Summary: The story of a boy murdered because he was gay, and the lost and hopeless feeling he has while trying to figure out the key to his past.

Just note: If there are flashbacks, they are for the readers purpose only. Tanner is not remembering anything.

"NIGHTMARE FILES"

The struggle, at first, was the only thing I remembered. Deep inside of me, I could sense that there had been some kind of violence surrounding me; maybe a knife, or a gun, but all I could really still feel, and still hear, was the sounds of someone chasing me; my feet pumping the ground; me sliding into a bunch of trashcans, and then all I could feel were cold hands on my neck.

There wasn't anything around that told me I was dying.

It wasn't warm, my eyes didn't close and I saw myself looking down at my mangled body, I just opened my eyes, and realized that I was dead.

I was still laying on the ground, between the two dumpsters, but I felt nothing. Couldn't detect my heart-beat. A few feet away, I could see my arm, nearly concealed inside a white trash bag. There was no breathing in me. My last breath had disappeared hours before. I felt old, and concealed. No pain in my body, no movement in my body. No breathing.

At first, I was a little afraid of what had happened to me. I'm dead. I had thought, over and over again. I'm in Hell. And that was my biggest fear. I was afraid that I would have to lay in that same spot for an eternity. To not smile, or move, or be able to blink or sleep. Just to lay there.

For the longest time I watched the small puddle of blood fill the white bag, and consume it into a bright red.

I had been murdered, I realized, when I really thought about what had happened. They've killed me.

And who were they, exactly?

And, most importantly, who was I?

Female? Male? How old was I? Did I live alone, or have a family? Was I greeted everyday by my pet, or was I a lonely old person, who yelled at kids to get out of my yard?

I was stricken with the fact that, for a while, none of it mattered.

After all, what was the sense in finding myself after I had died?

How long was I to stay in that alley? Until someone found me? The rest of forever? And how long was forever, anyway?

By the time sunset hours began to come around, one fact entered my mind: I am afraid of the dark. How I knew this, I wasn't sure, for I didn't really feel fear. Just knew that there was fear in the living. And when it was completely dark, I wished I was able to close my eyes, because to leave them open was too realistic to bear.

I didn't want to be alone any longer. Why couldn't I have died in my sleep? Would my life be a dream, if that had happened? Was this death in general, or did everyone live it different? Thoughts without answers began to fill my mind, until at last I excepted the fact that I wasn't able to find out the answers. I didn't want to be dead, but it only took a little while later to accept it, and to get over it.

And that was when feeling came back into my body.

It was like a sigh of relief.

Like being held under water until you're absolutely sure you can't hold your breath anymore, and then surfacing, with a thick gasp of air. I was panicked, yes, but more thankful to have use of my limbs. To be able to stand.

Where am I going to go? I wondered, looking at the bag my body was stored in. Home?... But where do I live?

Still more questions engulfed me, until a bright light flashed before my eyes.

I shielded them, out of habit, before realizing I could see just fine, and removed my hands, feeling sheepish. "Who's there?" my voice... Was that my voice?

"I think I've found something!" screamed the owner of the flashlight.

"Who are you?" I demanded, but was pushed aside.

"Red, get a load of this!"

He was a police officer. That much I knew. I could tell by the smooth blue uniform, and, of course, the badge on his chest. Officer Marshall. It read. I knew that name. It seemed so familiar. But, how did I know it? Who was he? The key to finding my past?

Another officer, who I assumed was Red, walked over, and, after seeing the bag of blood and limbs, threw up violently. "Is it..?"

"I think we've found what we've been looking for." Marshall said, swallowing tightly. "Jesus, it stinks." he covered his nose, along with Red, who looked on the verge up throwing up again.

"How long do you figure it's been here?" Red asked, shining his flashlight over my body parts.

I watched, numbly.

"I'd say a few weeks, by the looks of it."

"...God, how're we gonna tell Will?"

"We can't be sure, though... This could be anyone..."

"It's small, though. The same skin color... It's gotta be the one we've been looking for... And Will's gonna lose it... That was the last of his family..."

"Well... get Greg down here, alright?"

I left, then, needed to find the "Will" they were talking about.

And who exactly is this Will, I thought, sighing. There are probably thousands in this town, and I don't even know his last name... He could be a thousand miles away, for all I know...

The poor guy... The last of his family, really?... Well, I guess I'm one step closer to finding myself...

