Zee paced around the room quietly, not sure why he had such a feeling of unease. The continuous white was usually soothing. But not today. Today, he felt that something was wrong. Something big. Something dire.
He walked around the white coffee table again, body throwing no more shadows than the rest of the furniture. The room had no internal or external lights, but had a soft glow of it's own that lighted it perfectly. No strain on his eyes, and no shadows, either. It had taken a few months to get used to at first, but now, anything with a shadow was strange, and natural and man made lights alike hurt his eyes until he had quite some time to get used to it.
Around the back of the white couch, toward the white dinette set. Nothing had a definitive seam, nothing was easy to tell apart from the next piece of furniture. Even the walls seemed to meld straight into the floor and into the ceiling. It was as though everything was a blank expanse.
Unless you walked straight into it, you would never know the wall was there. Until you banged a knee off the coffee table, walked into the back of the couch and fell onto it, slammed your hip off of the dinette table, you would hardly be able to tel it was there. It was kind of like looking at a dim star; with your peripheral vision, you could see it fine, no problem. But when you tried to look directly at it, it almost seemed to vanish. Very confusing and disconcerting. Unless, of course, you spent most of your life there.
Over to the bed to sit, maybe think of what could possibly be wrong, think of something else to get his mind off of things... Something. Maybe there was something going on on the other side. He hadn't heard from Zephyr in days now. He had to be physically fine, or he would have felt something by now he was sure, but maybe something had happened with his father. He had been terminal and in the hospital for a long time with cancer. Perhaps he had passed.
Okay so thinking about what could be wrong was turning out worse than he thought it would. He had to think about something else. Something else. Something else... Nothing. No thoughts. Why was it that when he tried to sleep, his brain wouldn't shut up, but now he couldn't even think? Jeez, what was with him lately? He had been losing sleep over what he didn't know, and now he was in a state of quiet panic over literally nothing. Or, nothing on this side at any rate. Where was Zephyr?
Sitting on the bed was doing him no good. Back to pacing. Pacing at least gave his body something to do so he wasn't staying idle until he got twitchy. Back to his familiar path. Around the coffee table, past the couch to the dinette set across the room, over toward the high backed couch and behind it, past the bed and back around the table. It was a big enough room that each round took him over 40 seconds to complete, and he liked to think he had a decently long stride.
Zephyr had been gone for months at a time before. When his father had been diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, he disappeared for at least half the year. Zee still had no idea what went on during those six or seven months, and every time he asked all he got was a pained look and suddenly he was staring at someone walking away. Part of him wanted to stay out of it; after all, he had just heard that his father was going to die and the kid was hardly nineteen. Another, more detail-oriented and suspicious side of him told him that pursuing the issue may be a good idea.
He could hardly imagine what that must feel like, knowing that a family member was going to die soon and there was literally nothing you could do about it. Being the acting CEO of the company his father owned because of the cancer was another thing Zee didn't think he could handle. He wasn't fond of business meetings and stuffy old shirts with sticks shoved much too far up their asses. But to know your father had only months to live?
Zee didn't remember his parents. In fact, he didn't remember a life outside of the one he lead now. His memories went back about four years and a few months back and then, nothingness. Not even the stirrings of memories were before that. He had no clue where he had come from, or from whom he was birthed. He didn't know if he had been an orphan, rich poor, had many siblings, been an only child, been abused... Nothing. He didn't even know what his birth name had been. The name he had adopted, Zee Gillespie, was entirely decorative. He doubted the government could even pull up information on him. The fact of the matter was, he had no past.
So, no, he couldn't really imagine what it would be like to have a family member with cancer. Or a friend. The only person he had had any real interaction with in the last four and some years was Zephyr. And Zephyr wasn't so much a friend as... Hell, he didn't even know what to consider him. He liked him well enough, but he wasn't exactly the type of person Zee would hang out with outside of being stuckhere. Zephyr was very quiet and sometimes a bit uptight; Zee was loud, boisterous, and loved to just have fun and live life. So they would have clashed under regular circumstances to say the least. Of course, their circumstances were anything but normal.
