A/N: Well, this isn't really a fanfiction. It's worse: I invented the story myself!!! XD This chapter is a bit long though… Still, I hope you like it. Just so you know, this story takes place in our world and time, but in a non-existing village, Eagleville.
The first thing I remembered was the big fire in front of me. Several cars in the parking lot didn't survive whatever happened here, while others only suffered from some dents and broken windows. The sky was black, from both the night and the smoke. The area was lighted by the fire and the street lanterns surrounding the lot. Several sirens were screeching through the air: two car sirens, a fire truck and an ambulance.
I was sitting on the edge of the back of that ambulance, a fair distance away, just staring at the scene. It was the parking lot of the three surrounding flats, and in front of me the river was raging. From some windows heads were sticking out, watching the tragedy. Now I could see that a big black van had driven into the cars that were parked there. I couldn't remember what I was doing here, but I didn't care. I couldn't move even a single finger tip, but I didn't care. All I thought was: 'Did somebody get hurt?'
A bunch of people with reflecting orange jackets and white helmets tried to stop the fire from spreading to other vehicles. Jets of fire-extinguishing foam were spurted over the flames, in case the fuel of other cars would catch fire and make it even worse. Some people in white jackets ran back and forth to see if somebody was in need of medical help. I could see them group around something a few times, though I couldn't see what it was. Just a black spot lying on the ground between the wrecks. I sighed, and though it felt weird, I didn't move in any other way. 'Did somebody get hurt?'
Then my attention was pulled towards something else, on the other side of the street that was splitting the parking lot in two. On top of a red BMW a strange cat was sitting, exactly in the middle of the beam of a street lantern. At first I thought it was black, but it's fur emitted a blue glow. It had a large bushy tail with a white swirling stripe, that appeared electric blue because of the glow. It's eyes, which had an slightly green color, were focused on me. Around it's left front paw there was a tight shining bracelet.
The cat jumped off the car and trotted towards me. My gaze followed it for a while, but then I got distracted again. Two men in white jackets were coming towards the ambulance. I expected them to ask me something like: "Are you ok?" "Where do you live?" or maybe "Do you know what happened here?" But the men said nothing. They entered the ambulance and lifted the stretcher. Finally I moved; I stepped aside so they could carry out the stretcher towards whoever was lying there. Then a woman's voice next to me said:
"You're just a child? Diamond's got to be kidding me!" I looked down to see the cat sitting on the concrete and looking up to me with a skeptic look. I blinked at the cat, rubbed my eyes and gazed at her again. '…Am I dreaming?'
"What's with the stupid look?" she said annoyed. Her scratchy voice was similar to one you would place with an frustrating old hag who thought she was better than the rest of the world. I yelled in shock and fell backwards.
"A talking cat?! What the… How is that possible?" I screamed. She sighed and jumped on my knee. "I know it's a bit shocking that I can talk, but let's skip that part, ok? I don't have the time to explain every single thing to a fourteen-year-old. So let's just go and find out what's keeping you here, shall we?" 'Fourteen?' I thought upset.
"I… I'm already sixteen," I muttered. "Fourteen, sixteen, as if it still matters," she said dryly, jumping off my knee and walking towards the end of the road. One moment I laid there just staring at her. The cat jumped onto the wall that was placed around the parking lot and looked back at me. "What're you waiting for, kiddo? Come on! I've got better things to do!" she yelled. I stood up and walked towards her, though slightly unwillingly. When I reached her, we both continued walking towards the river.
'I have to be dreaming,' I thought. 'That's it. I'm not going crazy, just dreaming.' I pinched myself in my arm, but felt nothing. "That won't work, you can't feel anything," the cat said impatiently. "Why does every single kid pinch itself when meeting me? As if I'm too scary to be true…"
"W- What are you talking about?" I asked confused, still freaking out. "Why are you talking at all!? Why should I follow a talking cat!? And what is this thing?"
I was looking at the bracelet I was wearing on my right arm. It was exactly the same as the cat's, just plain steel that was bound tightly around my wrist. I couldn't get it off, even when I tried very hard. "That won't work either. It's your ghost-collar," she explained.
