“I cannot leave him.” Read, review, rate and feel my love! :P
Prologue – Up in Flames
I can remember it as though it were yesterday, but then again every day feels like yesterday when you know that you’ll never breathe in the air of a new tomorrow. I can still hear the petrified screams drilling into my ears like daggers, smell the smoke infiltrating my lungs like toxic candyfloss and feel the heat licking at the back of my neck like the hounds of hell coming to claim a new soul. Because they were.
I am, of course, referring to the night that I died.
The funny thing is that I could have lived. I could be living the life I had always planned to; I could be going out to gigs like any other eighteen-year-old; I could be reading comics and watching cartoons like I did when I was still able to turn the pages with my hands or press the buttons of the remote with my fingers. But if I were doing any of that then I would be doing it without Mikey, and a life without my baby brother by my side just isn’t worth living. You see, when I died I did so knowing that it was me or Mikey; that in order for him to live I was going to have to die. I was terrified of dying, just like any other teenager with the rest of their life still left to live would be, but that was easily outweighed by my unbridled fear of having to live a life without Mikey. At least this way I can still watch over him.
My poor little brother hasn’t been the same since the fire, since his entire life got swallowed by hell’s cruel agents of destruction. Not that I’d expect him to be the same, not after losing everyone who ever loved him.
Mikes was the only survivor, the only survivor that would have been me had I not ran back into the flames for him. I had gotten out, had breathed in the clean air of a cold New Jersey night and cleaned my lungs out with it’s crisp freshness, but then I realised that my baby brother, the one person who I gladly would and did die for, was still in our flaming home. So of course I ran back in, ran like my legs were on fire; they most likely were. By the time I was running through the house in search of my most beloved person, my partner in crime and sidekick to my superhero alter ego that only he could bring out, the house was already beyond the point of being saveable; everything was ablaze, like God needed a new hell and decided that my home fit the bill. I had sprinted through the ground floor of the house, hearing the ceiling creak in deterioration overhead, until I found him; trapped by a fallen bookcase and crying so harshly that I just wanted to forget where we were so that I could take the time to dry his tears, take the time tell him that everything was going to be alright, that I love him. But I couldn’t. If I had done then the odds are that we’d both be as dead as I am. I somehow found the strength within my aching muscles to wrench the bookcase from atop my baby brother, his eyes wide and petrified like a headlight-caught rabbit, before pulling his featherweight and drowsy form from the ground.
I’ve got to get him out, he’s already breathed in too much smoke, I’ve got to get him out before it’s too late.
I look down to see that my little brother is about as animated as a corpse, something which he will not be becoming anytime soon. Not if I have anything to do with it.
His face is all torn down one side and I can see blood seeping out from under the soot; seeing him look so helpless and hurt is worse than any nightmare that I could even imagine having. Because this isn’t a nightmare; this is all too real. Everything I’ve grown to love and associate with being loved is burning down around me, flames lapping at my feet like a tidal wave of fire. I can’t let Mikes get burnt any more than he already is, I’ve got to protect the kid that I’ve always promised to keep safe whenever he sneaks into my room in the dead of the night.
So I scoop him up from under my arm to being cradled in the two of them, just like my little baby; my little baby that I’ve got to keep safe.
He groans a little and shifts to hide his face in my t-shirt. Fuck. I can already feel his blood soaking through the thin fabric and onto my skin. Time to get him out of here.
I look frantically for the door, my heartbeat fastening to a speed even quicker than that which the flames are reproducing at, but I can see nothing but black smoke shrouding everything like a vampire’s velvet cloak. Smoke and fire.
Oh god, we’re trapped. We’re going to die and I’m going to go to hell because I didn’t look after my baby brother like I’ve always promised to. Fuck me; Mikey’s too young to die! He’s so smart and inventive; he really does have the potential to make something amazing of himself.
Apart from he never will now because I’ve let him down.
“Gee, I’m scared!” Mikey splutters up at me, voice all dizzy and genuinely frightened. Because he knows that it’s over, that I’ve failed him.
I look down through the smoke to see his innocent, petrified fifteen-year-old face sodden with a lethal mixture of both his heart wrenching tears and soul-bleeding blood. He is not going to die tonight. I won’t allow it.
“Don’t worry, Bro. I’m not gonna let anything happen to you. I promise.”
