9.55 – Define home

Sunday, 8pm

Chase’s POV

I admit, it took me too long. I thought I was stronger than this. I was. I had been.

Amelia has passed away.

I knew Salandra was at the hospital. They’d called me to come pick her up. But…I couldn’t.

I’m here now and I’ve met the parents of one of her friends along the way.

The boy had been kind enough to take care of her while I gathered up the courage I needed to come.

I mentally reprimanded myself again. I should’ve come sooner.

Though, maybe it’s better this way.

The two look so deeply asleep, it feels like a shame to have to wake them up.

I can’t imagine the pain she must be going through, if mine is anything to go on. Any comfort is welcomed.

One of the boy’s two fathers stepped closer. “It’s getting late.” He gently reminded. I reached over and lightly shook Salandra’s shoulders until I saw her eyes flutter open.

“We need to go home.” I said, taking her arm and guiding her away from the couch.

Still barely coming to, Salandra pushed me away as I got her to her feet. She rubbed her eyes.

“What…uncle Chase?” She frowned at him, trying to get a sense of her surroundings.

“It’s time to go home.” I repeated. I reached for her hand, in an effort to give her some reassurance. She refused it, instead her gaze traveling back to the couch.

The boy was still sound asleep. When his parents sat down beside him, called his name and shook his shoulders, it was clear he was out of it and wouldn’t be waking up anytime soon.

Salandra seemed to want to sit back on the couch or reach for the boy, but she hesitated. The parents had taken up the little space there was left around him.

“Come on,” I said, tugging gently on her arm. “You can see him tomorrow if you’d like.”

We reached home. The big huge empty house I call home. Salandra’s home was that hospital room.

I flicked the light switch on in the hall way, the place feeling deathly empty.

My niece looked at me and gave me a polite empty smile. “You were right.” She said. “It was too late.”

She disappeared into the darkness of the upper floor, to her room, whilst I stayed downstairs, glancing at the dark empty rooms.

With Salandra now also gone, the place somehow felt even lonelier.

When I bought this house – when we bought this house – I didn’t imagine it would be so lonely.

For a moment, it was exactly like I’d envisioned it. I was playing the piano. She was playing her guitar. Little Salandra was dancing around to the beat.

The music was filling up the house.

Her trinkets were hung up on the walls.

I couldn’t get a moment’s peace; she was always there with something new and exciting to share.

I could count those days on my fingers. I’d been so…pleased, when she asked if she could move in with Salandra. She was in trouble, and the only reason I’d gotten where I was, was thanks to her. It was the least I could do.

To learn that she had cancer just days later…

It doesn’t seem like that long ago, when she was still with my brother, living in that cheap apartment. The place was always filled with a horrible amount of plants, and they always changed each time I came to visit. She could never keep them alive. She’d say it was her fault, even though I knew my brother liked to put out his cigarettes in them, and that Salandra amused herself at pulling at the leaves.

He wasn’t good for her. My brother wasn’t good for anybody, but when I saw them together – she was happy – so I told myself not to worry.

I would go over there often, partly because home was uneventful and stressful, and partly because I just wanted to see her. I came so often, that I left a piano set there, and we’d play songs together. Most of the time we’d fail, but it was always fun and our audience never seemed to notice.

Last time – before my brother left them – was on Salandra’s birthday. We’d spent months concocting a special birthday song for her. I’d never had so much fun.

Even though my brother could be a real jerk, he behaved himself that day. He was good. He even dared to crack some passable jokes. Salandra couldn’t stop giggling.

And Amelia kept smiling.

Even though she was with him, for that one day, I’d give anything to bring it back.

But it happened too fast. I was too late. I didn’t see it coming. Next thing I knew they were on the street and my brother had gotten on a road trip with his buddies and hadn’t come back.

The plants were left to die. The trinkets to decay.

They went on the road, living off her guitar, and I wanted to join her. Her guitar, my piano and Salandra’s dancing, we could’ve made it. But I lacked the courage, and she didn’t want me quitting school for that.

I dropped down on one knee.

There was something weird on the carpet. I scratched at it, whatever it was – A distraction.

My legs didn’t have the strength to push me back up.

If she would’ve asked me to, if there was even that possibility, I would’ve sold everything I had to make sure she survived.

You need to accept it Chase. It’s too little too late.

***

Monday, 5 am

Nikolas’ POV

It’s a really difficult thing, having to watch my own body get up and get ready. And there’s nothing I can do. If I concentrate to the point of practically making my astral form pass out, I can maybe move an arm. But he’s strong.

Jeesus! Why did I have to go and fall asleep!? I didn’t even realize it. One moment I was sitting on the couch, still holding Sal, and the next…well my fathers brought me home.