"My… ghost-collar?" I asked while I inspected it from every side. The word rang through my head. "W- Why am I wearing a ghost-collar?"
"Please don't tell me you haven't realized yet," the cat mewed without looking at me, just striding gracefully.
"Realized what? What's going on here?" I asked confusedly. The cat sighed. "Diamond owes me a huge explanation. She said you were special, but you're just an average kid," she growled at me.
"Would you please just tell me what's happening?" I grumbled. The cat sat down and beckoned me with one paw to come closer, as if she would whisper a secret to me. But then she placed her front paws on my cheeks and turned my head to the left, towards the fire. The man in white jackets were placing somebody on the stretcher, but it was still too far away for me to see clearly .
"You see that thing they're lifting onto the stretcher?" the cat whispered in my ear. "That's you."
I just stood there. I couldn't believe it. 'How can I be standing here, while I'm also over there?' The answer was clear, but I couldn't believe it. It couldn't be true. It wasn't true. The cat turned my head so I looked at her.
"Now listen to me," she said softly after turning my head back to face her. "And listen carefully, because it's really, really important. And I'm only saying this once, so you've got to memorize it from now on. Here it comes… Are you ready?" She waited a moment and just looked me in the eyes, her paws still on my cheeks. Then she yelled: "YOUR DEAD!"
"What!?" I screamed, backing off several steps. "B- But I can't be dead… I'm only sixteen! How can I be dead? I still had so many things I wanted to do…"
The cat sighed annoyed and continued her explanation. "My name is Azure. I am your Guidance Cat. Guidance Cats are spiritual creatures, which can see, hear and touch ghosts, and which have the duty to help lost spirits to finish their business here on earth and move on."
"But why -" Before I could ask anything, I was interrupted. "I am assigned to be your Guide to the afterlife, though I can't see why. You don't seem to be that special. And yes, that means I'm a pro; I only handle special ghosts."
"I didn't want to ask -" "ANYWAYS, I am your only link to living beings, so through me you have to overcome whatever's keeping you here. Only that way you can move on. That's all you need to know, so don't ask anymore questions, will you? It's annoying."
I looked at Azure, she looked at me. "You're troublesome," I said to her. "Thanks. You too," she said to me and she stood up and walked on. I followed her.
"Where are we going?" I asked. "Away from here," she answered. "Probably your house first. By the way: what are your name, age, way of dying, issues and regrets?"
"Err… I- I am Jeremy Baker… I'm 16 years old… and my way of dying… err…" I thought about it. 'That's strange… How did I even end up here?' I looked around, but there was nothing that could help me remember what happened. "Well?" Azure asked impatiently. "How did you die?"
"I don't remember..." I tried really hard to recall. Azure was silent for a while. Then she said: "Ok. It has to be something with that black van. Did someone run you over? Or did you take your parents' car for joyriding and you messed up? That's a classic one."
"I don't know, I… I guess not…" The way she was talking about death, so casual, it was terrifying.
"What was the last thing you do remember?!"
"Ehm, err... that was waking up, I guess…" "What day was that?" "That was… February 21st, no wait, 22nd."
"February 22nd? That's a whole week ago! I can't do my work if I don't know where to start! Can't you be a bit more accurate?" Azure bellowed with her back lifted up.
"Well, it's not my fault!" I yelled. "I'm freaking out right now, ok? I can't help it! How would you react if some weird-looking cat tells you that you're dead?"
"Who are you calling weird-looking, brat?!" she hissed.
"You, obviously!" I turned my head away. "I don't need your help! So why don't you stay away from me?"
"Because a wandering spirit like you would be hopeless without my Guidance!"
"I am not hopeless!" I hissed angrily. "I can handle on my own, so just go back to wherever you came from and leave me alone!" I growled. My voice was hoarse and low. I felt strange, as if all the anger, frustration and confusion inside of me was urging to come out and launch at the cat, literally. Azure looked surprised at me. But I shook my head and walked away without looking back. She didn't seem to follow me.