I opened up the police's car door, and sat in the back seat, slamming it shut.

They jumped at the sound of it, and hurried over with there flashlights ready, shining it inside only to find it empty. At that moment, I wished nothing more than for them to find me. To see me. I didn't want to be dead anymore.

A few hours later, I was with the officers in front of a nice brick house, pulling a loose string off my t-shirt after realizing they had come to give Will the bad news.

When they pushed the doorbell, I jumped, slightly, and waited for it to open.

Will was a tall, good-looking man. I wasn't sure if how was related to me. If he was my father, my uncle, my cousin, my brother... my husband... He was young, though. Maybe in his late twenties, or his early thirties... Maybe I was his mother or father, I thought, glancing him over. God, I wish I knew..

"Good evening, officers..." he said, his voice filled with grief. He knew what was coming. I could read it on his lips.

And, after the officers and I stepped inside, I left them to do their explaining. I didn't want to see a young man cry, that was sure. Besides, I was sure I could find at least one picture of myself throughout his enormous house. Maybe a clue of some sort.

He had lots of pictures on the walls.

All of different people.

It was so hard to tell. I could have been anyone on those walls. I could have been no one on those walls. It would be so easy if I knew my name... Or at least my gender. I thought, pleadingly, traveling up the staircase.

In most of the rooms, there were nothing.

Plain, bear rooms. Perhaps he had just moved in.

Maybe he and I were new to the neighborhood.

I found it easier to believe someone had just randomly murdered me, over someone knowing me for the longest time, and hating me. I don't even know if I was murdered by a guy or a girl... I thought, heading to the final door in the upstairs rooms.

A little kids room.

A babies room, it seemed.

Inside was a cradle, and blue walls. A small bear laid inside the babies empty bed, and there were teething toys located all around. My body parts were too big for me to be a baby. I thought, tracing my hand over the sides of the cradle.

I pulled it away after a second, only to find my hand coated in dust. This has been empty for awhile. I noticed.

Maybe I was his wife. I thought, my eyes landing on the gray curtains. Maybe we had a little boy, only he died... Maybe we fixed up the room, and I had a miscarriage... Too many thoughts filled my head until it began to ache. Not because it actually hurt, but because I wanted it so damn badly to hurt.

I was leading myself to believe I was breathing.

To believe I felt pain, and was alive.

I wasn't, though. I was dead.

When I finally headed back down the staircase, Will had lost all the color to his face, and it was replaced with a green one. I watched him shake. "Can you please...Can you tell Cody?"

"Cody?"

"Cody Berdelleano."

"...Wouldn't you rather do it, Will?"

"I couldn't. I can't. I can't even face the little brat long enough to let him know..."

Officer Marshall and Red glanced over each other. "Alright. We'll tell Cody."

"Thank you."

"Are... are you gunna be ok, Will?"

Will nodded, his hair barely moving from all the gel in in. "I'll be ok... I'm just... I'm going to lay down."

"...Alright... Take care then..." they left.

I stayed in the house a little longer and watched Will, undecidedly.

A mixed emotion passed through my skull as he closed the door behind him. I never used to like this guy... I realized, watching him carefully. Because... because WHY? God, this would be so much fucking easier if I just knew who the hell I was!

"Jesus, Tanner..." I heard him mutter.

Tanner?

FLASHBACK

Tanner sat down on his front porch, with his legs drawn up to his chest. I don't like this. He thought. I don't understand why I have to stay with Will... Why couldn't I just have been put into another foster home? It was so much better then.

Will walked onto the porch and sat beside Tanner, rubbing his shoulder sympathetically. "Listen, Tan, I know you want to go home..." the grip on his shoulder tightened painfully. "But you're stuck with me." the calming voice had changed to one Tanner had recognized when they were children. "And the better you adapt to living here, the less I will kick your ass."

"Will?"

The two boys on the porch glanced up at the very pregnant girl standing in the doorway. "Yes, honey?" Will questioned, rising to his feet.

"Oh, you were here. I thought I heard your car leaving."

"Wasn't mine... Chloe, should you really be walking around like that?"

"Will, I'm eight months pregnant, I'm not cripple." she turned to Tanner. "Is this your brother?"

Will nodded.

"You're so cute... How old're you?"

"Eleven." Tanner responded. "You?"

Chloe laughed. "Seventeen." she and Will laced fingers. "Anyway, I've got to go and visit my mother. I'll see the two of you later."