I unhappily floated alongside Oscar as he excitedly told me about his hopes and dreams as he rummaged in my closet. I can’t stay mad at him. It used to be easy, because I was fucking terrified that I would never get my body back, but he seems extremely pleased with a day to day switch.

I’m still very not okay with being forced out of my body like this, but it’s clear getting mad is useless. And on the plus side, my mind is a lot more focused than when I was practically dragging myself from fatigue.

I groaned as Oscar found some old forgotten clothes in the back of my drawer and started messing with my hair.

I should’ve just told my dad what happened, instead of getting so caught up in my tired emotions.

Oscar grinned and jumped happily at his reflection.

“I hope you don’t mind! But boy do I like this shirt! Oh and that I changed your hair. Though, is it okay if I call it my hair too?” He asked, patting MY hair.

“Yes I do mind.” I said, to someone who couldn’t hear a word I was saying. “I mind just about everything you’re doing.”

“I hope we can get along.” Oscar said, clasping his hands together. “I know this is a pretty weird situation. I’m very grateful to have this chance to…to live! I’ll do my best to give back to you.”

Yeah it’s become…painfully clear that he doesn’t know how this happened either. It feels like I’m dealing with a child.

I’ve had time to think about it. A little while after my body betrayed me and passed out, I ‘woke’ up in astral form. I thought I’d see Oscar, considering I was still technically sleeping, but he was nowhere to be seen in astral mode. Since I couldn’t seem to wake myself up, I decided to stay in astral mode and use the time to consider what had happened with a much clearer mindset.

I had only a single lead. That skeletal hand before the game started. It might be a long shot, but I keep remembering that biker lady and our last conversation. She’d babbled something about seeing the grim reaper in my shadow and at first I’d thought she was insane or just saying things for the sake of it.

But hey, I’m already weird enough as it is, let’s add the grim reaper following me around and somehow making games glitch to life entire new beings to control me.

Oscar fussed over the shirt I’d gotten as a gift from one of dad’s friends. I don’t remember who, I just tossed it in a drawer and forgot about it.

“I really like this shirt. The idea of a yin and yang is neat don’t you think? A necessary balance and stuff. Can’t have one without the other.”

I wonder if that biker lady would have any idea as to why it happened. Eh, I don’t like the idea of seeking her out though. Not that my choices are endless.

Well first, I should tell dad. I cringed at the thought. Who knows, he might have a spell for me.

No first, Oscar needs to let me have control back.

“What time is it?” He asked, glancing at my clock.

“If you’d kept my watch on, you’d know much faster.” I pouted.

“Five am? Can we start the day at five am?”

I rolled my eyes at my behavior. “Gee, stop being a baby Niko.”

I started to head for the door, convinced that was Oscar’s next step.

But instead he headed straight for my bed and started making it.

I’m serious. I was floored. I just stood, staring at this kid- I mean Oscar, making my bed. Of all the things he could be doing! He has no responsibilities, no restrictions, no obligations, and he’s willingly choosing to stop and make a bed??

I waited for him to finish, still stunned into silence, and watched as he skipped towards my bedroom door, ready to start the day.

Oscar, you have really bad timing.

I sighed, sorry man you’re not getting out today.

“…You’re up early.” Dad said, exiting the bathroom.

Oscar shrugged before fist pumping. “A good day starts early!”

If only his optimism was contagious. I watched for my dad’s reaction. I’d already tried getting his attention the other day when the neighbor brought Oscar home. I’d shouted, waved my arms, anything to try and get his sixth sense active, but it obviously didn’t do much.

“Well if you’re awake, we need to talk.”

Oscar shrugged again, in a much more exaggerated gesture. “Okay.”

Dad nodded slowly, like he was trying to aboard this carefully. “Let’s start with your tattoo. On the back of your neck.”

I’d noticed it. I hadn’t at first, I was too busy being angry to look at my own neck, but after a while it’s hard to miss. A side-effect of the game no doubt. They did say they’d injected ink, but they’d also mentioned it should fade away in our system on its own. I’d wondered if there was a link, but Sal had tattoos on her palms as well….

“Yeah, it’s kind of cool right?” Oscar replied with a stoner’s grin. “I like it.”

Here I thought it couldn’t get much worse.

“Cool? Cool!?” Dad angrily whispered. Niki and pa were still asleep.

“Well yeah.” Oscar said, confused. “It’s better than a duck.”

“Why do you even have a tattoo in the first place? That’s not a normal tattoo either, it’s got weird magic.” Dad said, wrinkling his nose as if the magic smelled.