And with that, using my body to shield Mikey’s, I run through the flame; not caring that I can feel the fire dissolving my skin and tearing out my hair.
I have to get Mikey out, he’s my little brother; I have to protect him.
That was two weeks ago now, myself and my parents were pronounced dead at the scene but Mikes survived with just superficial wounds. Well, the doctors said that they were superficial but I wouldn’t still be here if they were. I could be living it up in the afterlife, or whatever happens when I decide to head into the bright light that’s always at the edge of my vision, but there is no way I am leaving my baby brother behind in the state that he’s in. No fucking way. If I wasn’t already dead, I’d die rather than leave him.
It’s kind of ironic, in a bitterly twisted way, really; I used to love reading ghost stories, trying to spook my little brother with them and seeing how long I myself could last without getting frightened. The whole idea of ghosts used to entertain me, used to just be some trivial thing there for me to mock and find fun in. Now that I am a ghost, for I’m pretty sure that that’s what I would be classed as if there was some sort of omnipotent expert to class me as something, I’m finding it far from entertaining. I miss all of the little things, the little things that nobody ever even thinks about because death always happens to everyone else, never to you.
I miss breathing; the way that all of the air particles flumed effortlessly into my lungs like I was at least in control of something, no matter how insignificant it was. I miss feeling water on my skin; the way the cold splashes of rain would send my senses tingling into action and remind me that I was alive. I miss being able to write; the way that the biro would create black imprints on the pure white paper at the command of my hand. I miss drawing things for Mikey; the way his face would light up like a million-watt light bulb at seeing something that my hands had created just for him. I miss my mom’s cooking; the way it made my taste buds analyse each and every component of that which fuelled my life with both it’s substance and the motherly care put into making it. I miss my dad’s pats-on-the-back; the way his large, strong hand would encase my shoulder and me buzz with a sense of achievement.
What I miss the most of all though is being able to hug my baby brother when he’s upset; the way my arms could just make everything alright for him, if just for a few minutes.
But being dead means that I can’t do any of those things because my body is deceased; the only part of me that can interact with the world is my mind and even that is somewhat limited. Limited but admittedly handy. People can only see me if I want them to, which is great for keeping an eye on my little brother. Although sometimes seeing him hurts me even more than the fire did; he just isn’t coping. Not at all. He was never the most sociable of people, but now it’s like he’s turned to stone and nobody amongst the living can understand why. I do though, I know exactly why he won’t interact with any of the councillors or social workers, why he has withdrawn from all of the people trying to help him; it’s because he’s scared of them leaving him like his own family did.
I know that it may seem irrational, but it really isn’t, not when you think about it. The poor kid has just lost all of the people that he loved and could rely on to love him back, people whose departures from the realms of the living wouldn’t be haunting him metaphorically like I am literally if he hadn’t been so attached to them. So, in the mind of a traumatised fifteen-year-old, it only makes sense for him to protect himself from ever getting hurt like that again by not giving anyone the chance to earn his trust and care. His trust and care was hard enough to earn before the fire, but now it’s like long sought after treasure that all of these social workers are trying to win in order to get some sort of vocational reward. None of them really care about him, only pretend to because that’s what they are paid for, so how can they expect Mikey to trust them when they lie to him from the start?
I haven’t left his side since he got to the hospital, which is where he’s spent the past two weeks, and I’ve never seen anyone look less alive. Because I failed him; I’ve let him die because I didn’t manage to get us both out alive. I failed him and there is no way that I am moving on until I know for a fact that he’s happy, that he has started to trust again and trusts the right sort of people. The sort of people who will take better care of him than I did, the sort of people who’ll never hurt him and will always love him. Like Mom and Dad did.
Mom and Dad… I haven’t seen either of them since the fire; I think that they went into the light the second that their souls left their soot-soaked bodies. I can’t comprehend how they could though, not knowing that Mikes was left all alone in a world too cruel and cold for such a vulnerable soul. A soul that was already dealing with some thick-headed bullies, bullies who were relentless and harsh in their endless parade of malevolence. Because my little brother really is an easy target; he dresses differently from the majority of people, he sees things in a different light to everyone and nobody can ever quite get a grip on what’s going on in his excellent mind. None of which are reasonable justifications for my little brother coming home in tears almost every day. But I could always make it better, I could always convince him that none of what those bastards said to him was true and I could always coax a shy little smile from him.
