in the ground that was now slowly being filled in.
"Are you sure? You looked like you blanked out there for a second." Kumar frowned.
I shook my head. "Really, I'm fine. Just a little shaken, that's all." I attempted to smile, though my efforts were wasted on Annie.
"Come on." She said with a grimace. "We're taking you home before something else happens." Dawson scoffed but didn't argue. Neither did I.
"Hold it." We were stopped, however, by none other than Robert Harrington. His face held the same, stern look it always did, with little pity and certainly no sympathy. "Can't leave just yet."
"And why not?" Annie, defiant and annoyed, returned his gaze.
"That man wasn't just anyone. Bob Lane. He used to work for us. Lost his mind awhile back and disappeared. This is the first time anyone's seen him in years." He looked back at me. "You look terrible." Harrington turned away from us, either not noticing or not caring about Annie mocking him by mouthing his words behind his back.
"I can't stand him. No humor whatsoever!" She snorted. Kumar raised his eyebrow and said nothing.
I couldn't stop thinking about what he'd said as we climbed into Dawson's black mustang. Annie, sitting shotgun, went on to talk about all the reasons she disliked Harrington while her fiance nodded his head occasionally. Kumar fell asleep within a few seconds. Figuratively, I was alone.
A man who used to work for The Lab had tried to kill me. Mr. H. said he was crazy, and that was probably true, but I couldn't shake the bad feeling that there was much more to it. Thinking about Bob Lane also began to make me see that I was almost a completely different person back at the funeral. Sure, I'd just lost someone close to me, but when Bob had shown up and a person screamed I was annoyed rather than concerned. I hadn't even cared that I was within a few feet from death. I'd already known the Megaleioths was at play, and not even that fazed me.
I shivered quietly. I was beginning to sound like one of those stone-cold cops from movies that didn't give a fish and killed anyone in their way. The fact that we'd left the funeral early didn't help much either. I sighed, already feeling a headache forming above my eyes, and looked out the window.
Apparently, I picked a lot of the right moments to look out windows, because this time, instead of Dawson smashing a perfectly good phone, I saw Gary. He was walking fast, looking over his shoulder and wearing clothes that were more like rags. He looked worried, as well as paranoid. What could have been chasing him? This question remained floating in my pounding head as we passed him.
I had a dream about him. The thought was as casual as if it had been 'I want a cheeseburger'. Sure, I remembered the dream, but it had seemed so unimportant compared to, oh, I don't know, Paul dieing.
Now, however, I wondered whether it was trying to tell me something. It was probably just a dumb dream, I mean, I'd never actually seen my sister die, but lately nothing really made that much sense.
We pulled up next to The Lab, and I got out with a yawning Kumar. Annie stepped out too, but only to tell us she and Dawson had 'things to do'. The brown haired man was on his phone (a new one, I assumed), and he didn't look pleased. They drove away and left the two of us in the freezing rain.
"You stayin'?" I asked my friend as he swayed a little on his feet.
"Nah. Sorry but, I think I drank a little too much." He yawned again.
"There was beer?"
"Well, why didn't you ask Annie and her pal to take you home?"
"Didn't want to inconvenience them."
I sighed. “Well, you’re not leaving unless you plan on taking a cab.”
“I’m tired.” He complained.
“Then you can sleep in one of the rooms for all I care.” I didn’t want to sound mean, but I’d been hoping for some time alone. I got that time, however, after Kumar went ahead and fell asleep on my couch.
I looked down at him, a little annoyed. I shook my head, scattering tiny rain drops across the room, and, suddenly, I realized I wanted to go to Paul’s office. This wasn’t actually my idea of course; the Megaleioths was playing with me again.
“Fine.” I said aloud. “Have it your way.”
You know I will.
The elevator music had returned, but it did little to lift my spirits. For the love of god, Paul was [i]dead[/i]! This is what my thoughts were always coming back to, and what they would be coming back to for the next week or so. My skin crawled with dread as I walked down the hall and through the door of Paul’s, I mean, [i]my[/i] office.