I leaned in, glancing at the tattoo. Did those game developers or whatever they call themselves put magic in the ink? How do you even manipulate magic without being a supernatural?

“I don’t know about that, but it’s a good thing it’s there. I’m pretty sure it’s keeping me alive. I think.” Oscar said, nodding with half certainty. My eyes grew wide.

“Oscar,” I said, to no one. “You should’ve told me this before. This is pretty vital brainstorming information!”

Dad frowned looking at Oscar’s outfit. “You’re not making any sense. Talk to me.” He pleaded.

Being on the outside of this conversation is kind of awkward.

“But I am talking to you.” Oscar insisted, more confused than dad.

“Confide in me please, I can help you.” Dad insisted. “You just need to talk to me, we can fix this.”

“I thought this is what we were doing. Having a conversation. I don’t need any help though. You’re the one who wanted to talk to me remember?” Oscar gently reminded my father. I started to plan the engraving on my tombstone.

Dad rubbed his face tiredly. “Niko don’t push me away.”

Oscar went silent for a moment, as if just realizing that my dad still didn’t know about my situation. Yeah, I’m pretty sure he actually thought my dad knew he was Oscar and not Niko.

“He’s not pushing you away.” Oscar replied, his optimism suddenly washed away.

“What?”

“You’re the one shoving at him.” Oscar stated. “Of course if you push him off a bridge, you’re going to feel like he left you.”

My dad was stunned into silence and I could finally see it on his face. I wasn’t just not acting like myself, I was literally not myself. Dad reached for Oscar’s arm, gently leading him to Edmund’s room. “Come on, let’s go talk about this with Edmund.”

“No,” Oscar declared. “I made a promise to him.”

Go ahead and judge me, I’m finding this amusing just looking at my dad’s face. “Yeah dad.” I said. “I wasn’t kidding when I said something bad happened.”

“I told him, I’d give back in thanks. This is me giving back.” Oscar said, and I started to get a little worried. “He’ll be much happier this way. This house isn’t healthy for him.”

“Hey…what are you going on about Oscar?” I stepped in between the two, but it did little to stop the thought process, since Oscar went for the stairs.

“What did I say Oscar? You’re not getting out of this house. You don’t know who you’re dealing with.” I said. Especially now that dad is realizing the gravity of the situation.

Dad lifted his hands up and cast a spell. I recognized it – a fact I’m kind of proud of. It’s a spell for a physical barrier. I haven’t managed to cast it yet, but dad often tried to teach it to me, since it can obviously be pretty useful.

Oscar stopped in front of it, touching the shimmering barrier.

“Let’s not make this difficult.” Dad warned, putting a foot on the first step.

Oscar then clapped his hands, the tattoo on the back of his neck lighting up and something shiny gathering up in his palms. In one swift movement, his right hand shot out to the side.

A trail of purple started rapidly climbing up the spell like a crack in a windshield. In a matter of seconds it had covered the entirety of the barrier and the spell lost its strength and broke.

“Why are you doing this?” Dad asked, getting over his initial surprise. If there was any more doubt… “Let’s discuss this.” He added, taking another step down the stairs.

“I’ve decided.” Oscar said, turning around and giving my dad a mean glare. “That I don’t like you. I’m going to take Nikolas to somewhere better.”

“Oscar think this through!” I said, my voice reaching an octave. “Please don’t make this already worse than it is.”

Dad’s hands sparkled with magic. “What did you do to my son?” He said, as Nikita’s bedroom door swung open.

Oscar clasped his hands together, releasing a purple fog as dad looked up at Niki. It’s in the cover of the fog that Oscar made his sweet escape.

Holy crap.

How is this helping Oscar?

Fuck.

 

End of Volume 1 Arc 5

 

About blamsart

♪They say it's what you make♪ I say it's up to fate ♪It's woven in my soul♪ I need to let you go♪ -- Demons by Imagine Dragons
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12 Responses to 9.55 – Define home

  1. Livvielove says:

    BLAMS PLEASE
    PLEASE
    PLEASE
    PLEASE



    (whispers)
    can’t we keep Oscar? Pls?

