"Hey, Zack?" Alisa's voice spoke to him causally "Do you think people actually understand the concept of time?"
No, nobody does nowadays
"People would always just rush by things and don't actually stop to smell the beautiful flowers. But then, when they get home, they spend most of their time playing video games and sleeping. It's like people are actually rushing to waste time. Funny, right?"
Yes, it's quite funny
"And then one day, they're going to stop and think. They're going to ask themselves, 'What am I doing with my life?' and 'What have I done in my life?'. But by then, it's all too late. All of that time was wasted, and there's not a thing you could do by then. Most people realise that when they're dying, and they're life flashes through their eyes. Don't you think so, Zack?"
Sure wish I did back then
Zack felt weightless as his body drifted through the black abyss that surrounded him. Was this what death feels like? If it was, it sure is calming. He even managed to hear some of Alisa's random mutterings before his death. He actually regretted not ever truly listening to her. Maybe she did have a point, here and there.
Something else feels strange as Zack continued to float. The scars and bruises that marked his body slowly seemed to fade away, like his body was regenerating itself. Zack thought of two things, that maybe he was going to look epically handsome when he reached Heaven or this was just so he could get tortured and look even uglier than a dead dog that was run over a truck with a moustache on it. Hopefully it was the first one.
Letting out a loud sigh, Zack started to turn and try to get himself in an upright position. Easily as that, he did it. He was no longer just floating, he seemed to be in control of his movements. Well, if death was this cool, he should have died a long time ago. Who cares about the others? Who cares about his father?
He smacked himself on the cheek.
"God, I'm an idiot" Zack grumbled to himself
No, he can't forget about his father, not one bit. He loved his father, even when he was sick and looked lifeless. Who was going to take care of his father now that he's dead? His friends don't know where he lives, and his neighbours can't be trusted to take care of the old man. Zack blinked back tears as he imagined his dad, sitting on his wheelchair as he waited for his son and wife that would never walk through.
It was at that moment that Zack realised something. He could feel the pain of slapping himself, and it stung so hard he regretted it soon enough. This was impossible. According to all the cartoons and anime he watched, you were invulnerable and invincible after you died. Also, he's supposed to get superpowers and save the world from some crazed demons who all seem to target his town for some reason, but who's counting?
You seem to have finally come to your senses
"Wha- Who's there?!" Zack screamed to no one in particular
I am nothing, but yet I am everything. You could say that I am nobody but I am also everyone. The darkness and light are both me, and so are the demons and angels. I am nothing. I am everything. I am Nobody.
The sound resonated all around Zack, making him fear what was truly making the sound. Who was that? His sentences made no sense whatsoever. There are se many contradictions that he's like a living oxymoron. Was he even alive? Could he be reading his thoughts right now? Zack shuddered at the thought.
"What's your name?" Zack asked as he clutched his shoulders defensively
I have told you that, and I do not wish to speak it again. Memorising that took ages, you know? However, I am Nobody. You may call me that if you wish.
Nobody. Well, that's a weird name. Still, it's better than nothing.
You are wondering why you are here, and whether or not you are dead, am I correct?
Now Zack was terrified. His assumptions were true. This... voice, it could read his thoughts. What else could it do to him? He didn't want to find out. Quickly, he tried to shut off his brain. No, there's no way Nobody is going to read his brain again. Wait... that sounded awkward.
Images and videos suddenly flashed around Zack. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that these are all videos that depicted Zack's life. There he was, four years old and kicking sand in Greg's face. He was seven, putting a snake in Daniel's bag. He was ten, scaring the teachers by walking on the roof of the school. He was fifteen, meeting Alisa for the first time as she held her brother's hand. And finally he was sixteen, running away from Blake as they weaved through the forest.
I am currently questioning myself for choosing to save your life.
"Hey!" Zack shouted but Nobody seemed to ignore him... God, that name gets confusing.
You have lived quite an adventurous life. Though you tend to hide your true self from all those that you are close to. You are lonely and sad, but you cover it up by making jokes and being an ignorant and obnoxious ass. You say that your life is perfect, but actually you yearn to want to change everything that has happened. You don't trust your friends, but you don't even trust yourself. So tell me, why should I give you a second chance?
Zack stood silent. It was strange. All the words that echoed around in the darkness seemed to make an impact to Zack like no other. It wasn't only because of the fact that they were true, but it was also coupled by the fact that the voice said that he (Zack guessed that it was a guy talking) was going to give Zack a second chance. Was it possible?
No, it wasn't possible. Looking back at his life, Zack agreed that he was better off dead. He was an annoyance to everyone around him, and he never even lived life to its fullest. He just played around as he failed his tests and got into trouble. The practical jokes and pranks that he pulled off were funny only to him, not for the others. Maybe he shouldn't have even been born.
You are a wise boy, but you lack confidence. That thing which you thought was confidence was actually arrogance. You were arrogant in trying to attain victory for your football team, but yet you never gave in to the pressure. Why give up now, when you have so much more to live for?
Zack was silent as he pondered this. What was the voice trying to tell him? Why was it trying so hard to confuse him? Urgh, he felt like he could punch Nobody in the face... You get the idea. He just stood there, floating in the darkness as he pondered what to say to the disembodied voice.
Look in your pocket
Doing as instructed, Zack reached his hands into his pocket and removed the one thing that Blake Hunter did not remove and throw away into the raging river. It was Alisa's handmade handkerchief, surprisingly dry and clean. That was when Zack realised that he, too, was dry. Wasn't he in the river? No, he had long left that place. He was in complete darkness now. Complete and utter darkness in which he had no idea where it was located. Well, at least the mysterious voice and his past memories were there to accompany him.