He resumed his pacing, not realizing he had paused in thought. The ominous feeling he had was getting steadily stronger. It had started a few days ago, when he had woken from a nightmare. He didn't usually dream, so he attributed the feeling to the dream. But as they day dragged on, the feeling became steadily worse. And as the days dragged on, the feeling had more than doubled its intensity. And today it was getting stronger, faster.
Christ. All he wanted to do is visit Zephyr and make sure he was alright. But he felt nothing, no connections, and therefore couldn't do anything. Not a damn thing. No, all he could do is pace. And pace. And pace. Around this way, around that way, back this way, back that way, this way that way this way that way this that this that this...
He went back to the couch and flopped onto it gracelessly with no sound. That was another thing he loved about this room. Nothing made a noise unless he wanted it to. His feet made a noise while he paced, because it gave his brain something to listen to while he focused on not going batshit. But the couch was quiet, the bed was quiet, the air was quiet. Everything was peaceful. He had initially thought the silence would drive him insane, but in fact, he found it very comfortable. Almost calming.
He sat on that couch for an hour, two hours, waiting. His thoughts managed to occupy him for some time. And when he grew bored of sitting, he stood and began to pace again. His route was ever familiar, around the coffee table, to the dinette set, to the couch, to the bed and back. There and back. Repetition. Order. Coffee table, around it once, to the dinette set, turn, to the couch, along the back, to the bed, turn—
"Jesus Christ!" The exclamation was coupled with a hearty start and a few colourful swears. "Shit man, you gotta warn me when you're going to do that!"
The young man in front of him could have easily passed for a twin. His hair was the same length, although he wore the black length straight and orderly, rather than Zee's tasteful disheveled look. His nails weren't black, and he wore a suit ('Probably just got out of a meeting,' Zee thought) instead of a black band tee and black jeans with a chain belt, but the features were identical. The main difference was the eyes. This young man's eyes were a light grey, and heavy with sorrow. Zee's eyes had a glossy, almost frosted-glass look to them, and were green and emotionless. But, save for those unnatural seeming eyes, they were identical.
"Sorry, Zee. I've been very busy with the company and father's hospital bills. He's going in for surgery soon, within the week they think. We had to... Put his affairs in order, just in case." Zephyr pulled a smile across his face that was heartbreaking just to see.
"Oh... Fuck man. I'm... I'm real sorry to hear that." Zee scratched the back of his head, mad at himself for being selfish enough to worry about a little scare. "You know if you need anything—"
"I'll come straight to you." Zephyr walked over to the couch quietly and sat, shoulders and back sinking into the plush leather with a heavy sigh. "How are things on this side?"
Zee shrugged noncommittally, sitting next to Zephyr and stretching his hands in front of him, fingers linked. "Boring. Quiet. The usual." He paused and just breathed, staring at the ceiling for a minute or so. "Have you had a weird feeling lately?" Zephyr glanced his way, not saying anything. "I mean on your side. Have you... I dunno, sensed anything bad? I've had this strange feeling the last couple days..."
"It's probably nothing." Zephyr remained quiet after his short statement.
They sat there for what seemed like hours to Zee. He didn't care how long it had been really. Obviously Zephyr needed to both be alone and be with someone he cared about and trusted. The Other Place was certainly the best place to go for that, Zee supposed. After a long time, Zephyr spoke up again. "I think I'm going back. I need to rest up properly. I have classes starting at six and I'm going to another board meeting to let the directors know about father's surgery. Someone needs a heads up in case... Well..." He trailed off almost tentatively, eyes averted, voice thick.
"Yeah of course. Do me a favour and come visit so I know you're not dead." Zee gave a joking laugh and a quick squeeze of the shoulder before standing to 'walk Zephyr out,' so to speak.
"I will." Zephyr smiled painfully before vanishing.