The lamp had been replaced, but it was off, and the shadows of the room seemed to stretch towards me. I looked towards the chair the old man used to occupy, and decided to have it thrown out before I even considered taking over the wooden desk. I sat instead in the chair I usually did, the one that wasn’t all that comfortable, but not too bad either.
“Alright, what is it? What do you want?” I couldn’t hide the anger in my voice. Moore had been sick and his fate all too obvious in general, but the moment I’d appeared, the Megaleioths had sped it up.
To talk. And to clear some things up. First of all, Paul’s death is as much my fault as it is yours. Second, try not to be an idiot all the time. It’s not good for business. And third, you better listen to every word I say. Because I will make you pay, and you will regret it.
“I don’t care if you make me stab myself in the eye! If I don’t give a shit about what you have to say, I won’t listen.” I could feel the air in my lungs thicken, and tension felt as abundant as helium. The red walls of the room appeared to almost glow, the colors popping out at me at strange intensities. Either it was playing with me again, or I’d touched the right nerve, because the Megaleioths seemed to be getting more pissed by the second.
Then, everything quieted again, and I could feel an invisible sneer watching me. Okay tough guy. You can find out the hard way. It paused, as if deep in thought. You know, Paul never really tried to defy me. Maybe you guys aren’t that alike after all.
“Will you stop talking about Paul?” I muttered, glaring at nothing.
Sure. Let’s talk about you. I groaned. You get a little angry sometimes, don’t you? A little pissed every now and then?
“What’s it to you?”
Everything. Because, Toddy, we’re going to be spending the rest of your life together. Kinda like marriage, but with only a few benefits towards you. Sorry about that.
“I think I want a divorce.”
Nice try. Anyways, you don’t seem like a very social guy, but you get along just fine with Annie and whoever that other guy is. Why is that?
“His name is Kumar, and I like them. Not much else to it.”
Same way you liked Gary? Oh wait, I forgot.
Nope. Do you like video games? I like video games. You should play some. I wanna watch.
“You sound like a kid.”
You sound like your mom. Hey Toddles, we should go check out the Animal Research section. There’s glowing kittens down there.
I raised an eyebrow. “Uh… You sure you’re the spirit thing Paul’s been talking about?”
Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be?
“I’d have thought you’d be more… threatening.”
What are you talking about?! I’m plenty threatening! I could kill you right now if I really wanted to.
I stood up. “Then what’s all this crap about kittens and video games?”
I happen to like kittens and video games. Kittens are fuzzy. And sometimes they glow. How can you not like them?
The situation had changed drastically. One minute, both the Megaleioths and I were angry, then, we were talking about baby cats. I wasn’t entirely sure how to handle the conversation at that point.
“If that’s all you called me up here for, then I’m leaving.”
Wait! ...um… Oh! I know! We should do some business-y stuff.
I highly doubted the Megaleioths would know what it was doing when it came to whatever ‘business’ it was talking about, but it turned out it was smarter than I thought. A lot smarter. It drove me down to one of the laptops on a lower floor and, before I knew it, I was paying off some of The Lab’s dept and ordering materials for some project labeled #2487368H. Whatever it was, it sure needed a lot of carrots.
I had absolutely no clue how to do any of the things I did, and it felt almost relieving to know I was being guided by a spirit that had probably been doing this since before cars were even thought of. When I was done doing those things, I called up a man apparently named Ralph Ruiz and told him I needed 600 pounds of bees wax. He agreed to have it sent over by Monday (I couldn’t even remember what day it was) and said he’d pray for Paul’s spirit. I thanked him and hung up.
The last ‘business’ thing I did was give a woman named Carla Greene a raise. She was one of the engineers, and looked like she’d lived with the dinosaurs.
“What for?” I asked, curious.
She’s been working her ass off all week.
“Didn’t know you had a heart.”
I just don’t want her to retire yet. That, and if she gets injured hopefully she wont sue us.
“That’s what I thought.”
I got up, and my body realized I’d been sitting in the same position for about two hours or so. My back and knees popped like firecrackers. My hands felt like dead weights, and I almost couldn’t turn my head all the way. Damn, it’d only felt like a few minutes!
Let’s go walk in the park. I like the park.
So I went to the park. And I walked. And we talked.
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