A memory closed in on him. It showed Alisa, walking home with him just this morning. However, it felt like weeks have passed since that incident. The girl gave Zack the handkerchief and ran off down the road to her house. Looking closely, Zack realised that her face was beet red with embarrassment, but she smiled an awkward smile as she disappeared from view.
"I'm an idiot" Zack said to himself
Indeed you are.
"Nobody asked you!" he shouted to Nobody "Wait, you're Nobody and nobody asked you so... ARGH!"
You were a fool to not see how much the girl actually cared for you. She would spend days just trying to impress you, but you act as if she never existed. I pity you. Heh, she's cute too. Well, just goes to show that I might have chosen the wrong person for the job.
Zack pushed the memory away and balled his fists. This was getting nowhere pretty fast. It was like the voice was just trying to stall time long enough for Zack to finally go crazy and decline whatever proposal he was going to make. No, he wasn't going to back down now. He needed to live, if not for himself then for his father and friends.
"Cut to the chase!" Zack shouted "You want to give me a second chance, am I right? Then I'm willing to do anything to get that chance!"
You are young, just sixteen years of age. There is still much that you need to learn. It is not that I am saying that I do not wish to let you learn them, but I only wish for you to start asking yourself the right questions. So far, your questions are all misdirected and seem to point only towards the direction that you want to care for your father and make your friends happy, but that is not correct. That is far from correct. Tell me, how do you plan on achieving even that with your current personality?
"Current personality?!" questioned an irritated Zack "Are you saying I'm not good enough?!"
You are rash, inconsiderate and volatile. The only time you show even the smallest bit of compassion is when you are with your father, but you have grown weary even of that. Am I correct?
Silence filled the dark void as Zack hung his head low. No answer, he had no answer at all to give to Nobody. Yes, he knew he was an asshole to everyone. He also knew that he was tired of taking care of his father, opting to leave as soon as possible. Whatever this voice was, he had some very good points to go against him.
Take my word of advice, your questions could easily be found anywhere and anytime at all. As for the answers, you may find them in the future, or in the past. There is no limit to time when you are trying to find yourself. If anything, time is there to help you answer these questions. Perhaps I shall give you that chance, just to see how it plays out. But heed my words: As easy as I have given you this chance, I could take it away just as easy.
This was it, the moment that Zack has been waiting for. He was finally going to come back to life! Soon he could go and meet his friends again, and actually take care of his dad! Then, he's going to beat Blake and his Weeping Devils team to get back at him for killing him. He guessed it must be some sort of poetic justice for him to actually be getting this second chance.
You shall hear from me three more times, each one only when you wish to see me. I could help you in your quest for your answers, but only thrice. No more, no less. Hopefully by then you are able to ask yourself the correct questions and answer them just as easily. Remember, time is there to help you in answering these questions. Also, I require a price to pay for this opportunity. You shall find out what I have collected soon enough, I suppose.
Hearing from Nobody again? Okay, Zack wasn't counting on that again. And three times? God, this guy is annoying. Still, beggars can't be choosers. Maybe this was just a small price to pay for getting his life back. Zack held the handkerchief tightly in his fist, waiting for some light that should have come down from the ceiling as he was transported safely back in his home.
Wait, what was that thing he said about time? And a price to pay?!
Till we meet again, Zack Anderson.
Zack wanted to shout, to stop the voice since he still had those nagging question in the back of his head, but it was too late. Slowly, the darkness started disappearing around him as light blinded him. After so long being in the void, he couldn't look at the light without having to close his eyes. Something else started materialising around him as well, water. Lots and lots of water. So much water that Zack wondered if it was the same river as the one he was dumped into. Sadly, it must have been.
"SHIT!" Zack managed to curse before water flowed into his mouth, entering his lungs and causing him to have trouble breathing.
'Good job, asshole' thought Zack 'You get a chance to relive your life and you blew it. Man, you are one hell of an idiot'
As Zack was floating around, struggling for breath as he tried to swim up to the surface of the water, he caught a glimpse of something yellow coming towards him. Was it the light of death? Probably not. Hopefully it wasn't another annoying voice going to try and talk to him about questions and answers and time and shit. Right now, Zack wondered if he should never have snuck out of swimming practice.
The yellow thing grabbed him and hugged him tightly. That was when Zack realised that the yellow thing was actually a head full of hair. Long, wavy, blonde hair that was equally wet from being in the water. He tried to look at his saviour, but it was difficult. Too much water had entered his lungs and he was losing strength fast. There was no way he could keep his eyes open. In fact, he wasn't even sure if he was able to stay conscious.
Just as the thought entered his mind, Zack blacked out.
Why did I jump in? I could have died! No, I won't let this person die with me as his witness.
I struggle to look for my companion as I tried to dry off my clothes, and find her leaning against a tree. She was grinning, that same grin that she always has whenever she sees something amusing to her. I usually join her in her joy, but not now.
"You knew something, didn't you?" I ask, starting the conversation for once
"Maybe I did, maybe I didn't" she answered back as she walked towards me and placed an arm around my shoulder "What're you gonna do about it if I did, punch me? You know I'm stronger than you"
"He was dying! You could have helped!"
"But you saved him, and that's all that matters. Well, I've gotta run. Have to finish up the newest Final Fantasy game. Dry yourself up, will you?"
She walked off without a single glance, and I question if I may have been used all this while. No, I could feel she was sincere... but was I wrong. I wanted to go after her and find answers, but I can't leave this boy here alone and injured. A slight shuffle in the trees, and I know I was being watched. Only one man liked to hang out in the forest.
"Tell him nothing of just now, please" I tell to no one in particular, but I was sure the man heard me
I walk away and know that the boy was in good hands. Dirty hands, but good hands all the same.