Zee began pacing again. This time, he knew what was wrong. And it hurt to think of it. To think that Zephyr's father very well may die in less than a week... Of course, there had always been the offhand chance, what with the cancer and all, but for it to be this soon gave it a dreadful solidarity that Zee didn't want to think about and had to all the same. What would he do if Zephyr's father passed away? He would probably have to take over for a long time. His father was all he had left. His mother had died in a freak car accident when Zephyr was only seven. He had no siblings. So if his father passed, would he feel like he had anyone left? He would always have Zee whether either of them liked it or not but would that be enough?
Zephyr woke up on his side once again, lethargic and not wanting to exist anymore. His father was going in for surgery very soon, probably in the next day or two. He hadn't told Zee that because he didn't want the young man to worry about it. He had a company to oversee, board meetings to attend, and classes to be at in... Five hours. Lovely.
Zephyr sighed as he turned over in bed without taking off his black Oxford loafers, hoping his roommate had not been in the dorm room while he was visiting the Other Side. When he wasn't present, for obvious reasons, his body was as lax as death. With nothing to control it, no 'spirit' or 'soul' to inhabit it, his body was essentially a corpse when he crossed over to the Other Side. It had a pulse and breathed, and not much else.
Going to the Other Side was strange. It felt as though he was being pulled from his body molecule by molecule (which, he supposed, he really was), and then he was given a temporary vessel to house himself in while he was in something that could only be another dimension or reality. He never in a million years would have believed something like that existed, could exist, or would ever exist, no matter how convinced others were of the existence, before everything had happened. But now, he had Zee living in his head, in a way, and he could escape to a white, silent world where no one died because no one was there but Zee.
He didn't know who or what Zee was. All he knew was that he was a near-exact replica of himself. They had the same facial structure, the same stature, the same everything, physically speaking. They were polar opposites in personality, and still they had similarities there as well. Neither of them could tolerate stupidity; they both were natural leaders (although Zephyr liked to lead from the background where Zee was right up in the competitors' faces); both had an almost posh taste in clothing in different spectrums and always in black, they both preferred to keep their hair long. Although Zephyr took the time to straighten his ruffled hair, Zee would tastefully dishevel it with piecing wax. Their eyes held a huge difference, especially considering that Zee's didn't look human. But if you didn't know Zephyr well, you would never see the difference when Zee took over their shared body.
And that was the biggest thing here, for him. They literally shared a body. Zee was literally in his mind. The Other Place as it was called was somewhere not in this world, and to access it, one had to retreat into their own head. It sounded like pure insanity, but that was the fact of it. Once one got used to it, it came naturally. It was like retreating into such deep thought that you daydream. And it was like daydreaming so vividly that you may speak or move along with the daydream. It was like the deepest, most natural concentration. But it never left him rested. In fact, in left him rather restless. It made him jittery some times, and other times he was just exhausted for the rest of the day.
Today of course he knew he would be exhausted for a long time.
Another glance at the neon blue numbers on his satellite alarm clock told him he had to be in his first business class at the state university he attended in about four more hours. And thus the debate as to whether he should sleep or shower. Sleeping on the one hand would allow his body some time to relax after crossing over and back in the span of only a few hours, but on the other hand, it would more likely than not make him more tired, more irritable, and therefore less attentive, probably causing him to fail the exam he had soon. So, shower it was.
After a long, soothing shower using water he barely paid for, he toweled dry and lay in bed in the nude for a long, long time. His roommate returned from some party or other around 5:00 am. After distastefully watching the teen drunkenly stumble to his bed and collapse onto it he got up and dressed in a black cashmere turtleneck sweater and fitted black jeans, slipped into his Doc Marten boots, and left.
Class was as always uneventful. The board meeting was full of genuine 'If there's anything we can do's and 'Keep us updated' and 'I hope Mr. Andrews comes out of surgery alright. You'll be okay Zephyr. It all will.' None of it truly comforted him, although he greatly appreciated the effort. But effort doesn't always win, and nothing really wins against cancer.
Love or hate, I want to know. :) Read and review and I shall respond and return the favour.