'That cat has got some nerve, talking like that. I should have kicked her…' While thinking, I made that growling sound again. It happened all on it's own. I didn't know how I did it, or anyway to stop it. It was a scary, inhuman sound. I tried to control my anger while walking towards my home.
'If I have to pass on, I've got to say good-bye to everyone first… Maybe David can help me.' Just now, everything got through to me completely. I really was dead, and I really was a ghost, which was confirmed by me walking unconsciously through a trash can. Extremely weird.
Everything I ever wanted, was out of my reach forever. That nice sports car I was saving money for will never be mine. My computer with the high score on patience would probably be given to David, or to some charity. My room, my stuff, my clothes, all of it would go. 'But how? What happened to me? And my friends, and Melissa… I will never be able to kiss her again…' Azure was wrong about one thing; ghosts could still feel things. I felt anger, and pain.
I laid my hand down on my chest, but the familiar thuds were gone. It felt terrible. I had the feeling as if I could cry, but my eyes didn't water. My pace quickened, faster and faster, and I started running. I didn't get tired, what encouraged me to go even faster. And I couldn't trip over anything anymore, so I went faster than ever. What would have taken half an hour for a living person, took me ten minutes to reach.
On the way home I stopped when I suddenly spotted a peculiar poster. In the middle of it, there was a picture of a sixteen-year-old boy with spiky black hair and green eyes, smiling self-assuredly. 'That's me…' On the picture I was wearing my favorite grey vest, which I was wearing right now as well, and a casual pair of jeans. I read the text on the poster: Missing! Jeremy Baker. Description: 'not interesting, blablabla…' Call the following number if you have information on this boy's whereabouts. The golden tip will be greatly rewarded. 'I have been missing? What the heck happened to me?!' Thinking that my parents or my little brother could answer that question, I hurried on towards my house.
I rushed around the corner at the end of my street, but then I stopped. A police car was pulling up in front of my house and an officer stepped out. I ran towards him as he rang the door bell. It took a while before the hall was enlightened and my father opened the door, wearing his pajamas.
"Good evening, officer," my father said with a polite voice. "Good evening sir. Excuse me for waking you at this hour. Can I come in?" My father nodded and the officer entered the house. I understood immediately; he was going to tell them I died. 'It's just like in those movies.' The door was closed behind him, so I walked around the house and looked inside through the window. The curtains were left open.
Our living room had two couches facing each other, one to the left of the window and one to the right. The left one was standing against the wall, and behind the right one were the doors to the hall and the kitchen. From my point of view, on the other side of the couches, there was our awesome flat screen TV. 'Which I'll never be watching anymore…'
I put my hand on the glass of the window, and it fell through. I moved my arm back and forth several times, before I moved my entire body through the glass. It went easier than I thought. Once I was inside, I could hear everything loud and clear.
"…don't visit people this late. But I cross this road on the way to the office, so I thought I should stop by right away."
"That's ok. Have you heard anything about Jeremy? Have you found him?" my father asked, who sat on the right couch. The agent, sitting on the left, waited until my mother had sat down as well. She had made the men some coffee and was wearing her bathrobe. Her eyes were red and swollen; she'd cried recently. Dad took the plate with the cups from her so she could sit down next to him.
"There has been an accident at River Street," the officer said. "We are not sure what happened there, but for now it looks like a van drove into some cars on the parking lot and exploded. There was only one fatal victim, but…" The policeman took out a wallet, one I found terrifyingly familiar, and he took out my driver's license. My mother took it with a shaking hand, looked at the photo and immediately started sobbing. My dad took her in his arms and patted her softly. I didn't like what I saw. I never did like it when my mother cried.
"I'm terribly sorry, ma'am," the officer spoke. He didn't like his job at this moment. I looked at my parents again. My mother's face was buried in my father's chest, while my father stared at his coffee cup sadly. I sat down next to them, laid down my hand on my mother's shoulder, although I would fall through I pressed too hard. She didn't react at all, which made me feel only worse. After a while, when her sobs lessened, she asked:
"D- Did… Did he s- suffer?" The policeman looked troubled. "I don't know, ma'am. He was already… gone, when we arrived at the scene."