He hasn’t smiled for two weeks, he’s just lain in his hospital bed with his headphones plugging him into his iPod, which was in Mom’s car at the time of the fire, listening to the songs that I used to find depressing until I saw Mikes under that bookshelf; now they seem positively jolly compared to what I know to be depressing. It’s like he’s trying to drown everything out with those two tiny buds of golden relief, like he thinks that just because he can’t hear himself crying it means that he isn’t. It’s like when we were both little, he used to hide in my bedroom whenever we played hide and seek, thinking that if he had his eye shut that I couldn’t see him just because he couldn’t see me; it’s the same kind of principle, but in two drastically different contexts.
I can remember when I used to go up to his bedroom whenever there was a thunderstorm, knowing that it would be one of the occasions where he was just too petrified to even make it to my room. I’d slide into bed next to him and hold him close; he was the treasure and I was the pirate, I had to protect him from anything that made him so much as falter. He would snuggle into me, eyes moonlike and sparkling with the stars of his tears, sticking his thumb into his mouth in an attempt to stifle his sobs. I would just rub his back, taking indescribable amounts of brotherly pride in doing so, and sing him his favourite lullabies until my love was enough to drown out the storm raging outside. Eventually, I got replaced with headphones whenever he was sad or scared and his current behaviour is just a sorrowful continuation of that.
The second night that he was in the hospital I made one of the biggest, stupidest mistakes that I’ve ever had the shame of having to admit; I made myself visible to him. I told my being that I wanted him to be able to see and hear me, so he did. It did not end well.
”Heya, Mikes.” I soothe down to his wide-eyed form, my hand gliding across his face yet incapable of removing that stray strand of hair from his frightened features.
Frightened? He shouldn’t be frightened, I’m his big brother. But I’m his dead big brother; as in the big brother that he’s just been told he won’t ever be seeing again.
I’ve made a mistake, haven’t I? Of course I fucking have. The poor kid needs to have things straightened out in his head before I go in and tangle it all up again by appearing to him in his hospital room. I think that I’ve just had the same sort of effect as a train careering into his mind at a violently dangerous pace; the doctors have only just managed to convince him that I’m dead.
I shouldn’t be doing this, it’s not right to make him go through seeing me for my own selfish reasons; reasons such as wanting to prove to myself that I haven’t let him down, that I can still make everything better from beyond the grave.
He’s shaking, shaking like a sapling in a hurricane, and his eyes are vomiting tears as though his sorrow is a sickness.
“Cool it, Kiddo. It’s me, it’s Gee.”
I offer him a reassuring smile, knowing that the ghosts of tears are trailing like snowflakes from my anguished eyes, a smile that I only ever use on him and only when he really needs it; that way he knows how much the smile means. Usually that smile means that he’s safe, that it’s impossible for his tears to continue their relentless tirade of misery just because he knows that my soft smile means nothing can hurt him.
Not now it doesn’t.
Now it’s making him scream like I’m the fire that snatched away his entire family, every aspect of his life other than his iPod.
I really have failed him, haven’t I?
After that I just stuck to being invisible; I don’t care how much I want to be able to find solace in giving him comfort, if he reacts like that to seeing me then there’s no way that I’m going to make him go through that again just because of my own reasons. The doctors had, of course, come running into his private room at hearing the kid scream like he was being murdered by the pain of being so confused and frightened; they had run in to see a kid flipping out over something that wasn’t even there, crying his dead big brother’s name. They thought he was delusional, that he was crazy and suffering from extreme survivor’s guilt, that he was showing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder; so, them being doctors, they knocked him out before he could hurt himself.
When he woke up he was… different.
Not different; dead. I killed him and now I cannot leave him, not until I know that he has someone out there capable of reviving him. Not until I know that he will let someone revive him. It’s not like he’s rude to people or derogatory in any conceivable way; he just doesn’t want to get to know people, isn’t interested in making friends because he doesn’t want to go through the agony of losing them.
Which is why it has taken two weeks for Social Services to locate a good family to take him in.
A family that goes by the name of Iero.
A/N: Thank you very much for reading this, I hope that it was an alright start! I’ve got this planned out, but I’m not sure if it’s any good so please let me know what you think and whether I should continue it, if so there will be Frikey later on. I doubt that I’ll update this daily due to my GCSEs, but I will update every few days should people wish for me to continue. Anyway, thank you very much for reading and please review! :)