Tanner numbly watched her leave, before fearfully glancing back at his brother, who slowly brought one finger across his neck, and then pressed it against Tanner's lip.

END FLASHBACK

I had wondered, briefly, if Will had be the one to murder me, for he didn't look very upset to find out I was gone, but once I saw a tear slip down his cheeks, I changed my mind. "How could you have been so stupid?" he said, to me, but not knowing I was in the room. "How could you have been so stupid?"

I frowned slightly, upset because he was upset, and then walked over to him and touched his cheek, causing him to shiver, but not for his eyes to open, or for his tears to stop. He wasn't ok. I couldn't comfort him.

I left then, knowing I was no help to him, and hoped to find the officers.

They were gone, though.

Cody Berdelleano. I felt something in my body shift, and my head started to scream at me.

I saw red flashes go before me.

DANGER. They screamed, and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, knowing that they were things I was really feeling. Not some freaky kind of dead thing.

I ran then, and hid behind a few trashcans, after watching a dark figure in a cloak walk by.

The danger and screaming in my head didn't stop until the figure had disappeared, and at that moment my head really did start to hurt, and I really felt a pain in me that grew and grew until I found myself blacking out.

FLASHBACK

Tanner ran down his steps and rushed out the door, only thirty seconds before Will rushed out, too. "GET BACK HERE, YOU IDIOT!" Will screamed. "GET BACK INSIDE THIS FUCKING HOUSE, NOW!"

"Why, so you can beat me?!" Tanner screamed, from his spot on the stairs. "Forget it, Will! You're lies are through! I'm not going back inside that house!"
"THEN FIND YOURSELF ANOTHER PLACE TO LIVE!" Will cried, the door slamming closed in Tanner's face.

He took a deep breath, and then another, and shivered. Though it was cold and raining, it wasn't what had him shaking so badly.

It was how close that baseball bat had gotten to slinging his head off.

Where do I go now? He wondered, wrapping his arms around his chest, and breaking into a fast walk.

He stopped two miles later, in front of a small white house, his finger only centimeters away from pushing the doorbell. I can't... He thought. I can't get Cody involved... He thought, before going to leave, only to be hit with the door slinging open. "...Ow..." he said, his hand running instantly to cover his nose.

"Oh, shit! I'm sorry - Tanner?"

Tanner's hazel eyes locked with Cody's green ones. "Yeah. It's me."

"What're you doing here?"

"...Can I stay the night?... Please? Your parents don't have to know."

The door opened wider, and both boys looked behind them to see Cody's older sister Brooke standing there, looking hurt. "They will know... Tanner... how many times are you going to come here after getting beaten up before you finally realize that we can't keep your secret forever? I'm calling the cops."

Tanner's body froze the moment the c-word came out of her mouth. "No! You can't call the cops, are you insane?!"

"Your brother is beating you! You need to tell the cops!-"

"My brother is a cop!" Tanner cried. "They won't believe me! They've known me for five and a half years. Since I wa 11. They would have already done something if they suspected Will was beating me."

"Tanner-"

"Then I'll leave."

"No, don't leave!" Cody cried.

He and Tanner locked eyes, and a nice warmth passed between them.

"Why does he do it?" Brooke questioned, her eyes filling with tears.

"Because I'm gay." Tanner said. "I think... I don't know. It's not always because of that... that couldn't have been the reason when I was eleven..."

Brooke looked over Tanner and Cody, with a realizing glance in her eyes. "Are you two..?"

"Boyfriends? Last time I checked." Cody said, pulling Tanner to his feet. "How's your nose?"

"It's fine."

"Yeah?"

"It's fine."

Brooke observed the scene in front of her, before slowly allowing confidence to sink back into her system. "Do you need a place to stay, Tanner?"

"A place to live, actually, but I'm not going to bother you with that..." he quickly changed the subject. "Yes. Just for tonight."

"Stay as long as you want." Brooke stated. "Our parents are out of town for two weeks."

"Yeah?...Nah..."

"Oh, come on, Tanner..." Cody pleaded. "I'll let you sleep in my bed."

Tanner's eyebrows raised. "Really?"

"Ahem." the two boys looked back at Brooke. "I'm not going to tell mom about your gayness, Cody, and I don't care what you and Tanner do, but if I have to get out of bed and tell you to shut up, I'm going to crack open your skull with my soccer trophy."