"Is there any clue of where he has been the past week?" my father asked with his usual indifferent voice; there wasn't a single bit of sadness audible, but I was used to it. When it comes to hiding feelings, my dad's a pro.
"No, sir. Right now we're busy tracing the van's license plate, but that's all we have. Though there were some bullets found near-"
"Bullets?!" my mother exclaimed, covering her mouth in shock. I shouted exactly the same thing, but nobody heard me. The policeman knew he made a mistake by saying that. "Easy, ma'am, there was no sign that the boy was hit." But my mother wouldn't listen.
"Who could do this to him? Who could possibly do this to my baby?" she kept saying. I thought about it. 'Even though I wasn't hit, what are bullets doing there? Somebody must've tried to hit me, right?'
Ten minutes later my mother and I still sat on the couch, while my dad showed the officer the door. I looked at my mother, who was looking at the picture on my driver's license. "I love this photograph. He always looked this fearless, always had that bold smile on his face," she whispered to nobody, stroking the plastic pass. "Mom, that picture sucks," I laughed. She laughed too, almost as if she heard me, but then she said: "He kept repeating that his pictures sucked. All of them."
Downheartedly I stared at my folded hands, and for the first time I noticed I could see through them. My skin had the exact same color as my vest, greyish and pale. "I wish I could see him once more. One more time, Paul, just to tell him that I love him," my mother muttered as she started crying again. "I wish you could hear me, mom. I'd do anything to be able to talk to you right now," I mumbled. My dad came to sit next to her, almost sitting down through me. He hugged my mother and said: "There, there, Daisy. You know that's impossible."
I couldn't take it anymore, listening to them talking as if I wasn't there. I pulled the hood of my vest over my head and walked towards the kitchen. When I wanted to be alone, I always left through the back door in the kitchen, to sit on top of the empty dog house in the backyard. I grabbed for the handle of the door, but my hand fell through. I grumbled annoyed and stepped through the door. But then I heard the other door opening, the one to the hall.
"Mom, who was it?" The voice of my sleepy little brother was muffled by the closed door. "Was it the police? Did they find him?" "Oh, honey," I heard my mother say. "I've got terrible news." Nothing more was said, but after a while I could hear my twelve-year-old brother crying. 'Typically David,' I thought. 'I was always so mean to him, and still he cries for me…' I walked back into the room, to see my mother and father hugging David. His brown hair hung flat over his face, covering his eyes, though I could see tears rolling down his cheeks.
"David?" I said insecurely. He opened his brown eyes and looked at me. "Can you hear me?" I asked. He sniffed and nodded. I laughed and pulled back my hood. "Wow, so it's true that you can speak to ghosts. Amazing!"
"Mom, dad, he's here," David stammered softly. My mother released him and looked at him. "Who is, honey?" she asked naïvely. "Jeremy, mom. He's here." Mom and dad looked at each other.
Then my father said: "Now, son, it's not funny to say things like that right now." "But I'm not making it up. He's really here." "You're tired, you must be imagining things," my mother said. "It's late, you should go back to bed." I looked at the clock hanging on the wall; it was four o'clock in the morning. I looked at my feet and sighed.
"Never mind, David. It's ok." David looked down as well and nodded. "Just so you know," I added, "I'm sorry that I always bullied you with your sixth sense. It was just a bit… hard to imagine."
"Don't mention it," David said. Mom and dad looked at each other again, with that same simple look on their face. I waved at my little brother and stepped through the window. As soon as I was outside, I heard a voice from near my feet.
"If you want to talk to them, I can help." Azure looked up at me with an apologizing smile. "Really?" I asked and she nodded. I looked back inside. Fortunately, David was still looking at me. I pointed at Azure and then at the back door. David understood and he entered the kitchen to open the back door.
Azure walked in through the door and I stepped through the window. I could have taken the door as well, but I started liking my abilities as a ghost. My mother and father were still standing in the living room, looking curiously at the cat David brought in. "Why did you let that cat inside, David?" My mother asked. "It can show you Jeremy," David answered.