    First you kill me with Chase and now we’ve got Oscar who’s one of the first people to give a damn about Niko.
    What a beautiful arc finish ❤
    I don't have many words other than that you make me feel emotions.
    Emotions have been felt.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Senkime says:

    Yes can Oscar get his own body??? I understand how Xavier feels as a parent, but when you keep showing your child that you don’t trust them…. yea you lost the trust of your kid.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. OMG
    OMG
    OMG
    OMG

    Yup, that needed 4 OMGs… Oh wait, that makes it 5 *shrugs
    I like Oscar, but, I really want him to have his own meat suit and not be “borrowing” Niko’s! Can we call it a meat suit if they’re pixel people? Pixel suit just doesn’t sound right, but I guess that’s what it is. But, a normal set of clothes to them would also be a pixel suit, so how would you differentiate *contemplating reality vs pixelation
    OK, so that went on a tangent quickly O_o
    Short: I loved this
    Long: I just can’t find myself hating Xav the way Livvie does. I dunno, maybe I can see why he does what he does, if my ideas are correct? Even if it makes no logical sense. Oscar really needs to stop acting on impulse, it’s gonna get them both killed! I wonder where his “safe” place is?!? And whether Assie is going to be part of it… Plus, with the insider scoop you gave me, I’m trying to put 1 and 1 together and coming up with 5 lol I never thought I would say this (and still can’t believe I’m going to admit it “out loud”) but I prefer the headband O_o Oscar looks like a dork with that hair! And that T-shirt is just wrong (and yet very apt) especially with those pants *fashionista type grimace

    One final thought: how perfect did Niko and Sallie look on that couch together *lovesick fangirl sigh

    Liked by 2 people

    • blamsart says:

      Yeah…the idea that Niko be stuck with Oscar for the rest of his life doesn’t sit well with me either.
      Yes but then we could call it a pixel outfit instead!
      It’s normal. Xav doesn’t have any ill intentions! He just wants his family safe. Just, when it comes to Nikolas this MIGHT just be the wrong approach. Putting a leash on Niko is quite obviously a challenge.
      Hmm indeed, where is ‘safe’? It’s not like Oscar’s been here for very long to find a good safe place…
      For that scoop, keep in mind that Oscar ISN’T who you’re thinking it is…because Oscar is just a glitch that the game copied from both avatars. He’s a representation of both avatars, and in consequence a whole new being without earlier memories. I haven’t had the opportunity to explain that yet unfortunately.

      Lol my poor Niko! Oscar’s fashion sense is a disaster haha XD

      Like

      • I actually didn’t think that Oscar was quite who you think I thought he was lol a bit of a mashup more than anything else. I do like his sorta childlike qualities, even if creepy kids scare the crap out of me! If I had the choice to watch The Ring or The Grudge or one of the multitude of creepy children movies, or the choice to cut off a toe… Yeah… Didn’t quite think that one through lol ok so I wouldn’t cut off MY toe, but I’d easily cut of someone else’s toe rather than watch those movies (again, 3rd time in the case of The Ring and The Grudge… They scare the crap outta me every time!) It’s like I have this perverse need to be scared, and the “grown up” horrors don’t do that for the most part (zombie movies creep me out, but, only because they’re entirely possible from a biology perspective, so that crap is too lifelike! That being said, I ADORE the RE series and I’m waiting for a friend to give me TWD on flash drive!)

        And… Now that I went totally off topic XD where’s the next chapter huh, huh, huh?!?!?

        Lol love you stax ❤
        Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. raymondsanti says:

    I never thought I’d say this, but I kinda like Oscar :3 Maybe he actually will improve Niko’s life a bit. I still like Xavier, it’s just that him and Niko can’t usually understand each other. Then again, I hope Oscar and Niko won’t share a body forever…. awkward situations ahead.

    Also, poor Chasewas heartbreaking 😥

    Liked by 1 person

    • blamsart says:

      Well said! They just can’t understand each other *nods*

      hahaha yeeaaahhh, Niko’s future wife would have to be very open to it 😛

      Chase ❤ poor thing got hit hard

      Liked by 1 person

  5. *Mpart* says:

    My hatred for Xavier continues to grow. This one struck home for me but…I’m not going to lie Blams, it was amazing. I loved the detail you put into it and OSCAR NEEDS TO LIVE. PLEASE BLAMS, PLEASE?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. skcaga6 says:

    Dad needs to get Oscar out of Niko NOW. Give him his own body, then kick him in the ass.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. yimiki says:

    A free afternoon! Time to get caught up! =D

    And holy crap, Xavier, I love you and all but WHY DO YOU NOT REALIZE IT WHEN YOUR SON IS ACTING LIKE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON?

    Aren’t parental figures supposed to *know* their children? Gods, I don’t know why I’m so angry at this but I am. About the situation, of course – not the story. The story I thoroughly enjoy. Very well written, Blams! =D And the picture editing, too- it’s awesome! What kind of program are you using to do that? The whole Niko-projection?

    -Yimi

    Liked by 1 person

    • blamsart says:

      You would think!
      But I guess some parents are just too focused on damage control and other things, to really pay attention.

      Thank you, it means a lot!
      Usually for editing I use a mix of paint tool sai and an online filter editing program called http://www.befunky.com

      Like

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