Cody laughed. "Alright... Ok, Tanner... Lets fix up your nose, first..."

FLASHBACK END

When I woke up again, it was with a start.

I leapt to my feet, preparing myself to punch, but nothing was there. It was raining outside, and the clouds were dark, but that was all that surrounded me... And, of course, the trashcans I was hidden behind.

What was I doing, again? I wondered, before looking at a phone booth. Oh yeah. Cody...

I headed to the phone booth, and picked up the yellow pages, using my finger to guide me on the page. Jesus, how many Berdelleano's can there be, right?

I found the only one in there listed under Guy & April Berdelleano, and started to dial, not really understanding the fact that I couldn't speak to someone who wasn't dead.

They picked up on the seventh ring. "Hello?" it was a male voice...

And a pained one.

One of those voices where you can tell they've been crying for hours, and still not on the verge of stopping. The tears and voice that you hear whenever someone has lost somebody important. I knew it was Cody.

I was struck then with a feeling of love.

Not a platonic lover, either.

I had been in love with Cody.

I am a homosexual. I thought, staring hard at the phone book, swallowing tightly.

"Hello?" Cody asked again.

I knew everything, up until the moment of my murder. I could hear the murderers voice. Could see a little of his face, knew that I knew him, but couldn't tell who it was. God damn, I wished I knew.

"Cody?" I asked, my voice strained. "Can you hear me?"

"Hello? ASSHOLE!" he screeched.

He must have missed the hook, because I heard a slam, but not the sound of the telephone hanging up.

"I'm sorry, Tanner... I didn't know..." I heard the sound of something clicking... A gun being cocked.

"Cody?!" I cried, frantic. "Oh, please don't do something stupid!"

My pleas weren't heard.

I was momentarily deafened by the sound of a gun shot, and then my blood went cold.

I pushed out of the phone booth and ran down a familiar road, into a familiar house, only to find Cody looking up at the ceiling, a pistol on the ground, and a hole through his temples.

I waited.

Nothing happened.

"WHY ISN'T HE HERE?!" I screamed. "WHY THE HELL ISN'T HE HERE?!" a pain in me that had never seemed possible before was overtaking me. I felt sick.

I waited some more, watching his body, hoping to see him step out of it. To see his soul, or his ghost, or to see whatever the hell I was. To talk to him, and touch him, and kiss him again.

Nothing happened.

Deep in me, I had known nothing would happen.

In a cry of rage I kicked everything in sight. The dresser, the bed, the wall, the window, pulled out my hair, ran my wrists over a knife... nothing. For I was dead. There was no way I could die again. And I was a ghost. There was no way I could touch anything.

"Please let me see him again..." I cried, knowing how pathetic I sounded, tears streaming down my cheeks, causing me to choke. "Why can't I..?"

He killed himself. I thought. He doesn't get the same treatment as you... He's going to hell...

So where the hell am I?!

It looks like you're in hell.

Then why can't I see him?

Because you don't deserve it.

I wiped my tears, only to find them replaced with more.

FLASHBACK

Tanner felt his body stiffen, and then release, and he rolled off of his boyfriend, who turned to face him, with a rawness to his eyes. "Tanner..." Cody began, quietly.

"I love you." Tanner said, kissing his boyfriend.

"You jerk." Cody stated, through teary eyes. "I was supposed to say it first."

"I would suspect it should make you happier."

"It does... Just kind of upset that I wasn't first."

"It's alright." Tanner ran his fingers through Cody's curly hair.

"I love you, too." Cody said, laughing, and hugging Tanner's warm body to his, falling into a dreamless sleep.

FLASHBACK END

I pushed myself to my feet, and headed out of the house, gasping for air.

The red began to flash in front of me again, and I watched as the cloaked figure past by, not looking at me, or at anything, really. Just walking.

I ignored the pain, and the signals in my body that were forcing me to stop, and jumped in front of the figure, knowing I couldn't be seen.

"No..." I said, glancing it over frantically. "This can't be right..."

The cloaked figure seemed to scene my presence, and stopped walking, looking straight at me, but not seeing me.

The curly hair was what caught my eye first.

"Brooke?" I asked, looking her over.

She looked at me then. Straight at me.

It chilled my body, chilled my bones.

Stopped my breathing.

I watched her eyes flash red, and her teeth sharpen.

Shit. I thought, before I blacked out again.

FIN

Author's Note: Well... what did you think?