Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Pumpkins Know All the Secrets l 3 - Death And All His Friends

Linden opened his eyes to find himself immersed in the silence of a house yet to awaken. Judging by the light that flitted through the curtains, he'd awoken far earlier than any little girl should, no later than 6am. He felt a rush of relief at the discovery - the waking hours would serve as his introduction to little girlhood, and he was in no rush to jump into that. Above him, the springs of his twin's bunk bed creaked like a banshee and the middle section depressed ever so slightly as Rowan tossed and turned. His relief immediately evaporated as the reality of the situation crashed back on him. He had no reason to be overly optimistic about the future. He wasn’t in Kansas anymore, and he probably never would be again.

He sighed and rolled over, suddenly feeling small and inconsequential, to stare at the wall and maybe get another hour or two of sleep before the fun began. Between him and the yellow plaster was a fluffy, golden teddy bear with cherry red buttons for eyes and a crooked thread for a smile. He had missed it entirely when Rose first put him to bed the previous night, as it had been hidden beneath the covers, but he had found it soon enough. It had been his reluctant companion throughout his musings…and a reluctant one it had been. Perhaps it had once been a little girl’s best friend, but Linden saw nothing friendly in that face. The bear looked as macabre as a ghost - the tilt of the smile was enough to give him the impression that it could see right through him...and that it was judging him in the process.

I know you’re not my Holly-bear, it seemed to grin. It had the eyes of the clinically insane. You’re an imposter, and trust me, my friend, I know you’re an imposter. You better watch your back, because the moment I find out what you did to my bestest friend ever, you can be sure I’m gonna –

“I didn’t do anything to your bestest friend,” he sighed out loud, and turned his stuffed companion away from him to face the wall. He was an intruder in this house, in this family, in this bed. It didn’t belong to him, and even the teddy bear knew it. “All I did wrong was die.”

It forced him to once again consider his line of attack from here onward. 

He had made the decision late last night that he was going to hunt down Meredith Grim. The idea had seemed silly, even moronic, upon conception (after all, how do you hunt down Death itself?) and born more out of wishful thinking than anything else, but as it begun to take more and more shape, the more and more he came to realise that it was the only course of action he could take. In theory, it was all simple enough; in fact, it was based entirely on just one off-the-cuff comment Meredith had made at the very end of their conversation the previous day. “Halloween is the only day I get off every year,” she’d said. “And I’m going to enjoy it as soon as I’m done with you and a few others!”

Well, today was Sunday the 31st of October. It was Halloween. Her one day off was today, and she’d be done with her last few ‘clients’ by now, wouldn’t she? That, and hadn’t she said the place where Holly and her family lived would be a nice place to spend her day off? Theoretically, she was somewhere nearby.

She said it might be a nice place to spend it, he corrected himself. Might. You don’t know she didn’t change her mind and decide to have a rave with the penguins in Antarctica.

It was flimsy, but it was all he had.

He has going to hunt down Meredith Grim before the day was through, and force her to fix her mess. He was going to demand that she kindly extract his soul from this body, move him along to wherever it was he was meant to go, and then she would put Holly back in herself where she belonged. If she couldn’t do it, maybe he could force her to crack onto her boss, Fate, and get it done. That was his grand plan, concocted at the most dire hours of the morning.

It was a horrible, terrifying plan. If he found Meredith, it would mean the end of one Linden Ferris, forever. Gone. Kaput. Game over. His body was wrecked and beyond repair – he’d seen the aftermath of the crash. He wasn’t going back to that. If he did this, and if he’d understood Meredith right (and presuming she could return Holly to her body), Linden Ferris would simply move along, and that was it. Even now, bathing in the gentle, calming glow of the dawn, he felt the hooks of dread threatening to bite into him again. It was the absolute last thing he wanted to do...but what was the alternative? Remain a little girl and grow up all over again? He was quite confident that he wasn’t interested in that, and it wouldn’t be right, either. He couldn’t just hijack someone else’s body.

Besides, he was technically already dead, wasn’t he? He was on borrowed time as it was right now anyway. 

“You’ll get your bestest friend back,” Linden said guiltily, turning the bear back to face him. His companion greeted him with its psychotic, howling eyes, twinkling in the gentle glow of the sunrise. Feeling a little silly, he hugged it softly against his diminutive chest. “You won’t have to put up with me for long.”

He laid it gently down on the pillow beside him and rolled onto his back, and did his best to go back to sleep.

What if she can’t do anything? What if she just says tough luck, Princess, hope you enjoy round two with diapers and preschool?

He didn’t know.

What if you can’t even find her? What then? Do you just accept that you’re done for?

Then I’ll arrange a date with death myself.

Tough words for a three year old.

Shut up.

Beside him, the bear smiled knowingly at the bunk overhead.

*

Linden fumed. 

The day had pretty much gone as one would expect the day of a little girl to go. 

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