"You know that?" I asked him. He looked at me and nodded. "I can also hear what they are saying." "You do?" Azure asked. "To normal humans it seems like I'm just mewing. They are also blind to the glow, so we appear normal. But you can hear me talk?" David nodded again.
"David, this has gone far enough," my father said sternly. "Take that cat out and go to bed." "No, Paul. I want to try it," my mother said. It surprised both me and my brother. Mom never paid much attention to David statements, let alone believe them.
"Well, let's do it, then," Azure said. She lifted her left paw until her bracelet was near her mouth and yelled: "Sapphire!" The bracelet started emitting a white-blue light. She lifted her paw some more and tapped on my ghost-collar, which started to shine as well. Strangely enough, it felt warm. Slowly my skin got back some of it's color (it was still a bit too pale for a normal human) and was no longer transparent. The warm feeling crept along as I became visible. Soon followed my sleeve, my chest, my legs and the other arm and at last my head.
I looked up at my parents. My father's eyes had widened, my mother had covered her mouth with one hand, bursting into tears again. "Hi," I said, unable to come up with anything else.
"Oh Jeremy!" my mother shrieked. "What happened to you?!"
"I don't know," I answered. "I can't remember anything. Last week hasn't passed, if you'd ask me." For one second, my father had a relieved smile on his face. "So you can't remember being hurt? You're not in pain?" he asked.
"No. I feel nothing," I answered. But then I did feel something: a poke. David was prodding with two fingers in my shoulder. "Hey, what're you doing?" I asked laughing.
"I always wondered If I was able touch a ghost, or what it'd feel like. I never touched another ghost, just out of respect, but you don't care, right?" he said dryly.
"David! Leave you brother alone!" mom said strictly. "It's ok, mom, I don't care," I said, while I wrapped my arm around David's neck and rubbed a fist on his head. He laughed like he always did when I gave him a noogie. "You're cold, man! Get off me!" I released him and we smiled at each other.
"But what exactly happened to me? When did I disappear?" I asked. It was my father who answered me. "Past Sunday, you left with your skateboard, saying you went to meet somebody. After that we never saw you again."
"Until now," David added. "So, what are you going to do? You're a wandering ghost; you've still got something to do, right?"
"Yeah, I guess so," I answered. "I think I'm going to see Melissa first. You know, say good-bye and stuff."
"Well, we wish you good luck, Jeremy," my mother said. Her mouth showed happiness, but her eyes the sadness beyond. "I love you, baby."
"I love you too, mom." I felt that pain in my heart again. "Good-bye, dad." "Good-bye, son. I hope you will get to heaven soon." 'That sounded weird…'
"Ready to go?" Azure asked. I snapped my fingers. "Oh, one more thing." I stepped back into the kitchen and grabbed the handle of the fridge, but it went through my hand. "Huh? I can still not touch objects?" I asked Azure. "Only people," Azure answered. "Oh, ok. Dave, could you give the cat some tuna, please?"
Everybody in the room looked at me surprised. "Why?" mom asked. I explained: "I owe her an apology. I got angry at her, while she only tried to help me." She laughed. "Typically you…"
David opened the refrigerator and took out a can of tuna. He removed the lid and placed it before Azure. Azure hesitated first, but then she accepted it. After that I said good-bye to my family for the last time. Then Azure tapped on my ghost-collar again. The glow disappeared, and a cold rush went through my body, making me transparent again. I waved one more time at David before I left through the front door, following Azure. On the corner of the street, Azure halted to eat her tuna.
"You like it?" I asked. She nodded. "You… didn't have to… do that, you know…" she said while chewing the fish.
"Ah, don't mention it. A cat needs to eat, right?" I mumbled while staring at the sky. "Well… a normal cat does… I haven't… eaten anything in decades… But still, it's nice…" When the can was empty, she licked her lips and thanked me. "Well, let's go and see this Melissa-person," she proposed. "With luck we can visit her this night."
"Sounds like a good idea," I said while I stood up. "She lives five blocks away from here, on Kentucky Street."
"I know that one. Let's move out." She stretched out and headed towards Kentucky Street, with me right behind her.